Themes and Key Words:
Ecology, Nuclear, Economy, History
Running Time:
58′ | 84′
Teatro Primo / Film Beyond
Matteo Gagliardi



An exclusive journey of four years inside the triple tragedy which hit Fukushima, Japan on March 11, 2011.


Pio, an Italian Sky reporter who has been living in Japan for more than thirty years, was in Tokyo the day of the earthquake. Pio decided immediately to visit the area that was affected by the tsunami and arrived there first as foreign journalist.

Fukushima: A Nuclear Story offers an original point-of-view on the tragedy, and is narrated by Massimo Dapporto (Italian version) and Willem Dafoe (English version).

Christine Reinhold and Matteo Gagliardi combined different elements in the documentary, which is the result of three years of research. The story of journalist Pio d’Emilia, who refused to abandon his job even when the nuclear danger was at its greatest; the doubts and fears during the days following the threefold tragedy, and the search for the truth regarding what really happened inside the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan reveals in an unreleased interview how Tokyo, and probably all of Japan, escaped a much bigger tragedy thanks to sheer luck. While using Manga drawings, the documentary explains the tragic events into detail.

Fukushima: A Nuclear Story is not only a film about Fukushima, but rather Fukushima is its cause, the initiating event of the story that is being told. The core of the film is whether it’s right to produce nuclear energy, and if so, at what risk and cost. It’s the story of a broken valve that saved Japan from a much larger tragedy. Are nuclear power plants safe? How much do we know about the plants? What do we know about the maintenance, its use and safety? Foreign journalists, together with the rest of the world, had to wait two years before they were allowed to enter the nuclear power plant. In Chernobyl access was not granted for much longer. People in Japan took to the streets for the first time, demanding to know what had really happened inside the power plant, in order to make a conscious decision regarding their country and safety.


Three years ago I was asked to participate in a new production regarding Fukushima and the topic of nuclear power. After having seen the footage he had amassed and after having looked Pio in the eyes, I accepted as I felt that it was an important story that needed to be told.

Pio contributed to the project with his thirty-year long experience of living in Japan, 300 hours of footage that depict life after the tsunami, a book and his direct experience on the location of this three-fold tragedy.

Matteo (director, editor and director of post-production) contributed with his previous experience. He had already written and edited a documentary on the Fukushima ‘no go zone’ right after the nuclear disaster, where he effectively explained the dangers of nuclear radiation.

Matteo managed to recreate not only the physical characteristics of the nuclear power plant, enabling everyone to understand how it works and what exactly has happened in March 2011, but he also reconstructed the story of nuclear power’s evolution through Japan’s particular Manga art form. Via Manga and the art of putting together images and montage, Matteo describes three years of Pio’s life and work, while helping us to comprehend how a country which should have been the last to embrace nuclear power, has become one of its greatest and strongest supporters.

My contribution to this project was rooted in my experience of twenty years working with American and Russian theatre and the study of stories and characters I have never stopped carrying out. I also took with me my personal experience of Japan, which I garnered travelling by myself among cities and monasteries, No Theatre and Kabuki.

We started our journey together like Tsuda’s unstable triangle. We decided to leave and in this journey, two words have been very important to me: Balance and Storytelling.

Balance, that represents the respect for a Country, its own ways and traditions, its profound composure and dignity even “when it was not even allowed the right to remember”. The balance we maintained and followed in the choice of making a documentary film: every fact had to be true and verified, never manipulate, offensive or biased in any way.

I chose to tell a Story because it is through this medium that we have learned to understand and know what happens around us. This is the Story of a brave journalist, of the fears and doubts he experienced as a human being and of the strength of a Country: history and facts together, while the soundtrack composed by Campanelli helps us to be more open while we listen. The music leads us to ask ourselves certain questions: which interests lie behind the construction of dozens of nuclear plants? We are also confronted with the question whether these interests were put ahead of the safety of the population that has to live and coexist with nuclear plants. The manipulation of the media that has taken place does not allow citizens to know, understand and decide in an informed manner.

For the first time the whole of Japan took to the streets. To know, to understand and to be finally able to decide. This is exactly the aim of our film that we have obtained through different means. Through the testimony of a journalist that never abandoned the field. Through the strength of simple and effective interviews, stolen from time. And finally, through the choice made by the director to use Manga drawings to reconstruct the events (realized by the Accademia Europea di Manga). The drawings manage to subdue the impact of such tragic events and to make them more comprehensible to our own perception, as opposed to what happens with simple historic or journalistic news, which we end up dismissing to make place for “more contemporary tragedies”.


In addition to a degree course in Communication Studies, Matteo Gagliardi simultaneously starts his journey in the world of audiovisual work, curating the script, photography and editing of short movies. In 2007, after attending the New York Film’s Academy intensive cinematography workshop, he creates Brokenbolero, coproduced together with Cinema Fiction in Naples. In 2008 he works as assistant director while shooting Diverso da chi? by Umberto Carteni. In 2010 he is the author, director and 3D animator for the mid-length film Space Opera, video fulldome on the notes of the Op. 32 Suite by Gustav Holste. Being the first movie in fulldome in Italy, Space Opera was bought by many international planetaria. In 2012 he works as co-author and editor for the documentary Fukushame: The Lost Japan, released in Italian theatres in January 2013. In 2013 he was editor and visual effects specialist of 41st Parallel, directed by Davide Dapporto. In 2014 he co-wrote, directed and edited Fukushima: A Nuclear Story.


2016 Uranium International Film Festival, Brazil
Won Best Documentary Feature Award

2016 DIG Awards, Italy
Won DIG Award

2015 Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Greece

“Fukushima: A Nuclear Story’ stands out among 3/11 documentaries.”

“Fukushima, where cinema and great journalism meet. In Fukushima – A Nuclear Story: the best possible journalism and an expert use of cinematic storytelling intertwine.”
Roldano Cisternino, ANONIMA CINEFILI

“Everything that someone who prays for a television that is modern and at the same time respectful of our past, may ask for.”
Riccardo Bocca, L’ESPRESSO