Summer 2024 - CA 216 D100

Selected Topics in Cinema Studies (3)

Asian Cinemas - Post WWII

Class Number: 3793

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 6 – Jun 17, 2024: Mon, Wed, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    One of CA 135, 136, 137, 186, 235, 236, 316 (or 337), 318 (or 335), 416 (or 436), or 30 units.



This course will cover a specific topic within the field of cinema studies not covered in depth in regularly scheduled courses. This course can be repeated once for credit if the topic is different. Students with credit for CA 237 under the same topic may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.


Documenting the Invisible: Japan’s Documentary Filmic Responses to Radioactive Fallout and Injustice

Documentary realism is a common stylistic choice among modern filmmakers responding to human-made disaster as a means of getting at “the real.” However, despite the style’s commitments to immediacy, straightforwardness, and objectivity, filmmakers often find there are multiple reals to consider. This course attends to this heterogeneity of realisms in documentary and fictionalized cinematic responses to the 2011 radiation releases in Fukushima, Japan. Even within documentary and realistic styles, radiation seems to impose a sense that any attempt to grasp a holistic reality is doomed to reification. At the same time, inequalities that develop in the aftermath of radioactive fallout demand that decisions are made about what is “real.” How have films’ realistic and aesthetic choices responded to this challenge? The course explores the politics of these choices in a variety of realistic cinematic formats: from films of those locally affected, to big budget re-enactments, to popular fantasy films that utilize “documentary evidence” as a central conceit. The course contextualizes this politics within the Japan’s social, religious, and aesthetic historical context.

To that end, the course begins by screening some of the most cultural and politically significant films responding to the radioactive aftermaths of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki atomic bombings—Hiroshima (1953); Godzilla (1954); Black Rain (1989)—as each help think the situation in Fukushima given the political differences of the radioactive fallout, the common propensity to imagine monsters in real events, and the repetition of radiation discrimination. The course will then screen Your Name (2016), unpacking how the film mixes both Hiroshima/Nagasaki- and Fukushima-based “documentary” imaginaries to a problematic degree. The course will then move to documentary films focusing on critiques of life amongst radioactive fallout and the massive Tokyo-based protests after March 11, 2011: Surviving Internal Exposure (2012), A2-B-C (2013), and Tell the Prime Minister (2015). We then screen fictionalized re-enactments of the Fukushima-based radiation releases: Land of Hope (2012); A Town of Love and Hope (2014); Fukushima 50 (2020). The course concludes with Shin Godzilla (2016) whose filmmakers claim responds “realistically” to the Fukushima events.



- Students will learn to write critical essays responding to culturally impactful films.
- Students will learn to construct arguments responding to the cultural repercussions of cinematic choices.
- Students will learn how and why to use film scenes, motifs, and strategies as part of evidence to forward arguments.
- Students will learn to focus on the imbrication of production and meaning in their own artistic/filmic practices.
- Students will develop a capacity to respond to the challenge of cross-cultural interpretation, reflected in their essays.
- Students will develop skills in discussing cultural and politically sensitive topics as a group while also learning how to collaborate.


  • First Short Essay 25%
  • Second Short Essay 25%
  • Final Term Paper 35%
  • Attendance and Participation 15%



Readings will be provided via Canvas


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.