In 2013, I started to research the island of Ōkunoshima in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan. Between 1929 and 1944, the island was the biggest poison gas factory in Asia, producing an estimated amount of 9000 tons of chemical weapons. Most of it was mustard gas: 1 gram can be lethal, 10 tons could kill everyone in Tokyo. Today, Ōkunoshima is known as "bunny island" due to 700 wild rabbits inhabiting the island, attracting tourists and going viral online. It was rebranded as vacation spot, despite its dark past, and in that sense it is a metaphor on how Japan addresses it's own dark history during the war.
I met with former workers of the island, spoke with scholars and went to China to research the remains of the Japanese poison gas used there during the war. Up to this point, I funded everything by myself.
In 2018, thanks to the grant by Robert-Bosch-Stiftung and LCB, I was able to finish my research. I went to Japan once more, to find more documents, interview victims and a former soldier who used poison gas in China during World War II (he is now 101 years old).
The history of Japanese poison gas is not well known and information is hard to find. After six years and thanks to the research grant, I was able to finish my research and have now collected enough documents, interviews and evidence to confidently publish the story without leaving it open for attacks. Currently, the film is 90% done and it will be finished by the time of the screening at the Hiroshima Film Festival on November 24th 2019. The book with my research will be published next year.
More information on the Hiroshima Film Festival website: http://hiff.jp/en/