White Light/Black Rain

Director: Steven Okazaki

Institute History

  • 2007 Sundance Film Festival


August 6 and August 9, 1945. On these two days, the United States destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs. It is estimated that more than 200,000 people, almost all civilians, died instantly. Those who survived are called hibakusha—people exposed to the bomb—and there are more than 200,000 still living today.

To revisit this event and its aftermath, Academy Award winner Steven Okazaki (Days of Waiting) interweaves the stories of survivors and some of the American men who carried out the bombing mission. Okazaki takes us into the lives and memories of ordinary people for whom life changed in the blink of an eye. In his clear, unwavering treatment, what at first seems unimaginable becomes all too real as memory after memory unfolds through a skillful blend of contemporary footage and archival material. To a generation of audiences living in the shadow of a new arms race, the film is a necessary rendering of the price atomic warfare exacts.

"To fall like petals from a flower—that was our destiny," says a former Japanese soldier and survivor. He believed he would die in combat; what he witnessed was the annihilation of innocents, the flower he never could have imagined.

— Cara Mertes

Screening Details

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