On Aug. 6, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, followed by the second — and last — bomb on Nagasaki on Aug. 9.
With deaths estimated between 150,000 and 200,000 in the two cities, Japan — which had endured intense fire-bombing of 67 cities over six months without asking for peace — finally surrendered on Aug. 15.
Today, on the 65th anniversary of Hiroshima — with few survivors of the war-starting Pearl Harbor or the war-ending bombs still around — VIZ Cinema presents Steven Okazaki’s award-winning documentary “White Light/Black Rain.”
The title refers to the sunburst-like flash of the bomb’s explosion and the subsequent fall of liquefied debris on Hiroshima.
The film presents interviews with 14 “hibakusha” (survivors of the atomic bomb) and four Americans participating in the bombing.
The Oscar- and Emmy-winning Bay Area filmmaker, who started this project in 1980 at an atomic-bomb film series in Berkeley, understands the reluctance of many to dwell on this horrendous topic: “I [too] have a problem with films about Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Okazaki says, “if they just tell us that war’s bad and bombs kill people.”
His film’s purpose is to convey a sense of what happened, to have the viewer understand “what it was like.”
Okazaki also sees a timeliness in the topic. He says, “With the war we’re in now and the insecurity of potential nuclear weapons in the hands of North Korea or Mideast terrorists, and with 9/11, people will look at the film very differently and connect it to the future.”
Today’s screening will feature a question-and-answer session with several survivors and the Friends of Hibakusha, a San Francisco organization dedicated to supporting U.S. citizens and Japanese-American survivors of radiation exposure from the bombings.
IF YOU GO
White Light/Black Rain
Where: VIZ Cinema, 1746 Post St., San Francisco
When: 7 p.m. today; 12:15 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $10 to $15
Contact: (415) 525-8600, www.vizcinema.com