Hibakusha – Stephen Loveless

Shey has found a room to build her boat, a small boat big enough to hold a lot of pain and one symbolic passenger, herself.

Through seeing historic film of the horror of the A-Bomb attack on Hiroshima an Anglo-Japanese schoolgirl at a British school finds her identity and strength to face daily physical bullying as a Hibakusha, the name given to the survivors of the nuclear attack. Sometimes all we have, as a weapon to fight with is our imaginations. For Shey the fantasy of becoming Hibakusha gives her the strength to endure. But as the violence escalates she has to turn her illusion into destructive vengeance.Years later, Shey, emotionally and mentally torn apart, arrives in a coastal town to confront that past and try and free herself of its grip and the ghost of the Hibakusha that still haunts her.

– Stephen Loveless

I’ve known Steve for nearly thirty years. He helped establish Threshold back in 1998 and he wrote Washing Strangers, the script that I directed and Uzma produced for Central TV in our first year. I remember when he first showed us the script for Hibakusha later that year.

We’d asked a whole range of people to submit short film scripts to us and Uzma and I sat in Steve’s garden that summer trawling through around thirty ideas. It was Hibakusha that we felt most drawn to. The way Steve tells it, he wrote it in a response to my request that he write something about bullying. I don’t remember that, I just remember how the hair stood up on the back of my neck when I read that first draft of the script.

The three of us did some development work on the script but we never managed to raise the finance to make Hibakusha into a film. Steve went on to have success with Hibakusha in various other forms. The journey’s not over yet, I suspect.

When Threshold decided it was going to explore the potentials of digital publishing it seemed only right and fitting that we return to Steve and Hibakusha as our first project. Our commitment to the work states what this publishing adventure is about for us; strong writing with great heart by unique voices that the mainstream would deem to be too much of a risk or not commercially viable to publish.

We’re also excited to have made a new friend in Canadian artist Suzanne Northcott, who read Hibakusha and was kind enough to give us permission to use her painting “The Blessing” for the cover. Oh the wonders of the internet! The image seemed perfect and the more we look at it the more suitable it seems.  You can see more of Suzanne’s work here.

– Barry Hale: Threshold Peace Pagoda, Japan, September 2012

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