Benefit Screenings of ‘Pray for Japan’ on Wednesday

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Benefit screenings of “Pray for Japan,” a feature documentary film commemorating the one-year anniversary of the tsunami tragedy, will take place across North America on Wednesday, March 14, at 7 p.m., including the following Southern California locations:

• AMC Del Amo 16, 3525 Carson St., Torrance. (310) 921-2046, www.amctheatres.com/DelAmo

• AMC Orange 30, 20 City Blvd., West Orange. (714) 769-4288, www.amctheatres.com/TheBlock

• AMC Mission Valley 20, 1640 Camino Del Rio North, San Diego. (619) 296-2737, www.amctheatres.com/MissionValley

All proceeds will go nonprofit organizations doing relief work in Japan.

On March 11, 2011, Japan’s Tohoku coastal region was destroyed by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami that followed. “Pray for Japan” takes place in the devastated region of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture – the largest coastal city in Tohoku with a population of over 160,000 people.

Filmmaker Stu Levy, an American living in Japan. filmed the tsunami aftermath during his trips to Tohoku as a volunteer and over a period of six weeks, captured over 50 hours of footage.

“Pray for Japan” focuses on four key perspectives of the tragedy – school, shelter, family, and volunteers. With each perspective we meet victims who faced significant obstacles and fought to overcome them. Through these four vantage points, the audience is able to understand the vast ramifications of this large-scale natural disaster – and the battle these real-life heroes fought on behalf of their loved ones and their hometown.

High-school student Kento Ito (right) and friends prepare koinobori (carp banners) honoring his little brother and others who perished in the tsunami.

“Losing loved ones cuts emotional scars which run deep,” the production team said in a statement. “We can help heal these wounds by paying tribute to the amazing resilience and quiet spirit of the many victims and volunteers of Tohoku. By letting them know we admire and respect them, we encourage them to continue the good fight – at a time when even the strongest warriors would grow weary. We also gain insight into how our own inner strength can help us if we ever find ourselves in a life-threatening situation. We can all learn from these incredible heroes …

“Just as volunteers from all over the world converged on Tohoku to render aid, a diverse group of film industry professionals assembled to work on the film. From its origins in Stu’s original volunteer work in Miyagi, Tohoku on March 14, 2011 (just three days after the 3/11 earthquake), the project quickly took on a life of its own. From filming in Ishinomaki and other areas of Miyagi (such as Sendai, Kessenuma, and Higashi-Matsushima), to editing in Burbank, then back to Tokyo for post-production and contributions from teams throughout Asia.

“From students to Japanese A-listers, the ‘Pray for Japan’ team was truly an ‘all hands on deck’ crew, giving meaning to our film’s Japanese subtitle, ‘Kokoro wo Hitotsu ni,’ meaning ‘one heart.’”

Levy is an international entrepreneur, producer, director and writer across media including graphic novels, film, television and new media.  Founder of the pioneering media company Tokyopop, he is known for being one of the people who introduced the English-speaking world to manga, the uniquely Japanese form of comics.

For reservations and more information, including screenings in other parts of the country, visit www.prayforjapan-film.org. Tickets can also be reserved through www.fandango.com.

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