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Watertown native to be featured in international film festival

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A 1998 Jefferson Community College alumnus has a movie featured at Rhode Island International Film Festival for a second year in a row.

Watertown native Ian Thomas Ash will air his documentary “A2-B-C” on Saturday to show the effects of the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown on the city’s children.

Mr. Ash said 43 percent of children have precancerous thyroid cysts and nodules. In the film’s trailer, officials from the government brush the problem away, leaving the citizens to find other ways to share their story.

“The kids are having nosebleeds, strange rashes on their bodies, fatigue,” he said. “They’re getting sick more and missing school.”

The documentary’s name is derived from the names given to the different sizes and classifications of thyroid cysts. A2 are the smallest and most numerous cysts while C2 are the largest and least numerous.

At one point in the trailer, a group of children are asked whether they have thyroid cysts. They all say they were diagnosed with A2 cysts, and give that information as if that is how they are defined.

“I am A2,” they each say.

After his last film, “In the Grey Zone” which he filmed after witnessing the nuclear power plant disaster and the tsunami-earthquake that preceded it in 2011, he never put his camera down.

“There was not a filming break between the two films,” Mr. Ash said. “I never stopped going to Fukushima. Even after I filmed, I continued to go.”

While he filmed “In the Grey Zone,” he used iodine tablets mailed from the U.S. to combat radiation sickness, but said they no longer have an effect.

“There’s nothing you can really do about it,” he said. “It’s either you go or you don’t go.”

Wearing a mask helps, but he refuses to do so if the people he interviews are not wearing one.

“I don’t want to create a wall between me and the other person,” he said.

He would not say whether the radiation has affected him.

The documentary received the Nippon Visions award at the Nippon Connection Film Festival in Frankfurt, Germany, in June and will be shown at a bevy of festivals until the end of the year in Taiwan, Holland, Guam and throughout the U.S.

Mr. Ash graduated from Watertown High School in 1994. After graduating from JCC and SUNY Plattsburgh, he moved to England to work toward a masters degree at the University of Bristol. He has lived in Japan for ten years.

The trailer for “A2-B-C” can be found at www.a2documentary.com.

To follow Mr. Ash, visit his YouTube page at www.youtube.com/user/DocumentingIan or his personal blog http://ianthomasash.blogspot.com.

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