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Student’s Film ‘Nuclear Family’ Builds Bridges

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Ari Beser
Photo provided by Ari Beser

With a published book and a film to his name, Ari Beser has already accomplished a lot. He has also contributed photographs to both Getty Images and National Geographic in the past, and in 2015 was chosen as Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year. Most recently, he worked alongside National Geographic to produce his first film, The Nuclear Family. And currently, he's working on his master's degree in Film and Media Arts at the American University School of Communication.

The film is the companion to a book he wrote in 2015 with the same title. Both tell the stories of the hibakusha, Japanese survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Beser's grandfather is the only man in the world to have flown on both planes that dropped atomic bombs on Japan in the final stages of World War II. In his film, Beser seeks to reconnect with the survivors and the families of survivors of these bombings, both to tell their stories and to work towards intercultural peace. Beser also met with survivors of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

"[When I met one survivor's] daughter and granddaughter, they said 'we could've brought you here to yell at you, because your grandfather [helped dropped the bombs] and he wasn't very sorry about it…but we're not really after an apology, we just want to work together for peace,'" Beser says. "That was pretty inspiring because I thought if we could get together and work together from opposite sides of an atomic bomb, then anyone could."

Beser produced his film as part of a Fulbright-National Geographic fellowship with National Geographic. For 10 months between 2015 and 2016, Beser worked with National Geographic filmmakers and videographers in Japan.

"It was an amazing experience," he says. "It's a pretty amazing fellowship that's open to anyone."

The Nuclear Family was shown at the Chesapeake Film Festival in Easton, MD this October. Beser hopes that his studies at AU will help him improve his storytelling abilities and video production skills so that he can continue telling stories that matter.