Aum Cult Film Administrators Speak Doc Protecting Tokyo Subway Sarin Assaults

Aum: The Cult on the Finish of the World tells the lesser-known story behind the extensively lined 1995 Tokyo subway assault, the biggest act of home terrorism in Japan’s historical past the place sarin gasoline was launched within the Tokyo subway system throughout rush hour, killing 14 folks.

Chiaki Yanagimoto and Ben Braun directed Aum, which takes a deep dive into Aum Shinrikyo, the doomsday cult behind the assault, based by Shoko Asahara, a self-claimed yogi who mentioned he was the reincarnation of Buddha. The doc, which attracts from the e book concerning the cult by investigative journalist David E. Kaplan and Pulitzer Prize winner Andrew Marshall, is instructed by means of the testimonials of characters like Fumihiro Joyu, a former Aum devotee who skirted blame for the assault, and Marshall, a British journalist dwelling in Japan who early on rang the alarm bells concerning the cult.

Braun — who’s the son and the nephew of Dan and Josh Braun, the founders of doc manufacturing and gross sales firm Submarine — has been been working in and round docs for years, however Aum marks his directorial debut. Yanagimoto and Braun talked THR about Aum.

Prior to creating Aum, what had been your private understanding of the Tokyo subway assault?

CHIAKI YANAGIMOTO I used to be in center faculty. I grew up in a spot known as in Yamanashi, the countryside of Japan and at 11 years outdated, when it occurred, till that time I didn’t actually know concerning the group. When the assault occurred it was big information and it didn’t take us too lengthy to appreciate that this group is behind this crime. Then I personally came upon that their largest headquarter is in Yamanashi. I keep in mind all of the dad and mom telling their children to watch out with folks in white robes roaming within the mountains.

BEN BRAUN I type of went by means of the same expertise, rising up in New York the place my elementary faculty was subsequent to the World Commerce Heart. I used to be there that morning with my mother and it was very traumatic factor to expertise, and being in actually shut proximity to it. I feel this drew me to analysis comparable incidents. And while you examine this explicit incident, you already know numerous details about what occurred, but it surely appeared laborious to dig into what actually led to it. Whereas what results in 9/11 may be very, very overanalyzed and well-understood. I had wished to department out into directing and felt like this was one thing that, realizing from my very own life find out how to dwell with quite a lot of trauma and course of it, that I may relate to it in a sure means.

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What does the documentary supply that information media or different protection of the incident doesn’t?

BRAUN While you have a look at the broader story, although I had recognized rather a lot concerning the incident, after we began researching it there was a lot extra that leads as much as it. I feel we felt like that hasn’t been instructed. While you have a look at the protection on the assorted incidents within the movie, it’s virtually like an archeological dig. There have been simply little items of the story instructed in a e book, some had been instructed in one other documentary that was made, some had been instructed within the information. And it felt like this simply must be put multi function place. Prefer it must be like put again collectively so it may be instructed in a comprehendible means. So you may type of see the cumulative impact of all the things that occurs.

The archival supplies within the movie are expansive. Plenty of footage that was proven appeared contemporaneous and appeared to be coming from contained in the cult. How did you discover it?

BRAUN It’s completely miraculous. The movie has had so many challenges and the one from the get-go was after we began researching it and we might go on YouTube and we might see little clips of issues that had been simply on the market within the ether. [We’d ask], “Whose footage is that this?”

YANAGIMOTO We aren’t speaking about like information footage, we’re speaking about footage that was clearly shot inside the group.

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BRAUN We had been like, “Who owns all this?” Within the e book, which we had optioned because the reference level for the story it mentions within the index, Aum filmed numerous their very own actions. We thought we’ll discover it, and we mainly couldn’t. What ended up taking place was after we had first met Joyu, we introduced this up, and he was like, “Someone will need to have them. Perhaps I’ve some round, I’ll look.”

YANAGIMOTO I went again in February 2020 for analysis and a pair days earlier than my flight again to L.A. Ben reminded that Joyu talked about that he might need some tapes, why don’t we simply name him and simply ask once more. Joyu mentioned, “‘”When you go to this workplace in Nagano, I feel you’ll discover one thing.” So on the day I had my flight again to L.A. I purchased an empty suitcase in Tokyo and took a bullet prepare to Nagano, went to this workplace and there have been videotapes and VHS tapes, books, and cassette tapes. I put all the things I may in that suitcase, went straight from there to the airport and got here again to L.A.

BRAUN Chiaki took the bullet prepare and it was simply so final second we had been looking for anyone who may go along with her. This was the evening of the Oscars in 2020 when Parasite gained greatest image and I used to be at [Parasite distributor] Neon’s awards celebration and went into the lavatory and stayed on FaceTime video for an hour along with her whereas she was going into this place to search for these tapes, so I could possibly be on the telephone in case one thing bizarre occurred.

Cults are a highly regarded documentary topic. How did you differentiate the narrative in Aum?

BRAUN Submarine labored on Wild, Wild Nation; we’ve labored on quite a few cult issues they usually’re all comparable. What was totally different about that is it’s a catastrophe movie. In fact, you might want to dive into their ideology and what they wished to do, but it surely revolves round this large incident and secondarily it revolves round a western journalist who involves Japan and hears about this unusual phenomenon that’s taking place out within the hinterlands. At that time, it begins to really feel like Godzilla. It’s a narrative about his monster lurking out within the countryside.

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YANAGIMOTO Our stance for this movie it was extra of a story like making a story movie relatively than saying, “‘”Let’s make a cult documentary.” I personally wasn’t acutely aware of what different cult documentaries did or didn’t do as a result of I noticed this story as very character pushed. All our references weren’t different cult docs. Our references had been Godzilla or Godfather.

What would you like Sundance audiences to see within the documentary?

YANAGIMOTO I’m actually curious what Japanese folks consider this movie. The story that we inform within the movie, for lots of Japanese folks, they don’t actually know or they intentionally type of like appeared away. I need the Japanese folks to essentially see our personal historical past and what actually occurred. And actually see it as not a disgrace, however as one thing that occurred and that is what we will be taught from it.

BRAUN I hope Individuals can be taught one thing about their present-day context by watching this. As you’re going by means of the story of any individual who’s a megalomaniac and a highly regarded, beloved determine who has an enormous following, who goes off the wall and mainly launches an assault on the capitol. I’m certain that can register for folks. When somebody is saying, “Armageddon is coming, I’m going to destroy the world.” Or, “I’m not going to go away workplace.” We have to take heed to what persons are saying as a result of generally it’s not that a lot of a thriller what intentions might be.



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