The Vow from Hiroshima
Marking the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, this is an intimate portrait of Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of Hiroshima, who has devoted her life to ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
Directed by Susan Strickler
Produced by Mitchie Takeuchi, Susan Strickler
Writers: Mitchie Takeuchi, Susan Strickler, Renée Silverman
Co-Producer/Editor: Judd Blaise
Dir of Photography: Jennifer Hahn
Original music: Dallas Crane
[Note: Community screenings of THE VOW FROM HIROSHIMA can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"The issues this film addresses could not be more timely and important." Eric Schlosser, journalist, author, "Command and Control"
THE VOW FROM HIROSHIMA is an intimate portrait of Setsuko Thurlow, a passionate, 85-year-old survivor of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Her moving story is told through the lens of her growing friendship with a second generation survivor, Mitchie Takeuchi.
Setsuko was miraculously pulled out of a fiery building after the bomb was dropped and unable to save her other 27 classmates who were burned to death alive. That experience shaped her life forever and she endeavored to keep a pledge she made to her friends - that no one should ever again experience the same horrible fate.
The film is a timely exploration of the global dangers of nuclear weapons and provides an insider's perspective as we see Setsuko campaign with ICAN (the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons). The culmination of Setsuko's decades of activism is her acceptance speech at the 2017 Nobel Peace Awards.
The film was updated in 2021 to include an epilogue about the ratification and enactment of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force on January 22, 2021.
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2020
Copyright Date: 2019
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-46-1
"This is the film I would highly recommend for our younger generations to see. Actually this is a film I would like everyone in the world to see."
Matsui Kazumi, Mayor of the City of Hiroshima
"Highly engaging...At the heart of the film is the electrifying presence of Setsuko Thurlow, who for over 60 years has spoken out about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Second-generation nuclear survivors and the young activists of Nobel Peace Prize awardee ICAN find inspiration in Thurlow's courageous activism. The Vow from Hiroshima is an outstanding resource for courses in history, politics, Asian Studies, environmental studies, ethics, and gender studies."
Ann Sherif, Professor of Japanese, Oberlin College
"Narrated through the experiences of two resilient hibakusha women, The Vow from Hiroshima is a well-researched, poignant and thoughtful work on the humanitarian approach to nuclear weapons. It is a fascinating story of how geopolitics and civil society intersects to influence policy, and how change is possible despite all odds."
Jayita Sarkar, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Boston University
"A beautiful narrative. The Vow from Hiroshima poignantly shows the suffering faced by survivors of nuclear weapons. In telling the stories of Setsuko Thurlow and Mitchie Takeuchi, it demonstrates the agency of hibakusha, to resist the pervasive silencing and stigma associated with the atomic bombs. It offers a clarion call for a world free of nuclear weapons and should be required viewing for students and activists interested in peace and security issues."
Matthew Bolton, Associate Professor, Political Science, Director, International Disarmament Institute, Pace University, Author, Political Minefields; The Struggle against Automated Killing
"The Vow from Hiroshima is a powerful, deeply moving film, centered on Setsuko Thurlow's quest to rid the world of the nuclear terror that cruelly destroyed her classmates and members of her family in 1945. Determined that the crime should never be repeated, she played a vital role in informing the world about the horrors of nuclear war and in securing the adoption of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Teachers and community organizations will find it a valuable and inspiring educational resource."
Lawrence Wittner, Professor of History Emeritus, SUNY - Albany, Author, Confronting the Bomb
"The Vow From Hiroshima reveals the deep humanity, empathy, and courage of Setsuko Thurlow, one of the most effective campaigners ever in the struggle for nuclear weapons abolition. This film gives us a first-person experience of her passion, emotion, and righteous anger; but perhaps more importantly, it highlights her courage, resilience, determination, and humility. The voice that called out to Setsuko in the rubble in 1945 is the same one that calls out today to everyone working for a nuclear-free world: 'Keep moving. Don't give up!'"
Rick Wayman, President and CEO, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
"Vow from Hiroshima an incredibly important film that all Americans should see. Setsuko Thurlow's relentless efforts to ensure that no one on earth ever suffers the unspeakable horrors that decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killed hundreds of thousands of people offers inspiration for the new generation of activists. The movements seeking to eliminate nuclear weapons, avoid catastrophic environmental disaster, and reckon with racial injustice are intimately intertwined and this film will offer hope to those working for peace and justice."
Nancy Parrish, Executive Director, Women's Action for New Directions (WAND)
"Setsuko Thurlow is a true hero, an extraordinary figure in the decades-long effort to ban nuclear weapons. The Vow from Hiroshima tells her story with great compassion. At a time when the nuclear threat is greater than in any other year since the destruction of Hiroshima, the issues this film addresses could not be more timely and important."
Eric Schlosser, Journalist, Author, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
"Well done! Ms. Thurlow is passionate, engaging, and compelling. The Vow from Hiroshima reveals the human side of things - her life and quest to effect change through telling her and her country's story. The documentary is a great vehicle for enlightening a distracted American society, as well as contributing to the discourse on the nuclear threat. This is so inspiring, especially for advocates like myself who teach and research on these issues and are involved with NGOs. This film is a useful vehicle for engaging students and the larger community."
Gregory Hall, Executive Director, Daisy Alliance, Associate Professor of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky
"Setsuko not only found a public voice speaking about the victims of war, but helped build an activist campaign to abolish nuclear weapons that has created a treaty ratified by 39 countries and rising - a campaign focused on educating people about the past victims and potential future victims of war...What if we were to take Setsuko's work and accomplishments not as a freak occurrence to be marveled at, but as an example to be replicated?"
David Swanson, World BEYOND War
"A moving, intelligent and perceptive documentary that reveals both the horror of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the gallant efforts of two survivors who have worked to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again."
Martin J. Sherwin, Professor of History, George Mason University, Author, Gambling with Armageddon: Nuclear Roulette from Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis (forthcoming)
"Underscore[s] why the nuclear debate feels no less urgent today than on the beautiful summer morning when it first exploded."
David Hinckley, Medium
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DVD includes scene selection, and SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Host a community screening
A comprehensive 93-page study guide, with 8 lesson plans, is available free of charge with DVD purchase or streaming license.
Awards and Festivals
Audience Award, Ojai Film Festival
Best Documentary by a Female Filmmaker, ReadingFilmFEST
Cleveland International Film Festival
Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
Global Peace Film Festival
ARTS x SGDS Online Festival
Taos Environmental Film Festival
Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival
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"There were survivors in Hiroshima and in Nagasaki...Susan Strickler's documentary focuses on one of them, Setsuko Thurlow...[A] determined, feisty woman so ably portrayed by this inspiring documentary about responding to tragedy and making a difference. Recommended."
Frank Swietek, Video Librarian
"A powerful and inspiring film that humanizes the issue of nuclear weapons. By focusing on the experiences of first - and second - generation hibakusha (survivors), it illuminates the horrific, long-lasting impacts of the atomic bomb. At the same time, it showcases the resilience and determination of the hibakusha, notably Setsuko Thurlow, an incredible woman who has dedicated her life to the elimination of nuclear weapons. Thurlow's work, in close collaboration with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, highlights how ordinary people can do extraordinary things, including achieving the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons."
Bonnie Docherty, Associate Director, Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection, International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School
"Highly Recommended...Uniquely moving...The film powerfully depicts one person's tireless fight for a cause that contributes to the health and safety of the entire planet. It can be watched as a biopic, and it is also a multifaceted exploration of friendship, love, shared vision, as well as deeply moving history lesson."
Rachael Dreyer, Pennsylvania State University, Educational Media Reviews Online