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Honour the 5th Anniversary of the 2011 Tsunami with a Free Stream of our Short Film Debris

Honour the 5th Anniversary of the 2011 Tsunami with a Free Stream of our Short Film Debris

Honour the 5th Anniversary of the 2011 Tsunami with a Free Stream of our Short Film Debris

5 years ago, on March 11, 2011, a megathrust earthquake occurred off the coast of Japan. Referred to in Japan as the Great East Japan earthquake, it was the most powerful earthquake to ever have hit Japan, and the fourth most powerful earthquake to ever shake the earth since modern record-keeping began in 1900.

The earthquake triggered immense tsunami waves, up to 40 metres tall, some of which travelled up to 10 km inland. The quake was so strong it moved the main island of Japan 2.4 m to the east and shifted the Earth on its axis by estimates of between 10 and 25 cm.

Almost 16,000 people were reported dead. Hundred of thousands of buildings collapsed. Over 225,000 people needed to relocate.

After the catastrophe, debris from the earthquake began drifting away, some of it eventually reaching Tofino, BC, all the way across the Pacific Ocean.


This is where intertidal artist Pete Clarkson comes in. Like so many around the world, he was deeply affected by the disaster. When years later, splintered and mangled timber and other objects started to wash ashore, the disaster hit home again for Clarkson and the inspiration for his memorial was born.

In his caring hands, the remnants of the Tohoku region take on a life of their own as he shapes them into a unique public sculpture. The result is an evocative memorial that is a site of remembrance and contemplation, and an emotional bridge connecting an artist, his community and a people an ocean away.


From March 10th to 13th, remember, and honour, the 5th anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami with a free stream of our film about Clarkson and his process, Debris.

We refer to the material washing ashore as “debris”, but it is so much more. For many it is all that remains of their former homes, and lives, and even family members. The memorial “Swept Away” is meant to honour those memories while also reminding us of our own vulnerability. As the Tohoku Tsunami so poingnately reminds us – life is fleeting, and tomorrow a gift, so cherish the moment.  — Pete Clarkson

Free stream of Debris (begins March 10th at 5pm)

Debris, John Bolton, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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  1. this is awful and i don’t like it 🙁

    — eden,
  2. The subject was moving & Mr.Clarkson’s passion for Tsunami victims was admirable but I’m concerned with all the litter placed in a beautiful pristine rainforest. I hope that mess was cleaned up.

    — MH,
  3. Thanks Pete for a very moving installation. You have inspired me to thinking deeply about the tsunami. Thanks for letting us see your process.

    — Barbara Hunting,
  4. Thanks, Pete for sharing your heart-felt creation of your wave of lost now found objects. I hope a copy of your film can be offered to the survivors in honour of their lives and memories. Thanks, too, NFB for creating another wonderfull film.

    — Beverley,
  5. Deeply moving film on the Tsunami of March 10 2011 set in the coastal rain forest at Tofino, so sheltered, so natural and beautiful in its green growth, now sheltering the remnants that came across the sea from this massive event.

    — sylvia purdon,
  6. A very moving memorial. Just watching gave me goose bumps and to think that other humans used these pieces to work or to live. It really made me think of how this tragedy affected so many people.

  7. Thanks so much for sending this, it’s a perfect pairing with a book I happened to come our local library called March Was Made of Yarn (reflections on the Japanese Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown). It may be painful to think back that on that crisis 5 years ago but if it happened here, wouldn’t we want to be remembered?.

    — Ardith Chambers,

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