A blog to remember Gilles Laurent, who died in Brussels Attack in the middle of making his film about Fukushima / this blog is organized by his wife Reiko Udo

さよなら古いお家。 Good-bye to the old house.



The old house where four of us used to live when Gilles was still alive is finaly demolished. We had returned this house to the owner last sumer because it had been promised before renting it. We found a new house nearby and whenever we pass here, of course I remember of the time when he was here.



Various memories are still vivid on the screen inside my head. On the contrary now I see a sales person in businesss suit trying to sell it to a young family with a small kid. I hear the explanation behind and he says there will be three small houses on the land, which is easy to imagine according today’s housing situation. Actually the old house was quite big and had its own garden.


ジルがテロに巻き込まれたことはわかったものの、まだ消息不明だった3〜4日間のこと。彼の残した荷物に向かって、家の中で叫んでいたことを思い出す。玄関に置かれたままの靴や何もない天井に向かって、声を絞り出した。「・・帰って来い! 帰って来い!」 そして神様に向かって「私、がんばりますから。ジルが帰ってくるようだったら、どういう姿でもいいので、子供達をもう一度抱きしめられますように。それが叶うなら、後でちゃんと精進しますから。」と言ってみたりした。涙がとめどなく、ポロポロと乾いた床に落ちたことを思い出す。あれからもうすぐ1年が経とうとしている。

I remember of a few days when Gilles was still missing. I was shouting to the shoes he left and to the empty ceiling as ‘Come back! Come back!’ I spoke also to the God as ‘I will make an effort. If he can come back, he can be of any physical condition. I just hope he can hug kids once again. For that wish, I will try to be a better person for good.’ The tears fell down to dry floors. Now it is going to be one year since that time.











Now I remember these things.

The wall was old and we painted it white. He was working hard.

Lots of friends and family members came to visit Japan and they slept in this house.

In the morning there was Belgian radio via internet on his computer.

Every day was an athletic event for kids because the house had space, and we did not have to care about the noise. They wer small.

One snowy day, somebody had built a snowhouse in the attached parking.

For easter, Gilles hid chocolate eggs in the garden. The same garden became full of mosquitoes later in sumer.

There was a persimmon tree which did not bear fruits because it was cut too much in the last year.

I remember seeing his back speaking seriously to the computer with European staff about the film.

I remember of the entrance where three of us said ‘Good bye and good luck’ to Gilles departing to Belgium in one morning. It was still dark.



The house was the stage for all these memories. Now it disappeared ccompletely, and just a plain brown land appeared .




Good-bye and thank you to the old house, and to the small land.




Gilrs murmured ‘Ah, there is nothing left.’


マイクをつけて。I am with a small microphone now.



I had lots of feedback about the column 'A Person' in Asahi Newspaper. It is the newspaper which used to be delivered to home every morning in my childhood. And...it is one of the widely-known columns.


However I myself did not do anything actually. I did not direct the film. I just kept holding it tightly in my hands, had supports from people, and then reached at this stage and they wanted to describe me as 'A Person' of that day in Japan.  But to be honest,of course I felt happy.


I just realised that Gilles had put a small microphone on me when he passed away. Normally it is sound engineer's work to put it inside the clothes of actors. Then the voice can be recorded and reaches to public. Literally these days, I sometimes get this kind of microphone on me when TV crew comes.


His device of work, a microphone. Now it is on my throat. Ok, I will keep speaking as if I am always with you, I say to him in my heart.



Here is an English translation for the artcile (helped by my father as a translator).


The Asahi Shimbun (Morning paper); Nationwide Newspaper

February 23 (Thursday), 2017

“A PERSON” ('hito')

Mrs. Reiko Udo (47)

The posthumous film made by her husband who passed away in the terrorism attack is to be screened soon.


She lost her husband, Gilles Laurent (46, at that time) on March 22, last year because of the terrorism attack in Belgium. The documentary film “LA TERRE ABANDONNÉE (the Abandoned Land)” which her husband, an ex-sound engineer directed for the first time depicts Fukushima after the accident of Tokyo Elcetric Power Company’s Fukushima No.1 Plant. It is now to be released from March 11 all over Japan successively.


She herself is an editor of a publishing company. She married him in 2010 and after her childcare in Belgium, they began to live in Tokyo together with two daughters from the end of 2013. She says, “Gilles loved Nature, and was very concerned about Fukushima after the accident.”


Mr. Gilles Laurent filmed the scenes in Tomioka town and Minamisoma City from summer to autumn in 2015. He came back to his mother country Belgium to edit the film. Mrs. Reiko Udo looks back at the time and says “It was the day when he was going to give a preview of the film to his colleagues. He encountered the terrorism attack in the subway on his way to the editing studio. It was almost an instantaneous death.”


Her opportunity of getting to her feet from the bottom of lamentation, was an American newspaper article that reported her husband’s death. It said,“He had filmed Fukushima.” Then she thought “I want people to know his first and last work.” Then she began to start  the blog with some hesitation first, and kept writing her feelings about his idea and passion toward his own work. “I could get the mission and become positive at last.”


We do not find any loud insistence in the film. Instead, the sound of wind and the twittering of birds are heard somewhere in far away. The film depicts the daily routines of the people living with their firm roots in Fukushima even after the nuclear power plant’s disaster. Mrs. Reiko Udo says, “I feel myself I can meet Gilles each time when I watch the film. What does our hometown mean to us? What does our family mean? What is ‘life’ for us first of all? …I wish all the people who view this film would find their own answers through it.”


The text and photo: Erina Itoh

Cf. Digital interview is also available. (no English subtitles, sorry)



松村さんへの手紙。その2 ”Dear Matsumura-san” from Gilles, no.2



After Gilles actually met Matsumura-san, he decided to make a film. And he visited the place again to take photos. Here is a letter he wrote in his own Japanese expressing the gratitude to Matumura-san at that time. I copy and paste it below.



撮影は2014年10月2日。松村さんに案内してもらって、彼の生活圏をロケハンして回ったようです。This photo was taken on 2nd or Ocboter, 2014. He had Matsumura-san as his own guide in the area.




(原文:the original text by Gilles, on 4th of October, 2014)


松村さん、 おとといについて ありがとう ございました。 私に ほんとう に おもしろかた。;松村さんにめんどくさくなかったとねがいます。 木曜日にあってからおもしろいことをいっしょにできるとおもうので映画に がんばりつづけます。 Let's keep in touch. ローラン ジル


(translation by Reiko today)

Daer Matsumura-san, thank you very much for the day before yesterday. I enjoyed it so much. I hope it was not boring for you. After I met you on thursday, I am thinking that I can do something interesting with you and I am determined to make efforts for the film. Let's keep in touch. Gilles Laurent

松村さんへの手紙。 ”Dear Matsumura-san” from Gilles



I have been asked by many journalists why Gilles wanted to make this film. I was answering in my way with all my memories, but here I find a letter as an evidence. 


The letter from Gilles to Matsumura-san. He wrote in English and I translated and sent it to him. Here below I copy and paste it.


As he has written here, he just wanted to record an interview first. But after he actually saw him and the scenary, his wish changed dramatically to make a film. It was written on 18th of August, 2014.



Dear Matsumura-san,


First of all, I would like shortly to present myself

and let you know the purpose of my letter.

I’m a sound engineer working for  the film and radio industry.

I’m actually living in Japan for the moment, for a period of a bit more than one year. I’m a belgian citizen and my wife Reiko is japanese.  

I ‘m writing to you as I would like to devellop a project of documentary for radio about  your current experience and action.


I have been sensitive and interested in ecology with a firm position against nuclear energy since a long time ago.  So since march 2011, 

I have been investigating about the process of the situation of post-desaster, here in Japan. Especially since we arrived  last November, I have been really surprised with the lack of information, and the irresponsible behaviour of the japanese governement regarding this situation. Through discussions I realized  that the relationship between medias, governement and industries do not offer an easy way for information and truth to spread freely and reach everyone.


I kept investigating and through the « Fukushima blog » I discovered your experience and your  action that eventually made me really impressed. Because of the courage, the sense of honour,  but  as well and maybe more than everything, because of these beautiful qualities called compassion and empathy.  Another impressive aspect of your quest, from my point of view,  is that  you face the past and the future with your present action at the same time. From what I could read  and hear, you keep facing the past  and its consequencies through your action with animals there in the  red/closed zone, and at the same time, you face the future,  protesting by your presence in  Tomioka, and being active in a protest against nuclear energy.


That’s why, because of the feelings above-mentionned, I would like to give to  your « voice », more « echo »  and  let your action to be known by another and wider public.  

That is the reason why I’m writing to you, to know if you would be interested to be involved in this project.  I hope it could raise public awareness, to hopefully change people’s mentality  about nuclear energy and maybe prevent another disasters, but as well to make people sensitive about the strenghth  and importance of compassion.

The goal would be to broadcast it on radios as I consider it as a perfect media to share someone’s experience.



I have been in contact with Antionio Pagnotta. I am really happy now to get his help, answering my questions to go ahead in this project. 

I really like his work and have been really touched by the sensibility of the pictures and texts he wrote about « Le dernier homme de Fukushima ».


I’m sorry that I had to write this letter in English and that I could not communicate directely with you in Japanese. I’m now actively learning japanese since I arrived in Japan, but unfortunely, even if it allows me now to understand things, it is still really difficult for me to speak well and my level is anyway still low…  That’s the reason why I have to proceed in this way with the thankful translation of my wife.  


I already want to thank you very much for your attention,

and I’m now looking forward to hearing from you.


My warmest regards,


Gilles Laurent


























初めての富岡町。First time in Tomioka.


富岡町の松村さん宅。到着した時は猫のしろや犬のイシに餌をあげているところでした。When I arrived at Matsumura-san's place, he was feeding the cat Shiro and the dog Ishi.



On 15th of February, I finally visited Tomioka. Maybe people would ask me why finally ? Why didn't you do it before ?... I was questioning myself too.



The reason why my husband died is the accumulation of all the moments. But I was wondering it is mainly due to the fact that I brought him to Japan and let him determine to make a film. Then the existence of this town, Tomioka is the definite piece to lead to that destiny.



To be honest I had a kind of small regret or sense of guilty, and it had kept me for a while from the idea to visit there.



But I was finally be able to be inside Matsumura-san's house, look at the things on the wall, check the difference of the land, and Mrs. Hangai held me tight saying 'Poor girl' walmly... I also heard the announce saying 'We hear sometimes bears appear...so please be careful', but at the same time this land will be permitted to live from April. There are things that you can finally experience and feel after the real visit.



Two hours drive from Tomioka, and then I arrived at the theater, Forumu Fukushima for one day screening. Matsumura-san also joined the talk event after. I had thought that Matsumura-san was not interested in speaking about Gilles so much before, but what he referred to first was the complicated feeling he had, too. Of course he was shocked too. Yes, he is a kind of extreme humanist like Gilles, then it was difficult for him to speak about the real feeling too. We had shared the same kind of feeling.



There was another person who joined the talk event, a lawyer regarding Fukushima, Mr. Managi. He said 'This film is about five senses. I also think it is very important and I suggest judges always to go to the places by themselves. It is important to be out of the buildings.'



Yes, this film is about five senses. That is a very refreshing feeling and just by seeing the film, you feel that you are there already.



By the way I had a strange imression that the road to Tomioka really ressembled that to Bouillon, his hometown. I realised that Gilles loved this land. I am happy that I finally 'met' the land where he poured his passion.



Now maybe he is saying that he was happy to meet me, happy to have children, and happy that he was finally able to make a film. Thank you very much for going there... I feel in this way.




It was an important moment for me to reconcile my feeling and welcome the moment that the film will be released soon. Now after the screening in Belgian Embassy in Tokyo in December, that in my hometwon Kitakyushu-city in January, and then finally I could arrive to Fukushima in February and connect the same feel for Tomioka.

Tomioka. This is an important hometown for people who used to live here too.

映画に「おかえり」と言った。I said 'welcome back' to the film.


Here is the 'photo document' of my travle to Tomioka, Fukushima. I visited there on the way to Fukushima-city for one day screening. I was finally able to visit Mr. Matsumura's and Mr. and Mrs. Hangai's house.



The land which used to be full of weeds, where Mr. Matsumura's father was sitting and facing is now looking like a plane land after decontamination.




The way to Mr. Matsumura's house was surrounded by woods and it looked exactly like a way to Bouillon (Belgium), Gilles' hometown.




Mr. Matsumura looked cool as usual. He said 'I like this town because I was born and bred here.)




Mrs. Hangai's Origami tools.




They welcomed me as if they were my real grand parents.




Fukushima is huge. The way from Tomioka to Fukushima-city included Iidate village and there was snow.




Two hours from Tomioka, beyond mountains. The view of the city came into my eys suddenly.




The journey to the place where the film was born. I said 'Welcome back! ' to the film.



To be continued...

感想コラージュ。Feedback from early audience in Japan









自分のすぐ傍にも そんな人がいたので、思い出しました。
そして、松村直登さんも ジル・ローラン監督も、
そういう微かなはずの音が 生のまま身体に飛び込んでくる感覚でした。
正直 そうした調整を全く感じることなく
生音として聞いている感覚にしてくれる 心地良い音作りに驚きました。
ご主人の想いが より多くの方々に伝わることを願っております。(40代男性)