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Film focuses on American lost in Japan tsunami

Taylor Anderson, left

Taylor Anderson, on left, died in the 2011 Japan tsunami while working as a teacher. The Virginia native was the first confirmed American casualty and the focus of a new film by Emerson faculty member Theodore “Regge” Life.

The devastating 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami seemed a world away for most Americans, but a new documentary by an Emerson filmmaker shows the lifelong effects a foreigner had in a Japanese community.

Distinguished Director-in-Residence Theodore “Regge” Life of the Visual and Media Arts Department directed the full-length documentary Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story, about the first confirmed American casualty.

Taylor Anderson was a 24-year-old assistant English teacher who worked for the Japanese Exchange Teaching program in the town of Ishinomaki.

She survived the initial earthquake, but was tragically swept away in the tsunami as she was riding her bike back to her apartment to call her parents to let them know she was OK.

Life interviewed Taylor’s friends and family for the film, which premiered in November in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia.

“It’s really a story not only of Taylor’s life, but of the lives of many of the teachers that were there,” Life said. “It’s a metaphor or an example for all of us to take a look at our lives.”

Life said directing the film was “very tough” emotionally.

“I was left with this really incredible spirit of this woman, who touched a lot of people in that town,” Life said. “Her loss was still being felt.”

Emerson students were integral in the post-production process of the film, including Will Rogan MFA ’13, who assisted with technical work, and Michelle Tsaltas ’12, who helped edit the film.

Life said the Emerson community was very supportive.

“I’m really happy that Emerson is so forward thinking,” he said, “and has an environment that is supportive of the work of faculty…and embraces globalism.”

Life is currently adapting Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story for Japanese audiences. He plans to have screenings in Japan in March 2013. Live Your Dream will also screen at Emerson in the Bright Family Screening Room on March 12, 2013.

Regge Life

Distinguished Director-in-Residence Theodore “Regge” Life filmed a documentary on the first American killed in the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami.
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