ZAN is both a contemplative, spiritual documentary as well as a call-to-action about the last of the Okinawan dugong and the people who strive to protect them. With beautiful imagery capturing the outstandingly beautiful and bio diverse Henoko, Oura bay, the dugong is facing its last stand, its feeding grounds are threatened by the construction of a US Marine base, where locals dispute the military’s assessment that their construction will not impact the population (numbering less than 10 dugongs in the region). The film also chronicles Okinawan residents, mostly elderly and have never been political, taking action in protests against this construction.
Director Rick Grehan brings us on a journey of discovery, chronicling activists, historians and citizens who are working tirelessly to protect this beautiful part of the world, with the dugong as more than an animal at the brink of extinction. The dugong is also a marine diety that is entwined in Okinawan history and folklore and is an integral part of the Okinawan culture that is also being erased by Japanese assimilation.
ZAN is a time capsule of Okinawa today, as past, present and future are in a battle to preserve indigenous Okinawan culture. The film also highlights a common plight that is shared among other First Peoples of the Pacific Rim, when geo-politics remaining unchecked, can eradicate not only an entire species, but a way of life.
— Anderson Le
Synopsis written by: Anderson Le