“Fukushima.” The name of the nuclear power plant that was severely damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated coastal areas of northeastern Japan has become an ominous buzzword. Along with “Chernobyl,” it lurks in the backs of our minds as a symbol of the unthinkable. Maybe if we just forget, we tell ourselves, everything will somehow turn out all right. Yet, from most evidence, the crisis appears to be far from over.

The dread factor is one reason few will want to watch Atsushi Funahashi’s new documentary, “Nuclear Nation,” about the effects of the catastrophe on everyday people. This modest film observes evacuees from Futaba, a small town near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, making do in their temporary shelter. Partly because this version of the movie was drastically edited to 96 minutes from 145, it feels sketchy and disjointed.

“Nuclear Nation” doesn’t take the long view. It doesn’t pretend to be knowledgeable about nuclear power or the politics of the disaster, although the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company come off as untrustworthy and indifferent. If nothing else, the film will force you to reassess all the arguments for and against nuclear power.

Those whose lives were uprooted seem remarkably stoic, although anger simmers below their resignation at being buffeted by forces beyond their control. And, in one scene of a rally, they vent their frustration. Most of the evacuees, also known as nuclear refugees, are middle-aged or older people who have been relocated from Futaba to an abandoned four-story high school in Saitama, a suburb of Tokyo. Crowded in dormitory-like conditions, subsisting on bento box meals, they await word that never comes of when they might return to their homes in what is now a ghost town. Their numbers dwindle over the months, from more than 1,400 to fewer than half that, as they build new lives in new places.

Some of the saddest scenes show residents who are allowed to return briefly to pick up belongings. Donning protective gear and making the bus trip home, they are given two hours to collect sentimental treasures like wedding pictures and favorite pieces of clothing.

Katsutaka Idogawa, who was Futaba’s quietly heartbroken mayor, recalls the economic benefits the Fukushima plant once brought to Futaba and the pride that residents felt in being a nuclear power center. But the official response to the evacuees, many of whom haven’t been tested for radiation exposure, was so tepid that any trust has been broken. Some assume that they were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation long before the disaster. It should go without saying that Mr. Idogawa is no longer an advocate of nuclear energy.

Nuclear Nation

Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan.

Written and directed by Atsushi Funahashi; director of photography, Mr. Funahashi and Yutaka Yamazaki; music by Haruyuki Suzuki; produced by Mr. Funahashi and Yoshiko Hashimoto; released by First Run Features. At Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South Village. In Japanese, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. This film is not rated.