The Nichi Bei Foundation will present the fifth annual Films of Remembrance on Feb. 20.
A one-day film event commemorating the signing of Executive Order 9066, which set the wheels in motion to forcibly remove some 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry into American concentration camps during World War II.
The screenings will also feature a discussion with filmmakers
Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Filmmakers Reception 8-10 p.m.
New People Cinema, 1746 Post St., San Francisco’s Japantown
LIMITED SEATING! TICKETS ON SALE NOW!
Major Funding by Presenting Sponsors:
• Aratani CARE grant, UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center
• Wayne Maeda Educational Fund
$10 each, first four screenings
$25 for “Right of Passage” (includes Filmmakers Reception)
All-Day Pass: $60 for all five film screenings (limit 50), includes Reception
$20 for Filmmakers Reception (8-10 p.m.)
Nichi Bei Foundation members / Students with ID:
$8 per film (first four screenings) • $20 for “Right of Passage” • $50 for all w/Reception
*All-day passes limited to the first 50.
Films to be screened at the fifth annual Films of Remembrance:
10:30 a.m.: NISEI LINGUISTS IN THE BATTLE OF OKINAWA
“Typhoon of Steel” (2012, 19 min.) by Gena Hamamoto
“Typhoon of Steel” is a short community-based documentary film that explores the lives of two Okinawan American Kibei Nisei who served in the U.S. military as linguists in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II. While Japanese Americans on the West Coast were incarcerated in American concentration camps, these men risked their lives to prove their loyalty to America. Born in the U.S. and raised in Okinawa, their cultural and linguistic skills were a tactical asset to the military. But emotions ran high as they saved their own families, and witnessed civilian casualties and the devastation of the island they once called home.
SPECIAL GUEST: Filmmaker GENA HAMAMOTO
“The Herbert Yanamura Story” (2015, 25 min.) by Alexander Bocchieri and Stacey Hayashi
“The Herbert Yanamura Story” is a documentary that chronicles Herbert Yanamura’s journey as a young soldier trying to make a difference, and the amazing rendezvous nearly 70 years after the Battle of Okinawa with someone who heeded his call. Of the 250,000 people who died on Okinawa during the battle, nearly 150,000 were civilians. Tragically, thousands committed suicide.
Yanamura, a Japanese American soldier and linguist with the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), issued a compassionate, stirring call to the civilian population to surrender. His actions on June 21, 1945 helped save the lives of over 1,500 civilians, including many women and children.
For many years, this modest, unassuming hero of the Greatest Generation wasn’t permitted to talk about his work with the Military Intelligence Service. Now, in his own words, he shares the fascinating, unheralded history and hidden human element behind this major WWII battle.
SPECIAL GUESTS: Military Intelligence Service veteran HERBERT YANAMURA, and Director/Producer STACEY HAYASHI from Honolulu, Hawai‘i
12:15 p.m.: RE-CREATING NIKKEI HISTORY (SHORTS)
“Building History 3.0: Learning about Japanese American Incarceration Camps Through Minecraft” by UCLA Department of EthnoCommunications
A joint effort of Oscar-nominated filmmaker and educator Renee Tajima‐Peña and game‐based learning designer Randall Fujimoto, “Building History 3.0” is originated by and designed for youth. It was inspired by Tajima‐Peña’s 12‐year‐old son Gabriel, who constructed a virtual Heart Mountain concentration camp using Minecraft during a visit to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. “Building History 3.0” will be an online, game-based curriculum that can be taught in a variety of settings, including schools, community and cultural institutions, and at home. The curriculum will be developed in accordance with national and state Common Core Standards.
GENA HAMAMOTO of UCLA’s Department of EthnoCommunications to present
“Warning Shot: The Killing of James Wakasa” (12:40 min, 2015) by Tina Takemoto
One death. Three versions of the crime. James Wakasa, a 63-year-old Japanese American bachelor, was shot to death by military police at Topaz incarceration camp during World War II. Was it justifiable homicide, an accidental fatality, or second-degree murder? This queer experimental film essay uses the “Rashomon effect” to juxtapose the conflicting accounts regarding the circumstances and cause of Wakasa’s untimely death.
Filmmaker TINA TAKEMOTO to attend
“Lil Tokyo Reporter” (30 min., 2012) by Jeffrey Gee Chin
“Lil Tokyo Reporter” is a narrative short film based on the true life struggles of Sei Fujii, an immigrant pioneer, civil rights leader, and publisher of the Kashu Mainichi community newspaper who protected the livelihood of the Japanese American community from 1903-1954. The film stars Chris Tashima, Eijiro Ozaki, Ikuma Ando, Keiko Agena and Sewell Whitney. Directed by Jeffrey Gee Chin from a screenplay written by Guinevere Turner (“American Psycho”), it is based on the research of the Executive Producer Fumiko Carole Fujita and the Little Tokyo Historical Society.
SPECIAL GUESTS: Actor Chris Tashima and direcor Jeffrey Gee Chin
2:15 p.m.: “A Bitter Legacy” (2016) by Claudia Katayanagi
This feature documentary investigates the little-known “Citizen Isolation Centers,” harsh and secret World War II prisons created within the Japanese American incarceration camp system in late 1942 and early 1943 to separate citizens deemed by the American government as “trouble-makers” from the other Japanese American prisoners. Formed in Death Valley, California, Moab, Utah and Old Leupp, Arizona, these secret prisons have been called “precursors to Guantanamo” and “Heart Mountain Concentration Camp on steroids.”
Interviews of professors, artists, former prisoners and archival and present-day photographs bring this little-known piece of U.S. history to life. When the Citizen Isolation Centers are closed, the men are not freed, but are sent into the Stockade, a prison within a prison, at what then became the Tule Lake Segregation Center in 1943. The Stockade is compared to Abu Ghraib by Professor Roger Daniels, as he talks about the beatings with baseball bats and other major mistreatment of any man who dared to ask questions, or wished to “renounce” their American citizenship, quite often as a sign of protest for their treatment by these authorities.
“A Bitter Legacy” makes clear why civic engagement and socio-political activism is so necessary to maintain a democratic society, especially during times of upheaval.
Filmmaker CLAUDIA KATAYANAGI and historian ART HANSEN to attend and discuss the film
4 p.m.: “The Empty Chair” (2014, 72 min.) by Greg Chaney
“The Empty Chair” is a unique documentary about how Japanese Americans from Juneau, Alaska were sent to prison camps during WWII and how the small Alaskan community stood in quiet defiance against the immoral incarceration of American citizens.
Japanese immigrants came to Alaska in the early 1900s and settled there to raise families. John Tanaka was born and raised in Juneau. In 1942 John was going to be the Valedictorian of his high school graduating class but was scheduled to be incarcerated in an American concentration camp before the graduation ceremony. In response, the school board voted to hold a special early graduation ceremony for him before John was sent to the camp. When the official graduation ceremony was held for the class of ‘42 they set aside an empty chair on the platform to acknowledge his absence.
John Tanaka volunteered to join the U.S. Army to fight the Axis powers during WWII while the rest of his family was incarcerated. He was a member of the all-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated Army unit for its length of service.
“The Empty Chair” documentary is composed of interviews of survivors from that period, rare historical photos, never before seen archival footage, U.S. Government documentaries and historical accounts. All of these sources are woven together to draw the viewer back into this little-known chapter of American history.
SPECIAL GUESTS: Filmmaker GREG CHANEY, and PETER HIKIDO on behalf of the Tanaka family
6 p.m.: “Right of Passage” (2015, 98 min.) by Janice D. Tanaka, narrated by Brooke Shields
Nowadays, when bipartisanship on Capitol Hill is a rarity, filmmaker Janice Tanaka tells the story of a bygone era of human connection inside the Beltway — an unprecedented “American” moment in the U.S. Congress that the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University called an achievement “against all odds.” The Civil Liberties Act of 1988, almost 45 years in the making, acknowledged the fundamental injustice of the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II in American concentration camps and paid each surviving incarceree $20,000 along with a government apology. Not many outside the Japanese American community know this story. “Right of Passage” recounts the journey of a small disenfranchised people who for 30 years buried their shame and indignation but then found the courage and strength to seek justice, which then snowballed into a lesson of the power of American democracy.
The documentary draws upon newly declassified documents, never-before-seen archival films and interviews with players speaking for the first time. Featured are Presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford; Senators Daniel Inouye, Spark Matsunaga and Alan Simpson; Congressmen Barney Frank, Norm Mineta and Bob Matsui; Ken Duberstein, former Chief of Staff to Ronald Reagan; and the men and women from the community who played a significant role in this Herculean effort.
SPECIAL GUESTS: Filmmaker JANICE D. TANAKA, historian ART HANSEN, and redress activists