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Browse > Genre > Drama

33 articles

The Magic of Ordinary Days (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, Romance
  • Beauty of simplicity, Love and sacrifice, Role of women
  • Available

Made-for-television movie under the Hallmark Hall of Fame banner about the arranged marriage of an educated urban woman carrying an illegitimate child and a kindly farmer. The film includes a subplot about a friendship between the woman and two Japanese American sisters from Amache who are among the farmworkers.

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If Tomorrow Comes (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Love and sacrifice, Evils of racism
  • Available

Made for television movie that tells the story of a Romeo and Juliet type romance between a Nisei man and a white woman against the backdrop of World War II. Produced by Aaron Spelling Productions, "If Tomorrow Comes" debuted on CBS on December 7, 1971. It was directed by George McCowan from a teleplay by Lew Hunter and starred former child star Patty Duke opposite newcomer Frank Liu. The movie was originally titled "My Husband, the Enemy," with protests by the Asian American community leading to a name change.

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Forgotten Valor (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Heroism - real or perceived
  • No availability

Dramatic film about a 442nd Regimental Combat Team veteran who was among those awarded the Medal of Honor in 2000, but who refuses to attend the ceremony and subsequently disappears.

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Half Kenneth (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, Short
  • Coming of age, Loss of innocence, Family - blessing or curse
  • Limited availability

Short dramatic film about two mixed race brothers at Manzanar in 1945. A 21-minute short, Half Kenneth was made by Ken Ochiai as a master's thesis film at the American Film Institute.

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American Fish (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Short, Drama
  • Available

Short dramatic film about two Nisei women who run into each other at a grocery store and the dance that ensues when neither can remember who the other is. Humorous at first, the tone shifts when one asks about "camp" and other replies that she was in Tule Lake, invoking stereotypes of the camp and its inmates in the other. Directed by Jesse Wine, "American Fish" was based on the short story of the same name by R. A. Sasaki. It was screened as part of the Tule Lake Pilgrimage in 1996.

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Sanga moyu (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Family - blessing or curse, Patriotism - positive side or complications
  • Limited availability

Japanese television series that dramatized the Japanese American experience. Sanga moyu (Burning Mountains and Rivers) was a 1984 series produced by NHK, Japan's national broadcasting network. Consisting of 51 episodes that ran 45 minutes each, the series debuted on January 8, 1984, and ran through December 23, 1984. The story was based on the novel Futatsu no sokoku (Two Homelands) by Toyoko Yamasaki and focused on the Amo family of Los Angeles whose three Nisei sons chose different paths during World War II while the family was incarcerated at Manzanar: one who volunteers for the U.S. Army and fights in Europe, another who serves in the Military Intelligence Service during the war crimes trials and American occupation, and a third who is trapped in Japan at the outbreak of war and drafted into the Japanese army. Japanese American organizations in the continental United States objected to the portrayal of split ...

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Hito Hata: Raise the Banner (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Immigrant experience
  • Limited availability

Landmark feature film produced by Visual Communications (VC), a Los Angeles based non-profit in 1980. Centering on the life story of an Issei man, Hito Hata was likely the first dramatic feature film about Asian Americans by Asian Americans since the silent film era.

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Midway (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, War
  • War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Available

Epic war movie that tells the story of the Battle of Midway, the turning point of the Pacific War, from both the American and Japanese perspectives. Made for a modest budget despite its all-star cast, Midway was successful at the box office. In addition to employing many Japanese American actors in the roles of Japanese naval officers, the movie has a subplot involving the internment/incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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Day of Independence (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Coming of age, Family - blessing or curse, Self-reliance
  • Available

A 2003 short dramatic film about one Japanese American family's World War II experience in an American concentration camp, told through the narration of a young baseball player, whose life is traumatically altered by the forced removal and his father's decision to expatriate back to Japan. The screenplay is based on the real-life experiences of playwright and executive producer Tim Toyama's family and adapted from a play Toyama wrote entitled "Independence Day".

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Moving Day (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, History
  • Evils of racism, Power of the past, Injustice
  • No availability

UCLA student film that dramatizes the wartime eviction of a Japanese American farming family. Silent scenes of a family of five (presumably two Issei parents and their three Nisei children) eating, packing their possessions, making musubi for the voyage, and other preparations for removal are accompanied by first-person narration by a female voice, presumably the daughter of the family. The film begins with the words of John DeWitt read in his voice justifying the need for the forced removal of Japanese Americans. The film ends with a coda about the passage of time and how many have forgotten—or have never known about—the events depicted. Moving Day is one of the first—if not the first—film by a Japanese American that depicts the travails of World War II.

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The First Battle: The Battle for Equality in War-Time Hawaii (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, Drama
  • Limited availability

A 2006 film by Tom Coffman about the multi-racial group of civic and military leaders in World War II Hawai'i that monitored race relations and supported Hawai'i's large Japanese American community. After Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, the Committee for Interracial Unity and the Morale Section led by Chinese American YMCA Secretary Hung Wai Ching and Japanese American school principal Shigeo Yoshida, worked to protect the civil liberties of the people of Japanese ancestry living in Hawai'i, which ultimately led to the decision against a mass removal of Japanese Americans from the islands. In addition to interviews with some of the key figures and archival footage and stills, The First Battle also recreates several key scenes with actors playing key historical figures such as Ching, Yoshida, and Hawai'i FBI head Robert Shivers. Major funders included Central Pacific Bank, the Gerbode Foundation, the Hawaii Pacific Rim Society, and ...

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American Sons (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Empowerment, Evils of racism, Quest for discovery, Role of men
  • Widely available

Docudrama by Steven Okazaki about four Asian American male characters talking about the role of race in their lives. Though played by actors, the words spoken by each character come from interviews with real people.

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Go for Broke! (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, War
  • War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Heroism - real or perceived, Hazards of passing judgment
  • Widely available

1951 feature film that tells the story of 442nd Regimental Combat Team and that climaxes with the rescue of the "Lost Battalion." A popular and critical success, Go For Broke! represents a landmark in the representation of Japanese Americans in Hollywood films. The film focuses on the transformation of the initially bigoted Lt. Michael Grayson (played by Van Johnson), who is assigned to command the all-Japanese American unit. The members of the 442nd were mostly played by Nisei veterans. Producer and MGM studio head Dore Schary would produce another film centered around bigotry aimed at Japanese Americans four years later, Bad Day at Black Rock (1955).

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I'll Remember April (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Coming of age, Loss of innocence, Fear of other
  • Available

Dramatic film directed by Bob Clark and written by Mark Sanderson set in April 1942 about four young boys who discover a Japanese sailor. One of the boys is Japanese American, and he and his family also prepare for their imminent forced removal and incarceration. Pat Morita plays the boy's grandfather.

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One of Many (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Injustice, Disillusionment and dreams, Patriotism - positive side or complications
  • Widely available

Short dramatic film written and directed by Byron Yokomi centering on George Miyamoto, a young man at one of the Arkansas concentration camps facing major life decisions brought on by the loyalty questionnaire crisis. Yokomi made the film as an MFA student at Florida State University.

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Tadaima (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Companionship as salvation, Darkness and light, Disillusionment and dreams, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Widely available

Short dramatic film by Robin Takao D'Oench that chronicles the return of a Japanese American family to their West Coast home after being released from an American concentration camp. The family—two presumably Issei parents and two presumably Nisei kids, an older teenage boy and younger teenage girl—arrive at a home that is unkempt and dirty and also marred by anti-Japanese graffiti both inside and out. As they set about making the house livable again, the two kids go out into the woods and dig up a box filled with Japanese objects—family photographs, documents, and precious objects such as Japanese dolls and clothing—they had presumably buried in the period prior to their forced removal. As they slowly settle back into their home, each family member finds some degree of hope by the end of the first day. The title is a Japanese expression generally uttered by someone who is announcing his ...

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The Steel Helmet (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Widely available

Dramatic film about infantry soldiers in the Korean War written and directed by Samuel Fuller. One of the ensemble is a Nisei soldier and World War II veteran played by Richard Loo. It is likely the first Hollywood film to note the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II in a disapproving manner.

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American Pastime (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, History, Sport
  • Widely available

A 2007 feature film directed by Desmond Nakano that is based on true events that occurred at Topaz, an American concentration camp in Utah which held thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II. The film's story focuses on the Nomura family, whose mother and father are both Issei, and their two Nisei children, Lane and Lyle. Following the signing of Executive Order 9066 in February 1942, the Nomuras, along with over 120,000 other Japanese living on the West Coast, are forced into desolate government camps across the country. To boost the morale of the younger inmates and help build a sense of community, Mr. Nomura, who was once a professional baseball player, forms an in-camp league within the concentration camp, in an attempt to to instill some sense of normality into their lives.

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Eagle Against the Sun (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Loss of innocence, Coming of age, Evils of racism
  • Limited availability

A dramatic short film by John Akahoshi centering on a 17-year-old Japanese American high school girl and the impact the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has on her life.

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Farewell to Manzanar (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, History
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Injustice, Patriotism – positive side or complications, Power of the past
  • Available

Made-for-television movie about a Japanese American family in Manzanar during World War II. Based on the book of the same name by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, Farewell to Manzanar aired nationally on NBC stations on March 11, 1976, and remains one of the few mainstream dramatic films centered on the Japanese American concentration camp experience.

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Conversations: Before the War/After the War (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Injustice, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

A 1986 dramatic film by Robert Nakamura that is based on the play "Truth of the Matter" by Karen L. Ishizuka. In Conversations, three characters discuss their life experiences, feelings and the facts of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans, exploring the changes in their lives and long term effects of their wartime experiences. Though taking the form of oral history interviews, the three characters were nonprofessional actors playing composite characters based on their own experiences and that of others. The cast included Kimiko Nakamura—the mother of director Nakamura—along with Warren Furutani, playing a role based on his father, and Grace Ino, playing the part of a younger Nisei. in a 2009 interview, Nakamra said that the film "was experimental in that we used the experiences of the non-actors themselves reading transcripts of interviews, and a little bit of coaching."[1]

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Hyakunen no monogatari (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Love and sacrifice, Role of women
  • Available

Japanese television drama—whose English title is 100 Years—that follows the fortunes of four generations of women over the course of the twentieth century. The three-part drama first aired in Japan on TBS on August 28 to 30, 2000, and was subsequently shown on Japanese language TV stations in the United States. The first segment begins in 1920 and ends in the late 1930s, the second begins in 1949 and covers the early postwar years, and the third takes place in 2000. Each segment stars Nanako Matsushima, who plays Aya Togura, born in 1901 in the first segment, her daughter in the second, and her great-granddaughter in the third. The second segment includes two major Japanese American characters, both of whom were incarcerated in American concentration camps.

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Farewell to Manzanar Educational Kit (curricula)

  • Curricula
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Memoir, Drama, History
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Evils of racism, Family - blessing or curse, Growing up - pain or pleasure, Injustice, Patriotism - positive side or complications, Power of the past
  • Limited availability (kit), widely available (book, teaching guide and film)

In 2003, the Farewell to Manzanar Education Initiative distributed 10,000 copies of the Farewell to Manzanar Educational Kit to California public schools and public libraries. The kit consists of the book, Farewell to Manzanar and Related Readings (1998), a teaching guide for the book (1998), a VHS cassette of the Farewell to Manzanar made-for-television movie (1976) with an additional 35-minute classroom version, and a video study guide (2002). Separate elements of the kit are available for purchase (except for the video study guide).

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Snow Falling on Cedars (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Fear of other, Lost love, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Film based on the popular novel by David Guterson set in a small island village in Washington state about a young white newspaper publisher covering the postwar murder trial of a Japanese American fisherman. Flashback scenes depict the forced removal of Japanese Americans and their wartime incarceration. Directed by Scott Hicks from a screenplay by Hicks and Ronald Bass, Snow Falling on Cedars garnered an academy award nomination for its cinematographer, Robert Richardson.

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Come See the Paradise (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, History, Romance
  • Everlasting love, Family – blessing or curse, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Widely available

The content in this article is still under development. A completed version will appear soon!

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