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Browse > Media Type > Films and Video

235 articles

Right of Passage (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Empowerment, Female roles, Importance of community, Power of the past
  • Available

Documentary film by Janice D. Tanaka that chronicles the convoluted twenty-year history of the Redress Movement.

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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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Starting Over: Japanese Americans After the War (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Rebirth, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film centering on the return of Japanese Americans to their homes after their exclusion and incarceration in concentration camps.

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Something Strong Within (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Displacement, Will to survive
  • Available

Documentary film by pioneering director Robert A. Nakamura crafted out of amateur home movie footage shot in American concentration camps. Nakamura and producer/writer Karen L. Ishizuka produced Something Strong Within for the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) as a companion piece to the exhibition America's Concentration Camps, curated by Ishizuka, which opened on November 11, 1994.

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Streams of Light: Shin Buddhism in America (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Adult
  • Documentary
  • Change versus tradition, Power of tradition, Role of Religion – virtue or hypocrisy
  • Widely available

Documentary film on shin Buddhism in the United States focuses on the Japanese American temples of the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) from 1898 to the present. The sixty-four minute film was directed by Brazil-based Buddhist priest Rev. Kentaro Sugao with the cooperation of the BCA and the Institute of Buddhist Studies.

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Songbird of Manzanar (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, Biography
  • Everlasting love, Expression through art
  • Widely available

Short film by Cody Edison about Mary Nomura recounting her days as the "Songbird of Manzanar." Filmed at the Manzanar National Historic Site and at Nomura's home, she talks about how she took up signing at age sixteen under the urging of music teacher Lou Frizzell, her frequent public performances in camp, and meeting her husband, Shi Nomura. The film features two recordings of Nomura recorded at Manzanar, "I Dream of You" and "Can't Fool This Heart of Mine," and ends with Mary singing "Embraceable You" accompanied by Scott Nagatani on piano.

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The Bracelet (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 3-5, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Coming of age, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Limited availability

Short educational film that demonstrates the use of a popular children's book in an elementary school classroom. Patty Nagano, a teacher at Bret Harte Elementary School in the Alhambra, California, School District, begins by asking the class—which appears to consist of second or third graders—if they have experienced someone close to them moving away and listens as several children talk about their memories of such an experience. She then briefly explains what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II and reads the Yoshiko Uchida book The Bracelet to the class. As she reads, images of the class and Joanna Yardley's illustrations are augmented by archival photographs of the mass removal and incarceration, along with sound effects. After finishing the book, Nagano engages the class in a series of activities: asking them for their initial reactions to the book and answering questions about her and her family's experience; showing the ...

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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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The Red Pines: Japanese-Americans on Bainbridge Island (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, History
  • Displacement, Power of tradition, Rebirth
  • Widely available

Short film about the Japanese American community of Bainbridge Island, Washington. The twelve-minute film produced and directed by Lucy Ostrander provides a brief history of the community going back to the late 1800s, covers their wartime eviction and incarceration, and includes scenes from a contemporary mochitsuki, the traditional pounding of rice cakes to mark the new year. The story is largely told through Junkoh Harui, a Nisei, who recounts his Japanese immigrant father's arrival on Bainbridge to work in a sawmill before starting a number of businesses, including a store and Bainbridge Gardens. Other interviewees include Fumiko Hayashida, a woman famous for a photograph of her and her young daughter being forcibly removed during World War II; Hayashida later became the subject of another short documentary by Ostrander and her production partner Don Sellers. The title of the film comes from the Japanese red pine trees that Harui's father planted ...

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Take Me Home: A Child's Experience of Internment (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Power of the past
  • Available

Short educational film that explores the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans from a child's perspective.

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Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, History
  • Convention and rebellion, Heroism – real and perceived, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Available

Feature length documentary film that traces the basketball exploits of Wat Misaka, a Nisei from Utah who starred on two college basketball national championship teams and played briefly for the New York Knicks in the 1940s.

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A Tribute to Ruth Asawa (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Expression through art, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Short documentary film on artist Ruth Asawa by Dianne Fukami. Released shortly after Asawa's death in August 2013, the film incorporates interview footage from Fukami's earlier 2008 film Ruth Asawa: Community Artist.

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The Untold Story of Ralph Carr and the Japanese: The Fate of 3 Japanese-Americans and the Internment (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, History
  • Heroism – real and perceived, Individual versus society, Injustice, Rights - individual or societal
  • Available

Japanese-produced documentary film on Colorado Governor Ralph Carr and his embrace of Japanese Americans during World War II, along with the experiences of three Japanese Americans affected in different ways by his stance.

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Winter in My Soul (film)

  • Films and Video

Documentary film about Heart Mountain produced by KTWO, a commercial TV station based in Casper, Wyoming. Produced in 1986, it was one of the first to focus on a specific camp and was notable for including the story of the draft resistance movement at Heart Mountain. The title comes from a poem written by Heart Mountain inmate Miyuki Aoyama and published in the camp newspaper, the Heart Mountain Sentinel.

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Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Convention and rebellion, Evils of racism, Empowerment, Importance of community, Working class struggles
  • Available

Documentary film profiling Nisei political activist Yuri Kochiyama co-produced and co-directed by Patricia Saunders and Rea Tajiri.

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Who's Going to Pay for These Donuts, Anyway? (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

Experimental documentary film by Janice Tanaka that centers on her finding and reuniting with a father and an uncle—one diagnosed as mentally ill and the other conventionally successful—neither of whom she had seen since childhood.

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On the Go: Little Tokyo (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Power of the past
  • Widely available

Segment of Jack Linkletter's On the Go television show set in Little Tokyo that focuses on the wartime incarceration and its aftermath. Linkletter interviews three Japanese Americans on the sidewalks of Little Tokyo: Eiji Tanabe (referred to only as "Mr. Tanabe"), a Nisei businessman who had been active in the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) before and after the war; Mr. Shimizu, the Issei owner of Asahi Shoe Store; and John Aiso, then a municipal court judge. In Tanabe's segment, the longest, he describes his work for the JACL (which is not referred to by name), the loss of his hotel businesses—for which he received token compensation through the Evacuation Claims Act—and his "voluntary evacuation" to his hometown of Spokane, before returning to Los Angeles and starting a travel business. Shimizu describes in halting English his arrest on the night of December 7 and subsequent internment in San Pedro and ...

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When You're Smiling: The Deadly Legacy of Internment (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Identity crisis, Power of the past
  • Available

Autobiographical film by Janice D. Tanaka about growing up Sansei in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s amidst parental silence about their wartime incarceration. It was one of several films about aspects of the incarceration funded by the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund.

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My Friends Behind Barbed Wire (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, History
  • Heroism – real and perceived, Individual versus society
  • Widely available

Short film that tells the story of the Rev. Emery Andrews, pastor of the Japanese Baptist Church in Seattle, and his family and their support of Japanese Americans during their World War II ordeal. The story is largely told through an interview with Brooks Andrews, Emery's son, and through historical photographs, including images from the Andrews family. Brooks provides an overview of the forced removal and incarceration and his childhood recollections of his Nisei friends being taken away. He also recounts the Andrews' family's move to Twin Falls, Idaho, so as to continue to serve the congregation that had been incarcerated at the nearby Minidoka concentration camp and the discrimination they faced from the local community. He also cites parallels to the contemporary treatment of Muslim Americans.

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After Silence: Civil Rights and the Japanese American Experience (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Patriotism - complications, Fear of other, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

Documentary film that focuses on the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island, Washington, as recounted through the perspective of Dr. Frank Kitamoto, who was a child during World War II. The story is told through interaction between Kitamoto and a small group of high school students from Bainbridge High School as they develop archival photographs from the incarceration and discuss its relevance to post 9/11 America. The film ends with the 2002 dedication of a memorial and plaque marking the site of the Bainbridge Islanders' departure. After Silence was produced by the Bainbridge Island Historical Society as part of an exhibition on the community's World War II experience, with funding from the Washington State Civil Liberties Public Education Program and the Charles W. Gaugl Foundation.

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America at its Best: Legacy of Two Nisei Patriots (film)

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

Documentary film produced and directed by Vince Matsudaira that highlights events honoring the two Medal of Honor recipients from the Seattle area, William Nakamura and James Okubo in 2001. The video was produced by the Nakamura/Okubo Medal of Honor Committee of the Nisei Veterans Committee, Seattle.

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Calling Tokyo: Japanese American Radio Broadcasters During World War II (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Documentary
  • Patriotism - complications, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Limited availability

Documentary film directed by Gary T. Ono that tells the story of a small group of Japanese Americans recruited out of the concentration camps to work for the British Political Warfare Mission (BPWM) and Office of War Information (OWI) as translators and broadcasters of propaganda aimed at Japan. The small group—eight who worked for the OWI and four for the BPWM—were mostly Kibei and worked out of a Denver studio. Both groups translated American news reports that were made into radio scripts and broadcasts transmitted by shortwave radio. The operation later moved to San Francisco in February 1945, when Japanese Americans were allowed to return to the West Coast.

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Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Circle of life, Family – blessing or curse, Man against nature, Wisdom of experience
  • Limited availability

Documentary film that follows a Japanese American farm family over the course of a year at their Central California farm.

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Camp Amache: The Story of an American Tragedy (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Will to survive
  • Available

A 2006 documentary film by Don Dexter about the American concentration camp located in southwest Colorado, where more than 7,000 Japanese Americans were held during World War II. Amache was one of ten camps established in 1942 to incarcerate over 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forced from their West Coast homes. The film mixes interviews and personal stories with historic and contemporary photos and footage of the camp and surrounding area. Some of the featured stories include journalist Bill Hosokawa, author Gil Asakawa, and John Hopper, a teacher at Granada High School, who has incorporated the story of Amache into his curriculum and started the Amache Preservation Society with his students.

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The Cats of Mirikitani (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Expression through art, Disillusionment and dreams
  • Available

An award-winning documentary film from 2006 about a homeless Nisei artist named Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani and the friendship that develops with filmmaker Linda Hattendorf on the streets of New York.

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