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Bearing the Unbearable (film)

Documentary film on the incarceration of Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island, Washington , produced for the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial by North Shore Productions.

The twenty-nine minute documentary uses interviews with former Bainbridge Islanders along with archival footage and photographs to tell the story of the Japanese American community on Bainbridge including the prewar community, the arrests of Issei leaders after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, being the first community to be forcibly removed under the first exclusion order , the journey by ferry and train to Manzanar and the subsequent move to Minidoka , life in the concentration camps, and the relatively welcoming reception the islanders received upon their return. The film ends with the islanders expressing solidarity with other groups who might be targeted today and with the importance of speaking up for them. The film also highlights the role played by Walt and Milly Woodward and the Bainbridge Review in keeping the incarcerated Japanese Americans connected to the Bainbridge community. The film includes new interviews with several Japanese Americans from Bainbridge, including Kay Sakai Nakao, who was ninety-seven years old at the time of her interview.

Rory Banyard and Portland, Oregon, based North Shore Productions was commissioned by the Minidoka National Historic Site to produce the film, along with Minidoka: An American Concentration Camp , which will serve as the orientation video at the site. Bearing the Unbearable premiered at a screening at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art on March 30, 2019. It is shown at the Bainbridge Island History Museum and at the Klondike Gold Rush site at Pioneer Square in Seattle and will eventually be shown at the planned visitor center at the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. [1]

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like After Silence: Civil Rights and the Japanese American Experience (2003); The Red Pines: Japanese-Americans on Bainbridge Island (2003); Fumiko Hayashida: The Woman Behind the Symbol (2009).


  1. Bainbridge Island Museum of Art website, accessed on Feb. 22, 2021 at ; Tomo Hirai, "The unique case of Bainbridge Island's JA community in 'Bearing the Unbearable,'" Nichi Bei Weekly, Feb. 18, 2021,
Media Details
Release Date 2019
Runtime 29 minutes
Director Rory Banyard
Producer Rory Banyard
Writer Sarah Kass
Narrator George Takei
Starring Debra Grindeland (interviewee), Reid Hansen (interviewee), Tom Ikeda (interviewee), Lilly Kitamoto Kodama (interviewee), Lawrence Matsuda (interviewee), Clarence Moriwaki (interviewee), Kay Sakai Nakao (interviewee), George Nakata (interviewee), Natalie Hayashida Ong (interviewee), Anna Tamura (interviewee), Paul Tomita (interviewee), Jeff Gersh (voice of Westbook Pegler)
Music Sherri Chung
Cinematography Bradley Sellers
Editing Josh Banyard
Studio North Shore Productions
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