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Passing Poston (film)

DVD cover. Courtesy of Fly On The Wall Productions
View in the Densho Encyclopedia

Documentary film that tells the story of Poston through the lives of four former inmates, Mary Higashi, Ruth Okimoto, Kiyo Sato, and Leon Uyeda. The four—who ranged in age from young adulthood to young childhood at the time of their incarceration—talk about their wartime experiences and also the continuing postwar impacts over footage of government propaganda films and archival and personal photographs.

The last quarter of the film focuses on Okimoto's determination to learn all she could about Poston, leading to her discovery of the role the Bureau of Indian Affairs and its director John Collier played in the history of the camp. Interviews with Colorado River Indian Tribe officials Michael Tsosie and Dennis Patch—the latter once lived in a house fashioned from former Poston barracks—point out the benefits that having the camp on their land brought them in the form of greater development of the land, a realization that has helped Okimoto get over the trauma of incarceration.

Joe Fox and James Nubile produced and directed the film, funding it independently. Initially intending to make a film on historic preservation, they were drawn to the work of Okimoto and the Poston Restoration Committee and to the ironies of an American concentration camp built on an Indian reservation. Passing Poston premiered on February 13, 2008, at the Colorado River Indian Reservation, Parker, Arizona, and was screened widely subsequently and broadcast on PBS.

The DVD release includes a short video on the making of Passing Poston , as well as the government films— A Challenge to Democracy , Japanese Relocation , and The Way Ahead —and newsreels excerpted in the documentary.

Authored by Brian Niiya

Might also like For the Sake of the Children (2017); Democracy Under Pressure: Japanese Americans and World War II (2000); Our American Family: The Furutas (2015)

Media Details
Release Date 2008
Runtime 60 minutes
Director Joe Fox
Producer Joe Fox
Writer Joe Fox
Starring Ruth Okimoto (interviewee), Kiyo Sato (interviewee), Mary Higashi (interviewee), Leon Uyeda (interviewee), Michael Tsosie (interviewee), Dennis Patch (interviewee)
Music Andrew Rathbun
Cinematography James Nubile
Editing James Nubile
Studio Fly On The Wall Productions
For More Information

For More Information

Official site. .

Dunne, Susan. " When Being Japanese Meant Losing Freedom ." Hartford Courant , March 7, 2008.

Lai, Paul. "Militarized Friendship Narratives: Enemy Aliens and Indigenous Outsiders in Cynthia Kadohata's Weedflower." College Literature 41.1 (Winter 2014): 66–89.

Lin, Lydia. "Going Psychologically Deeper with 'Passing Poston." Pacific Citizen , July 18, 2008.

" Passing Poston: A Discussion ." Asian American/Asian Research Institute, The City University of New York, February 20, 2008.



Keogh, Tom. " 'Passing Poston': The Heartbreaking Testimonials of Japanese Americans Interned During World War II ." The Seattle Times , June 20, 2008.

Noller, Matt. Slant Magazine , August 7, 2008.

Scheib, Ronnie. Variety , February 25, 2008.