Relocation, Arkansas: Aftermath of Incarceration (film)
Documentary film by Vivienne Schiffer about the legacy of the Rohwer , Arkansas, concentration camp that focuses on the incarceration's impact on the Sansei and the role of a local mayor in preserving Rohwer's history.
A former corporate lawyer and native of Arkansas, Shiffer's interest in Rohwer stemmed from her mother, Rosalie Santine Gould , who as mayor of McGehee, Arkansas, fought for the preservation of the site, embraced returning former Rohwer inmates, and built a collection of art and other objects from the camp. After writing a novel set in Rohwer ( Camp Nine , 2011), she turned to film, intending to make a documentary about Gould's art collection. But the film evolved to tell a larger story.
While Gould remains a central figure in the film, which traces her upbringing in Arkansas as the child of Italian immigrants, her political career, her embrace of Rohwer that led to much opposition and even death threats from locals, and collection, Schiffer tells the story of some of the Japanese Americans befriended by Gould. One thread focuses on the handful of Japanese Americans who settled in Arkansas after the war largely through the voice of Richard Yada, who was born in Rohwer and grew up in Arkansas. On the one hand, the Yadas and another local family, the Nakamuras, returned to the Rohwer site to keep the cemetery clean; on the other, they were treated as "white," and Yada talks about his echoing the segregationist views of his peers growing up. Later, he becomes friends with Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine who integrate Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The second thread looks at the meaning of the Rohwer site for Japanese Americans who settled elsewhere, focusing on the Takemoto family, who moved to the Washington, D.C. area after the war. Paul Takemoto talks of his difficulties growing up as the only Japanese American in town and his rebellion against anything Japanese. But a visit to Rohwer as an adult leads him to embrace his family's history. The film incorporates contemporary footage of the Rohwer site with historical photographs and home movie footage of growing up in Arkansas and of civil rights protests of the '50s and '60s, as well as footage of the 50th anniversary commemorations in 1992. Former President Bill Clinton talks about the significance of the story and why it is important to remember.
Relocation, Arkansas had its world premiere at CAAMFest in San Francisco in March 2017 and has been screened in several other festivals and events subsequently. It debuted on public television in an hour-long version in May of 2017.
|Starring||President Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Eckford, Ethel Futamachi Toda, Martin Gipson, Rosalie Santine Gould, Delphine Hirasuna, Mark McElroy, Ruth Takemoto McInroy, Andy Noguchi, James L. “Skip” Rutherford, Rose Futamachi Sasaki, Marian Shingu Sata, Barbara Takei, Alice Takemoto, Paul Takemoto, Marielle Tsukamoto, Christine Umeda, Richard Yada|
|Distributor||Center for Asian America Media|