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Unfinished Business (film)

DVD cover. Courtesy of Steven Okazaki and Jane Kaihatsu
View in the Densho Encyclopedia

Documentary film released in 1984 that tells the story of the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans through Minoru Yasui , Fred Korematsu , and Gordon Hirabayashi , three men who challenged their forced removal in the courts, along with the subsequent resurrection of their legal cases in 1980s. Unfinished Business was nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Documentary Feature" for the year 1985. Primary funding for the film came from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation.

Unfinished Business: The Japanese American Internment Cases was produced, directed and photographed by Steven Okazaki . The first half of the film introduces Yausi, Korematsu, and Hirabayashi using contemporary interviews, period photographs, archival footage. Their story is then broadened into a more general one on the overall forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, augmented with interviews with legal scholar Peter Irons and historian Roger Daniels (who is listed as the "Consultant" in the credits). After a series of interviews with unnamed Nisei and Sansei discussing their wartime experiences and the the impact on their generation respectively, the second half of the film looks at the 1980s reopening of the three men's legal cases through the writ of error coram nobis that were then ongoing, along with the broader context of the Redress Movement and events such as Days of Remembrance . We meet two of the lawyers on the coram nobis cases, Lorraine Bannai and Dale Minami , and see the lawyers at work. The film ends with Judge Marilyn Patel granting Korematsu's coram nobis petition; at the time the film was made, the Yasui and Hirabayashi cases were still pending.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story ' (2000); A Personal Matter: Gordon Hirabayashi vs. the United States (1992); Fighting for Justice: The Coram Nobis Cases (1999)

Media Details
Release Date 1985
Runtime 58 minutes
Director Steven Okazaki
Producer Steven Okazaki
Writer Laura Ide
Narrator Amy Hill
Starring Gordon Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu, Min Yasui
Cinematography Steven Okazaki
Editing Steven Okazaki
For More Information

For More Information

Official Farallon Films website, .

Renow, Michael. "Warring Images: Stereotype and American Representations of the Japanese, 1941–1991." In The Japan/America Film Wars: World War II Propaganda and Its Cultural Contexts . Edited by Markus Nornes and Yukio Fukushima. (Philadelphia: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1994): 95–118. Reprinted in Michael Renow, The Subject of Documentary (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004): 43–68.



Cortes, Carlos E. Review of Nisei Soldier: Standard Bearer for an Exiled People and Unfinished Business: The Japanese American Internment Cases . Film & History 16.4 (December 1986): 85–88.

Mitgang, Herbert. New York Times , Oct. 8, 1985.

Stone, Judy. "New Look at Internment of Japanese Americans." San Francisco Chronicle . February 21, 1985.

Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times , Jan. 26, 1985.