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Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice (film)

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

Told in mostly chronological fashion without a narrator, the film relies largely on Kochiyama's own words from interviews, speeches, and smaller group meetings, along with interviews with her family members and friends. The filmmakers also use a variety of archival film clips—particularly from the 1960s and 1970s—stills, and music. After an introduction to Kochiyama, her family, and her political philosophy, the film turns to the World War II era, as Kochiyama talks about the arrest, detention, and eventual death of her father, a fisherman in Southern California, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. She and her husband William Kochiyama talk about their and their family's wartime incarceration (she at Jerome and he at Topaz ) and eventually coming to see the commonalities of their treatment with that of other groups in the U.S. From there, the film traces her politicization and activism over the next decades: moving the family to Harlem in 1960 and becoming involved in local Freedom Schools and protests for jobs for African American and Puerto Rican workers; meeting and befriending Malcolm X; getting involved in the early Asian American Movement; involvement with the Black Panthers and Young Lords and the government repression of those groups; activism on behalf of political prisoners; involvement in the Japanese American Redress Movement ; and her continued activism at age 70.

Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice was funded in part by the National Asian American Telecommunications Association. Co-director and co-producer Tajiri had previously made the acclaimed History and Memory (1992), based on her family's incarceration experience, and would go on to address the topic again in the 1997 dramatic film Strawberry Fields .

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like Mitsuye and Nellie: Asian American Poets (1981); Biography Hawai’i: Koji Ariyoshi (2005); Why is Preparing Fish a Political Act? (1991)

Media Details
Release Date 1993
Runtime 57 minutes
Director Patricia Saunders
Producer Patricia Saunders
Starring Yuri Kochiyama, Akemi Kochiyama Ladson (interviewee), Audee Kochiyama Holman (interviewee), William Kochiyama (interviewee), Eddie Kochiyama (interviewee), Kazu IIjima (interviewee), Constance Mackey (interviewee), Attallah Shabazz (interviewee), Kahlil Zulu Williams (interviewee), Greg Morozumi (interviewee), Richie Perez (interviewee), Kwame Ben Chaney (interviewee), Sasha Hohri (interviewee), Nyisha Shakur (interviewee)
Music Bob Kenmotsu
Cinematography Richard Connors
Editing Lee Montgomery
Distributor Center for Asian American Media