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Browse > Genre > Documentary

184 articles

Stories from America's Concentration Camps (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Displacement, Evils of racism, Injustice, Patriotism – positive side or complications
  • Limited availability

Filmed presentation by members of Nisei VFW Post 8985, based in Sacramento, on the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans. According to leader Kiyo Sato-Viacrucis, the group had been making such presentations for fourteen years to schools. Joining Sato-Viacrucis are members Kaoru "Kirk" Shibata, Robert Kashiwagi, H. Gary Shiota, Kinya Noguchi, Jim Tanaka, Yoshiro William Matsuhara. The group talk through the core story—Executive Order 9066 and the roundup of Japanese Americans, life in the concentration camps, volunteering for the army from the camps, and the aftermath of the war, ending with the Civil Liberties Act of 1988—taking turns and often using photographs or other objects to tell the story. The group also tells the story of the formation of their group: how as Nisei veterans, they were not allowed to join existing Veterans of Foreign Affairs groups and thus had to form their own. The roughly 44-minute presentation is ...

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Voices Behind Barbed Wire: Stories of O'ahu (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, History
  • Power of the past, Injustice, Quest for discovery, Immigrant experience
  • Widely available

Short film that tells the story of Japanese Americans on O'ahu who were interned during World War II using a combination of contemporary interviews, historical photographs and footage, and historical reenactments. It is one of a series of four films produced by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i about the internment experience in each of the four counties of Hawai'i as a follow up to the 2012 film The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai'i.

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A Song for Ourselves (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, Short
  • Limited availability

2009 documentary film by writer/director Tadashi Nakamura on the life and work of activist, singer/songwriter, and legal scholar Chris Iijima. The 35 minute film profiles Iijima, starting with footage from his memorial services in Los Angeles, New York and Honolulu, then traces his life from his birth and upbringing in New York, the son of Nisei parents who had resettled there from the concentration camps; his politicization and activism there; the evolution of his singing, songwriting, and musical partnership with Nobuko Miyamoto and "Charlie" Chin; his work as a schoolteacher in New York and meeting his future wife Jean; his decision to go to law school and become a legal scholar, which necessitated moving his family to Hawai'i and teaching at the Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai'i; and his premature death of a rare disease at age 57 in 2005. The documentary is built around interviews ...

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Valor with Honor (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, War
  • War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Heroism – real and perceived, Evils of racism
  • Available

Documentary film by Burt Takeuchi that tells the story of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Eschewing a narrator, the film is built around the thirty-five interviews with veterans Takeuchi conducted and also includes brief reenactments of battle scenes that were shot at Sequoia Paintball Park in Santa Cruz, California. Valor With Honor tells the story in largely chronological fashion, starting with prewar life, the impact of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the roundup of Japanese Americans on the West Coast before getting to induction and basic training, combat in Italy, the rescue of the Lost Battalion, the liberation of Dachau sub camps, and the return to postwar society. Much of the running time focuses on the Rescue of the Lost Battalion and includes interviews with members of the 141st, the men who were rescued. The 86-minute film was completed in 2010 and has been screened widely across the country ...

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Encounter with the Past: American Japanese Internment in World War II (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice
  • No availability

A 1980 documentary film on the history of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans at Manzanar, produced and directed by Tak Shindo, a Nisei musician and composer, best known for his albums from the jazz exotica music era and television soundtrack work. The film is built around color footage of the camp taken by Aksel Nielson, the director of recreation at Manzanar. Narrated by Shindo, the film includes his own experiences at Manzanar, military service, and subsequent musical career. Though he had passed away prior to the making of the film, Nielson's voice can be heard describing scenes of sporting events and gardens at Manzanar, and his wife, Melva Nielson, a music teacher at Manzanar, is interviewed at length on camera. Among those appearing in the film are Military Intelligence Service veteran Yukio Tamura, artist Estelle Ishigo, photographer Toyo Miyatake, nursery owner Shinobu Mashiko, Tamotsu Tsuchida, and actor ...

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Beyond Barbed Wire (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Patriotism – positive side or complications, Role of men, Disillusionment and dreams
  • Available

A 1997 documentary film on the Japanese American soldiers of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service who fought for the United States during World War II while some of their families were held in concentration camps. The film is based on interviews with numerous veterans as well as with their wives and adult children. Among topics touched on in Beyond Barbed Wire are friction between men from Hawai'i and the continental U.S. during basic training; the unusual story of Korean American Colonel Young O. Kim; the rescue of the Lost Battalion, and the continuing legacy of the veterans for their families. One unique aspect of the film is its treatment of the controversy over the role of Major General John Dahlquist, whom some veterans feel used the Nisei as "cannon fodder." In telling the story of the mass incarceration, the filmmakers include ...

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Nikkei Style (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Change versus tradition, Importance of community, Power of tradition, Quest for discovery
  • Limited availability

Personal essay on being Japanese American by Sansei filmmaker Steven Okazaki, narrated in his first person voice. Beginning his journey at a family mochizuki event in Oxnard, California, he explores his family history, taking us to the house he grew up in in Venice, California, and telling us what he knows of his mother's and father's families, including their World War II incarceration (his mother went to Santa Anita, then Amache, his father to Heart Mountain) and featuring a brief interview with his mother. In search of more information about his father's side, he goes to Japan to visit a distant cousin and to Hawai'i to visit one of his father's old army buddies, from whom he learns much. The film ends with footage from various bon dances in Hawai'i and the continental U.S, which Okazaki cites as a living symbol of being Japanese American. Along the way, Okazaki muses ...

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Return to the Valley: Japanese American Experience After WWII (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Rebirth, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film that tells the story of Japanese Americans returning to the Santa Clara, Salinas and Pajaro Valleys and the Central Coast after World War II. Produced by KTEH, a San Jose public television station, Return to the Valley was the first episode of an anthology series titled Voices of the Valley and debuted in 2003. It received a region Emmy Award in 2004 for "Outstanding Community Program."

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Prisoners and Patriots (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice
  • Available

Feature length documentary film on the Santa Fe detention camp. Produced, directed, and written by Neil H. Simon, Prisoners and Patriots is built around interviews of five former Sante Fe inmates, along with inmate family members, others who remember the camp, and those who have studied it. A former broadcast journalist, Simon began the film in 2005 after discovering the camp while working as a reporter in New Mexico. The film premiered in April of 2011 at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland and was featured in Day of Remembrance related events in 2012 in Sacramento and San Francisco.

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After Silence: Civil Rights and the Japanese American Experience (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Patriotism - complications, Fear of other, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

Documentary film that focuses on the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island, Washington, as recounted through the perspective of Dr. Frank Kitamoto, who was a child during World War II. The story is told through interaction between Kitamoto and a small group of high school students from Bainbridge High School as they develop archival photographs from the incarceration and discuss its relevance to post 9/11 America. The film ends with the 2002 dedication of a memorial and plaque marking the site of the Bainbridge Islanders' departure. After Silence was produced by the Bainbridge Island Historical Society as part of an exhibition on the community's World War II experience, with funding from the Washington State Civil Liberties Public Education Program and the Charles W. Gaugl Foundation.

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Eyewitness: Stan Honda: Reflections of a Photojournalist (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, Biography
  • Expression through art, Facing darkness
  • Widely available

Short documentary film about photojournalist Stan Honda, who gained fame for the photographs he took of the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

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A Personal Matter: Gordon Hirabayashi vs. the United States (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Character - destruction, building up, Rights - individual or societal
  • Limited availability

Documentary film on Gordon Hirabayashi and his legal challenge to the World War II-era measures against Japanese Americans during the war and the revival of that challenge forty years later. John de Graaf directed the 28-minute documentary, which tells his story in a largely chronological manner, ending with the 1980s coram nobis case verdict. In addition to Hirabayashi's own words and contemporary footage of him visiting such key locales as the Federal Court House in Seattle, where he was first tried; the King County Jail, where he was incarcerated; and his alma mater, Auburn High School, the filmmakers tell the story through interviews with two of his brothers, friends, and some of his lawyers (including Arthur Barnett, his friend and lawyer in the 1940s cases). A Personal Matter aired nationally on Public Broadcasting Service stations in 1992. Among the funders of the film are the National Commission on the Bicentennial ...

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Prejudice and Patriotism: Americans of Japanese Ancestry in the Military Intelligence Service of WWII (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Heroism - real or perceived
  • No availability

Documentary video that tells the story of Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II, juxtaposing that story against the backdrop of the Japanese American wartime incarceration, highlighting the difficulties brought on by the loyalty questionnaire and its aftermath. Colin Powell introduces and closes the video, which is narrated by Ken Kashiwahara. The story is told using archival footage and photographs and interviews with many MIS veterans and others. No director is identified. The film was produced and funded by the Military Intelligence Service Association of Northern California and the National Japanese American Historical Society.

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Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Circle of life, Family – blessing or curse, Man against nature, Wisdom of experience
  • Limited availability

Documentary film that follows a Japanese American farm family over the course of a year at their Central California farm.

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Fighting for Justice: The Coram Nobis Cases (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Convention and rebellion, Evils of racism, Injustice, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

Documentary film that provides a short overview of the coram nobis cases, based on interviews with attorneys Dale Minami, Peggy Nagae, and Rod Kawakami and television footage of other key figures.

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Aleut Evacuation: The Untold War Story (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Displacement, Evils of racism, Injustice, Power of the past

Documentary film that tells the story of the forced removal and incarceration of the Aleut people from their ancestral Alaskan homes to detention camps in southwest Alaska during World War II. Based on interviews with surviving inmates and their descendants and on historical photographs and documents, Aleut Evacuation proceeds in largely chronological fashion, starting with a brief portrait of the Aleut community prior to the war, then covering their forcible removal by the U.S. government—ostensibly for their own protection in the face of possible Japanese attack—and their subsequent incarceration in several different camps. Focusing first on the largest camp, Funter Bay, which held those from the Pribilof Islands, it also considers a camp on Killisnoo Island where those from Atka were held, along with Ward Lake, where those from smaller villages were incarcerated. Former inmates remember the poor and harsh conditions in the camps and the rampant health problems they ...

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To Be Takei (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Empowerment, Everlasting love, Injustice, Optimism – power or folly, Rights - individual or societal
  • Widely available

Documentary film that profiles actor George Takei and his husband and manager Brad Takei, capturing both their pasts and their daily lives today.

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Forced Out: Internment and the Enduring Damage to California Cities and Towns (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Importance of community, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

A 2003 documentary film that explores the subject of the Japanese American forced removal and mass incarceration during World War II and its economic impact on California's Japantowns through the stories of merchants and community institutions. Among the stories highlighted are Honnami Taedo, a ceramics shop in San Francisco Japantown; the Rafu Shimpo newspaper, Fugetsudo sweet shop, and the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo; a San Francisco-based quilt project by Japanese American women that documents the wartime events; and the Asahi Market in Oxnard, which was run for the Japanese American proprietors by a Mexican American family during the war.

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Shinkichi Tajiri: A Friendship Knot for Bruyeres (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Desire to escape, Expression through art, Self-awareness
  • Limited availability

Short video on sculptor Shinkichi Tajiri by A. T. Roberts, made to document Tajiri's gift of a sculpture honoring the 442nd Regimental Combat Team to the French city of Bruyeres, which had been liberated by the 442nd during World War II. Footage of Tajiri making the sculpture and footage of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the liberation in 1994 begin and end the video, with Tajiri's own first person account of his life and career starting from the attack on Pearl Harbor in between. Tajiri recalls his and his family's forced removal and incarceration at Santa Anita and Poston, joining the 442nd, and deciding to move to Europe after the war to pursue an art career and to escape from discrimination in the U.S. Tajiri's autobiographical narrative is accompanied by photographs of him and his family and of his many works of art.

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Crossroads: Boyle Heights (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Importance of community, Immigrant experience, Working class struggles, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Widely available

A documentary film compiled from life histories of past and present residents of Boyle Heights, a working-class neighborhood east of downtown Los Angeles. From the 1920s-1950s, Boyle Heights was a racially and ethnically diverse home to immigrants from Mexico, Japan, England, Germany, Russia and Armenia as well as people from the east, the south and the southwest portions of the United States who lived, worked and worshiped in the area. The film also explores how the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans and their postwar return affected businesses and friendships. While many Japanese Americans faced hostility in other parts of Los Angeles, residents of Boyle Heights share stories of a deeper empathy with the plight of those incarcerated. Crossroads: Boyle Heights was originally produced to accompany the exhibition Boyle Heights: The Power of Place (2002) at the Japanese American National Museum.

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Heart Mountain: Three Years in an Internment Camp (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Will to survive
  • Available

A short documentary film from 1997 that documents the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans at the American concentration camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. The film also documents daily life for the Japanese American incarcerees, who endured living in rough barracks, surrounded by barbed wire in sub-zero temperatures and dust storms, as well as the political and personal conflicts that arose with the government-issued "loyalty questionnaire" and draft resistance. In addition to interviews with former inmates and local residents, the film uses previously unseen footage from the camp. The film was produced by KCSM, a San Mateo, California, public television station as part of The New Americans series and was directed by Dianne Fukami, with David Hosley serving as executive producer. It was originally titled Heart Mountain: Three Years in a Relocation Center. Funders for the documentary included the Chevron Corporation, the Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation, and ...

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Redress: The JACL Campaign for Justice (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Rights - individual or societal
  • Limited availability

Documentary film produced by Visual Communications for the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) in 1991 documenting the JACL's role in the Redress Movement, which had recently culminated in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Written and directed by John Esaki, the film was shown at Days of Remembrances and other events. William Hohri, a frequent critic of the JACL, wrote a letter to Japanese American vernacular papers that compared the video to "how history was manipulated in the old Soviet Union" noting the omission of the corm nobis cases and non-JACL contributors to the movement. In response, Cherry Kinoshita, the JACL's national redress chair, noted the video's goal "to document JACL's role in the redress effort," and not to tell a comprehensive story of redress.[1]

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Ruth Asawa: Of Forms and Growth (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Expression through art, Nature as beauty, Role of women
  • Available

Documentary profile of Nisei artist Ruth Asawa produced and directed by Robert Snyder. Of Forms and Growth includes footage of Asawa at home, in her garden and at work, and features the artist talking about her artistic influences and techniques. In particular, she highlights the influence of artists Joseph Albers and Buckminster Fuller, and the film includes footage of Asawa and Fuller. She goes on to talk about the various media she has worked with, including ink and oil paintings, wire and paper sculptures, and sculptures made from baker's clay. The film also explores Asawa's community work, particularly in establishing art programs in schools as well as a community arts festival. Photographer Imogen Cunningham talks about photographing Asawa and her family and about Asawa's marriage to Albert Lanier. Asawa's early life—including her wartime incarceration—is covered only briefly, and her later work that is influenced by Japanese American history is not ...

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Caught in Between: What to Call Home in Times of War (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Fear of other, Hazards of passing judgment, Importance of community, Injustice, Patriotism – positive side or complications
  • Available

Documentary film by Lina Hoshino that looks at parallels between Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Arab and Muslim Americans after 9/11 and at joint activism between the two groups in the months after 9/11.

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Conscience and the Constitution (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Convention and rebellion, Illusion of power, Injustice, Power of the past, Rights - individual or societal
  • Widely available

Influential documentary film that tells the story of the draft resistance movement at Heart Mountain. Journalist Frank Abe produced, directed, and wrote the hour-long film, which was released in 2000.

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