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Browse > Genre > Documentary

207 articles

Pilgrimage (film)

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

Documentary film that traces the origins of the first Manzanar pilgrimage in 1969 and links it to the 2005 pilgrimage and to efforts to uphold the rights of Arab and Muslim Americans after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The film includes interviews with many of the organizers of the 1969 pilgrimage and archival footage and photographs of that event and of related events from that time. Directed and edited by Tadashi Nakamura, the film was a production of the Center for EthnoCommunications of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center in 2008. The film is dedicated to the memory of Sue Kunitomi Embrey , who passed away in 2006. It was funded in part by grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, the UCLA in LA Center for Community Partnerships, the California Wellness Foundation, and the Center for Asian American Media.

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Our American Family: The Furutas (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, History
  • Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Injustice, Importance of community
  • Available

Episode of the television series Our American Family that focuses on a Japanese American family from Southern California. The episode premiered in February 2015.

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One-Two-One-Seven (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film by Brett Kodama about the experiences of his grandmother, Sharon Shizuko Okazaki Kodama, at Manzanar . Just three years old when she and her family were forcibly removed from their Southern California home and sent to Manzanar, Okazaki Kodama's Issei father killed her Kibei mother in September 1942. She and her older sister spent the rest of the war at the Manzanar Children's Village , the camp orphanage. They were raised after the war by an aunt and uncle in Washington state. Okazaki Kodama recalls her memories of the camp and the orphanage, talks about her parents' deaths and reflects on the impact on the incarceration over visuals that include archival photographs and footage, photographs from her own family album, and images of the Manzanar National Historic Site today. The title refers to the Okazaki's family number at Manzanar.

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Seed: The Life of the Rice King and His Kin (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Circle of life, Immigrant experience, Individual versus society, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Japanese produced documentary film on Issei rice farming pioneer Keisaburo Koda and the family business he founded in Dos Palos, California.

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The Bitter Memory: America's Concentration Camps (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice
  • Widely available

Early film that provides an overview of the wartime forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans on the West Coast produced by the University of California, Berkeley in 1975. Bitter Memory tells the story through narration and interviews with former inmates accompanied by archival footage from Office of War Information/War Relocation Authority (WRA) films and WRA still photos. All footage—even contemporary interview footage and footage shot at Tule Lake —is in black and white. Identified inmate narrators include poet and playwright Hiroshi Kashiwagi , Mary Otani, Michi Mukai, and Kumito Ishida. The bulk of the film deals with living conditions in the concentration camps—the lack of privacy, the breaking up of the family unit, employment, food and so forth—along with the loyalty questionnaire and segregation . The film is also known as Bitter Memories: Tule Lake , even though only the last few minutes of the film focus on Tule …

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From Bullets to Ballots (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Quest for power, Role of men, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Documentary film on Japanese Americans from Hawai'i as part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and their role in the political realignment of Hawai'i after the war. From Bullets to Ballots was one of three short films directed by Robert A. Nakamura and produced by Karen L. Ishizuka in conjunction with From Bento to Mixed Plate: Americans of Japanese Ancestry in Multicultural Hawai'i, an exhibition produced by the Japanese American National Museum in 1997.

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You Don't Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Expression through art, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Available

Feature-length documentary film on singer and actor Jack Soo . Based on interviews with friends and colleagues along with many clips from his film and television appearances, You Don't Know Jack also covers his time at Tanforan and Topaz during World War II.

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Dear Miss Breed (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, importance of community
  • Limited availability

A 2000 short documentary film by Veronica Ko about San Diego children's librarian Clara Breed , whose wartime correspondence with Japanese American youth she had befriended before the war became an unlikely source of hope and courage when the children were sent to American concentration camps. The film, which is hosted by actor Marcus Toji, includes excerpts from some of the 250 letters Miss Breed received from the Japanese American children. The film was created and produced in conjunction with an exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum of the same title. The film was recognized with numerous awards including the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film & Digital Media, Council on Foundations, 2002; the 34th Annual Worldfest Houston, Grand Prize nomination, Special Gold Jury Award, Historical, 2001; and the Columbus International Film & Video Festival, Honorable Mention, 2000.

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An American History: Resettlement of Japanese Americans in Greater Cleveland (film)

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

Oral history-based documentary centering on Japanese Americans who resettled in Cleveland after leaving the concentration camps. Directed by Greg Petusky and Johnny Wu, the film was funded in part by a grant from the Japanese American Citizen's League's National Endowment Fund. It debuted at a screening at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on April 8, 2000.

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Here, in America? (film)

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

Short documentary film that presents highlights from the Assembly on Wartime Relocation & Internment of Civilians, held in San Francisco in April 2005. The event included the public testimony of persons of Japanese, German, and Italian ancestry about the World War II era internment/incarceration and persons of Arab, Muslim or South Asian descent about post-9/11 detentions. In addition to excepts of the testimonies, the film includes historical background on the World War II detentions along with historical photographs and footage. Testimonies highlighted include Buddy Fujii (statement read by Bill Sato); Victor Kimura; Libia Yamamoto; Art Shibayama; Angelica Higashide (statement read by Naomi Quinones); Doris Berg Nye (statement read by Carole Eiserloh); Ted Eckardt (statement read by Bruce Donald); Constanza Ilacqua Foran; Al Bronzini; John Christgau; Lawrence DiStasi; Yaman Hamdan; and Xavier Becerra.

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The Nisei: The Pride and the Shame (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, War - glory, pain, necessity, tragedy
  • Widely available

Documentary film centering on the Japanese American wartime experience that was part of CBS television's weekly The Twentieth Century series. The half-hour episode was the first retrospective documentary on the wartime exclusion and incarceration experience.

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Island Roots (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, History
  • Change versus tradition, Rebirth
  • Widely available

Short documentary film on the Filipino American community on Bainbridge Island, Washington from the migration of the first immigrants in the late 1920s to the present day. Many came to Bainbridge to serve as farm laborers on strawberry farms run by Japanese Americans. During World War II, when Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from Bainbridge and the entire West Coast, many turned their farms over to their Filipino American farmhands to mange in their absence. As a result, many Japanese American farmers were able to return to intact farms after the war. Some Filipino Americans were able to use this as a jumping off point to owning their own farms after the war. The film concludes with the restoration of the Filipino American community hall on Bainbridge and the return of the Strawberry Festival that serve as the center of the community in the present.

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The Red Pines: Japanese-Americans on Bainbridge Island (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, History
  • Displacement, Power of tradition, Rebirth
  • Widely available

Short film about the Japanese American community of Bainbridge Island, Washington . The twelve-minute film produced and directed by Lucy Ostrander provides a brief history of the community going back to the late 1800s, covers their wartime eviction and incarceration, and includes scenes from a contemporary mochitsuki , the traditional pounding of rice cakes to mark the new year. The story is largely told through Junkoh Harui, a Nisei , who recounts his Japanese immigrant father's arrival on Bainbridge to work in a sawmill before starting a number of businesses, including a store and Bainbridge Gardens. Other interviewees include Fumiko Hayashida, a woman famous for a photograph of her and her young daughter being forcibly removed during World War II; Hayashida later became the subject of another short documentary by Ostrander and her production partner Don Sellers. The title of the film comes from the Japanese red pine trees that …

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The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai'i (film)

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

Documentary film produced by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i (JCCH) in 2012 that provides an overview on the internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai'i during World War II—both those held in camps in the continental U.S. and those held in Hawai'i camps—as well as contemporary efforts to preserve the Hawai'i sites today.

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Dave Tatsuno: Movies and Memories (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Widely available

Documentary film on Dave Tatsuno (1913–2006), a Nisei best known for the home movie footage he shot while incarcerated at the Topaz , Utah, concentration camp. Produced by KTEH, a San Jose-based public television station (now KQED), the hour-long documentary is based largely on interviews with Tatsuno and members of his family, along with family photos and clips from his home movies from before, during, and after the war. The film includes a lengthy excerpt from Tatsuno's Topaz Memories . The 2006 production was funded by the Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation, directed by Scott Gracheff, and produced by Christina Lim.

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When You're Smiling: The Deadly Legacy of Internment (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Identity crisis, Power of the past
  • Available

Autobiographical film by Janice D. Tanaka about growing up Sansei in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s amidst parental silence about their wartime incarceration. It was one of several films about aspects of the incarceration funded by the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund .

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Reunion: The 50th Anniversary Celebration of the 442nd (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Reunion, Power of the past, Circle of life
  • Limited availability

Television program documenting the week of events that took place in Honolulu, Hawai'i, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team . The hour-long program produced by JN Productions aired on April 29, 1993 on Oceanic Cable in Hawai'i and on May 9, 1993 on KHNL Honolulu.

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People Aren't All Bad (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Companionship as salvation, Darkness and light, Evils of racism
  • Widely available

Short video by Matthew Hashiguchi that centers on the wartime experience of Yutaka Kobayashi, a Nisei from San Francisco, who recalls a memorable moment of kindness from a guard at Topaz .

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The First Battle: The Battle for Equality in War-Time Hawaii (film)

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

A 2006 film by Tom Coffman about the multi-racial group of civic and military leaders in World War II Hawai'i that monitored race relations and supported Hawai'i's large Japanese American community. After Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941 , the Committee for Interracial Unity and the Morale Section led by Chinese American YMCA Secretary Hung Wai Ching and Japanese American school principal Shigeo Yoshida , worked to protect the civil liberties of the people of Japanese ancestry living in Hawai'i, which ultimately led to the decision against a mass removal of Japanese Americans from the islands. In addition to interviews with some of the key figures and archival footage and stills, The First Battle also recreates several key scenes with actors playing key historical figures such as Ching, Yoshida, and Hawai'i FBI head Robert Shivers . Major funders included Central Pacific Bank, the Gerbode Foundation, the Hawaii Pacific …

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Manzanar Fishing Club (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Desire to escape
  • Available

Feature length documentary film on Manzanar inmates who temporarily escaped from the confines of the camp to fish in the nearby streams and mountains. In addition to interviews with former inmate fishermen (and women) and archival images, The Manzanar Fishing Club also tells its story using animation and recreated scenes with actors. The film had a limited theatrical release in April 2012 and was released on DVD on October 30, 2012. It was funded in part by grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant program .

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Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story (film)

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

Documentary film by Eric Paul Fournier that chronicles the story of American civil rights hero, Fred Korematsu , whose refusal to obey orders prohibiting Japanese Americans from remaining on the West Coast led to a landmark Supreme Court case .

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We the People: The Stage Production (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Expression through art, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Loss of innocence, Power of tradition
  • Available

Short film that documents the performance of the elementary school age students of Jan Ken Po Gakko in Sacramento on July 20, 2000. The production is highlighted by a play performed by the students based on Mary Tsukamoto and Elizabeth Pinkerton's book We the People .

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Why is Preparing Fish a Political Act? (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, Biography
  • Convention and rebellion, Loss of innocence, Power of silence, Power of words, Role of women, Self-awareness
  • Available

Short documentary film by Russell Leong that profiles Sansei poet Janice Mirikitani . Mirikitani reads several of her poems (from the collections Awake in the River and Shedding Silence ) and talks about her grandmother's resourcefulness; her rejection of her Asian heritage as a young college student and her first husband and daughter; the impact of the Asian American Movement; and her involvement with Gilde Memorial Church and her second husband Cecil Williams. In the final segment of the film, Mirikitani talks about the impact of the Japanese American incarceration on her family and on the community as a whole and reads the poem "We, the Dangerous."

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A Tribute to Ruth Asawa (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Expression through art, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Short documentary film on artist Ruth Asawa by Dianne Fukami. Released shortly after Asawa's death in August 2013, the film incorporates interview footage from Fukami's earlier 2008 film Ruth Asawa: Community Artist .

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East of Occidental: The History of Seattle's Chinatown (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Change versus tradition, Rebirth
  • Widely available

Documentary film on Seattle's Chinatown/ International District that outlines the history of the area and argues that pan-Asian Americanism makes it unique among American ethnic enclaves. The film includes the story of the mass removal of Japanese Americans from the area and their subsequent incarceration during World War II.

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