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Browse > Genre > Documentary

207 articles

Good Luck Soup (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Coming of age, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Importance of community, Individual versus society, Power of tradition
  • Widely available

Autobiographical documentary film by Matthew Hashiguchi that explores his and his family's experience growing up as mixed-race Japanese Americans in Cleveland, Ohio. Hashiguchi draws inspiration from his Nisei grandmother and family matriarch Eva Hashiguchi, who settled in Cleveland after leaving the Jerome , Arkansas, concentration camp during World War II and chose to remain there. In addition to the feature length film, the Good Luck Soup project also includes an interactive website that serves as an "participatory storytelling" platform.

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Bearing the Unbearable (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Evils of racism, Importance of community, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film on the incarceration of Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island, Washington , produced for the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial by North Shore Productions.

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A Bitter Legacy (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Convention and rebellion, Injustice, Rights - individual or societal
  • Widely available

Documentary film by Claudia Katayanagi that provides an overview of the Japanese American incarceration with a focus on resistance, in particular on the Moab and Leupp Isolation Centers and the events leading up to them. In addition to many interviews with scholars, former inmates, local residents (many of whom are Native American), and others, Katayanagi uses actors to reenact some key scenes in the story. She also uses Wendy Maruyama's Tag Project—an art installation consisting of thousands of tags similar to those attached to Japanese Americans and their possessions as they were being forcibly removed—as recurring motif between the eight chapters, from "Pre-War Days" to "Redress and Reparations."

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A Hero's Hero (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Convention and rebellion, Heroism – real and perceived, Individual versus society, Rights - individual or societal
  • Available

Documentary film on Nisei draft resister Yosh Kuromiya and his nephew, civil rights activist Kiyoshi Kuromiya, directed by Robert Shoji. The film begins with Shoji's first person narration of meeting Yosh Kuromiya and with scenes of Kuromiya, shot shortly before his 2018 passing, in which he discusses growing up in the San Gabriel Valley before the war and being forcibly removed with his family to the Heart Mountain , Wyoming, concentration camp, where he was among the young men who resisted the draft, subsequently serving time in prison. The film then follows him to the cemetery, where he visits the resting place of Kiyoshi, while recalling his life of activism. An audio interview of Kiyoshi continues the story of his role in the Civil Rights Movement and as founder of the Critical Path newsletter that provided crucial information about HIV/AIDS. The film ends with Shoji expressing gratitude for having met …

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First to Go: Story of the Kataoka Family (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Optimism – power or folly, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film by Myles Matsuno built around an interview with his grandmother Mary "Hisako" Matsuno, a Nisei from San Francisco, about her wartime incarceration experience at Tanforan and Topaz . Additional interview footage from a 1996 interview with Toshi Handa, Mary's sister-in-law, adds additional information. Family home movies and photographs augment the production. The title refers to Mary's father, Issei hotelier Ichiro Kataoka, who was reportedly the first Issei in San Francisco to be arrested and interned on December 7, 1941.

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For Joy (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, Biography, Music
  • Expression through art, Optimism – power or folly, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Short film that documents a visit by the contemporary musical duo No-No Boy—Julian Saporiti and Erin Aoyama—to Honolulu to see Joy Takeshita Teraoka, a singer with the George Igawa Orchestra at Heart Mountain . Invited by the 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans Club in 2018 to do a concert in Honolulu, the duo used it as an opportunity to meet Teraoka. At her Honolulu apartment, Teraoka talks about her time as a singer in Heart Mountain as a teenager and other aspects of camp life, including youth culture, Japanese cultural practices, and the general musical scene while singing old song with Aoyama. The film concludes with No-No Boy's concert, highlighted by a song Saporiti wrote for Teraoka titled "The Best God Damn Band in Wyoming" and by Teraoka joining them onstage.

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And Then They Came for Us (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Evils of racism, Expression through art, Power of the past, Rights - individual or societal
  • Widely available

Documentary film that provides an overview of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans while drawing explicit parallels to agitation against Arab Americans in the early months of the Trump Administration.

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Crystal City Pilgrimage, October 31 to November 3, 2019 (film)

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

Video documentary of the 2019 Crystal City Pilgrimage that includes interviews with former internee attendees, highlights of speeches and performances at the various events, and footage of visits to the site of the camp and to Crystal City High School. Speakers and interviewees describe the circumstance of the World War II internment and the parallels with immigrant detention policies of the present and urge solidarity with those seeking to end those policies. There is no narrator.

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Mr. Tanimoto's Journey (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Individual versus society, Injustice, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film about Gridley, California, farmer and former Tule Lake inmate Jim Tanimoto that focuses on his wartime incarceration and on the postwar memory of that time. The film is built around interviews with Tanimoto and footage of him at his farm and at a Tule Lake Pilgrimage, along with interviews with his daughter and granddaughter. Tanimoto and his family went to Tule Lake directly in July 1942 and were placed in Block 42. He was among the many inmates in that block who resisted filling out the loyalty questionnaire and were subsequently imprisoned and held for a time at Camp Tulelake , a former CCC camp. He was eventually allowed to return to Tule Lake and then returned to Gridley in 1945, where he nonetheless faced a great deal of discrimination from locals. Tanimoto and his family also talk about the postwar silence about the incarceration, redress , and …

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Rebel with a Cause: The Life of Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Empowerment, Heroism – real and perceived, Power of the past, Role of women

Biographical documentary of activist and redress researcher Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga by Janice D. Tanaka. Tanaka's mother, Grace Tanaka, was a close childhood friend of Herzig Yoshinaga's, and she juxtaposes her mother's more conventional Nisei life with Herzig's more rebellious path. Includes candid interviews with Herzig Yoshinaga's three children, husband Jack Herzig and many friends and others who knew her, in reviewing her life in a more-or-less chronological fashion from childhood, to wartime incarceration at Manzanar and Jerome , two early marriages—and divorces—that left her a single mother with three children, her life and work in New York after the war and her turn to activism, and her key role in the Redress Movement and coram nobis cases in partnership with husband Jack Herzig. In addition to the interviews with key figures in her life, Tanaka also did group interviews with friends and family members and had Herzig Yoshinaga revisit locations …

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Resettled Roots: Legacies of Japanese Americans in Chicago (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Importance of community, Power of silence, Rebirth
  • Available

Documentary film on the evolution of the Japanese American community in Chicago . Directors Anna Takada and Maria Pimentel tell the story using a generational framework with a brief prologue on Japanese immigration and the prewar Issei era and a longer segment on the wartime roundup and incarceration centered on the Nisei , before turning to Nisei and Sansei recollections of resettlement to Chicago and growing up there after the war. Many of the Sansei recall their parents' silence about their wartime experiences. The last segment focuses on Yonsei and recent activism featuring 2019 footage from an all camps reunion in Chicago and on a protest march that saw Chicago Japanese Americans drawing on their history to protest immigrant detention and deportation today.

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The Crystal City (film)

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

Documentary film about the Crystal City internment camp by Kenya Gillespie. The short film tells the story of three families—the Utsushigawas from Peru , the Fukudas from San Francisco, and Eisorlohs, German Americans from Ohio—through narration and mostly contemporary footage of the Crystal City site, as well as images from a contemporaneous Crystal City government film. There is also a brief excerpt of remarks by another internee, Haru Kuromiya.

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Then Becoming Now (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Coming of age, Empowerment, Injustice, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film by Emiko Omori about three men—Kazumu "Kaz" Julio Cesar Naganuma, Hiroshi Fukuda, and Hiroshi "Shim" Shimizu—who met as young children when their families were interned at the Crystal City , Texas, internment camp, became friends in postwar San Francisco, and participated in protests against Trump administration immigrant detention and family separation policies in 2019. In interviews, each man discusses his family history and internment trajectory, with Fukuda's—whose father was a Konko-kyo minister—and Shimizu's being from San Francisco, while Naganuma's was among the Japanese Peruvians who were seized by the U.S. Government as part of a prisoner exchange program. They became friends after the war through the Boy Scout troupe run by the San Francisco Konko Church. The film ends with each speaking at 2019 protests, including one at a Dilley, Texas, detention center near the site of the Crystal City camp.

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When Rabbit Left the Moon (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Widely available
  • Documentary
  • Power of the past, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

Video essay by Emiko Omori on the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 that traces the story of the wartime forced removal and incarceration through moving and still images and spare original music by Janice Giteck and Todd Boekelheide. The film begins with images of the Issei period, moving on to images of the incarceration, and to various aspect of life in the concentration camps beginning with happier scenes before turning to harsher ones, including images of post-segregation Tule Lake and documents describing shooting victims at Manzanar and draft resistance . The film moves on to images connected to Nisei soldiers in camp and on the battlefield before ending with camp cemeteries and images of the sites today. The title refers to a Japanese proverb and also to Omori's 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon .

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Within Their Gates (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Dangers of ignorance, Injustice, Power of the past
  • Available

Documentary film directed by Matthew Goriachkovsky and narrated by eighty-three year old Yukio Shimomura. Shimomura tells the story of his incarceration at Manzanar over original music and period photographs and movies, along with contemporary footage of the site. The film ends with footage of Donald Trump's incendiary speeches and images of ICE detention centers, and protests and counter-protests, with Shimomura noting the parallels between his incarceration experience and the present.

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Voices Behind Barbed Wire: Stories of Hawai'i Island (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 Big Island of Hawai'i 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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Masters of Modern Design: The Art of the Japanese American Experience (film)

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

Masters of Modern Design profiles five Japanese American artists who made their mark on the postwar art world: Ruth Asawa , S. Neil Fujita , George Nakashima , Isamu Noguchi , and Gyo Obata. Using archival footage and stills along with interviews with the artists and their children, the film looks at their lives, the impact of their wartime incarceration, and their impact as artists in various media, focusing on the 1950s and 1960s. David Iwataki composed the period jazz soundtrack.

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Minidoka (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Dangers of ignorance, Injustice, Knowledge versus ignorance, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film that follows Seattle-based activist Joseph Shoji Lachman to the 2017 Minidoka Pilgrimage, documenting discussions with his family about the trip, the bus ride and touring the site. Excerpts from the CWRIC testimony of Samuel T. Shoji, Lachman's great uncle, that illuminate aspects of his family history are also included. Lachman notes the parallels with Trump era policies and his anger at both the World War II incarceration and current events.

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Three Boys Manzanar (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Expression through art, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Reunion
  • Widely available

Short documentary film about the three boys in the iconic Toyo Miyatake photograph that pictures them outside the barbed wire fence—with two of them grasping the fence—with a guard tower in the background. The three boys—Mas Ooka, Bruce Sansui, and Bob Takamoto—now men in their eighties, talk briefly about their memories of Manzanar and the things they did as kids there. Mas's daughter, Akemi Ooka, narrates the film, which concludes with a recreation of the photo at the Manzanar National Historic Site .

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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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Moving Walls: American Nightmare to American Dream (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, History
  • Power of the past, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Documentary film about the enduring impact of the Heart Mountain , Wyoming, concentration camp—in particular, its surviving barracks—on both the local Wyoming population and on Japanese Americans who had been incarcerated there.

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The Colorado Experience: Freedom and Poverty (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Adult
  • Documentary
  • Desire to escape, Injustice, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Widely available

Documentary film that looks at the experience of one Japanese American family from California that "voluntarily" migrates to rural Colorado to avoid the mass forced removal of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast in 1942. Bryan Yokomi, a young descendant of that family, produced and directed the 31 minute film.

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Blossoms and Thorns: A Community Uprooted (film)

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

Documentary film that examines Japanese American cut flower growers in Richmond, California, before, during and after World War II. Written and directed by Ken Kokka, the 19-minute film was funded by the Contra Costa Japanese American Citizens League.

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Journey of Honor (film)

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

Documentary film produced and directed by Stuart Yamane centering on a trip by a group of Hawai'i Nisei veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team to Italy some fifty-five years after they fought there during World War II. In documenting the trip, Yamane reconnects with his late and estranged father Masakichi, a World War II veteran, who had served with some of the men on the trip. Led by columnist and military history buff Bob Jones, the trip includes stops at Pietrasanta, where they the men are honored in a Liberation Day ceremony and take part in the unveiling of a statue honoring Sadao Munemori ; Mt. Fologorito, where they have a reunion with the Alpini, the Italian Mountain Corps who guided Allied troops; the American Cemetary and Memorial in Nettuno; and, finally, Monte Cassino, a mountain that was the site of one of their most …

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Words, Weavings and Songs (film)

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

2002 documentary film profiling three Nisei women who drew on their experiences as teenagers in American concentration camps to pursue different types of creative expression both in camp and afterwards. The three artists featured are writer, playwright, and painter Wakako Yamauchi , weaver Momo Nagano , and singer Mary Nomura . A project of the Frank H. Watase Media Arts Center at the Japanese American National Museum , Words, Weavings & Songs was produced and directed by John Esaki and was funded in part by a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program .

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