Films of Remembrance in S.F. Japantown

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"Prisoners and Patriots" focuses on the Justice Department internment camp in Santa Fe.

SAN FRANCISCO — Films of Remembrance, a one-day film series held in conjunction with the Bay Area Day of Remembrance, will be presented Monday, Feb. 20, at the Union Bank Hospitality Room, Japan Center East Mall. Enter from Peace Plaza, Post and Buchanan streets in San Francisco Japantown.

Admission is free but seating is limited. The lineup is as follows:

“Enemy Alien” (2011, 82 min.) at 2 p.m. A Palestinian activist’s fight for freedom draws a Japanese American filmmaker into confrontation with detention regimes of past and present. Konrad Aderer’s first-person documentary is the gripping story of the fight to free Farouk Abdel-Muhti, a gentle but indomitable Palestinian-born human rights activist detained in a post-9/11 sweep of Muslim immigrants. Told through the eyes of the filmmaker, the grandson of Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II, this documentary takes on unprecedented intimacy and historical resonance.

Screening to be followed by a Web discussion with the filmmaker.

“A Personal Matter: Gordon Hirabayashi vs. The United States” (1992, 30 min.) at 4 p.m.  John deGraff’s documentary examines the struggle for civil liberties by the recently deceased civil rights icon. During World War II, Gordon Hirabayashi, a second-generation Japanese American, refused to be incarcerated in a U.S. concentration camp on the grounds that Executive Order 9066 violated his constitutional rights. This acclaimed video takes a personal look at basic protections of the Constitution such as due process of law and individual rights.

• “The Manzanar Fishing Club” (2012, 27-minute preview of feature-length film) at 4:30 p.m. Cory Shiozaki’s documentary is about the inmates who slipped away under the cover of night to find freedom and adventure, matching wits with the prized trout of the Sierra Nevada’s high-altitude lakes and streams. All of the fishermen’s stories touched, in one way or another, on a yearning to be free.

“Prisoners and Patriots: The Untold Story of Japanese Internment in Santa Fe” (2011, 90 min.) at 5 p.m. Run by the Department of Justice, the Santa Fe internment camp held 4,555 men seen as the “worst of the worst.” Despite their experience behind barbed wire, their story has largely been unknown — a hole in the history books for the last 60 years. Based on 20 hours of interviews with Santa Fe survivors and their families, declassified government documents and private photographs, this film tells a story that, in many cases, fathers never told their own children after the war. The prisoners were all men — some Japanese nationals, some U.S. citizens. Many were Buddhist ministers; some were businessmen, teachers or journalists from the West Coast, Hawaii, and Latin America whom the U.S. government feared would be able to gain large pro-Japanese followings.

Sponsored by the Nichi Bei Foundation, Bay Area Day of Remembrance Consortium, and National Japanese American Historical Society in conjunction with the Center for Asian American Media.

For more information, visit www.nichibei.org or www.dayofremembrance.org.

The 2012 Day of Remembrance commemorates the 70th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which set the wheels in motion to forcibly relocate some 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry into American concentration camps during World War II.

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