The premiere public screening of “Unexpected Journeys: Remarkable Stories of Japanese in America” will be held on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 2 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave. (at First Street) in Little Tokyo.
For the past year and a half, JANM’s Frank H. Watase Media Arts Center has captured more than 25 first-person accounts of individuals whose lives illuminate the diversity of the Japanese experience in America.
With the support of Nitto Tires U.S.A. Inc. and its president, Tomo Mizutani, the Watase Media Arts Center staff has been enabled to videotape extensive interviews with Nisei, Japanese-speaking Kibei, Hapa, and post-World War II “Shin Issei.” Their stories have revealed many new historical insights and several previously unexpressed personal perspectives on the World War II era and beyond.
From the little known early Yamato Colony of Japanese in Florida, where Sumi (Fukushima) Hughes’ parents settled, to the challenges faced by Hamako (Amano) Schneider, one of the first Japanese war brides to be admitted to the U.S. following World War II, the project has uncovered many aspects of history that have remained unfamiliar to the public.
Photographed in hi-definition video by the Media Arts Center’s videographers, Akira Boch and Evan Kodani, each interview is transcribed, translated when necessary, and digitally archived for eventual use in documentaries, exhibitions, and ongoing JANM educational projects such as the Discover Nikkei website and the Museum’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/janmdotorg. The project also involved follow-ups with interviewees and their families to gather, identify, and scan photo albums, documents, and other supplementary resource material.
After viewing the completed two-to-three-hour interviews and assessing the available supplementary photographs and other visuals, the Media Arts staff — with assistance from Japanese staff member Yoko Nishimura of the Discover Nikkei project — edited selected interviews into a 30-minute documentary, “Unexpected Journeys,” that interweaves short autobiographical profiles with narration, graphics, and music by accomplished composer and musician Dave Iwataki.
To make these stories accessible to as wide an audience as possible, the video includes both English and Japanese narration and subtitles.
Several of the interviewees and their families will attend the screening in JANM’s Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Democracy Forum and will be able to meet fellow project participants, staff, sponsors, and other special guests. Light refreshments to follow program.
Free and open to the public. For more information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit www.janm.org. Check out the updated Watase Media Arts Center pages at http://janm.org/mediaarts.