SAN FRANCISCO — The Nichi Bei Foundation presents the third annual Films of Remembrance, a one-day film series held in conjunction with the Bay Area Day of Remembrance, on Sunday, Feb. 23, from 2 to 8 p.m. at New People Cinema, 1746 Post St. in San Francisco’s Japantown.
Day of Remembrance commemorates the 72nd 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. Films of Remembrance was conceived by the Nichi Bei Foundation to give the public deeper understanding and perspectives of the camp experience, while providing filmmakers a venue to showcase their work.
Tickets are $18 in advance for all-day passes, or $6 in advance per film block. On the day of the event, tickets will be $24 for all-day passes, or $8 per screening. For Nichi Bei Foundation members and students, the fee is $18/$6 on the day of the event as well. All-day passes are limited to the first 50.
Films of Remembrance is co-sponsored by the National Japanese American Historical Society, the San Francisco Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, the Bay Area Day of Remembrance Consortium, and The Nichi Bei Weekly.
For more information, contact the Nichi Bei Foundation at (415) 673-1009 or visit www.nichibei.org/films-of-remembrance.
The schedule of films is as follows.
2 p.m. — “Searchlight Serenade: Big Band Music in the WWII Japanese American Incarceration Camps.” The documentary offers first-person accounts of nine inmates — big-band trumpet players, saxophonists and singers — who created a soulful escape for themselves and their fellow prisoners while incarcerated in America’s concentration camps. Interwoven with an evocative animation created from original woodblocks by Arcata artist Amy Uyeki, KEET-TV producers Claire Reynolds and Sam Greene collaborate in telling the stories of former inmates and music makers through interviews and archival footage.
Meet musician Anthony Brown, former inmate and musician Yone Fukui of the G.I. Band at Heart Mountain, and artist Amy Uyeki. Co-presented by Asian Improv aRts.
3:45 p.m. — “Honor & Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story.” The film tells the complex story of a Japanese immigrant family ripped apart by World War II. The Matsumoto family included five sons, two who fought for the Americans and three who fought for the Japanese. The eldest, Hiroshi (Roy), fought against the Japanese with Merrill’s Marauders, an American guerrilla unit in Burma, and became a hero when he used his Japanese language skills and military training to save his surrounded, starving battalion deep in the jungle. At the same time, his parents and sisters were living in their family’s ancestral home, Hiroshima. The story is told by Roy’s daughter Karen as she discovers her father’s work in military intelligence, kept secret for 50 years.
Meet producers Lucy Ostrander, Don Sellers and Karen Matsumoto. Co-presented by National Japanese American Historical Society.
5 p.m. — Story Art of Camp. What compels us to create art and seek to uncover our family stories of the Japanese American experience? How are we drawn in and how do we honor what lies just beneath the surface? Experience the story art of film by Michelle Ikemoto, Keiko Wright and Amy Uyeki. Co-presented by Nakayoshi Young Professionals, Tule Lake Committee and Japanese American Museum of San Jose.
“Tule Lake” — Michelle Ikemoto’s animated short film is about perseverance, based on the true story of one inmate at the Tule Lake Segregation Center and her actions one winter night in 1943. Recipient of several student honors, including nomination for the Annie in 2013.
“Hiro: A Japanese American Internment Story” — Filmmaker Keiko Wright explores the life of her grandfather, Hiroshi “Hiro” Hoshizaki. As we follow Hiroshi on his journey to confront the events and memories of his adolescence, we learn of his imprisonment at the Heart Mountain concentration camp and the traumatic repercussions this has had on him, his family, and the next generations of Hoshizakis. Winner of the gold medal in the documentary category at the 39th Student Academy Awards.
“Searchlight Serenade” (excerpt) — Animation derived from original Japanese-style woodblock art by Amy Uyeki, who will attend the screening. The artwork recreates actual events and accounts as well as the personal experiences of her parents, who were incarcerated with their families at Gila River and Minidoka concentration camps.
6:30 p.m. — “The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawaii.” Within 48 hours of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii authorities arrested several hundred local Japanese in Oahu, Maui, Hawaii and Kauai. They were Buddhist priests, Japanese language school officials, newspaper editors, business, and community leaders. Within a few months, more than 2,000 men and women of Japanese ancestry were arrested, detained and incarcerated at 13 different confinement sites in Hawaii and later sent to the Department of Justice and War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps in the continental U.S.
The film is directed by Ryan Kawamoto and produced by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (JCCH). Hear from JCCH Executive Director Carole Hayashino on how the discovery of Honouliuli continues to unfold, including a recent the re-creation of the camp for an episode of “Hawaii Five-0.” Co-presented by the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce of Northern California and the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California.
The Bay Area Day of Remembrance will be held the day before the Films of Remembrance, Saturday, Feb. 22, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, Post at Fillmore streets in Japantown. Keynote speaker is Wayne Merrill Collins. For more information, visit www.dayofremembrance.org.