Films of Remembrance to Examine JA Experience During WWII

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SAN FRANCISCO — Several films focusing on the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II will be showcased at the eighth annual Films of Remembrance, to be presented by the Nichi Bei Foundation on Saturday, Feb. 23, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., at New People Cinema, 1746 Post St. in San Francisco’s Japantown.

It will be followed by a Filmmakers Reception from 8 p.m.

The event is held in conjunction with the annual Day of Remembrance, this year commemorating the 77th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which set the wheels in motion to forcibly remove some 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry — most of whom were American citizens — from the West Coast into American concentration camps.

“As those who may be vulnerable come under attack during a climate of fear — all too reminiscent of what happened as a result of the wartime hysteria and racial scapegoating of World War II — we need to learn lessons from the past in order to prevent the repetition of such deprivation of civil liberties today,” said Kenji G. Taguma, Nichi Bei Foundation president. “Thus, it’s important that we strive to shed light, at any given opportunity, on this dark chapter of history.”

“Events like (Films of Remembrance) help to make the history accessible to the public and younger generations. It’s especially exciting to see how a new generation of film makers is engaging with the history,” stated Christen Sasaki, Ph.D., a professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University and a Films of Remembrance committee member. “In general I was struck by the films that share stories from places that are not usually included in our telling of JA incarceration — stories from Minnesota, for example.”

Leading off the event is a special free multimedia presentation by Dr. Arthur A. Hansen, who will discuss his two new books, “Nisei Naysayer: The Memoir of Militant Japanese American Journalist Jimmie Omura” and “Barbed Voices: Oral History, Resistance, and the World War II Japanese American Social Disaster.” There will be clips from “Conscience and the Constitution” and “Rabbit in the Moon” — the landmark award-winning documentary produced 20 years ago by Emiko and Chizu Omori — to bring out the voices of resistance from Jimmie Omura and “Manzanar Martyr” Harry Ueno. Books will be available for sale and signing.

James “Jimmie” Matsumoto Omura was among the fiercest opponents of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans. In his sharp-penned columns, Omura fearlessly called out leaders in the Japanese American community for what he saw as their complicity with the U.S. government’s unjust and unconstitutional policies — particularly the federal decision to draft imprisoned Nisei into the military without first restoring their lost citizenship rights.

“Barbed Voices” is an anthology of the most significant published articles written by Hansen, updated and annotated for contemporary context. Featuring selected inmates and camp groups who spearheaded resistance movements in the 10 War Relocation Authority–administered compounds in the U.S. during World War II.

Anchoring this year’s Films of Remembrance is the Northern California premiere of Jon Osaki’s new film “Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066,” the Showcase Film.

Sasaki, who has taught the Japanese American History course at San Francisco State University, said, “It’ll be interesting to see how younger generations interact, engage, and learn from this history. FOR is a great example of this in action!”

“Films of Remembrance was designed to provide a venue for filmmakers to showcase and support their work, to educate the public and provide deeper understanding on the wartime incarceration and its aftermath,” said Taguma.

All filmmakers will be at Films of Remembrance.

The cost of the first three film screenings at Films of Remembrance is $12 each, and $25 for the Showcase Film “Alternative Facts,” which includes the Filmmakers Reception. All-Day Passes are sold out. Nichi Bei Foundation member rates and student rates (with ID) are $10/$20.

Proceeds benefit the Nichi Bei Foundation’s Wayne Maeda Educational Fund.

Presenting sponsors include the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and the Aratani C.A.R.E. Award, and the California Civil Liberties Public Education Fund of the California State Library.

For more information, including film synopses, trailers or to order tickets or sponsor, visit: www.nichibei.org/films-of-remembrance or email [email protected]

2019 Films of Remembrance lineup:

11 a.m. — Voices of Resistance: Free multimedia presentation by Dr. Arthur A. Hansen of his books “Nisei Naysayer” and “Barbed Voices.”

12:35 p.m. — History Rediscovered:

• “Three Boys Manzanar” (2016, 7 min.) by Preeti Mankar Deb and Akemi Ooka. The story of the 70-year reunion of three men held at the Manzanar concentration camp as children.

• “The Crystal City” (2018, 13 min.) by Kenya Gillespie. From 1942-1948 in the remote desert town of Crystal City, Texas, the U.S. government operated a little-known detention site that held Japanese, German, and Italian prisoners from the U.S. and Latin America.

• “Beyond the Barbed Wire: Japanese Americans in Minnesota” (2018, 40 min.) by Ka Wong, Hikari Sugisaki and Paul Sullivan. Japanese Americans relocated to and restarted their lives in Minnesota after the war. This was largely because of higher education through the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council, and the Military Intelligence Service Language School (MIS) at Camp Savage and then Fort Snelling.

2:30 p.m. — Americanism Is in the Heart:

• “American” (2018, 18 min.) by Richie Adams. A 94-year-old veteran (George Takei) who volunteers at the Japanese American National Museum encounters a mother and her young daughter, triggering events that happened in his past, including his time as a young man in a wartime concentration camp and later serving with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

• “An American Hero: Frank Nishimura” (2016, 23 min.) by Shannon Gee. This animated short film tells the story of World War II veteran Frank Nishimura and is based on the graphic novel “Fighting for America: Nisei Soldiers,” written by Lawrence Matsuda and illustrated by Matt Sasaki.

• “Mr. Tanimoto’s Journey” (2018, 27 min.) by Jesse Dizard. Jim Tanimoto is the last living member of a group of men known as the Block 42 resisters at the Tule Lake Segregation Center, who protested the loss of their constitutional rights.

4:45 p.m. — “The Registry” (2018, 56 min.) by Bill Kubota and Steve Ozone. Nisei soldiers were secretly trained as interrogators, interpreters, and linguists. Veterans Seiki Oshiro and Grant Ichikawa and other vets help tell the unit’s story.

6:30 p.m. — Showcase Film and Northern California Premiere: “Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066” (2019, 65 min.) by Jon Osaki. This film is sold out. Email [email protected] to be put on a waiting list. A film about the false information and political influences which led to the incarceration of Japanese Americans. “Alternative Facts” sheds light on the people and politics that influenced the signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the mass incarceration of nearly 120,000.

8 p.m. — Filmmakers Reception: Featuring a Q&A with filmmakers and performance by special guest artists Dr. Amanda Kemp (spoken word), Dr. Michael Jamanis (violin) and Francis Wong (saxophone) of Theatre for Transformation and Okinawan music by Wesley Ueunten.

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