JA Filmmakers Take Part in ‘Digital Histories’

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The 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, presented by Visual Communications, will include “Digital Histories” on Sunday, May 5, at 2 p.m. at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.

Since its creation in 2003, the Digital Histories video production and digital storytelling program for older adults is designed for older generations to create and preserve visual stories to be passed down to younger generations. Their works consist of personal and place-based documentaries and other compelling narratives that contribute to the artistic expression and healthy lifestyles of older adults. This year’s films include:

David Osako’s “A Day Before I Die,” in which a memorial service gives way to a horse puppet dance, memories of a lost friend and pet, Japanese festivals, homeless wisdom, aging, and a celebration of life through a Japanese dance to remember the dead.

George Wada’s “Buddhahead Breakfast Club,” in which older Sansei gather as a alternative to meeting at funerals. They are bound together by their shared youth growing up in Los Angeles as the progeny of the camps and the Vietnam era.

Dean Ishida’s “Flo’s Bus.” For over 15 years, 77-year-old Flo Matsuda has organized L.A.-to-Vegas bus trips for her band of Hawaii-born, Japanese American, senior gambling buddies. They share food, play Hawaiian music and dance hula. What they don’t realize is that this trip will be Flo’s last.

Robert Shoji’s “Gone,” which looks at present-day Little Tokyo and the changes taking place. The question: Will we stand by until Little Tokyo is gone, or will we stand up and fight for the future of our community?

Steve Nagano’s “Home Is Little Tokyo,” in which artist Tony Osumi reveals how the Little Tokyo mural originated, the processes involved in its creation, and the story behind its images.

Mitchell Matsumura’s “Japanese American Legacy on Wheels,” which tells the story of a unique subculture that sprang up in JA neighborhoods starting in the mid-1960s. Rising prosperity and more cars available converged just as the post-war Sansei generation was coming of age.

George Takaki’s “My Resilient 102-Year-Old Nisei Mom.” A Nisei woman and her family are uprooted from their home in L.A. and sent to the Heart Mountain, Wyo. camp. She is widowed in camp and left with five kids to raise. At the age of 101, she has to overcome a fractured hip.

Aimee Aiko Kurland’s “Sacred Rice Blessing,” which explores the possible sacredness of the humble grain of rice via ancient Japanese rites.

Barbara Kagawa Shore’s “The Little Things,” a heartwarming look at how to find joy in the simplest of things.

Fran Ito and Steve Nagano’s “Walking the Talk,” in which Ann Burroughs shares her journey from being as a young activist against apartheid in South Africa to the president/CEO of the Japanese American National Museum and how her early experiences shaped her stand against injustice.

Other short films in the festival with Japanese/Japanese American connections include:

• “Little Miss Sumo,” directed by Matt Kay. Banned from competing professionally in wrestling, Hiyori will have to retire at the age of 21. Simultaneously juggling newfound revelations while preparing for the biggest tournament of her life, Hiyori is forced to question the reason females are forbidden from professional wrestling and why most women retire early. Part of “Reel Sports,” Tuesday, May 7, at 9:15 p.m. at Regal L.A. Live, 1000 W. Olympic Blvd.

• “No One Ever Really Dies,” directed by Mari Young and Anika Kan Grevstad. 84-year-old Jun plans his seizensou or “fake funeral.” Meanwhile, Jun’s daughter and wife debate the potential ethical and familial consequences of Jun’s big plans. Part of “From Visions to Reel: Finding Home,” Saturday, May 4, at 11 a.m. at Downtown Independent, 251 S. Main St.

• “Our Man in Tokyo (The Ballad of Shin Miyata),” directed by Akira Boch. A short documentary about the struggles and obsessions of Shin Miyata, a Tokyo-based music promoter and record label owner who specializes in the challenging task of distributing Chicano music from East Los Angeles throughout Japan. Part of “#Life,” Thursday, May 9, at 8:45 pm. at Regal L.A. Live.

• “Shell Yeah,” directed by Ridge Hirano. Brandon the sea turtle has to choose between his new roommate, Trevor the dolphin, and a tortoise fraternity party that he’s been looking forward to before coming to college. Brandon finds out that the tortoises are only interested in him for his exotic background. Part of “I Gotchu Fam, Always,” Sunday, May 5, at 7 p.m. at Downtown Independent.

• “Tides,” directed by Masami Kawai. A family attempts to repair their estrangement with an outing to the beach. Five-year-old Kai tries to make sense of her new family configuration with her dad’s return. The alienation of a family seems more challenging to mend than the promise of a summer afternoon. Part of “The Space Between,” Wednesday, May 8, at 9 p.m. at Regal L.A. Live.

• “Yoko,” directed by Wesley Fuh. This animated short follows a female sumo in Tokyo as she enters an amateur tournament, and fights just to get her into the ring. She is pitted against Yama, the biggest sumo in the tournament, but is his size the biggest threat to her sumo? Part of “Kids Shorts (Not the Kind You Wear),” Sunday, May 5, at 11 a.m. at the Aratani Theatre.

The LAAPFF will be held from May 2 to 10 at select cinemas in the Los Angeles area. For more information, call (213) 680-4462, email [email protected], or visit https://festival.vcmedia.org.

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