Asian American Film Retrospective in Nihonmachi

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Emiko Omori

The Nihonmachi Asian American Film Retrospective, featuring a selection of award-winning classics and new films, will be held on the weekend of Aug. 13-14, with screenings beginning from 2 p.m. at VIZ Cinema, located at 1746 Post St. in the heart of San Francisco’s Japantown.

The film retrospective, sponsored by the Nichi Bei Foundation and curated by Chizu Omori, coincides with the 38th annual Nihonmachi Street Fair, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.

The series will begin with a screening of Burt Takeuchi’s “Valor with Honor” (2011), an independent film featuring the last interviews of Nisei veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated American unit for its size and length of service. They talk about their World War II experiences in Italy, their heroic rescue of the “Lost Battalion,” the breaking of the Gothic Line, and the liberation of the Dachau Nazi death camp.

San Francisco’s own Emiko Omori will be represented by “Rabbit in the Moon” (1999), the Sundance Film Festival award-winning story of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Fifty years later, acclaimed the filmmaker asks her older sister Chizu and other detainees to reflect on the personal and political consequences of their incarceration, including the simmering rage of citizens forced to sign loyalty oaths.

Omori’s newest film, “Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World” (2011), is a biography of the San Francisco artist and tattoo master. The influence of Chinese and Japanese art in his art and tattooing is a highlight of this story about an artist’s journey, his unexpected rise to cult status and his phenomenal influence on pop culture. With one foot in the world of tattooing and the other planted in the fine arts, each informed the other. Preceded by Omori’s short film “2000 Dragons.”

Curtis Choy’s “The Fall of the I-Hotel” (1983) is about the momentous 10-year struggle to save the International Hotel in San Francisco’s Manilatown from destruction. A coalition of Asian American activists participated in this fight, even forming a human chain around the building, but eventually the elderly residents were forcibly removed. It is a story of multiple tragedies, including ethnic communities redeveloped out of existence, housing gobbled up by real estate interests, and shabby treatment of the elderly. Preceded by the short film “Silencio” by Michael Arago. Poetry and Q&A with former I-Hotel resident Peter Yamamoto follows the screening.

The retrospective ends with Linda Hattendorf’s “The Cats of Mirikitani” (2006), the story of 80-year-old artist Jimmy Mirikitani, who survived the trauma of World War II concentration camps, Hiroshima, and homelessness by creating art. But when 9/11 threatens his life on the New York City streets and a local filmmaker brings him to her home, the two embark on a journey to confront Jimmy’s painful past. This film about loss, friendship, and the human spirit won the Audience Award at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival. Preceded by “Fu-De: The Brush” by Charlie Corriea.

Omori and Takeuchi will be present to answer audience questions about their films. Some DVDs will be available for purchase.

The cost for each film screening is $10. Partial proceeds will go to the Nichi Bei Foundation, publishers of the nonprofit Nichi Bei Weekly community newspaper. The Nichi Bei Foundation is a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.newpeopleworld.com/films/films-8-2011/#asian.

For more information, visit www.nichibei.org, call (415) 673-1009 or email: [email protected]

Saturday, Aug. 13

2 p.m. “Valor with Honor”

5:30 p.m. “Rabbit in the Moon”

8 p.m. “Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World”

Sunday, Aug. 14

2 p.m. “Valor with Honor”

5:30 p.m. “The Fall of the I-Hotel”

8 p.m. “The Cats of Mirikitani”

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