The Venice Japanese American Memorial Marker Committee will host a benefit screening with co-sponsor Beyond Baroque in Venice on Saturday, Oct. 29. Three directors of internment-themed films have generously donated their work for the benefit screening, which begins at 2 p.m.
Filmmaker Brian Maeda, who was born in the War Relocation Authority concentration camp at Manzanar, will emcee the screenings, which begin with his “Music Man of Manzanar.” This 30-minute film incorporates re-enactments to tell the story of actor Lou Frizzell, who taught music and drama to teenagers interned at Manzanar, and features Maeda’s brother, Arnold Maeda, today an inspirational member of the VJAMM committee.
Director John Esaki’s Visual Communications production, “Stand Up for Justice,” dramatizes the decision of Mexican-Irish American Ralph Lazo to accompany his Japanese American high school friends to Manzanar.
Academy-award winning director Steven Okazaki’s Academy Award-winning documentary, “Days of Waiting,” tells of artist Estelle Peck, who married Arthur Ishigo in Mexico when such intermarriage was illegal in California, and found acceptance among her husband’s Japanese American friends and family while incarcerated in the American concentration camp at Heart Mountain, Wyo.
A VIP sushi and sake reception will precede the screening at 1 p.m., featuring Mary Kageyama Nomura, known as “the Songbird of Manzanar,” who sang with the Modernaires at club dances for the youth imprisoned in Manzanar. She has graciously agreed to sing again on Oct. 29 and will share the stage with the “Songbird of Venice,” Suzy Williams, and the Shoo Flies. Feast from the East’s Suzanne Toji has also generously donated her famous chicken salad for the VIPs.
General admission will be $25 in advance or $30 at the door, and includes a DVD of one of the films. Tickets to the reception should be ordered in advance for $100, which includes reserved seating and a DVD. Co-sponsorship packages of $500 include two reception reservations, a full-page ad in the commemorative program, and an ad in the Free Venice Beachhead. Co-sponsorship packages of $250 include one reception reservation, a half-page ad in the commemorative program, and an ad in the Free Venice Beachhead.
Tax-deductible checks may be made payable to the VCHC/VAC (the non-profit Venice Community Housing Corporation is the fiscal sponsor of the Venice Arts Council) with VJAMM on the memo line, and mailed to VAC/VJAMM, P.O. Box 993, Venice, CA 90204.
The Venice Japanese American Memorial Marker committee has raised over $10,000 towards its $25,000 goal since September. Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, an early supporter of the campaign initiated by the Free Venice Beachhead, the Venice Peace and Freedom Party, and the Venice Arts Council, has contributed $5,000 towards this project, while the Venice Neighborhood Council has pledged $1,300.
Expressions of support for the VJAMM have also come from the Venice Community Housing Corporation, Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, Venice Japanese Community Center, Culver-Venice Chapter and West Los Angeles Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, Nikkei Student Union at UCLA, Venice High School New Media Academy students, Venice High School Alumni Association, Beyond Baroque, Social and Public Art Resource Center, Venice Community Coalition, Venice Historical Society, Venice Heritage Foundation, Venice Town Council, Assemblymember Betsy Butler, State Sen. Ted Lieu, California Coastal Commission, Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin, and Manzanar Committee. For a complete list of donors, visit www.venicejamm.org.