Claudia Katayanagi’s documentary “A Bitter Legacy” will be screened on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave. in Little Tokyo.
Inside the World War II camps where Japanese Americans were incarcerated, secret prisons were created for those considered “troublemakers” and “collaborators” by the U.S. government. The film looks at these “citizen isolation centers,” now considered precursors to Guantanamo, and examines their legacy.
Moab Citizen Isolation Center, a former Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Utah, opened after the notorious “Manzanar Riot” on Dec. 10, 1942 to isolate dissidents from the rest of the U.S. concentration camp population.
Leupp, located on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona, opened on April 27, 1943 after Moab became overpopulated with “troublemaker” prisoners from the 10 War Relocation Authority camps. This was a high-security prison where guards outnumbered inmates 4 to 1.
Interviewees include historians, artists, community leaders and activists. One of them, Tetsuden Kashima, will join the filmmaker in a post-screening discussion.
A renowned scholar, historian and professor emeritus at the Department of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington, Kashima has authored numerous articles and has written the foreword in many books in the Japanese American field of study. He has published two books: “Buddhism in America: The Social Organization of an Ethnic Religious Institution” (1977) and “Judgment Without Trial: Japanese American Imprisonment During World War II” (2003, 2004).
Katayanagi, a Yonsei, has worked as a sound recordist and sound mixer on several documentaries. During World War II, her father’s family, based in San Francisco, was detained at Tanforan and Topaz; her mother’s family, based in Sacramento, was detained at Walerga, Tule Lake, Topaz and Amache.
“I hope I have created a film that communicates this deeper understanding of what was done to the Nikkei people here in this country, with a few connections of how these same issues are still occurring to people of other cultural heritages today, and what can be done to move this country and all of its people forward in a just, equitable manner,” she said.
Satsuki Ina, director of “Children of the Camps,” said that Katayanagi’s film “pushes further into the Japanese American history during World War II, gathering deeper meaning and revelations.”