SAN FRANCISCO — Films focusing on the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II will be showcased at the seventh annual Films of Remembrance, presented by the Nichi Bei Foundation, on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., at New People Cinema, 1746 Post St. in San Francisco’s Japantown.
The event is held in conjunction with the annual Day of Remembrance, this year commemorating the 76th 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. It is also the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which granted a governmental apology and $20,000 redress to victims along with an educational fund.
“Given the dark cloud that surrounds such uncertain times, we feel that now, more than ever, 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. “The Japanese American community has played a unique role in utilizing our wartime experience to safeguard the rights of others, and the films reflect upon this important lesson.”
“This program, and the reminder of the impact and continued impact of the illegal incarceration of over 100,000 Japanese and Japanese American citizens, is especially important in today’s social and political context,” stated Christen Sasaki, Ph.D., a professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University and a Films of Remembrance committee member. “What I found interesting was that in this year’s films, I see a common theme — of the younger generation interacting and speaking with their elders who were incarcerated.”
Sasaki, who has taught the Japanese American History course at San Francisco State University, called the films “striking,” and appreciated the variety of this year’s offerings.
“The two films on the incarceration experience in Hawaii, and especially on the Big Island of Hawaii, are not very well known,” said Sasaki. “One of the many valuable aspects of (Films of Remembrance) is the venue it provides for getting these stories and histories out into the community.”
The 2018 Films of Remembrance lineup will feature:
10 a.m. — Taking a Stand:
• “And Then They Came For Us” (2017, 47 min.) by Abby Ginzberg and Ken Schneider. Brings history into the present, retelling this difficult story and following Japanese American activists as they speak out against the Muslim registry and travel ban.
• “Florin JACL/CAIR Manzanar Pilgrimage” (2017, 10 min.) by Brandon Miyasaki. For the past decade, Japanese Americans and Muslims from the Sacramento area have embarked on a meaningful journey together.
12 p.m. — History Rediscovered (Northern California Premiere):
• “Moving Walls” (2017, 25 min.) by Sharon Yamato. The story of what happened to the barracks used to house 120,000 Japanese Americans during WWII.
• “The Colorado Experience: Freedom & Poverty” (2009, 32 min.) by Bryan Yokomi. The human story of three Japanese American women who fled the concentration camps during WWII.
2:15 p.m. — Hidden Stories of Hawai‘i (Northern California Premiere):
• “Proof of Loyalty: Kazuo Yamane and the Nisei Soldiers of Hawaii” (2017, 54 min.) by Lucy Ostrander and Don Sellers. Plucked from the infantry ranks for his exceptional knowledge of Japanese, Yamane would identify a secret document that would significantly help America’s war in the Pacific.
• “Voices Behind Barbed Wire: Stories of Hawai‘i Island” (2018, 25 min.) by Ryan Kawamoto. Explores the personal stories of the Hawai‘i Island Japanese Americans from their initial imprisonment at Kilauea Military Camp, transfer and interrogation at Sand Island, and their incarceration in far away places like New Mexico, Arkansas and Arizona.
4:15 p.m. — Kodomo no Tame ni:
• “Yamashita” (2013, 11 min.) by Hayley Foster. A young Japanese American girl struggles with discovering her identity, heritage, and the loss of her connection to her past in this animated short.
• “For the Sake of the Children” (2017, 65 min.) by Marlene Shigekawa and Joe Fox. The next generation, whose grandmothers or great grandmothers were incarcerated, explains their attempts to uncover, comprehend and integrate their ancestor’s experiences into their lives.
6 p.m. — Showcase Film: Fighting For Justice (Northern California Premiere):
• “Speak Out For Justice” (2018, 14 min.) by Steve Nagano. The landmark Los Angeles Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians hearings, where Japanese Americans testified about their wartime incarceration for the first time, which led to Japanese American redress.
• “Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice” (2017, 55 min.) by Holly Yasui and Will Doolittle. Yasui was the first Japanese American attorney in Oregon and during WWII, he initiated a legal test case by deliberately violating military orders that led to the incarceration of over 110,000 persons of Japanese ancestry in U.S. concentration camps.
“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, executive producer of the event.
All filmmakers will be represented at Films of Remembrance.
A Filmmakers Reception from 8 to 10 p.m. will feature Okinawan music by Wesley Ueunten and Friends and a cappella music by MEaN.
The cost of the first four screenings at Films of Remembrance is $12 each, $25 for the Showcase Films, “Fighting for Justice” (“Speak Out for Justice” and “Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice”), and $25 for reception only. A very limited number of All-Day Passes are available for $60. Nichi Bei Foundation member and student rates are $10 / $20 / $20 / $50.
Proceeds benefit the Nichi Bei Foundation’s Wayne Maeda Educational Fund.
Presenting Sponsors: California Civil Liberties Public Education Fund (of the California State Library) and San Francisco Japantown Foundation.