The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center will present a screening of “Our Lost Years,” a new film written and directed by Lane Nishikawa, on Sunday, June 23, at 2 p.m. at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.
Q&A with the director immediately following.
The San Diego Chapter JACL, working with Nishikawa, produced a professional feature-length educational documentary film to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. “Our Lost Years” examines how lives were challenged, how livelihoods were lost, how families persevered and started over, and how the generations who have followed continue to feel the effect of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Though most of the Issei have passed on, we witness through their children and grandchildren how their lives would forever change, and their futures would be unknown. The film utilizes historic and personal footage and photos to authentically visualize the amazing stories of the West Coast Japanese American communities as they were uprooted from their homes and sent to 10 concentration camps across the U.S., and the years that followed as redress for Japanese Americans was fought for and finally won in 1988.
Over a two-year period, Nishikawa traveled to seven cities, interviewing incarcerees, their children and grandchildren, politicians, community leaders, lawyers, and activists.
Appearing in the film are Norman Mineta, Mike Honda, John Tateishi, S. Floyd Mori, Jose Keichi Fuentes, Robert Ito, Kenneth Inouye, Dale Minami, Mitchell Maki, Karen Korematsu. Hanif Mohebi, Kanji Sahara, Amanda Susskind. Steve Nakajo, Rosalyn Tonai, Kathy Masaoka, Alan Nishio, Jim Matsuoka, Mari Matsumoto, Phil Shigekuni, John Esaki, Douglas Urata, Leslie Ito, Marlene Shigekawa, Elizabeth Yamada, Setsuo Iwashita, Ruth Voorhies, Nellie Noguchi, Joe Yasutake and George Omi.
“Our Lost Years” cries out again for justice as the government rises again to violate the civil and human rights of another race and people.
“As years pass, the experience of Japanese American during WWII seems to fade from the purview of our younger generations,” the filmmakers said. “It is imperative that we take every opportunity to remind them of the sacrifices of their ancestors. Generation X and the millennials have no true understanding of the multiple hardships of the WWII generation. Their world is filled with far different challenges, but the legacy that created the world in which they live was forged in the lives of those generations who came before.
“‘Our Lost Years’ provides a lens into the bridge between generations, the bond between families, the loyalty to one’s country, and the passion with which one fights for those they love. We also capture the loss and sadness of a terrible period in our history, and the unquestionable faith of a community to persevere and overcome whatever obstacles they faced.
“Executive Order 9066 was a dark decision made during a hysterical time in our nation’s history, and we owe it to our future generations to never forget and ensure that it never happens again, to any race, to any community, and most importantly, to any American.”
Proceeds will also benefit Go For Broke National Education Center and Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress.
Nishikawa has numerous stage and screen credits as an actor, writer and director. He served as artistic director of the Asian American Theater Company in San Francisco and is known for his one-man shows, including “Life in the Fast Lane,” “I’m on a Mission from Buddha” and “Mifune and Me,” as well as a two-man show with Victor Talmadge, “The Gate of Heaven,” about a Nisei veteran and a Holocaust survivor.
He wrote and directed two short films about Nisei soldiers, “Forgotten Valor” and “When We Were Warriors,” as well as a feature film, “Only the Brave,” in which he starred along with Tamlyn Tomita, Greg Watanabe, Mark Dacascos, Jason Scott Lee, Yuji Okumoto, Pat Morita, Kenneth Choi and many other Asian American actors. His other film acting credits include “Living on Tokyo Time,” “Eat a Bowl of Tea,” and “East Side Sushi.”
One showing only. General admission: $15. JACCC members: $12. Students: $10. Purchase tickets online at www.jaccc.org or call the box office at (213) 680-3700 between 12 and 5 p.m.
The film’s next stop is the National JACL Convention in Salt Lake City in July.