The narrative shorts allow us to step back in time — creating a visceral experience of the sparse living quarters and barren desert, capturing the camaraderie and fractures that develop, and drawing us into the emotions of the characters. It is encouraging to see younger filmmakers remain connected to the stories of their ancestors.
“Cherry Blossom” (2019, 3 min.) by Sam Pablo. The Anaheim High School Dance Production Class and Director Oscar Gonzalez presented this dance piece in honor of their fellow classmates from Anaheim High School forcibly incarcerated in 1942.
“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.
“Warning Shot: The Killing of James Wakasa” (2015, 13 min.) by Tina Takemoto. One death. Three versions of the crime. James Wakasa, a 63-year-old Japanese American bachelor, was shot to death by military police at Topaz incarceration camp during WWII. Was it justifiable homicide, an accidental fatality, or second-degree murder?
“A Song for Manzanar” (2015, 18 min.) by Kazuko Golden. A bond between two sisters, one in Manzanar and another in Hiroshima. The closeness of the sisters is shown in glimpses of childhood experiences, a conversation as young women, and the dogged effort of the older sister to get a letter out of the camp to her sister in Hiroshima.
“Henry’s Glasses” (2010, 20 min.) by Brendan Uegama. Set in a Japanese Canadian incarceration camp, a young boy must use the power of his imagination to escape reality and help a new elderly friend. Even to the old and obdurate Mr. Yamamoto, this gift may hold the power to make a skeptic believe.
“The Orange Story” (2016, 18 min.) by Erika Street Hopman. An elderly Japanese American shopkeeper must sell all his belongings and report to a temporary detention center during WWII, from where he will be forcibly removed to an undisclosed location.
“American” (2018, 18 min.) by Richie Adams. A veteran who works as a volunteer at the Japanese American National Museum encounters a mother and her young daughter, triggering events that happened in his past, including his time as a young man in a Japanese American concentration camp and later serving with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during WWII. Starring George Takei.
“Tadaima” (2015, 15 min.) by Robin D’Oench. George, Akiko, Kaori, and Kazuo return to their former house in the summer of 1945, following the end of WWII and the closure of the Japanese American concentration camps. Arriving home, they find the house ransacked by vandals and in a state of disrepair. Emotions flair and each individual member of the family react differently to the homecoming. As the day draws to a close, there is a glimmer of hope that the future holds better days.