Using old photographs, Super 8mm film and FBI documents, a Japanese American filmmaker tells the story of her family’s struggle to prove their American identities during World War II. Standing in flux between the identity of “Alien” and “Citizen,” Mika Yatsuhashi explores the effect of her family’s Japanese immigrant history on her American identity today.
About the Director:
Mika Yatsuhashi grew up in Takoma Park, Maryland. She moved to Montreal in 2017 to attend the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University. In 2021, she graduated with a BFA in film production. In 2020, she won the Mel Hoppenheim Award for Outstanding Achievement. She has a passion for exploring documentary film, identity, and American history. “An Uninterrupted View of the Sea” is her first film to be released widely.
This documentary short follows the journey of five San Francisco Bay Area artists from their artist studios to the grounds of the 2018 Manzanar Pilgrimage in California. At Manzanar, they immerse themselves in the camp environment to unearth haunting voices of this WWII period of incarceration and historical injustice. The artists each bring their distinct family stories of incarceration and the effect this has had on their art into the documentary’s collective story. The Sansei women perform a series of artistic offerings and rituals to specifically honor their formerly imprisoned family members and to all who shared this Japanese American victimization. This ancestral honoring is the centerpiece and heart that carries this documentary’s story.
A young girl trapped within Japanese American incarceration laments her dull surroundings. Bored, she chooses to paint flowers to contrast the lifeless environment around her. Her colorful creations, inspired by Japanese traditional wagara patterns, come to life and light up her world. She experiences a beautiful, yet transient “flower viewing” or “hanami,” embracing a Japanese American identity despite persecution.
The impact of art in capturing — and interpreting — the tragedy of the wartime incarceration is examined in this collection of vivid and thoughtful shorts. From a hopeful and imaginative animation, to an avant garde and rare glimpse into the East Coast Japanese American experience, to a spiritual journey by artistic descendants of the camps, and finally in giving voice to a noted artist and author, these shorts take the viewer on an artistic journey into history.