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Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust

Directed by Ann Kaneko
  • 2021
  • 84 mins

An inspired and poetic portrait of a place and its people, “Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust” follows intergenerational women from three communities who defend their land, their history and their culture from the insatiable thirst of Los Angeles. In this fresh retelling of the LA water story, Native Americans, Japanese American WWII incarcerees and environmentalists form an unexpected alliance to preserve Payahuunadü (Owens Valley), “the land of flowing water.” Featuring breathtaking photography and immersive soundscapes, the film recounts more than 150 years of history, showing how this distant valley is inextricably tied to the city of Los Angeles. It reveals the forced removals of two peoples — the Nüümü (Paiute) and the Newe (Shoshone) who were marched out of the Valley in the 1860s by the U.S. Army and the Japanese Americans who were brought here from their West Coast homes and incarcerated in a World War II concentration camp. Water lured outsiders in and continues to fuel the greed which has sucked this once lush place dry.


About the Director:

Ann Kaneko (director/producer/editor/cinematographer) is known for her personal films that weave her intimate aesthetic with the intricacies of political reality. She is an Emmy winner, and her work has screened internationally and been broadcast on PBS. She has been commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Endowment and the Skirball Cultural Center. Her credits include “A Flicker In Eternity,” based on Stanley Hayami’s diary; “Against The Grain: An Artist’s Survival Guide To Peru,” highlighting Peruvian political artists; and “100% Human Hair,” a musical for the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. Fluent in Japanese and Spanish, Kaneko has been a Fulbright and Japan Foundation Artist fellow. She is a member of New Day Films, a distribution cooperative. She has an MFA from UCLA, teaches at Pitzer College and is the artist mentor for VC’s Armed with a Camera Fellowship.


Featuring a post-film discussion with filmmaker ANN KANEKO, Sierra Club Senior Associate Director of Energy Campaigns MONICA MARIKO EMBREY and KTVU-2 News Reporter JANA KATSUYAMA.