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.
About the Directors:
Artists Shari Arai DeBoer (printmaker), Na Omi Judy Shintani (mixed-media), Ellen Bepp (mixed-media), Kathy Fujii-Oka (painter) and Reiko Fujii (mixed-media), are third-generation Japanese Americans and members of the Asian American Women Artists Association, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. They shared a common history: many of their relatives were unjustly incarcerated in American concentration camps during WWII.
A short biographical film on the Japanese American artist and illustrator, Miné Okubo, who authored the seminal graphic memoir “Citizen 13660” (1946) which chronicled the incarceration experience at Tanforan and Topaz, Utah.
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.
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.