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Artistic Interpretations

  • 60 mins

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.

Featuring a post-film discussion with filmmakers LISA MAEDA, MIKA YATSUHASHI, NA OMI JUDY SHINTANI, SHARI ARAI DeBOER and YUKA MURAKAMI, moderated by JILL SHIRAKI.

In this program


Directed by Lisa Maeda

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.

An Uninterrupted View of the Sea

Directed by Mika Yatsuhashi

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.

Sansei Granddaughters Journey

Directed by Ellen Bepp, Kathy Fujii-Oka, Na Omi Judy Shintani, Reiko Fujii, Shari Arai DeBoer

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.

Sincerely Miné Okubo

Directed by Yuka Murakami

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.

Artistic Interpretations Short Program Discussion