Asian America Across Disciplines: Film Screenings with Robert Nakamura and Karen Ishizuka
Afternoon screening: 12:00pm – 1:30pm Houston Hall Ben Franklin Room
Evening screening: 4:30pm – 6:30 Cohen Terrace
ROBERT A. NAKAMURA is an award-winning filmmaker who has also been an influential teacher and mentor and a major force in the field of Asian American media. Considered the “godfather of Asian American cinema” - with his pioneering films: Manzanar (1971), Wataridori: Birds of Passage (1975), and Hito Hata: Raise the Banner (1980) - Nakamura is the founding director of Visual Communications, the oldest Asian American media center in the country, established in 1970. In 1996 he created the UCLA Center for EthnoCommunications and initiated the Frank H. Watase Media Arts Center of the Japanese American National Museum in 1997. A former photographer and photojournalist with a BFA from Art Center College of Design, Nakamura worked for the legendary duo of Charles and Ray Eames before earning a MFA in Film from UCLA. He is currently professor emeritus, UCLA Department of Asian American Studies.
Karen L. Ishizuka is an independent writer whose latest book is Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Sixties (Verso Press, 2016). She is also the author of Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration (University of Illinois Press, 2006) and co-editor of Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories (University of California Press, 2008), in addition to many journal articles. A former documentary film producer and museum curator, she was one of the first people in the U.S. to study and advocate for the historical and cultural significance of home movies and curated the critically acclaimed exhibit, “America’s Concentration Camps” for the Japanese American National Museum. She received a MSW from San Diego State University and Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles and has been a Visiting Scholar in Residence at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.
Pilgrimage (2006) tells the story of how an abandoned WWII concentration camp for Japanese Americans was transformed into a symbol of retrospection and solidarity for people of all ages, races and nationalities in our post 9/11 world. With a hip music track, never-before-seen archival footage and a story-telling style that features young and old, PILGRIMAGE reveals how the Japanese American community reclaimed a national experience that had almost been deleted from public understanding. PILGRIMAGE shows how the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage now has new meaning for diverse generations who realize that when the US government herded thousands of innocent Americans into what the government itself called concentration camps, it was failure of democracy that would affect all Americans. Directed by Tadashi Nakamura, produced by Karen L. Ishizuka and Robert A. Nakamura.
Manzanar (1971) was the first film to reflect upon the mass unconstitutional incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Filmed at the abandoned site of Manzanar decades before it became a national historic site, grainy hand-held 8mm images of handmade grave stones, a cemetery of broken dishes and broken concrete foundations amidst the dusty tumble weeds and stark landscape provide a haunting impressionistic montage of a boyhood spent in an American concentration camp. Directed and produced by Robert A. Nakamura
9066 to 9/11: America’s Concentration Camps, then .. Now? (2004) draws parallels between the detentions of Arab and Muslim Americans after 9/11 with the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII in a bold examination of civil liberties and race. The film draws comparisons between the Japanese and Muslim American experiences of two distinct yet connected eras, provoking questions about immigration, patriotism, equality and the civil rights and liberties of all American citizens, especially during times of national emergency. Directed by Akira Boch, executive produced by Karen L. Ishizuka and Robert A. Nakamura.