Friday, January 15, 2010

NJAHS Thursday Night at the Movies

National Japanese American Historical Society
Thursday Night at the Movies
Thursdays, November 19, 2009 to January 28, 2010, at the Officer's Club in the Presidio of San Francisco.

In conjunction with an exhibit about Japanese Americans serving in WWII, NJAHS has been hosting screenings of relevant movies in the Presidio Officer's Club. I attended this Thursday night & was part of a small gathering of about 25 people. We saw 2 documentaries. The 1st was Conscience and the Constitution, about 63 young men interned in Heart Mountain who went to prison for refusing to be drafted into the US military. Both the US government & Japanese Americans like to make heroes of the 442nd, but to me these men who resisted the draft had true courage. I like that the film is frank about the split within the Japanese American community over the question of loyalty during WWII. Also, I had thought that photography was banned in the camps, so I was quite moved to see footage of camp life, especially what looks like a home movie of an obon celebration.

The 2nd movie screened was From a Silk Cocoon, a beautiful documentary following the complicated story of a kibei couple who answer "No" on the infamous loyalty questionnaire & end up in Tule Lake. The wife gives birth to 2 children while interned, & the couple's experience in the camps leads them to renounce their American citizenship. The film creates a great deal of suspense as we wait to find out whether or not their family will stay together after the war, as the US prepares to deport the father. Kim Ina, a granddaughter of the subjects of the film & one of its co-producers, was on hand to discuss the film & answer questions afterward.

It pleases me to know that both documentaries were funded with government grants that came out of the Reparation Act. Giving out money to make history movies is government spending I can really get behind.

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