Toyo’s Camera: Japanese American History during WWII

May 28, 2010
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Film past event

2009, 98 min., color, in English and Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Junichi Suzuki. With Archie Miyatake, George Takei, Daniel Inouye.

Knowledge of the internment of Japanese-Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor remains surprisingly low in America and Japan.

Even though bringing in cameras to the internment camps was prohibited, one man managed to smuggle in his own camera lens and build a camera to document life behind barbed wires, with the help of other craftsmen in the camp. That man was Toyo Miyatake, a successful issei (first generation immigrant) photographer and owner of a photo-shop in the Los Angeles Little Tokyo district, and of one of the many Americans who was interned with his family against his will. With his makeshift camera, Miyatake captured the dire conditions of life in the camps during World War II as well as the resilient spirit of his companions, many of whom were American citizens who went on to fight for their country overseas. Miyatake said, "It is my duty to record the facts, as a photographer, so that this kind of thing should never happen again." Suzuki’s documentary carries on the legacy of Miyatake’s photography, addressing the historical context of the internment as well as the stories of other Japanese-Americans who were touched by this unfortunate chapter in American history.

Screening followed by Q&A with special guests writer/director Junichi Suzuki and actor George Takei, and a cocktail reception.

This event is SOLD OUT.
A few seats may be available at the will-call desk on the day of the screening.

George Takei, best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the television and film series Star Trek, has more than 40 feature films and hundreds of television guest-starring roles to his credit. He is currently a recurring character on NBC-TV’s Heroes.

Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Takei and his family were sent to internment camps in Arkansas and California at the outbreak of World War II. He went on to receive a BA and MA in Theater from the University of California at Los Angeles and later studied at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, and the Desilu Workshop in Hollywood.

Mr. Takei is Chairman Emeritus of the Japanese American National Museum’s Board of Trustees; a member of the US-Japan Bridging Foundation’s Board of Directors; and served on the Board of the Japan-United States Friendship Commission under President Clinton. Mr. Takei is also a member of the Human Rights Campaign and spokesman for their Coming Out Project. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Actors’ Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

In recognition of his contribution to the Japan-United States relationship, Mr. Takei was conferred with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan in 2004.

Junichi Suzuki
, a Tokyo University graduate and 30-year veteran of the film industry with numerous credits in directing, producing and screenwriting, has created works of both fiction and documentary. After working with directors like Kon Ichikawa and Tatsumi Kumashiro as an assistant director at Nikkatsu, Suzuki went on to become a contract director at the studio. From the early 90s to 2000 Suzuki worked in film production education and programming in New York City, China and Indonesia before becoming an instructor at Rikkyou University and Tokyou Kogei, all while continuing to create original films. He is currently working in Los Angeles.

This screening is co-presented with the Japanese American Association of New York (JAA),Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), Japanese American National Museum (JANM), Cook Pine Capital LLC, and the U.S.-Japan Council.
  • Friday, May 28, 2010
  • 6:30 pm