“Tsuru” short film about JA internment reaches Kickstarter goal in 3.5 days, looks forward to stretch goals

There’s an embarrassingly small library of fiction books and feature films, about the Japanese internment during World War II. The humiliating experience of 110,000 people of Japanese descent carted away from the West Coast and into hastily built concentration camps is still under-represented in American pop culture.

Classics like “Farewell to Manzanar” (in both book and film form) can be hard to find, and better-known Hollywood productions such as “Snow Falling on Cedars” (again, on both the page and screen) can be hits but are fleeting. One of my favorite indie feature films about the era, “Come See the Paradise” starring Tamlyn Tomita and Dennis Quaid, is little-remembered and deserves much wider acclaim.

There are still many stories left to tell about Japanese Americans and their time in concentration camps during WWII.

So it’s cool to see a young filmmaker using the contemporary tools of social media and “crowdfunding” (asking the public to donate money) to bring his original JA story to life. And, it’s even cooler to see that Chris K.T. Bright’s project, “Tsuru” has caught the attention and gained the support of enough people that its Kickstarter fundraising campaign reached its initial goal of $15,000 in a mere three-and-a-half-days. Kickstarter gives the money to a project only if it meets its goal; if the campaign fails, every donor gets her money back.

Now, Bright and his crew are hoping to keep raising money to reach their “Stretch Goals” in the month remaining in the campaign.
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Short documentary video about Hawai’i’s Japanese American internment camp, forgotten over the decades

Most history books mention only the mainland internment camps, relocation centers and Justice Department camps if they mention the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II at all. It’s often stated that people of Japanese descent in Hawai’i weren’t rounded up and imprisoned — or that only a few were arrested, and then sent to mainland camps — because there are so many Japanese in Hawai’i that if they did that, the territory’s economy would shut down (Hawai’i didn’t become a state until 1959).

But there was an internment camp right on Oahu, not far from the capital, Honolulu, on rugged land that’s now owned by Monsanto. They didn’t lock up all Japanese Americans like they did on the West Coast. And they didn’t imprison entire families. They focused on community leaders, but still held thousands in Honouliuli, the prison camp.

The Japanese Community Center of Hawai’i has captured some of this long-forgotten history in this short documentary. I hope they do more. Next time we get to Hawai’i, we’ll return to the JCCH to see if they have an exhibit or other material about the topic. Brian Niiya, the Director of Program & Development at the JCCH told us about the early states of their research several years ago when we first visited the JCCH, so I’m glad to see they got this video done.

Even though Japanese Americans in Hawai’i are anything but the invisible minority that we are on the mainland, their history needs to be highlighted and preserved just as it needs to be documented here.

(From HolyKaw on Alltop.com)

(Cross-posted on gilasakawa.posterous.com)