This year is the 5th anniversary of the Boston Asian American Film Festival. They have a lot of great films that you should check out, but I'm only going to highlight the ones from Japanese & Japanese American directors/subjects + one Hawaii film. (I apologize if I'm missed any - I just pulled these out based on name and subject matter.) There is one feature, one documentary, and two of their three shorts programs feature two Japanese American historical films (one animated). I'm also highlighting The Haumana, a feature film set in Hawaii, since it's so rare to be able to see Hawaii-made films in Boston. I think hula is one of the most beautiful dance forms. If you've never seen a proper hula performance, you should go see The Haumana.
Sake-Bomb (New England Premiere)Friday, October 25, 2013, 9:15PM
Bright Family Screening Room @ The Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111
Directed by Japanese Junya Sakino, Written by Japanese American Jeff Mizushima (interview with Junya Sakino and actors Eugene Kim and Gaku Hamada)
2013 | 83 mins | Comedy
A ʻʻSake-Bombʼʼ is a cocktail created by dropping a shot of sake into a pint of beer. It’s also a comedic road movie about a sarcastic Asian American and his Japanese cousin. Sebastian is a bitter, self-deprecating wannabe Internet star from Los Angeles. He has recently been dumped by his girlfriend and on the look-out for someone new. When his cousin Naoto, a naive sake maker from Japan, shows up to find his own ex-girlfriend, Sebastian takes him to north California to find her. They are a clash of cultures waiting to happen. Someone has to break first. Together they meet a colorful group of characters as they come to grips with who they are and the true nature of the girlfriends they are pursuing.
Josiah Quincy School, 885 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111
Directed by Japanese American Yuriko Gamo Romer (interview)
2011 | 58 mins | Documentary
Once in a long while, the life destiny of one woman lines up to make a radical shift for women around the world. In the summer of 2011, Keiko Fukuda broke through a glass ceiling for women when she was awarded the pinnacle of judo, the 10th degree (black belt). Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful is the story of Keiko Fukuda, whose life commitment was to spread judo around the globe. The film offers a thematic exploration of profound shifts in Japanese society and the altered status of women on both sides of the Pacific, with a visual style that honors Fukuda’s motto, which is also the film’s subtitle.
carefully arranged to provoke reflection on family, personal identity, and tragic circumstance.
Friday, October 25, 2013, 7:00PM
Tule Lake (trailer)
Directed by Japanese American Michelle Ikemoto (article)
2012 | 7 mins | Animation
Based on true events, “Tule Lake” is a story of perseverance, shown from the perspective of a Japanese American internee during World War II. Held in the Tule Lake segregation camp with her family, a woman steps out of her barracks one winter night...
Saturday, October 26, 2013, 4:30PM
Lil Tokyo Reporter
Directed by Chinese American Jeffrey Gee Chin (interview)
2012 | 30 mins | Historical Drama
1935 Los Angkeles, community leader Sei Fujii uncovers the corrupt activities of his community's underground mafia. He must choose between saving the face of his deteriorating community and confronting the issues head on through his newspaper. Based on a true story.
The Haumana (New England Premiere)
Saturday, October 26, 2013, 2:00PM
Directed by Keo Woolford (interview)
2013 | 95 mins | Drama
When the charismatic host of a cheesy tourist show in Waikiki accepts the challenge of leading a group of high school boys through the demanding discipline required for a traditional hula festival, he becomes as much a student as a teacher when he reconnects with the culture of Hawai`i he previously abandoned.
Last year I only made it to the shorts but I'm hoping to see a couple of these. I found an unfinished post from last year in which I'd intended to mention a short film directed by Japanese American Matthew Hashiguchi titled People Aren't All Bad. He interviews local ITF tennis player, Yutaka Kobayashi, about what it was like being incarcerated by the US government as a teenager. The film was really short (only 4 minutes) but powerful. Photos of Japanese Americans being sent off to camp and racist tableaus were intercut with video of Mr. Kobayashi. When the film ended on the punchline, "People aren't all bad," and the credits started rolling, the audience seemed confused. I wished the film were longer. I was sure Mr. Kobayashi had much more to say.
In Googling for my post, I discovered that Mr. Kobayashi was also interviewed as part of the UMass Boston's Institute for Asian American Studies' oral history project, From Confinement to College: Video Oral Histories of Japanese American Students During WWII. He does indeed have a lot to say.