Comment from Carolyn Cole, San Pablo, CA (after viewing at a home screening)
I was uplifted in watching your documentary masterpiece in that this positive side comes through. What these families endured was an unconscionable breach of what our country is supposed to represent: freedom for all. Fear and ignorance – and small-minded folk – prevailed at a time of national panic and a tendency to racism that, damnably, runs through our many cultures on this earth. “America” was supposed to be better than this, to rise above such ignorance – but it did not, and does not. So, we have this major stain on our nationhood, and major damage inflicted on huge numbers of our best citizens.
Given this, you provided a true view of what ‘the arts’ can do: uplift, sustain, enlarge our worlds, even in a prison environment. I don’t know why, but all my life I’ve strategized in my “monkey mind” how I might cope with internment. I KNOW that music, creativity, arts of all kinds, friendships, deep conversations, solitude, dutiful work – all sustain. That’s how I would get through such times. I loved your portrayal of those who managed to thrive in such difficulty. It is uplifting and life-affirming. Those who were shattered by this, the mature men and women who lost so much – too much – and could not cope with the loss, this I also understand. Being raised in a country where we give vast lip-service to individual freedom forms our expectations. When that is taken away, it can shatter our souls. We know this, and understand how devastating internment, and all that led up to it, and all that followed, ruined the lives of vast numbers of good people. However, this was not your main-line story, because you chose to tell about those who soared, or at least remained steady – through art. It is a profound statement, and I thank you.
January 26, 2015
Berkeley: Documentary looks at forgotten aspect of internment camps
By Lou FancherCorrespondent
Posted: 01/26/2015 03:01:02 PM PST0 Comments | Updated: 2 days ago
Hillary Jenks, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties
Riverside City College
sent this comment after attending the screening of Hidden Legacy at the Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties on November 19, 2014
With its rich mix of compelling interviews, historical photographs, musical performances, and rare archival film footage, Hidden Legacy offers extraordinary insight into the persistence of traditional Japanese cultural practice among Japanese Americans interned during World War II. Despite intense pressure to reject all aspects of their ethnic heritage, with often harsh consequences for Issei arts masters, many internees nevertheless chose to maintain, or even discover for the first time, Japanese forms of music, theater, dance, and other performative arts. In doing so, they helped bring cultural knowledge, entertainment, purpose, and a renewed self-respect to participants (including crews of backdrop painters and costume makers) and audiences deprived of their livelihoods and civil liberties. Perhaps most remarkable of all, these artists and teachers laid the foundation for a continued engagement with Japanese art and culture among Japanese Americans in the mainland United States in the decades following the war.
Michael Omi, American Sociologist and Professor at UC Berkeley in the Ethnic Studies Department, Asian American Studies, sent this comment after attending the screening of Hidden Legacy at UC Berkeley on Sept. 18th..
“Hidden Legacy fills an enormous vacuum in our understanding of cultural practices among Japanese American “internees” during World War II. Prior to the release of the film, virtually nothing written or recorded had examined and chronicled the ways that the traditional Japanese performing arts were maintained — and indeed thrived — in the midst of incarceration. To survey the ways that Japanese music, drama, and dance were taught, performed, and enjoyed in the camps is itself a major contribution. But the film goes beyond this by situating these artistic practices in the context of the deep contradictions and tragic ironies of camp life itself. The assimilationist agenda of the War Relocation Authority, class and generational divides among Japanese Americans, and conflicting notions of what it meant to be an “American” all shaped the patterns and possibilities for the arts and their expression. Recreation is indeed political. Drawing upon the voices of performing artists, Hidden Legacy underscores the resilience, creativity, and passion of an incarcerated people.”
September 14, 2014
Sunday 5:30 AM KNTV 11.1 and COZI TV 11.2 6 PM
Appearing Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto and Reiko Iwanaga appear on Robert Handa new premier show Asian Pacific America talking about Hidden Legacy: Japanese Traditional Performing Arts in the World War II Internment Camps. to be shown at University of California, Berkeley September 18, 2014 at 2 different showings . (See The Film)