New Documentary on World War II Japanese Internment receives major grant from National Park Service

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                            November 6, 2014

Press Contact:

Michelle Chen, michelle@lifeorliberty.org

New Documentary on World War II Japanese Internment
receives major grant from National Park Service
The untold story of Resistance at Tule Lake

New York, NY  Resistance at Tule Lake, a new feature-length documentary from Third World Newsreel (Camera News Inc.) and directed by Japanese American filmmaker Konrad Aderer, was recently awarded  

grant funding from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service (NPS) through the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) grant program. This year, JACS grants totaling $2.9 million were awarded to twenty-one projects whose goals are to preserve and interpret the confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War Two.

Over 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in ten camps from 1942-1945, in the largest mass imprisonment of citizens in U.S. history. Currently in production, Resistance at Tule Lake tells the long-suppressed story of the 12,000 incarcerated Japanese Americans who defied the government by refusing to swear unconditional loyalty to the U.S. Though this was an act of protest and family survival, they were branded as “disloyals” by the government and packed into the newly designated Tule Lake Segregation Center. This highly militarized camp became a virtual pressure cooker where the simmering conflicts between the Caucasian administration and the incarcerees exploded into violence. Faced with the uncertainty of the war and the rampant anti-Japanese climate that awaited them outside of camp, more than 5,000 renounced their “worthless” U.S. citizenship.

Even as general awareness of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans has grown, the story of Tule Lake Segregation Center has remained largely unknown. Departing from a dominant narrative of Japanese Americans who peacefully submitted to confinement, this hidden chapter of history unravels racially codified standards of “loyalty” and brings to light important questions about nationality and citizenship. Through intimate interviews, this documentary will convey the emotions, values and family bonds that compelled incarcerees to resist, to protest their incarceration, and to salvage a livable future for themselves and their families.

Barbara Takei, a key member of the Tule Lake Committee, and co-author of an upcoming book about Tule Lake with noted historian Roger Daniels, said, “Seventy years have gone by since the government punished the thousands of Japanese Americans who resisted the injustice of their wartime incarceration. Tragically, these individuals carried the stigma of disloyalty through their entire lifetimes. I am anxious for this important film to finally tell their story and validate their courageous actions.”

Resistance at Tule Lake will be produced as a theatrical feature and for hour-long public television broadcast, to be publicly screened for community events as well as established venues for documentary films. An additional short classroom version of the film, with supplemental materials, will serve as an invaluable resource for engagement with vital historical and current civil liberties issues in schools. The documentary will be made available for educational, institutional and home use as a DVD and other formats including internet viewing.

Konrad Aderer, a Japanese American whose grandparents were incarcerated during World War Two, previously directed the award-winning feature documentary Enemy Alien, which intertwined his family’s World War Two legacy with the dramatic story of the fight to free a Palestinian detainee arrested in a sweep of Muslim immigrants following 9/11.

 Founded in 1967, Third World Newsreel (www.twn.org) is one of the oldest alternative media arts organizations in the United States. A nonprofit educational organization, it is committed to the creation and appreciation of independent and social issue media.  Working in production, distribution and training, it distributes the award winning Harvest of Empire, and was a fiscal sponsor of Sundance Festival films American Dream, and Through A Lens Darkly.  

 Resistance at Tule Lake is a project of Third World Newsreel and has the full approval and cooperation of the Tule Lake Committee and the support of the Densho collection. For more information, visit http://www.lifeorliberty.org/tule-lake-documentary or contact michelle@lifeorliberty.org

For further information about the National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, contact Kara Miyagishima, Program Manager, at 303-969-2885 or kara_miyagishima@nps.gov.