Dear friends of Never Give Up!
February 19, 2017 was the 75th anniversary of the date on which President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the forced removal from the West Coast of over 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry and their subsequent imprisonment in War Relocation Authority concentration camps. Called the Day of Remembrance, this year is especially significant since a number of Presidential Executive Orders have been issued by Donald Trump, including a travel ban based on national origin (Muslim-majority countries) justified by the so-called War on Terror, chillingly justified in earlier comments by references to the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II, based on ancestry (Japanese) and national origin (Japan).
In February, I joined Jay Hirabayahi, son of Gordon Hirabayashi and Karen Korematsu, daughter of Fred Korematsu on a number of amicus curiae (“Friend of the Court”) briefs opposing these discriminatory travel restrictions on the basis of the cases that our sansei fathers took to the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1940s and re-opened in the 1980s.
In the Oregon state legislature, a joint resolution was introduced in the Senate to declare February 19 as a Day of Remembrance in Oregon and to support a national movement to create a federal holiday to commemorate the Japanese American experience of World War II. This resolution passed the Oregon Senate unanimously and is in the House of Representatives now. The plan is for the resolution to be heard on the floor of the legislature on March 28, Minoru Yasui Day, for a final vote.
As regards the film: Well, we’ve made it to “picture lock” which is the cut we have sent to our music composer, Shoji Kameda, for scoring of the film. This means that the length of the film we are releasing (Part One) has been determined – it is 57 minutes, including the end credits. We are putting on all the finishing touches for our World Premiere in Salem, Oregon on March 28 – Min Yasui Day in 2017, the 75th anniversary of his challenge of the discriminatory military orders against all persons of Japanese ancestry.
On Min Yasui Day in Oregon, there will be a rally at Portland City Hall with a proclamation from the Mayor affirming the NEVER AGAIN initiative of the Japanese American community (see below, May 6).
On March 31, we will have a private screening, by request, at the Willamette View retirement community in Oak Grove, OR, and two screenings of the film in Hood River – one for the public at the Columbia Center for the Arts on Sunday, April 2 and one for the Hood River Middle School on Monday, April 3. Then I will take the film to Colorado, where we’re organizing an informal screening in Glenwood Springs on Thursday, April 6, and a more formal screening in Denver on Saturday April 8 as part of an event sponsored by the Coalition for an Inclusive Colorado, spearheaded by Robin Yasui.
At the end of April, I will be back in Oregon since our film was selected for exhibition at the DisOrient Film Festival in Eugene, Oregon, April 22-23.
May 6, 2017 – the REMEMBER US Tag project and pilgrimage to the Portland “Assembly Center” will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the opening of the temporary detention center at the International Livestock Exposition Hall in Portland, Oregon, which is featured in the film. If anyone is interested in this project, please let me know and I will send you more information.
At the end of May, we will find out if we have received a major grant that will finance the completion of the second part of the film (for a feature-length film to be released in 2018, probably about 90 minutes long) and distribution and educational outreach with Part One.
In July, I will be filming in San Francisco: a couple of the attorneys who worked on the re-opening of the wartime Japanese American cases, and the former Executive Director of the National Japanese American Citizens League (JACL); then heading south to Los Angeles for the regional premiere of the film at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) on July 29, 2017 at 2 p.m.
Our beloved Big Star George Takei is scheduled to appear with us, as well as several other members of the crew. At that time, JANM will be hosting an exhibition that “explores the life and career of pioneering actor, activist, and social media icon George Takei. By examining Takei’s diverse experiences and achievements, this entertaining exhibition creates a portrait of a unique individual while offering an innovative means of engaging with the social history of America.”
For the future … Some of the film festivals we’re hoping to submit to are the Tacoma Film Festival, the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival; Sundance; The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana; CAAMfest (Center for Asian American Media) in San Francisco; the Telluride Mountain Film festival in Colorado; the Am Documentary Film Fest in Los Angeles and the AFI (American Film Institute) Documentary Film Fest in Washington, DC.
Please let us know if you are interested in organizing a community / educational film screening in your town, or if there are film festivals to which you think we should submit Never Give Up! (Part One). We want to get the film out in order to speak up and speak out about the important current issues of immigration and discrimination based on ancestry or national origin, unlawful detention, racial/religious profiling of any kind.THANK YOU!