Jan-June 2018 update

Dear Friends – much has transpired since the last update I sent out …

New film format

First of all, the reason for the delay in this update: after consulting with various experts, we’ve made some decisions about the film’s final format and educational outreach. Film professionals have advised us that the current 57-minute length is ideal for public television whereas anything longer is difficult to program; and educators unanimously recommended that we NOT produce a feature-length film because anything over an hour is too long to screen during a single class period.

Therefore, we will not be producing Part Two of Never Give Up! but instead, we’re adding a few sequences to the epilogue, cutting the prologue and “tightening up” the body of the film to make a new 57-minute cut that we will offer to public television, high-school and higher-education classrooms. We will also create a 45-minute classroom version for middle-school students, and several supplemental “extras” (5-10 minute shorts that expand on themes mentioned in the film).

During April and May we completed a rough cut of that new version of the film and it will be screened in at Hood River Valley High School for teacher and student feedback before the end of this school term. Many, many thanks to Niko Yasui and Dave Case, who will also help with the high school Study Guide.

We’re also working with Sarah Segal, Hood River Middle School teacher, on a film workshop session for the Oregon Council on Social Studies fall conference, on October 6, 2018. Our goal is to complete the Never Give Up! educational package for that conference – a DVD containing both the 57-minute and 45-minute versions of the film, with closed captions and Spanish subtitle options, scene selections and extras; plus a middle-school, high-school, and college-level study guide. These materials will also be made available online.

Film screenings and Public Television broadcast In January and February of this year, the film was shown in libraries and classrooms in Oregon in support of the Minoru Yasui Day Essay Contest, which culminated in a screening and awards ceremony at the Portland Center Stage on March 28, after a second March for Justice organized by the Oregon Nikkei Endowment (ONE).

Essay contest winners, Emmett, Katelyn and Roslyn Rashleigh, George Nakata and Melanie Glatter on Minoru Yasui Day

The film has also been screened in a half dozen venues this year, most notably at the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. on February 18 as centerpiece of their annual Day of Remembrance event.

Smithsonian Day of Remembrance: Noriko Sanefuji, organizer; Phil Taijitsu Nash, University of Maryland; me; Zainab Chaudary, ReThink Media; Doron Ezickson, Anti-Defamation League

Other screenings include the San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (with Spanish subtitles) sponsored by the Center for Global Justice; Denver (Mile-High JACL) Day of Remembrance; the Nichibei “Films of Remembrance” festival in San Francisco (featured as the Showcase film in the evening); Meaningful Movies series in Tacoma, WA and at the Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of Whidbey Island, WA; at the Cottage Grove Public Library, OR; and the Topaz confinement site Museum in Delta, UT sponsored by the ACLU of Utah.

Upcoming screenings include the Santa Barbara Asian American Film Festival on July 6; the Oregon Council on Social Studies (OCSS) fall conference in Monmouth, OR on October 6; and the Missoula History Museum in Montana the following week.

AMICUS BRIEF on the Muslim Ban

Peggy Nagae and I continue to collaborate with the Stop Repeating History project, spearheaded by the Korematsu coram nobis attorneys, and filed our amicus brief on the Muslim Ban on March 30, 2018 with at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Our argument is that the Court should heed the lessons of the World War II Japanese American cases (including Yasui v. the United States), in which the U.S. Supreme Court justices deferred, without any questioning, to the government’s claims of “military necessity.” We ask them to closely scrutinize the current claims of the U.S. government that “national security” justifies excluding all persons from designated countries from entering the country. We feel there is ample evidence that the travel ban is based on anti-Muslim sentiment, just as the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans was based on “racial prejudice, wartime hysteria and a failure of political leadership.” (quoting from the Personal Justice Denied: the Final Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians).

Rally in Portland, OR on the anniversary of the declaration of the first Muslim Ban (Jan 21, 2106). Photo by Jillian Toda.

The future of the film …

Now that we are finishing up the final version of the film, we are looking for ways to continue the project under the auspices of the Oregon Nikkei Endowment (ONE), which became the fiscal sponsor of the Minoru Yasui Tribute project (MYTP) in 2014. The MYTP was created to commemorate the 100th birthday of Minoru Yasui in the year 2016. Among its accomplishments are the awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and the passage of Minoru Yasui Day (March 28) in perpetuity in the state of Oregon.

Since then, ONE has committed to organizing Minoru Yasui Day activities in Oregon every year on March 28. We hope to institute an annual Minoru Yasui Day essay contest, for which the film and educational package can be made available to students throughout the state for research purposes. I am investigating the licensing of Never Give Up! to ONE for non-exclusive educational distribution … but I am also interested in other organizations that might want to list distribute the film, especially outside of Oregon.

If you or any organization you know might be interested in distributing or organizing a screening of the film, please contact me at info@minoruyasuifilm.org

THANK YOU for your ongoing support!

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