DisOrient 2015 - The Empty Chair with Tadaima
The Empty Chair (2014) 70 min. English
Feature Documentary Directed and written by Greg Chaney, Produced by Gina Spartz
Lead Actor - Alice Tanaka Hikido
The Empty Chair is a unique documentary about how Japanese Americans from Juneau, Alaska were sent to prison camps during WWII, and how the small Alaskan community stood in quiet defiance against the immoral internment of American citizens.
Japanese immigrants came to Alaska in the early 1900's and settled here to raise families. Japanese Americans from the west coast of the US including Alaska were sent to prison camps by the US government from 1942-1945 because all people of Japanese heritage were considered national security risks.
John Tanaka was born and raised in Juneau. In 1942 John was going to be the Valedictorian of his high school graduating class, but was scheduled to be interned before the graduation ceremony. In response, the school board voted to hold a special early graduation ceremony for him before John was sent to a relocation camp for Japanese Americans. When the official graduation ceremony was held for the class of '42, they set aside an empty chair on the platform to acknowledge his absence. John Tanaka volunteered to join the US Army to fight the Axis powers during WWII while the rest of his family was incarcerated in a relocation camp. He was a member of the 442nd regimental combat team. This Japanese American unit was the most decorated Army unit for its length of service.
Tadaima - (2015) 15 min - Japanese, English
Short Narrative Produced, Directed and Written by Robin Takao D'Oench(1st Project)
Cast: Jordyn Kanaya, Mackenyu Maeda, Toshi Toda, Vivian Umino
George, Akiko, Kaori, and Kazuo return to their former house in the summer of 1945, following the end of World War II and the closure of the Japanese American Internment camps. Arriving home, they find the house ransacked by vandals and in a state of disrepair. Emotions flair, and each individual member of the family reacts differently to the homecoming.
While rebuilding their home, the family is able to recover a 'takarabako' - a chest of memorable items that had to be left behind before the evacuation, bringing the family closer together. As the day draws to a close, there is a glimmer of hope that the future holds better days.
Q&A with The Empty Chair Director Greg Chaney and Tadaima Director Robin Takao D'Oench 15 min
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