Coming to New York City on October 18, 19, and 20, and Orange County on November 10 is Masters of Modern Design: The Art of the Japanese American Experience.
This documentary, a co-production between JANM’s Watase Media Arts Center and KCET for the series ARTBOUND, explores five second generation Japanese American artists—Ruth Asawa, George Nakashima, Isamu Noguchi, Gyo Obata, and S. Neil Fujita—following the ways in which their camp experiences impacted their lives, influenced their art, and sent them on trajectories that eventually led to their changing the face of American culture with their immense talents.
The film will screen three times as a part of the Architecture & Design Film Festival at the Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas in New York City.
Showtimes are Friday, October 18 at 9:15 p.m.; Saturday, October 19 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, October 20 at 1:30 p.m. Q&A with Mira Nakashima (furniture designer and daughter of George Nakashima), Kenji Fujita (artist and son of S. Neil Fujita), and filmmaker Akira Boch will follow the Friday night screening.
Masters of Modern Design will also screen in Orange County on Sunday, November 10 at 12:30 p.m. at the Orange County Buddhist Church. A Q&A with the filmmakers will follow. This is a free event, but please rsvp to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Masters of Modern Design: The Art of the Japanese American Experience is available on DVD at the JANM Store. JANM members receive 10% discount!
Our Man in Tokyo (The Ballad of Shin Miyata) is my short documentary about the struggles and obsessions of Shin Miyata, a Tokyo-based record label owner and promoter who specializes in the difficult task of distributing Chicano music in Japan.
Shin’s goal has always been to bring authentic and diverse representations of Chicano and Latinx culture to Japan. He has done so with a purity of intention that hasn’t brought him financial gain, but has instead delivered a wealth of understanding that has educated, enlightened, and actually changed the lives of many people.
The documentary was made in conjunction with JANM’s exhibition, Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo. Like the art that was featured in the exhibition, Shin’s work provides a prime example of the intersectionality of Japanese and Latinx cultures and artistic collaborations.
As we were planning our first screening in Tokyo, set for April 7 at an event space called Hare-Mame, Shin was nervous. Not only was he reluctant about promoting a screening of a film about himself, he was also worried that not many people would show up.
He wanted to add more entertainment—more films, maybe even a band. We decided to include Tad Nakamura’s poignant short doc about a little-known slice of Los Angeles’ Crenshaw District, Breakfast at Tak’s, plus a few of Shin’s favorite DJ’s—the Trasmundo crew and DJ Holiday.
Regardless of the additional entertainment, when the night of the event arrived, Hare-Mame was packed to the gills. It was full of Shin’s friends and followers, all eager to watch the documentary about him.
As the film played, the crowd’s reaction was amazing to see. It was much different from audiences in LA and Mexico City, the two cities where the film had previously screened. I don’t know if it was because of cultural differences or personal knowledge of Shin, but the Japanese audience burst into laughter at unexpected moments and actually cheered (!) during a section of the film where other audiences had remained silent.
As the credits rolled, they erupted into a sustained applause—not just for the film, but also for Shin himself, who has impacted their lives in a deeply meaningful way for many years by introducing them to the art, culture, and politics of Chicanos and Latinxs from the US. It was an acknowledgement of all the tireless work he has done for Chicano/Latinx artists and the people of Japan.
Many people thanked me afterwards for telling Shin’s story, but I was just grateful that they had shown up and were open to Shin’s mission of cultural understanding and unity. As I write this, I know that he is already on to a new project—searching for the next band to take to Japan, digging up a long-forgotten album to re-release, or planning another live event. His struggle continues and countless people are better off for it.
I have a friend in Tokyo. His name is Shin Miyata. For the past 17 years, Shin has been running an independent music label called Barrio Gold Records. He primarily distributes groups from across Latin America, but his specialty is Chicano music from East Los Angeles. He also brings bands from East LA to Japan to perform live.
Nobody else in Japan is doing this kind of work.
I met Shin back in 2000, when I had the opportunity to go with the band Quetzal to Tokyo to document their tour. I learned that Shin had lived in the East LA neighborhood of City Terrace as a college student in the mid-1980s, doing a study-abroad home stay. He had been deeply inspired by Chicano books, films, and music—specifically 1970s bands like El Chicano and Tierra—and he had come to LA because he wanted to experience the Chicano culture first hand. He even took Chicano Studies classes at East LA College.
On a recent visit to Los Angeles, Shin told me that it was his dream to bring over musicians from Japan so they could perform with musicians from East LA. Specifically, he wanted to bring Japanese musicians that play different types of Latin music. He believed that audiences would appreciate the heart and soul they put into the music, and that it would be amazing to see this sort of collaboration.
The Japanese American National Museum, located in Little Tokyo just across the bridge from Boyle Heights and East LA, would be the perfect venue. Shin would curate the event, drawing on some of the many Chicano bands he has worked with, and also selecting musicians from Japan to participate. The event would celebrate his work as a cultural ambassador while also encouraging unity and collaboration during a time of great political and ideological division worldwide.
Each of the featured artists has benefited from Shin’s work, but they also share a deep affection for him. He has worked to create cultural exchanges and understanding between East LA and Japan for many years, and in doing so, has built a strong network of loyal friends.
Along with all of this incredible music, the Okamoto Kitchen food truck will be there, along with a beer garden by Angel City Brewery. Concertgoers will also be able to check out the exhibitions inside the museum till 8 p.m.
Transpacific Musiclands is supported by Los Angeles County Arts Commission. It is
held in conjunction with the exhibition Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo, which is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.
THE CRUMBLES is an indie rock slice-of-life tragicomedy about Darla and Elisa, two young women struggling to catapult their talented but directionless garage band to stardom. Called “elegant and affectionate” by the LA Times, this lighthearted romp across the east side of Los Angeles offers a fun and realistic portrait of what it’s like to be in a fledgling band. Winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2012 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.
Directed by Akira Boch and featuring music by Grammy winner Quetzal Flores.
Cast and Crew will be in attendance.
This is a FREE EVENT!
When: SATURDAY, JANUARY 25 @ 7pm
Where: Tateuchi Democracy Forum
Japanese American National Museum
111 N. Central Ave., LA, CA 90012
Sponsored by the Japanese American National Museum
FREE BEER reception to follow, sponsored by Lagunitas Brewing Company
In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the JANM-produced film “FROM 9066 TO 9/11” is available in Comcast’s cable VOD service, Cinema Asian America for the month of September.
About the film:
After the attacks of September 11, there was an instant public backlash against Arab Americans and Muslims. Anyone who looked like the “enemy” became suspect. The same thing happened to Japanese Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the parallels were obvious. Unfortunately, the backlash against Japanese Americans during World War II resulted in the mass incarceration of 120,000 innocent people. It became the mission of many Japanese American individuals and community groups, including the Japanese American National Museum, to use our community’s history in order to protect the rights of our Arab American and Muslim brothers and sisters. As we all know, if we forget our history, we may find ourselves repeating it.
Features interviews with: Yuri Kochiyama, Rev. Art Takemoto, Jerry Kang, Dr. Art Hansen, Linda Sherif, Ban Al-Wardi, Tajuddin Shuaib, and Evelyn Yoshimura.
About the VOD service, Cinema Asian America:
Cinema Asian America is a ground-breaking new video-on-demand offering, which features Asian American films and videos in a monthly, thematically-programmed format.
For the first time, millions of viewers across the nation are able to watch a curated series of Asian American and Asian films, which will collect together award-winning films fresh from the film festival circuit and classics which beg to be revisited.
From September 1, 2011 – September 31, 2011, “FROM 9066 TO 9/11” will be available to all Comcast digital cable subscribers with On-Demand. It is available for $0.99/view.
Through your digital cable menu, click on the “On Demand” button, and then look under the “Movies” folder. In this will be a “Movie Collections” folder and inside of this viewers will find “Cinema Asian America” and will be able to access “FROM 9066 to 9/11.”