We recently finished posting a wonderful essay about the documentation of Manzanar during World War II by Nancy Matsumoto on our Discover Nikkei website. It’s quite an extensive piece which we posted in 18 parts. There’s also great historic photographs that accompany each part.
The article focuses especially on three photographers—Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Toyo Miyatake, but also about the documentation of Manzanar in art and in books by artists and authors like Miné Okubo, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, and Michi Weglyn.
It also examines various books and exhibitions, including the Ansel Adams exhibition here at JANM. It also references Two Views of Manzanar, an exhibition and book created by graduate students in the UCLA Fine Arts Program in the late 1970s. One of the students was Patrick Nagatani, whose works will be on display here in a retrospective exhibition opening next weekend.
As I’m writing this, I realize that we have something in our collections, exhibitions, and projects related to pretty much all of these things I’ve mentioned. We’ve just released the Farewell to Manzanar DVD based on the book & screenplay written by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and her husband. Our collections staff is currently working on a project to conserve & digitize Miné Okubo’s original drawings from Citizen 13660 (generously
supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “We The People” project), and we have original design sketches by Michi Weglyn from her days as a costume designer in New York.
These types of realizations tend to happen often. That’s one of the great things about working at the museum so long…getting to see how different aspects of our history and culture fit together. It also goes to show how inter-related the Japanese American community is!
If you can’t make it to the screening, you can also order copies of the DVD from the Museum Store. The DVD includes bonus features: the Remembering Manzanar documentary created for the Manzanar National Historic Site; and an interview with Jeanne Wakatasuki Houston from when she was honored at the Museum’s 2006 Gala Dinner.
After 35 years, Farewell to Manzanar will FINALLY be available for people to buy!
In 1976, the made-for-TV movie was shown on NBC, directed by John Korty from a screenplay written by the original authors of the book—Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and her husband James D. Houston. It was a film made for a mainstream audience using Japanese American actors and many crew, something that is still pretty unheard of today.
There were several reasons why it was never re-broadcast, and only rarely shown after its initial viewing. It was also never made available for sale for the public, despite constant requests from the community, as well as from many educators who use the book in their classrooms as part of their curriculum.
Personally, I’m really excited about the release on DVD because I’ve never actually seen it. I do remember reading it in junior high school for a class assignment, and I’ve heard about the film version so many times. I used to work in the Museum’s Store for many years, and one of the most consistent (and persistent) questions I got year after year was whether we had it for sale. I’m so glad that I can now finally say “Yes!”
FAREWELL TO MANZANAR SCREENING
The Museum is doing a special screening of Farewell to Manzanar on Sunday, October 23 at 2pm in the Democracy Forum. Join special guests for a screening and Q&A. Tickets are $25 for Members or $30 for non-members, and includes Museum admission and a complimentary copy of the DVD. Purchase tickets for the screening >>