From A Silk Cocoon

The discovery of a small metal box leads to the uncovering of a family story, shrouded in silence for more than 60 years. Woven through their censored letters, diary entries, and haiku poetry, is the story of a young Japanese American couple whose dreams are shattered when, months after their wedding, they find themselves held captive, first in race track horse stables and later, in tar paper barracks.

Abandoned by America, the country of their birth, Shizuko and Itaru endure four years of life behind barbed wires in American concentration camps during WWII. Itaru, incensed by the indignities of prison camp life, is charged with sedition for speaking out in protest of the government’s efforts to separate the “loyal” from the “disloyal” by imposing a Loyalty Questionnaire on all adult prisoners.

In his speech, Itaru demands that Japanese Americans be “treated equal to the free people” before they are required to fight in the war. Those identified as loyal would become eligible for the military draft, while the “disloyals” would be segregated to the Tule Lake Segregation Center in northern California. In answering “no” to the questions regarding his willingness to bear arms against the enemy and disavow loyalty to the Emperor of Japan, Itaru is identified as a trouble-maker, and he, his wife and two small children are segregated to Tule Lake.

Faced with deteriorating conditions regarding food, coal supplies, medical care, and milk for her children, Shizuko falls into despair. Militant pro-Japan groups begin to proliferate in the turmoil-ridden segregation camp and rumors sweep through the barracks. What initially appears to be a crisis-of-loyalty, becomes more clearly, a crisis-of-faith… in their own country.

In her diary, Shizuko writes, “because our children have Japanese faces, I don’t want them to be Americans.” Ultimately, they decide that their only hope for freedom is to declare their loyalty to Japan. They renounce their American citizenship and request repatriation to Japan on a prisoner exchange ship. With this decision, Itaru becomes increasingly involved in the Hoshi Dan, a political pro-Japan organization focused on returning to a victorious Japan.

Prison authorities wanting to be rid of the dissidents encourage the renunciation movement and consequently apprehend Hoshi Dan leaders, separate them from their families and send them to Department of Justice Internment camps for enemy aliens. Itaru is sent to Ft. Lincoln in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Writing letters almost daily during their two-year separation, Shizuko and Itaru struggle with the reality of Japan’s defeat and now fear starvation and homelessness if they are deported to Japan.

At a mitigation hearing, without access to counsel, witnesses, and without knowing the charges against them, they attempt to avert the forced deportation order, but are deemed enemy aliens “dangerous to the public peace and safety of the United States,” and are ordered to depart in 30 days. The apparently capricious act of a low-ranking camp administrator changes the course of their lives forever.

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Cast

(re-enactments/vignettes)

Storyteller: Satsuki Ina

Narrator: Lawson Inada

Itaru Ina (voice): Lane Nishikawa

Shizuko Ina (voice): Megumi

Shizuko Ina (adult): Kimberly Ina

Itaru Ina: Christopher Sato Wong

Kiyoshi Ina: Jason Otow, Chad M. Wong, Bradley Yasuhara

Satsuki Ina (baby): Jack Hayashi

Satsuki Ina (child): Jennifer Hayashi, Morgan Oto, Melissa Otow

Mitigation hearing officer: Martin Pierucci

Kenji Kimoto: Gregory Umeda

Maternal Grandmother: Mary Kawano Fong

Shizuko Ina (child): Kianna Ohara

Mitigation hearing stenographer: Gail Covey

FBI interrogator: Carey C. Covey

Other voice talent: Dutch Falconi, Mark Herzig, Stephen Holsapple, Ken Kiyoshi Ina, Martin Pierucci, Sumitaka Saito, David Whitaker

Extras: Hoyt Fong, Alan Koike, Wayne Maeda, Richard Tatsuo Nagaoka, Stan Umeda

 

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Crew

Kim Ina, Emery Clay III, Stephen Holsapple, Satsuki Ina.

Satsuki Ina, Ph.D. – Executive Producer/Co-Director/Writer

Dr. Ina is Professor Emeritus in the School of Education at California State University, Sacramento and founder of the Family Study Center. She was born in the Tule Lake Segregation Center during her parents’ four-year imprisonment in the WW II American Concentration Camps. As a licensed psychotherapist specializing in cross-cultural counseling, she has conducted groups for Japanese Americans who, like herself, were children in the prison camps. She has been researching the long-term impact of the internment for the past fifteen years and her work culminated in the production of the Children of the Camps documentary, which was nominated for a Northern California Emmy and was broadcast nationally on PBS from 1999 to 2003. With funding from The California Endowment, Dr. Ina utilized the Children of the Camps documentary as a community intervention program, and conducted 110 screenings in various Japanese American communities in the US and in Japan. In 2004, she served as consultant and assistant curator for an exhibit titled, Snow Country Prison: Interned in North Dakota, which was based on her father’s wartime haiku poetry and other historical documents she has collected.

Stephen Holsapple – Co-Director/Editor

Mr. Holsapple is a Northern California Emmy-award winning filmmaker, artist and musician whose career in these related fields has spanned over 25 years. He has worked extensively in the Sacramento area since the early 80s, working independently as a director, producer, editor and actor. His award-winning credits include Big City Gambler, winner of 6 Northern California Regional Emmys, Sorghum, winner of a Houston International Film Festival Gold Award, and La Scala di Vito (a Leon Corcos Film), winner of best comedy short at both the Chicago and Atlanta Film Festivals. He also won a Telly Award for his montage opening of ENVISION 18 (1993), one of the world’s largest graphic conferences. Over the last ten years he has directed, filmed and/or edited numerous projects for international clients like Magnavox, Olympus, Intel.

Emery Clay III – Director of Photography/Co-Director

Mr. Clay, Director/Director of Photography/Editor, has been nominated 24 times and received 4 Northern California Emmys for projects in the United States and abroad. He has shot and produced numerous projects for A & E, Discovery, History, BBC, PBS, CBS, NBC and ABC. His documentaries include, Children of the Camps (PBS), Operation Reunion (History Channel), AIDS- A Conspiracy of Silence, A Soldier Returns (Vietnam), Return to the War Next Door (Central America), Afghanistan Journal 1985 and Subcultures Revealed, which won a Telly, an Aurora and gold medals at the 2004 New York and Los Angeles film festivals. Most recently, Clay has dedicated a great deal of his time to helping non-profit groups to find a “video-voice.” Some of these include: Sports for the World’s Children, Camp Sunshine (camp for kids with HIV) and Gender Equity in Education (at risk youth training.)

Kim Ina – Associate Producer/Outreach Coordinator

Ms. Ina has worked as a freelance producer/photographer/editor in the educational video industry for the past 8 years. She has been involved in the production, dissemination, and outreach of several documentary and print projects. These include the Children of the Camps Documentary and Educational Project (nominated for a Northern California Emmy), Conscience and the Constitution (for ITVS), the Color of Fear (Gold Apple Award, National Educational Media Network), From Our Side of the Fence, and Generations: A Japanese American Community Portrait. She has also produced several in-house training videos while working at Stir Fry Productions for Lee Mun Wah (producer of the Color of Fear and the Color of Fear II), and several music videos for the Sports for the World’s Children Foundation (of which she is Founder and Executive Director), a nonprofit in San Francisco that distributes used and new sports equipment and school supplies to communities and schools with limited resources, and Upward Bound in Napa, California, a summer program for teens striving to be the first in their families to go to college.

Fred Meggs – Composer

Mr. Meggs has been an independent music composer and producer since 1986. Over the last 18 years he has scored 5,000 broadcast TV commercials and 50 documentary soundtracks. He is currently composing for a number of TV shows airing on the Discovery and A & E Channels.

Masayuki Koga – Shakuhachi Instrumentalist and Composer

Mr. Koga is Director of the Japanese Music Institute of America. He heads the muscial group “Essence,” which was selected for the 2000-2006 Touring Artists Directory by the California Arts Council.