The veteran Japanese director Junichi Suzuki has observed that most of his countrymen are unaware of the contributions and sacrifices of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Heck, so are plenty of Americans we aren't exactly the most exemplary students of history. For his invaluable new documentary, 442: Live with Honor, Die with Dignity, Suzuki (who moved to Los Angeles a decade ago) tracked down the last, aged survivors of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Composed of Japanese-Americans who confronted suspicion and prejudice at home and in uniform, the 442 was the most-decorated U.S. unit of the war. While they were fighting and dying in Europe, of course, Japanese-Americans on the West Coast were rounded up and shipped to camps. The series Junichi Suzukis War Documentaries also screens the 2008 documentary Toyos Camera, which is drawn from the stark pictures of Toyo Miyatake, a widely regarded L.A. photographer who surreptitiously recorded the daily lives of his fellow unfortunates in Manzanar. The director may have conceived of this film and 442 for a Japanese audience, but theyre essential viewing for Californians as well.
Aug. 13-19, 2010