Fighting Against an Ugly Tide

How filmmakers are countering the rampant hate and demagoguery of today

An interview with Marshall Curry and Claudia Katayanagi

By Bill Arceneaux:

I’ve always been curious as to how and to what degree film can speak and show truth to power and create genuine change, especially considering and even in spite of tentpole blockbuster movies that get all of the attention.

Filmmakers Claudia Katayanagi and Marshall Curry were kind enough to answer a series of questions about their work, about the power of cinema, and about the weight of history that hangs over all of us.



Japanese American National museum

Post-screening discussion and q&A with professor tetsuden kashima



Artists’ Eyes: Art of Incarceration

an exhibit at the National Japanese American Historical Society shows A Bitter Legacy

Photo by Mark Shigenaga

Photo by Mark Shigenaga

Shown at the Military Intelligence Service Museum at Building 640 in the Presidio, San Francisco, California on January 13th, 2018 and hosted by Rosalyn Tonai.



California Film Institute Interviews Bay Area Filmmaker Claudia Katayanagi

CFI screening & interview at Rafael Theater


University of Southern California’s Daily Trojan reviews A Bitter Legacy screening at School of Cinematic Arts



Hollywood Social Lounge interviews Director Claudia Katayanagi at the LA Femme International Film Festival




Excerpt from Rafu Shimpo:
‘A Bitter Legacy’ to be Screened at Music Hall

Posted On OCTOBER 21, 2016

BEVERLY HILLS — Filmmaker Claudia Katayanagi will show her recent award-winning feature documentary “A Bitter Legacy” on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 12 p.m. at Laemmle Theaters’ Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills, as part of the L.A. Femme International Film Festival.

Setting the stage within the incarceration camps for Japanese Americans during World War II, this film looks at the almost secret “citizen isolation centers,” now considered to be precursors to Guantanamo.

Moab Citizen Isolation Center in Utah opened after the notorious Manzanar “riot” on Dec. 10, 1942 to isolate dissidents from the rest of the camp population. The security director of this institution, Francis Frederick, imposed harsh restrictions on the inmates. Directors of the nine other concentration camps sent their “troublemakers” to this camp.

Leupp Isolation Center in Arizona opened on April 27, 1943, after Moab became overpopulated. This was a high-security prison where guards outnumbered the prisoners four to one.

After refusing to sign the loyalty oath imposed on Japanese American incarcerees in 1943, many men from Block 42 at Tule Lake in Northern California were removed and isolated to Camp Tule Lake, about 16 miles northwest of the main segregation center. In the film, Jim and Mori Tanimoto tell of their Camp Tule Lake experience.

Katayanagi’s father’s family, based in the Bay Area, was incarcerated first at the Tanforan Assembly Center and then Topaz, Utah. Her mother’s family, based in Sacramento, was sent to the Walerga Assembly Center and then to Tule Lake. When that camp became a segregation center for “disloyals,” the family went to Topaz and then Amache in Colorado.

“Both sides of my family were pretty wealthy before World War II, having worked hard for so many years,” she said. “They had the respect of many in their community, many who were not Nikkei. But after the war, having lost everything, and having endured so much pain, they ‘didn’t want to talk about it.’ My six siblings and I simply accepted this for many years.

“I realized I’ve denied my Japanese heritage for a long time. By exploring this Nikkei history in these American concentration camps, I began to fully appreciate my cultural heritage and all that pain and indignation all the Nikkei families have suffered.

“More than five years after starting this film, having interviewed dozens of historians, scholars, former incarcerees, and having personally visited and filmed at many of the former confinement sites, I have a deeper understanding of the many issues that were affecting the Nikkei people now, as well as before, and during World War II.

“I hope I have created a film that communicates this deeper understanding of what was done to the Nikkei people here in this country, with a few connections of how these same issues are still occurring to people of other cultural heritages today, and what can be done to move this country and all of its people forward in a just, equitable manner.”