Thursday, September 18, 2008

Passing Poston DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Japanese Internment during WWII Revisited by DVD

Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government ordered the removal of all Japanese citizens and aliens to internment camps. The decree uprooted 120,000 individuals who were summarily shipped them with little more than the clothes on their backs to ten different locations scattered across remote regions around the country.
This picture focuses on what transpired at Camp Poston, Arizona, a dusty desert area surrounded by barbed wire where about 17,000 Japanese had to live in barracks and eat in a mess hall for the duration of World War II. To add insult to injury, they were forced to perform slave labor, building homes, schools, roads and the basic infrastructure for a town they would never be allowed to enjoy themselves.
Furthermore, upon return to the West Coast in 1945, many families found their own homes either trashed or occupied by strangers. Understandably, children who witnessed such mistreatment at the hands of their own country during their formative years might never fully recover from the trauma.
That is the message convincingly conveyed by Passing Poston, a poignant documentary about a shameful chapter in American history. The film relies primarily on the reminiscences of four senior citizens still haunted by the experience 60 years later after the fact: Ruth Okimoto, Leon Uyeda, Kiyo Sato and Mary Higashi.
Who would think that full-fledged citizens, born in the States, could have lost their homes and businesses, never to recover financially or even own another house? Finally, in 1988, the U.S. made a belated gesture acknowledging its exploitation by paying $20,000 apiece in reparations to the 62,000 camp victims still surviving. “For the first time in 46 years, I was proud of America,” one beneficiary wistfully admits.
But no amount of money could really ever compensate her for the utter humiliation.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 105 minutes
Studio: Docurama
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes, theatrical trailer; filmmaker biography and “The Making of” featurette.

To see a trailer for Passing Poston, visit:

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