Reclaiming History: Stories of Japanese Canadian Internment is a double-bill presentation and discussion of 2 films by director Kagan Goh, who will be in attendance to discuss the particular challenges behind these films, how history can be reclaimed, and other topics related to filmmaking!
Kagan Goh was born in 1969 in Singapore. He studied film in Toronto at Ryerson Polytechnical University. His controversial documentary film Mind Fuck about the phone sex industry won several awards including TVO Telefest ’96 1st Prize Long Documentary category. For Stolen Memories and Breaking The Silence, Kagan has solicited and garnered the active support and involvement of the Japanese Canadian community. Kagan now resides in Vancouver.
Stolen Memories is a detective story about filmmaker Kagan Goh’s personal quest to return a photo album that was lost by a Japanese Canadian family during the Japanese internment. Kagan, aided by Mary Seki, his 70-year old detective sidekick, embarked upon a quest to find the rightful owners, find out what happened to them and return their lost photo album to them. Documenting the search as well as redressing the wrongs of the past is a symbolic “homecoming” – coming home in terms of returning to a place of self-acceptance, belonging, wholeness and healing. Stolen Memories reflects deeply rooted issues of prejudice which have affected the Japanese Canadian community throughout the last one hundred years, experienced not just by the family but by the Japanese Canadians who helped in the quest to return the ‘stolen’ photo album. The extraordinary story is a microcosm within the macrocosm of the Japanese Canadian legacy.
“It’s a very effective way of touching on an important common feature of the internment – loss of much family material due to forced relocation. The personal touch seems a good idea too, as many such documentaries have been a bit distant from the victims.”
– Stan Fukawa, former president of the Japanese Canadian National Nikkei Museum
Breaking The Silence is a documentary about Akihide John Otsuji, a Japanese Canadian man who was unjustly imprisoned for defying a racist law called the Dispersal Campaign. After the Japanese internment, the Japanese Canadians were given the choice to either repatriate to Japan or move east of the Rockies. They were not allowed to return to the West Coast. Aki returned to his hometown in Vancouver and was promptly imprisoned and labeled a criminal by the Canadian government. His sister Mary Seki considers him to be a hero for it takes courage to singlehandedly defy an unjust racist law. Breaking The Silence is about Mary Seki’s quest to clear her brother’s name and redress the wrongs of the past.