Monday, February 2, 2009

The Japanese internment of WW2 captured in "Toyo's Camera"

by Chris MaGee

Here's a new documentary that looks like it could be very, very interesting. Titled "Toyo's Camera" it tells the story of how Toyo Miyatake, a photographer and friend and colleague of the likes of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, smuggled in a camera lens into the Japanese internment camp that he and his family were held in during WW2 and built his own crude wooden camera so that he could capture the conditions there.

Like many Japanese at home director Junichi Suzuki wasn't aware of the full scope of the suffering of Japanese-Americans during those war years when they went from being American citizens to being enemies of the state and prisoners in their own country. Hearing so many stories about the camps from Japanese-Americans during his stay seven years ago in Los Angeles Suzuki decided that more people in Japan needed to know about this human tragedy.

Speaking to Miyatake's son as well as other internees, including "Star Trek's" George Takei, and using over 500 of Miyatake's photographs Suzuki has crafted a 98-minute documentary that he hopes will "show this very hard experience of Japanese ancestors and have them think about the war, the race and the prejudice."

Check out the trailer for "Toyo's Camera" below and then make sure to visit the film's official site which featrures many of Miyatake's important and evocative photographs. Thanks to Variety Japan for the heads up about this fascinating film.

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