Robert A. Nakamura

(b. 1936) Filmmaker

An Unexpected Ephiphany Formula for Freedom Creating Culture The Master of Media A Pleasant Past

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Born on July 5, 1936, in Venice, California, to an Issei father and Nisei mother, Robert Akira Nakamura left a successful career in photojournalism and advertising photography to become one of the first to explore, interpret and present the experiences of Japanese Americans in film. His ground-breaking personal documentary, Manzanar (1972), has been selected for major retrospectives on the documentary form at the San Francisco Museum of Art and the Film Forum, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

A graduate of Art Center College of Design (BFA, 1966) and the UCLA Department of Motion Picture & Television Production (MFA, 1975), where he recently retired as a Professor, Nakamura has garnered over 25 national awards for his innovative and evocative films, including Wataridori: Birds of Passage (1975); Hito Hata: Raise the Banner (1980), Moving Memories (1992), Something Strong Within (1994), and Looking Like the Enemy (1995).

In 1970, Nakamura founded Visual Communications where he continues to serve as a member of the Board of Directors. He also founded the UCLA Center for Ethnocommunications in 1996, and the Media Arts Center of the Japanese American National Museum in 1997.

Nakamura was the first recipient of the annual Steve Tatsukawa Memorial Award in 1985 for outstanding achievement and leadership in Asian American media, and, in 1994, the Asian Pacific American Coalition in Cinema, Theatre & Television of UCLA, instituted the “Robert A. Nakamura Award” in his honor to recognize outstanding contributions of other Asian Pacific American visual artists. In 1997, the Smithsonian Institute presented a retrospective of his work and in 1999 he was named to the Endowed Chair in Japanese American Studies at UCLA. (August 2012)

Asian American movement GIDRA UCLA community identity Visual Communications

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