Farewell to Manzanar—DVD Introduces Film to a New Generation

In 1976, the TV film Farewell to Manzanar, based on the book by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, was broadcast on NBC. Rarely seen since, the film is being made available on DVD by the Japanese American National Museum.

This 3-part series looks at the significance of the film when it was made in 1976, and now, 35 years later; and how and why the Museum chose to take on this project.

Part 1 is about how the struggle to release it on DVD and includes quotes from author Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and JANM staff. Part 2 is an interview with Director John Korty about why he chose to work on the project, the decisions he made in using primarily Japanese Americans in the cast and many members of the crew, and his thoughts on the legacy of the film. Part 3 will focus on the impact the film had on its actors.

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The Actors’ Perspective

Farewell to Manzanar, adapted from the memoir that Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston penned with her husband, James D. Houston, tells the story of the injustice suffered by 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II by focusing on a single family, the Wakatsukis, as seen through the eyes of seven year old Jeanne. It was directed by Oscar and Emmy award winning director, John Korty, and featured an almost entirely Japanese American cast and crew.

Farewell to Manzanar had a profound impact on viewers when it was originally telecast on NBC in 1976 but the movie also had lasting effects on …

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An interview with John Korty, director of “Farewell To Manzanar”

          “I was always out to change the world...”

John Korty’s remarkable success in the film industry—an Oscar and two Emmys among numerous film awards—doesn’t mean he’s “gone Hollywood.” The director of Farewell to Manzanar has consistently chosen projects focused on themes of social justice from very early in his career. Anti-war activism, racism, the civil rights movement, and adoption of special needs children are just some of the issues Korty’s examined in film.

Farewell to Manzanar, adapted from the novel by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston, tells the story of a Japanese American family incarcerated during World …

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Timeless and Timely

Nearly seventy years have passed since the first busload of Japanese Americans arrived at Manzanar, forced from their coastal California homes to spend the duration of World War II behind barbed wire and beneath the gaze of armed soldiers perched in perimeter guard towers. The incarceration of 120,000 American citizens and residents based solely on their Japanese ancestry is a painful chapter in U.S. history. Even now, it’s a subject about which many don’t know, others don’t want to know, and yet, more than ever, everyone needs to know. That’s what makes the release of the film, Farewell to Manzanar …

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