Video about photographer & filmmaker Robert A. Nakamura created by the Watase Media Arts Center at the Japanese American National Museum for the "Drawing the Line: Japanese American Art, Design & Activism" exhibition on view from October 15, 2011 through February 19, 2012. For more information, visit

Robert A. Nakamura (b. 1937) is a filmmaker, teacher, and community activist. In 1970, he co-founded Visual Communications, now the oldest Asian American media center in the U.S. His landmark films include Manzanar (1972), an experimental documentary that revisited childhood memories of the World War II incarceration, and Hito Hata: Raise the Banner (1980), the first Asian American feature film.

After attending Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, he had a successful career as a photojournalist and studio photographer; his work was published in Life, Look, and Cosmopolitan magazines among other publications. In the early 1960s, he worked in the office of Charles and Ray Eames in Venice, documenting their work and assisting on films and installations. After a trip to Japan for inspiration, he returned to Los Angeles in the late 1960s, discovered the Asian American movement—in part through the magazine Gidra—and began using his talents to further its political and cultural goals. Nakamura would later found both the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Ethnocommunications and the Watase Media Arts Center of the Japanese American National Museum.

JANM — Last modified Jan 20 2012 3:03 p.m.

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