During World War II the U.S. government detained more than
100,000 people of Japanese descent in internment camps spread throughout the West. One camp was different. Run by the Department
of Justice, the Santa Fe Camp held 4,555 men seen as the ‘worst of the worst.’ Despite
their experience behind barbed wire, their story has largely been unknown -- a
hole in the history books for the last 60 years.
My film, Prisoners and Patriots: The Untold Story of Japanese Internment in Santa Fe, is the first documentary to fill that void. (Watch the trailer below.) Based on 20 hours of exclusive interviews with former Santa Fe survivors and their families, declassified government documents and private photographs, this film tells a story that, in many cases, fathers never told their own children after the war.
Santa Fe’s prisoners were all men -- some Japanese nationals, some U.S. citizens. Many were Buddhist ministers, some were businessmen, teachers or journalists from the West Coast, Hawaii, and Latin America whom the U.S. government feared would be able to gain large pro-Japanese followings.
One son of an internee recalled how for years families of fellow internees came looking for closure in Santa Fe, hoping to see and hear more about what happened in the camp, only to leave New Mexico empty-handed. No film, book, or museum collection exists to tell the full story of what happened there, who the men were, their lives before the war, and where they went after.
Since shooting began four years ago, two people interviewed have already passed away. Others are in their late-80s. By pledging to this project you can help ensure the film is distributed in their lifetimes.
Funding will help get DVDs into schools in New Mexico and elsewhere, where even if students learn about the larger War Relocation Centers like Heart Mountain or Manzanar, they rarely hear about this Department of Justice camp – a camp where prisoners remained for six months after the war had ended.
Prisoners and Patriots has already started to have an impact. The Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center screened a rough cut this year, and UCLA and the Japanese American National Museum have scheduled a screening for next year. Funding can help other non-profits to hold similar events to bring communities together to discuss the civil rights issues raised in the film.
Thank you much for any support you can offer.
- (60 days)