Last month I was fortunate to attend the San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase. I loved it as the films were of great quality and really showed what an awesome city San Diego is and you know: ASIANS REPRESENT!
One of the films I did catch and one which really demonstrated how our struggles are real is the film: RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE… Now for those who are familiar with American WWII history, would know that Executive Order 9066 issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt saw around 120,000 Japanese American men, women and children incarcerated in internment camps. This particular film directed by Japanese American filmmaker Konrad Aderer provides a deep insight into the resistance movement of the Japanese Americans incarcerated at the Tule Lake Segregation Center, and quashes the idea that Asians are obedient, non-confrontational, don’t voice their dissent and are happy to be apart of the model minority myth.
Konrad and his crew, cleverly gets the raw and real stories of those who were incarcerated at the Tule Lake Segregation Center and how they all put their US Citizenship on the line to stand up for their rights, and the rights of many who are voiceless. Without providing any spoilers it was an amazing and awesome film which delved deep into the memories of those interviewed. Emotional, intense, and showed how this resistance was born out of desperation and to restore integrity in a community which were treated as animals. I don’t want to talk too much about what went on, because I won’t do it justice, but I would urge you all to go watch it and think about where you are in terms of standing up for Asian empowerment. This is what it made me think about as I watched the film, and I hope it will make you think as well.
In saying that, I had the opportunity to interview and speak with the director of RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE Konrad Aderer, who was candid, frank and honest with his answers, which I appreciated.
What prompted you to make RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE and work on many other projects which have the common theme of being for not for profits?
I like to go where I am needed. I worked on the film RISING UP: THE ALAMS because they had a budget and I was just starting out, so I was happy to give my time. I guess the theme of all the projects I work on is all about the different forms of resistance. People who are fighting back are not always just the oppressed. And I think this is the essence of RESISTANCE OF TULE LAKE is that it is so layered and multi faceted that it was a story which needed to be told.
Your interviews whilst making RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE would have been very emotionally driven. How did you manage this emotional space?
I am not the most articulate interviewer, but what I do love is to get people to talk and share their experiences. Many of those I interviewed were seasoned storytellers – they have shared their stories and memories a lot at different events, forums and interviews. They were all resilient subjects, and it was not easy to get to the core of their experiences due to the number of years it has been. I try my best to be open and receptive. I always feel I need to get everything, and some of the footage which wasn’t used I will be giving it to the families for safe keeping.
How did those interviewed, their families and the Japanese American community who have seen it react to your film?
The majority were very supportive, and it was very emotional and real for many of those who watched it. I do personally feel I have only captured 5% of it all, but in an hour or so of footage you can only capture some of the things not all. But the experience for me was amazing and the families all greatly appreciated this film.
So… my opinion? I say, go out and watch it if you can as it really makes you reflect on where you are in terms of social activism in the area of Asian empowerment!
Additional Images via SDAFF Spring Showcase and Resistance at Tule Lake