THE MANZANAR FISHING CLUB is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the World War II internment of Japanese Americans from a unique perspective: through the eyes of those who defied the armed guards, barbed wire and searchlights to fish for trout in the surrounding waters of the Eastern Sierra.
By emphasizing the evacuees’ personal stories the film shows how a courageous few were able to take back moments of dignity and freedom through the simple act of fishing. As the narrator explains,” While legal battles were being waged in faraway courtrooms, the fishermen were exercising their rights on the ground.”
While the “official story” of the internment is known to some extent, THE MANZANAR FISHING CLUB sets the record straight on the largest mass roundup in American history by confronting such hot-button issues as racism, ethnic profiling and the suspension of civil liberties under a National Security rubric.
ABOUT THE FILM
THE MANZANAR FISHING CLUB began as a lecture, walking tour and artifacts exhibit to raise awareness of the internees who slipped away under the cover of night to take control of their lives, however briefly, before returning to captivity.
The film is the brainchild of cinematographer-turned-director Cory Shiozaki. An avid fisherman whose parents were among the 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent who were rounded up in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Shiozaki has spent the last six years tracing the untold story of this painful chapter in U.S. history.
The project moved to the next level when fellow anglers and video production company principals Lester Chung and John Gengl proposed interviewing the surviving internee fishermen for a documentary film.
Writer Richard Imamura pored over hours of interviews and expanded the project from a 22-minute short into a full-length documentary. His script brought together what Shiozaki had intuitively known all along – that all of the fishermen’s stories touched, in one way or another, on a yearning to be free.