Tadaima 2021 Film Festival Curator Statement
As excited as I am to introduce the Tadaima 2021 Online Film Festival program, I had honestly hoped that I would not have to write another one of these curator statements this year. Yet a year later we are still living under the travel restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic that prevent us from gathering for large in-person pilgrimages to the former sites of wartime incarceration.
So much loss has transpired this past year between the pandemic and simultaneous spike in anti-Asian violence that we arewitnessing nationwide. Yet at the darkest points in this last year it was the Japanese American community – past, present, and future – that helped me persevere. Thinking about the immense challenges our Issei and Nisei forbearers faced before, during, and after the wartime incarceration helped me put in perspective the difficult moment we are currently living through.
As we stand on the shoulders of these giants who came before us, surely, we too are paving the way for future generations who will follow. It has given me great appreciation for the online community spaces that we have created and nurtured throughout the pandemic like Tadaima, Tsuru For Solidarity’s Tsuru Rising, Story Circle of the Japanese Diaspora, and JACL National Convention – among many others.
With all this in mind, I set out to program the Tadaima 2021 film festival to address many of the themes that I observe to be central in the nationwide discourse among Japanese Americans.Among these are Representations of Japanese-ness in Hollywood, Remembrance and Interpretation, Reconciliation, Social Justice and Inter-ethnic Solidarity, and Japanese Identity. Rather than dividing films of a particular theme into separate weeks as we did last year, nearly the entire film program will be available throughout the duration of the virtual pilgrimage. Visit the main film festival page for notes on which films have limited windows of availability.
The first Tadaima program focused largely on the history and remembrance of wartime incarceration, which is of course present this year as well. However, many of the films included in this year’s festival are not explicitly related to the wartime incarceration. Those that are tend to offer contemporary interpretations through the lens of Sansei, Yonsei, and beyond. Fewer camp survivors remain with each passing year and it will soon be up to those of us who did not experience the wartime incarceration directly to pick up the mantle by continuing to share these stories with future generations in new and interesting ways.
I hope this program will contribute in some small way at least towards continuing to foster these community conversations as we endure what I hope is the last phase of the pandemic. While the pandemic has forced us to physically distance ourselves, as a mixed-race Yonsei who was raised on the East Coast, I have never felt closer to the Japanese American community than I have over the past year, in large part through the many connections I developed through Tadaima. I believe that we will emerge stronger after the pandemic than we were before, having had this time to reflect, connect, and realign our mission as the stewards of Japanese American legacy organizations and the community at-large. Thank you for joining us for Tadaima 2021 and whether you are a returning audience member or first-time attendee, Okaeri (Welcome Home).
- Rob Buscher, Film Programmer