New Release - "Day of Independence" - synopsis | cast | creative team | donors | calendar | to order

 

A desert
A baseball diamond
A friendship
America - 1943

Tashima and Toyama unearth
homeplate at Manzanar.

The creators of VISAS AND VIRTUE (1997 Academy Award® winner, Best Live Action Short Film) have embarked on a new journey DAY OF INDEPENDENCE. This dramatic short film, set in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II, explores one family's experience and examines the sacrifices and triumphs of those who endured and survived through perseverance, courage, and the all-American game of baseball.

During World War II, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, ordering the forced removal and incarceration of all people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast. These people, most of whom were American citizens, were taken from their homes and sent to "relocation" camps in desolate, isolated areas. These camps were surrounded by barbed-wire and guard towers. There were no charges, there was no due process. The internment of 120,000 innocent people was a dark moment in the history of this country.

Derek Mio as "Zip" (left)
with Marcus Toji as "Hog".
Photo by Shane Sato.

This is the backdrop for DAY OF INDEPENDENCE, a tender and heroic story of a Japanese American family surviving the tragic circumstances surrounding internment. Within this context, this short film also examines the healing powers of baseball.

As with VISAS AND VIRTUE, we have crafted a high-quality, first-rate film that sheds light on a part of recent history that is still unknown to so many Americans and is glossed over in today's history books. DAY OF INDEPENDENCE will entertain, inform, and reach thousands, if not millions, of people for years to come.


OUR STORY TAKES PLACE IN 1943. Zip, 17 years old, is the star pitcher of the camp baseball league. His best friend, Hog, also 17 years old, is a home-run hitting catcher. Zip's prized possession is an autographed photo of Joe DiMaggio that's pinned to a wall in the barracks where he lives with his parents. After the Boy's Day baseball game, Zip is awarded the Most Valuable Player trophy. Then Zip learns his parents have decided to return to Japan on a prisoner exchange ship. His father cannot walk and is dying - he wants to be buried in the ancestral cemetery. Zip assumes that he'll be going to Japan with his parents. However, they have decided that Zip is to stay in America. Zip tries desperately to persuade them to change their decision. Father says, "No."

The day of departure, Zip gives his MVP trophy to his parents. They give him a photo of themselves. Zip then starts to carry his father out of the barracks. But, his father insists on walking out using his own strength. He struggles to stand and tries to walk out the front door but he is too weak; Zip carries him to the bus.

Time passes and Zip has not heard from his parents. Having no idea where they are, he worries. He chastises himself, and in the 4th of July game, is not the great baseball pitcher of a month ago. But a letter has arrived. It's from his parents. In the letter, his father tells Zip he is proud of him, filling Zip with victorious strength. Later, Zip removes the photo of DiMaggio, replacing it with the photo of his parents.

Inspired by actual events, DAY OF INDEPENDENCE tells the story of an American family and a decision that challenges a son to find strength. It shows that heroes are not necessarily found only on a battlefield, or even a baseball diamond. Heroes can be our parents.

This film is based on the World War II experience of Tim Toyama's grandparents, who returned to Japan on the prisoner exchange ship, the Gripsholm. Many on the project team have parents and grandparents who experienced the internment first hand. We dedicate DAY OF INDEPENDENCE to our ancestors, for their sacrifice, spirit and will to persevere.

We are very motivated to present this story. We want to honor those who endured and survived America's internment camps. In large part, we have made DAY OF INDEPENDENCE for them. As time passes, so many of them are leaving us. Time is of the essence.

We also want to present this film for future generations of Japanese Americans. This film will illustrate what their parents, grandparents and great grandparents went through. It will acknowledge the sacrifices they made. It will serve as a reminder of a legacy we must always be grateful for.

Lastly, we want to share this film with our national and world community at large. It is a part of history that must never be forgotten, or it will be repeated. So many people don't know about the internment camps. The causes and circumstance of the internment must be illuminated and understood, the lessons learned must be continually voiced, for they can be applied to events that are occurring today, such as the racial profiling of Middle Easterners.

Although costly, film reaches more people than any other medium. It is appreciated by young and old, leaving lasting impressions. It moves people, inspires thought, promotes dialogue, and challenges us to know ourselves and to understand others. Film can capture history, preserve our message, touch millions and it lasts forever. This is why we are filmmakers and why we are presenting DAY OF INDEPENDENCE.


THE FILM

FORMAT 35mm, Color, Running Time: 26 minutes

SHOOT SCHEDULE 6 days, Spring 2003

FILMING LOCATION Stockton and Los Angeles, California

THE CAST

Derek Mio, Marcus Toji, Alan Muraoka, Keiko Kawashima, Ulysses Lee, Jonathan Okui, Gina Hiraizumi, Chris Tashima as "The Umpire"

THE CREATIVE TEAM

DIRECTOR Chris Tashima

PRODUCER Lisa Onodera

CO-PRODUCER Pablo Miralles

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS Tim Toyama, Chris Donahue

SCREENWRITERS Chris Tashima & Tim Toyama

BASED ON THE PLAY "Independence Day" by Tim Toyama

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Stacy Toyama

MUSIC Scott Nagatani

PRODUCTION DESIGNER Akeime Mitterlehner

COSTUME DESIGNER Naomi Yoshida

JAPANESE AMERICAN BASEBALL HISTORICAL CONSULTANT Kerry Yo Nakagawa

PRODUCTION COMPANY Cedar Grove Productions

NON-PROFIT FISCAL SPONSOR Visual Communications

MAJOR FUNDING NAATA, National Asian American Telecommunications Association, The Aratani Foundation and The Takahashi Foundation

IN-KIND BENEFACTORS Stockton Buddhist Churc,h Zuckerman-Heritage, Inc., Hollywood Japanese Cultural Institute

For more information, please contact Cedar Grove Productions: cedargrovemail@aol.com.