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History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige
A film by Rea Tajiri
1991, 32 minutes, Color/BW, DVD
Order No. W99286
Groundbreaking and haunting, this film is a poetic composition of recorded history and non-recorded memory. Filmmaker Rea Tajiri’s family was among the 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans who were imprisoned in internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. And like so many who were in the camps, Tajiri’s family wrapped their memories of that experience in a shroud of silence and forgetting.

Ruminating on the difficult nature of representing the past – especially a past that exists outside traditional historic accounts – Tajiri blends interviews, memorabilia, a pilgrimage to the camp where her mother was interned, and the story of her father, who had been drafted pre-Pearl Harbor and returned to find his family’s house removed from its site.
Throughout, she surveys the impact of images (real images, desired images made real, and unrealized dream images). The film draws from a variety of sources: Hollywood spectacle, government propaganda, newsreels, memories of the living, and sprits of the dead, as well as Tajiri’s own intuitions of a place she has never visited, but of which she has a memory. More than simply calling attention to the gaps in the story of the Japanese American internment, this important film raises questions about collective history – questions that prompt Tajiri to daringly re-imagine and re-create what has been stolen and what has been lost.


  • Whitney Museum of American Art, Biennial
  • Flaherty Film Seminar
  • Yamagata Festival, Japan
  • New York Asian American Int'l FF

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    “Tajiri approaches her subject like a poet. She weaves together images and allows them to enrich one another in skewed and subtle ways as their resonances slowly emerge.”
    Caryn James
    New York Times

    “A dense work of found and reconstructed images, a cathartic reworking again and again of history.”
    Marita Sturken
    Video History Project

    “Tajiri's film ultimately becomes a visual memorial of internment that refuses to consolidate cultural trauma into a coherent historical narrative but that instead bears witness to the trauma of exclusive citizenship and national identity.”
    Theresa A. Kulbaga
    The Ohio State University

    “Argues powerfully for no less than new ways of knowing and remembering.”
    Marina Heung
    New Directions for Women

    “Much documentary work has concentrated on getting the story straight…HISTORY AND MEMORY attempts to see how distortion and story combine to share our recollections.”
    Kathleen Hulser
    American Historical Review

    “A beautiful and moving autobiographical film…HISTORY AND MEMORY leads to rich discussions about just that, history and memory.”
    Asian Educational Media Service

    “One of the highest artistic achievements in any medium ever made by an Asian American.”
    Brian Hu
    AsiaPacific Arts

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WMM offers film collections on a variety of specific subject areas, including the collections VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Ending the Silence, BODY IMAGE, and AFRICAN-AMERICAN: Celebrate the Lives of African-American Women.

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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitiates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us