Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice

A film by Pat Saunders and Rea Tajiri

1994 | 57 minutes | Color | DVD | Order No. 99201


Yuri Kochiyama was a Japanese American woman who lived in Harlem for more than 40 years and had a long history of activism on a wide range of issues. Through extensive interviews with family and friends, archival footage, music and photographs, YURI KOCHIYAMA chronicles this remarkable woman’s contribution to social change through some of the most significant events of the 20th century, including the Black Liberation movement, the struggle for Puerto Rican independence, and the Japanese American Redress movement. In an era of divided communities and racial conflict, Kochiyama offered an outstanding example of an equitable and compassionate multiculturalist vision.


“Finds a shared identification with both younger and older generations of activists.”

Abraham Ferrer In Focus, Visual Communications


  • San Francisco Asian American Film Festival
  • Women in the Director’s Chair


Rea Tajiri

Rea Tajiri is a New York based filmmaker and educator who has written and directed an eclectic body of dramatic, experimental and documentary films currently in commercial and educational distribution. As of Fall 2008, Tajiri will be teaching as an Associate Professor at Temple University in the Film Media Arts Department.

Tajiri was born in Chicago, Illinois where her parents resettled after her father served in the 442nd regiment during WWII. She earned her BFA and MFA degree from the California Institute of the Arts where she studied studio art. Upon graduation, Tajiri began working in video art, having two early works included in the Whitney Biennials of 1989 and 1991. One of these early works, History and Memory went on to receive the Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association and a Special Jury Award from the San Francisco International Film Festival. This documentary short has screened in over 250 venues around the world. After completing this film, Tajiri, developed an interest in the history of social movements and was approached by civil rights organizer Pat Saunders to co-produce a film on the life of Harlem human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama. They received a production grant from the PBS series “P.O.V.” to complete the film entitled: Passion for Justice. After completion of this documentary, Tajiri directed her debut dramatic feature film Strawberry Fields, produced by Open City Films and ITVS. Strawberry Fields received its European premiere at the Venice International Film Festival and won the Grand Prix at the Fukuoka Asian Film Festival. The film received theatrical release through Phaedra Cinema and is currently available on DVD on Netflix through Vanguard Cinema. Tajiri has received fellowships for her work from the Rockefeller Foundation, NEA Visual Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. In 2004, she received a two-month residency at the MacDowell Colony. Since 1989, Tajiri has had an ongoing collaboration with choreographer Kate Foley designing video set projections for her dance concerts. Foley choreographed dance set pieces for Tajiri’s short films Aloha and Little Murders and appears in Tajiri’s video Hitchcock Trilogy.

Tajiri has been a visiting filmmaker at numerous universities and colleges across the country including Hampshire College, University of Colorado Boulder, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of California Santa Barbara, Georgetown University, Smith College, Brown University and was a Visiting Professor at Temple University and School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Currently, she is in development on a new dramatic fiction project entitled Venus’ Celestial Beauty and completing post-production on an experimental short entitled; Bridge. (8/14)


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