STOLEN MEMORIES is a detective story about filmmaker Kagan Goh’s personal quest to return a photo album “stolen” from a Japanese Canadian family during the Japanese internment.
The filmmaker’s brother bought a photo album along with a framed photograph of a Japanese samurai warrior that once belonged to a Japanese Canadian family, at a garage sale for a mere $5 apiece. When his brother asked the Caucasian man who sold him the album how he had come to possess such a precious family heirloom, he replied indifferently that he found it in the attic collecting dust and he just wanted to “get rid of it.” The photographs are dated 1939. Three years before the Japanese internment.
The album was left behind when the family was interned and their possessions were either seized by the Canadian government and sold for a pittance, or stolen by looters. They lost everything.
Kagan Goh, aided by Mary Seki, his 70-year old detective sidekick, embarked upon a quest to find the rightful owners, find out what happened to them and return their lost photo album to them. Documenting the search as well as redressing the wrongs of the past is a symbolic “homecoming” – coming home in terms of returning to a place of self-acceptance, belonging, wholeness and healing.
STOLEN MEMORIES reflects deeply rooted issues of prejudice which have affected the Japanese Canadian community throughout the last one hundred years, experienced not just by the family but by the Japanese Canadians who helped in the quest to return the ‘stolen’ photo album. The extraordinary story is a microcosm within the macrocosm of the Japanese Canadian legacy.
BREAKING THE SILENCE is a documentary about Akihide John Otsuji, a Japanese Canadian who was unjustly imprisoned for defying a racist law called the Dispersal Campaign. After the Japanese internment, the Japanese Canadians were given the choice to either repatriate to Japan or move east of the Rockies. They were not allowed to return to the West Coast. Aki returned to his hometown in Vancouver and was promptly imprisoned and labeled a criminal by the Canadian government. His sister Mary Seki considers him to be a hero for it takes courage to defy an unjust racist law. “BREAKING THE SILENCE” is about Mary Seki’s quest to clear her brother’s name and redress the wrongs of the past.
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