Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust

USA, 2021
84 minutes, Color
Official website

Manzanar, in California's dry, windblown Owens Valley, was once "the place where water always flows": Native Americans called its creeks and lush lands home for thousands of years until the 1860s, when the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone were forced from the area to reservations. The water the valley depended on was then systematically extracted to support the lawns, fountains, and ever-growing population of Los Angeles. Manzanar was already desolate in 1942, when the U.S. Government selected it as the site for one of the infamous concentration camps to which West Coast Japanese Americans were sent during World War II. Manzanar Diverted brings together these three stories to chronicle Manzanar's deep history of forced removal—removal from, removal to. Ann Kaneko's film shows descendants of incarcerated Japanese Americans, Paiute-Shoshone activists, and local ranchers partnering over the issues of social and environmental justice that tie them together.—Judy Bloch

Filmfest DC Conversation participants' bios

Protagonist Kathy Jefferson Bancroft, Mono, Shoshone and Paiute, is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and the Indian Child Welfare Act Representative for the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe. She attended Stanford University, Ft. Lewis College and Montana State University, where she studied organic chemistry (MS), cell biology and neuroscience (PhD). She works with the Alabama Hills Stewardship Board to seek protection of tribal lands. She is on the Cultural Resources Task Force for the Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Project and the Owens Lake Master Project Advisory Group. She works with groups to fight the destruction of native sacred places.

Bruce Embry (Protagonist) Bruce is the the son of Sue Kunitomi Embrey, the co-founder of the Manzanar Committee. Sue led the Manzanar Committee for 37 years and spearheaded the creation of the Manzanar National Historic Site. Bruce continues the work of his mother and currently is the co-chair of the Manzanar Committee.

Ann Kaneko (director/producer) is a proud Sansei who poetically probes the intersection where power impacts the personal. Her films include A Flicker in Eternity; Against the Grain: An Artist's Survival Guide to PerĂº; Overstay and 100% Human Hair. She has been a Fulbright and Japan Foundation Artist fellow and been commissioned by the NEA, the Skirball Cultural Center, the Japanese American National Museum and Getty Center. She currently teaches Media Studies at Pitzer College.

Jin Yoo-Kim (producer) is a Korean Bolivian American filmmaker who co-produced A Woman's Work, a doc about former NFL cheerleaders exposing the NFL for illegal employment practices. She also co-produced K-town '92 and was an impact strategist for Waking Dreams, a digital series by Independent Lens and PBS Digital Studios and Blowin' Up. She was a 2017 Firelight Media Impact Producing Fellow and has an MFA in film production from USC's School of Cinematic Arts.

Moderator Melissa Bisagni is the Festival Director of the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival. By day, Bisagni is the Film and Video Program Manager in the office of Museum Learning and Programs at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), in Washington, DC. Her curatorial projects include year-round repertory and festival programming for Native Cinema Showcase and the Smithsonian-wide Mother Tongue Film Festival. She was previously the Artistic Director of Film Fest New Haven in New Haven, CT and served as the Director of Programming for the DCAPAFF for a number of years. She currently serves as the Board Chair for the DC Shorts Film festival.

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