History and Memory

1991, 30 min, color and b&w, sound

Focusing on the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, this powerful and poignant work examines the rewriting of history through media representation. In a pastiche of film images, written text, voiceover and video, Tajiri interweaves collective history and personal memory. For example, the attack on Pearl Harbor is seen through anonymous archival footage, Hollywood's From Here to Eternity, a filmed re-staging and a news report. The Japanese-American internment is similarly reconstructed, although here Tajiri adds her family's personal story. "Who chose what story to tell?" she asks. Referring to "things that happened in the world with cameras watching, things that we re-stage to have images of them, and things that are observed only by the spirits of the dead," Tajiri reclaims history and memory by inserting her own video footage and narrative voice, and her mother's recollections of her family's internment.

With: Sokhi Wagner, Noel Shaw. Written by Rea Tajiri. Producer/Editor: Rea Tajiri. Camera: George, Rea Tajiri. Assistant Editor: Angel Shaw.