SAN FRANCISCO (April 28, 2014) — The Center For Asian American Media (CAAM) celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May 2014 with “Japanese American Lives”, a special series of three episodes that explore the rich and diverse history of Japanese Americans hosted by Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi.
From a trailblazing female Judo master to Japanese Americans making their mark in jazz music, “Japanese American Lives” goes beyond the history books and gives us an in-depth look into four unexpected Asian American stories of inspiration, artistry, family and hope.
The First Lady of Judo in MRS. JUDO: BE STRONG, BE GENTLE, BE BEAUTIFUL
Director Yuriko Gamo Romer takes a look at the sport of judo from a different angle – the female perspective. In MRS JUDO: BE STRONG, BE GENTLE, BE BEAUTIFUL, Romer focuses on Keiko Fukuda, the last disciple of judo founder Jigoro Kano and master of the art, a woman who defied conformity, earning a 10th degree black belt.
During a time when it was expected for women to become a wife, mother and homemaker, Fukuda followed a more unconventional path to become the highest-ranking female in judo history. Through archival footage and interviews with her peers, friends and Fukuda herself, Romer paints an inspiring picture of the late, great pioneer.
All That Jazz in DON’T LOSE YOUR SOUL
Asian Americans have always proved to be innovators in music, but their contributions in the jazz world are often overlooked. In the music-infused and intimate documentary DON’T LOSE YOUR SOUL, directors Jim Choi and Chihiro Wimbush give some much deserved recognition to bassist Mark Izu and the Grammy-nominated drummer Anthony Brown.
Since the 1960s Izu and Brown have been celebrated artists in the Asian American community and now they broaden their reach in this insightful documentary.
An Unsung American Hero in HONOR & SACRIFICE
HONOR & SACRIFICE is the story of one man’s journey from early hardship and ultimately to his contribution as a member of Merrill’s Marauders as documented in Lucy Ostrander and Don Seller’s HONOR & SACRIFICE. True to the name of the documentary, Ostrander tells the story of the Matsumoto family during World War II.
In a story that is worthy of a Hollywood war film, three of the sons fought for the Japanese, while two fought for the Americans. Blurring the lines of family loyalty and country patriotism, this is a complex story of an immigrant family, the separation of brothers and how one of the sons ultimately became an American hero. Recipient of the prestigious 2014 Erik Barnouw Award from the Organization of American Historians for Outstanding Programming in Documentary Film concerned with American history.
Hope After Heartache in STORIES FROM TOKOKU
Fresh off of its success at CAAMFest 2014, STORIES FROM TOHOKU revisits Tohoku two years after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Co-directed by Dianne Fukami and Eli Olson, the documentary bridges the Pacific divide between the United States and Japan.
The survivors of the disaster who are trying to rebuild are connected with Japanese American community that continue to raise money and organize trips to the region to provide as much help as they can. Featuring Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, the documentary illustrates the frustration and struggle as well as the hope and endurance of life after disaster.
Please check your local PBS listings for days and times for when JAPANESE AMERICAN LIVES will air.
CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) is a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. CAAM does this by funding, producing, distributing and exhibiting works in film, television and digital media. For more information on CAAM, please visitwww.caamedia.org.
Athlete, artist, wife, mother, philanthropist—in each of these things Kristi Yamaguchi embodies the word champion. Her motto is “Always Dream,” and Kristi’s accomplishments prove that dreams can come true with hard work and dedication. Her achievements—on the ice, in her personal life and in the realm of community service—are many, all of which prove her consistent commitment to excellence.
Following her victories at the 1992 Winter Olympics and World Championships, Kristi embarked on a successful professional career that went non-stop for more than a decade. During the years 1992-2002, Kristi toured with Stars on Ice, won numerous professional competitions, frequently appeared on television specials and collaborated with several choreographers to create diverse programs.
“A lot of us on the Stars on Ice tour took pride in trying to stay innovative and bring something new to the ice every year. Pushing the envelope helped keep things fresh,” Yamaguchi said.
From 2003-2009, Kristi headlined her own NBC television special, Kristi Yamaguchi Friends and Family.
Kristi served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to promoting the Games, she also performed in both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. During the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Kristi served as a correspondent for NBC’s Today Show and hosted daily shows on Olympic ice skating for Universal Sports.
Kristi recently returned from the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi as the Digital Ambassador for the U.S. Olympic Committee as well as a Today Show correspondent.
Throughout her career, Kristi has received numerous awards and accolades. She was named to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1998 and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1999.
On Dec. 8, 2005, she was inducted into the USOC Olympic Hall of Fame. In January 2006, she joined all her fellow American Olympic gold medalists for a special tribute at the 2006 U.S. Championships in St. Louis. Later that year, Kristi was named to the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame.
In February 2008, Kristi received the prestigious Thurman Munson Award, acknowledging excellence in competition and philanthropic work within the community.
One of Kristi’s lasting legacies will be her Always Dream Foundation (www.AlwaysDream.org) founded in 1996. It was established with one goal in mind: to find innovative ways to provide support for a diverse range of programs designed to inspire and embrace the hopes and dreams of children.
Committed to the belief that early childhood literacy is the foundation on which all academic and life success is built, the Foundation has set its sights on improving access by children of low-income families to books and technology.
Kristi’s family is now her first and foremost priority. She thoroughly enjoys being on the ice, but nothing compares to being with her daughters.
“I can’t say I would have done it any other way,” she says. “I definitely feel blessed to have Keara and Emma in my life. My family means everything to me.”
For more information on Kristi Yamaguchi, please visit www.alwaysdream.org and www.KristiYamaguchi.com.