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JA-Related Drama, Documentary at Two Film Festivals

Two films about the Japanese American experience during World War II will be screened at local film festivals this weekend.

George Takei plays a World War II veteran in “American.”

• “American” (18 minutes), starring George Takei and directed by Richie Adams, will be part of the New Filmmakers Los Angeles Film Festival’s shorts program, “In Focus: Military Veterans and the Effects of War,” on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 4 p.m. at South Park Center, 1139 S. Hill St. in Los Angeles. For tickets, visit Parking is available at 1133 S. Olive St.

A 94-year-old veteran who works as a volunteer at the Japanese American National Museum encounters a mother and her young daughter, triggering events that happened in his past, including his time in a concentration camp and later serving with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

The films in the program depict a diverse range of experiences of military veterans from a variety of backgrounds and time periods, including a futuristic sci-fi narrative, explorations of PTSD, near-death experiences, the true stories of a recently transitioned transgender Vietnam veteran, a woman who survived sexual assault in the military, and the struggle of immigrant veterans who face deportation following their service. Audience Q&A follows at 6 p.m.

Mary Matsuno recalls the arrest of her Issei father in “First to Go.”

• “First to Go: Story of the Kataoka Family” (20 minutes), directed by Myles Matsuno, will be shown as part of a program of shorts on Oct. 20 at 12 p.m. at Cinemark 18, The Promenade at Howard Hughes Center, 6081 Center Dr. in Los Angeles, as part of the Marina Del Rey Film Festival. Tickets: $15 general admission. Info:,

A couple of hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ichiro Kataoka was the first Japanese immigrant in San Francisco to be taken prisoner by the FBI from his hotel in Japantown. The film, which features Kataoka’s daughter, Mary Matsuno, was directed by Matsuno’s grandson and Kataoka’s great-grandson.

The program also includes “Like Last Night” (11:55), directed by Ren Hanami, a story of two high school girls with very different points of view on life who are forced to confront what to do in the aftermath of one of them getting raped at a party.

Another film in the program is “Baba’s Next Chapter” (9:45), directed by Jamie C.X. Wang. As her father’s retirement approaches, a student filmmaker living abroad decides to bring a scene from his novel to life, in an attempt to encourage the aging father not to abandon his one last creative passion.

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