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Doubles: Japan and America’s Intercultural Children

By: Brandon Arakaki

Date Posted: 2000-03-17

Regge Life is coming back to the island. The Okinawa University Library Mini-theater will, on Wednesday, March 22nd be the venue for the projection of what many observers consider as the famous thematic filmmaker’s most daring message.

Regge Life, an American filmmaker who has made a name for himself in Japan through producing powerful documentaries with more than just philosophical assessments of intercultural relationships, will be personally present for the projection of “Doubles: Japan and America’s Intercultural Children.” “Doubles” was the second of his great documentaries which received critical acclaim all over Japan. The screening occasion next week will be sponsored by the Public Affairs Office of the US Consulate General, Naha and the Okinawa International University, situated inn Ginowan City, close to Futenma base.


September 2, 1945: The instrument of surrender is signed ending the war in the Pacific against Japan. Under the reign of General Douglas MacArthur, Japan enters its first period of occupation in the history of the island country. Despite orders forbidding it, fraternization between United States soldiers and Japanese women, results in a number of children being born in and out of wedlock. Some of the children were fortunate enough to leave Japan, but many stayed and some were abandoned by both father and mother. Now more than 50 years later, as we remember the occupation and the end of the war, what has become of these children, themselves now adults. Since the end of the second world war, Japan itself has risen from the ashes to become an economic giant and many American women have intermarried with Japanese men producing a new generation of intercultural children who are growing up in both America and in Japan. What is life like for them in Japan? In America? What about the generation of interculturals who can trace their roots back to the turn of the century and even before - where are they today? The film documentary, "Doubles: Japan and America's Intercultural Children" is a cultural statement in its own right. Narrated by Joe Morton with music by Yosuke Yamashita, the program features persons born of Japanese and American nationals from the turn of the century until today. It was broadcast on NHK twice in August and again during the Japanese holiday "Oshogatsu" in December of 1995. The program is the first in depth look at the lives of the intercultural children of Japanese and Americans from inside America as well as from inside Japan. In more than fifty years since the end of World War II, what has changed and what remains the same. Here is what some Japan experts have said about "Doubles": "Regge Life has produced another profoundly moving film about the nuances of cultural blending and ethnicity.... he elicits compelling commentary from an astounding wide range of interview subjects. The film is distinguished by their honesty and fearlessness. Despite the pain that shines, inescapably, through the tears or the rage or some of them, the film's powerful message is a hopeful one. Rejecting the term, "half" still used pejoratively in Japan to describe Japanese of mixed blood, they call themselves "Doubles" and claim thereby twice the beauty, twice the culture, twice the strength and intelligence of those who lack their mixture of blood and heritage. The speakers in this fine film are beautiful, articulate, wise and courageous. No sensitive viewer of DOUBLES, can doubt that the future is theirs". PETER GRILLI, Producer of "Dream Window: Reflections of the Japanese Garden" and "Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu". "DOUBLES" explores sensitively and honestly a subject long neglected and almost taboo in the United States and Japan. These interviews with people born of mixed parentage in Japan and America, speak from a variety of perspectives and represent many different generations. This documentary should be required viewing, especially for all who think ethnicity is essentially a Black/Caucasian issue". The late, DR. JACKSON BAILEY, Professor of History and founder of the Institute for Education on Japan. "Regge Life has a gigantic talent for introducing us to dimensions of Japan we never have examined closely before, where interracial communities find eloquent voice. DOUBLES is a masterful treatment of mixed blood individuals whose lives, more than not, have been enriched by being products of two cultures. The film, like its subjects, ultimately transcends Japan. It inspires us to contemplate the richness, potential and unpredictability of the human experience". DR. JOHN DOWER, Professor of History, author of "War Without Mercy". DOUBLES: JAPAN AND AMERICA'S INTERCULTURAL CHILDREN, was completed by generous funding from The Japan Foundation, The Freeman Foundation, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, The US/Japan Friendship Commission, AIU Japan and ANA. It received a CINE Golden Eagle, the Gold Award for Best Documentary at the Cindy Awards, a Bronze Apple at the National Educational Media Competition and was a Finalist at the Houston International Festival. Executive Producer/Director for DOUBLES, Regge Life, produced his first work in Japan in 1992. Entitled STRUGGLE AND SUCCESS: THE AFRICAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN JAPAN, the program was widely acclaimed. Broadcast twice on NHK, it is currently in release on PBS. The program has also been exhibited all over America via a national tour sponsored by the National Association of Japan Societies and toured Japan courtesy of the American Centers of the United States Information Service of the Department of State, the Foreign Correspondents Club, the International House of Japan and other Japan-based grassroots organizations. Mr. Life first came to Japan in 1990 on a fellowship from Bunka-cho and the National Endowment for the Arts. He spent six months observing the work of Yamada Yoji during his production of Tora San #43, and traveling throughout Japan. He is also the recipient of an Ushiba Memorial Fellowship. He received his BA from Tufts University, his M.F.A. from New York University and enriched his studies at Harvard University in Cinema Studies. Mr. Life currently lives in upstate New York and travels to Japan frequently. DOUBLES was produced with generous support from The Freeman Foundation, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, The Japan Foundation, The Japan- United States Friendship Commission, AIG and in-kind support from All Nippon Airways. Program: Wednesday, March 22, 2000 6:30 pm: Opening remarks by Nishihira Isao, Ph.D.; 6:33 pm: Introduction of film maker by Consul Kelley; 6:35 pm: Brief introductory remarks by Regge Life; 6:40 - 8:32 pm: Film screening; 8:32-9:00 pm: Audience question and answer session The Okinawa International University is situated close to the junction of Maehara and Gate 2 of MCAS Futenma.

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