Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Japanese American Women: A Sense of Place

  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $150.00
  • Date: Copyright 1992. Released 1992.
  • Descriptors: Japanese Americans. Women - Japanese American. Minorities.
  • Production Information: Live action, Stills. Produced by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro, Leita Hagemann. Directed by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro, Leita Hagemann. Color. 28 min.
  • Available from: Women Make Movies 462 Broadway, 5th Floor New York, NY 10013 (212)925-0606
  • Cataloging: 305.8'956"073 Japanese American Women|| Women - United States||United States - Race relations
  • Print Entry #: 4:833
  • Reviewer: Judy Belardino

    In this production, producer/director Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro and 12 other Japanese-American women express their feelings about their race and the unique position they have been put in from being "neither Japanese nor American." This video is another fine title from Women Make Movies.

    The women speak about not fully fitting into either the Japanese or American cultures. In the very tight-knit Japanese culture, they are not accepted as Japanese, even though they look Oriental, and in the States, the stereotype of the passive, studious Japanese woman is often inflicted upon them. However, anyone watching this program will think again before labeling Japanese or Japanese-American women as passive, nonassertive, quiet, and able to hide their emotions. These women are all intelligent, articulate, and expressive about their feelings on their culture and identity. Most wish to preserve elements from both heritages.

    The video also interviews Asian women of ancestries other than Japanese, who resent the "they're all the same attitude" attached to Orientals. The program also addresses the "model minority" label assigned to Orientals and the pressures that come with this. Another section deals with the fact that most Japanese-American women do not marry Japanese or Japanese-American men, and, consequently, Japanese Americans are becoming an "endangered species." Some husbands are also interviewed.

    Production aspects are all good, with smooth transitions between clips and clear sound. In between clips, Alfaro shows stills of her own childhood and relates her experiences as a Japanese-American woman. As a half-Japanese woman, I found myself enthusiastically identifying with her and the other women's comments.

    Japanese American Women: A Sense of Place would be excellent for general public libraries, high schools, and colleges for courses in social studies, race relations, etc. It would be especially useful in libraries that serve an Asian population. At the end of the video, Alfaro relates an incident that happened when she was visiting Europe and someone asked her where she was from. At her reply that she was from the United States, she was asked, "No, where are you really from?" This video accurately shows the perspectives of a unique minority that exists in a world eager to place a label on all people. Highly recommended.

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