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The Cats of Mirikitani

catsofmirikitaniThis is such a wonderful film! I had a lump in my throat and misty eyes through much of this movie even though it's not a depressing story,although parts of it are very sad. It ends up being a poignant and uplifting tale about “the healing powers of friendship and art.”

It’s the story of Jimmy Mirikitani, a Japanese-American artist who, at age 80, was homeless and living on the streets of New York City. After 9/11, his friend Linda Hattendorf (the filmmaker) moved him into her apartment because the air was too toxic for someone living on the streets. Linda not only helped him with the bureaucratic challenges of getting help and a home of his own, but also helped him revisit his past and ultimately heal wounds that came from losing his family during WWII, both in Hiroshima and in the US internment camps where Jimmy and many other American citizens of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned.

I didn’t know a lot about these camps, and it’s just so unbelievable that there were concentration camps here on American soil (with American citizens put into them). I read somewhere that the US government has some serious karma from its treatment of Native Americans and also for slavery; I’d add the treatment of Japanese-Americans to that “bad karma” list.

The DVD has some bonus features that are definitely worth watching. I loved seeing the opening of Jimmy’s first art show. And I especially loved the scenes that show his return to Hiroshima, where he attended a memorial service for the victims of the atomic bomb. So sad and beautiful and moving.

The movie’s website says that Jimmy’s doing fine (he’s now 88 years old) and that he continues to make art, not war.” Good for him! Throughout the film, he’s shown creating his art. He's such a character, so gifted, and his work is so beautiful. A few of his paintings are shown here.

It’s such a powerful story. Sometimes getting your heartstrings tugged is a good thing! Thanks to my friend Pam for recommending this film.


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Comments (3)


Annie, this film sounds so interesting, I'm going to put in on my Ziplist. His art is lovely, and it's pretty inspiring that he's still working at 88.

The story of the Japanese internment camps in North America is sobering. Canada set up 26 during the Second World War and first interred Italians. But it seems Japanese Canadians were especially targeted, losing everything when they were sent to the camps.

Canada's federal government apologized to the Japanese Canadian community about 10 years ago and provided a small amount of compensation -- right after Ronald Reagan did the same in the U.S.

It's unbelieveable what war can do to otherwise rational people. Common sense just disappears. Or, to quote Benjamin Franklin (and this is one of my fav all time quotes:) "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Great review. I worked with someone who had family in one of the internment camps. It is amazing what the US Government has done out of fear and ignorance. Let's hope one day we finally learn.

Sandra, I think you'll really enjoy it - let me know what you think. I love that quote! I'd never heard that one before - good ole Ben! I didn't know that Canada had the camps too. The whole reparation thing...well, I guess it's better than pretending it never happened.

Girasoli, I agree! At least we know that for the next four years, the level of knee-jerk crap done by our gov't is going to go WAY down, thank goodness!

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The previous post in this blog was SSS Week One: Porcini and Chestnut Soup.

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