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After Silence

This film poses the question 'What does it mean to be an American in a time of uncertainty and fear?' The subject area is the fragile nature of civil rights, and it explores the Japanese-American internment through the lens of 9/11.

As a child, Dr. Frank Kitamoto and his family lived on Bainbridge Island, WA, where the U.S. government first ordered Japanese-Americans to register, and leave their homes, and then interned them in detention camps - a panic-stricken reaction to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. For decades, the Japanese-American community rarely spoke of the disturbing experience of their exclusion and incarceration.

In AFTER SILENCE the past comes alive as Frank - who spent 3 -1/2 years of his childhood in a United States internment camp during WWII - and five students from his island community develop archival photographic prints in the high school darkroom. Together, Frank and the students discuss the need to safeguard the constitutional rights of those living in the United States...especially in times of crisis.

'The objective of the video is to offer, in this critical season of the Patriot Act--when public dissent is discouraged--the view of one citizen, Frank Kitamoto, who was denied his rights and identity as an American 60 years ago. It was during a similar time of fear and emergency following Pearl Harbor, when President Roosevelt was given sweeping powers much as our President has now. This video is intended to promote discussion on civil rights, citizenship, discrimination, and the dangers of setting aside the Constitution in times of crisis--when it would seem that we need it the most.' Conscientious Projector Film Festival program notes

'I was captivated by the simple conversations in a photo darkroom between a group of high school students and Frank Kitamoto...The comments from the students were thoughtful and articulate. And most importantly their questions and comments provide a start to a more in-depth discussion of what happened to Japanese Americans during WWII and how it relates to current events like 9/11 and the harassment and detention of Arab Americans.' Tom Ikeda, Executive Director, Densho

'Lois Shelton does a nice job of supplementing Kitamoto's recollections with archival photos, film footage, and letters written by the Japanese-Americans during their detention. As this film deals with the constitutional rights of Americans during times of crisis, it is appropriate viewing for those living in post 9/11 United States. It should serve well as a tool to promote discussion of civil rights, citizenship, discrimination, the dehumanizing effects of war, and the challenge of maintaining constitutional rights in times of crisis. AFTER SILENCE is recommended for viewers from Junior High through adult and to the libraries that serve them.' Paul Moeller, University of Colorado at Boulder for Educational Media Reviews Online

''Don't trade civil rights for security' is the main lesson that emerges from this excellent classroom discussion prompter.' Jeff Dick, Booklist

'Exquisitely filmed...makes excellent use of extensive archival footage and stills and could prove very useful in provoking classroom discussion. Recommended for school and academic libraries.' Susan M. Clark, MLS, Library Journal

'Poignant, well-produced...' Teacher Librarian

'Dr. Kitimoto exudes the essence of a great teacher; he's a gentle presence who spurns hatred and vengence, yet insists on the importance of memory...Never preachy or pompous, this video is particularly timely, given the fact that the Manzanar Prison camp has just been named as a historic site, not to mention the continuing dubious incarceration of various 'suspects' in our current war efforts. Highly Recommended' Video Librarian


Main credits

Kitamoto, Frank (interviewee)
Shelton, Lois (film director)
Shelton, Lois (screenwriter)
Shelton, Lois (editor of moving image work)
Shelton, Lois (film producer)
Piper, Joan (film producer)
Thomas, Susan Buster (film director)

Other credits

Camera, Chrisopher Mosio; music, David Johanns, Yo-Hands Productions.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

American Democracy
American Studies
Asian Studies
Civil Rights
Human Rights
National Security
Race and Racism
Social Justice
War and Peace


Japanese- Americans, World War II, 9/11, civil rights, Frank Kitamoto, Bainbridge Island, internment camps, Pearl Harbor; "After Silence"; Bullfrog Films