The ITO SISTERS: Documentary Film & Panel Discussion | Osher Marin Jewish Community Center

The ITO SISTERS: Documentary Film & Panel Discussion

Thu, November 7, 2019 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

The Hungarian

The THE ITO SISTERS  Reveals a Little-Known Chapter of the Early Japanese American Experience

The Osher Marin JCC is excited to host a special screening of the documentary film THE ITO SISTERS .  Directed and produced by Antonia Grace Glenn, the documentary captures the rarely told stories of the earliest Japanese immigrants to the United States and their American-born children.  In particular, the film focuses on the experiences of Issei (or immigrant) and Nisei (or first generation born in the US) women, whose voices have largely been excluded from American history. 

Following the film, please join us for a panel discussion, moderated by the filmmaker, in which we will draw historical parallels between the Japanese American incarceration camps, and the camps set up near our borders today.  Of particular focus will be how wartime incarceration disproportionately affects women and children, leading to trauma that can take generations to address and begin to heal.  The film and panel discussion are appropriate for middle school-aged children and up.  Concessions available for purchase. 

 Panelists include:

  • Lucia Martel Dow, Director of Immigration & Social Services, Canal Alliance
  • Dr. Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Lead Scholar, THE ITO SISTERS and Professor of the Graduate School, UC Berkeley
  • Dr. Peg Sandel, Head of School, Brandeis Marin


THE ITO SISTERS  reveals a little-known chapter of American history, focusing on life in what was essentially a California plantation system between the world wars, with Asian and Mexican laborers working the fields of white landowners.  At the center of the film are three Nisei sisters.  Their personal narratives are set against the backdrop of the anti-Japanese movement in California, a 60-year campaign by politicians, journalists, landowners, labor leaders and others that culminated in the forced removal and incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast.

The themes of the film are particularly timely as 2017 was the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which authorized the start of the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans from the West Coast.  In the current political climate of camps set up to detain undocumented people attempting to cross our border; anti-immigrant scapegoating; the rejection of refugees seeking asylum; and bans on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, the heated rhetoric is remarkably familiar.  Some contemporary politicians and pundits have even cited the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II as a precedent for the Muslim ban and the incarceration of refugee children and families.

At the core of THE ITO SISTERS  is the theme of citizenship and American identity, and how the rights of immigrants and their children have been restricted, tested and/or established.  The aim of the project is to inform audiences about a little-known chapter in US history, as told through the stories of three sisters whose lives spanned the 20th century and into the 21st.


In honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in May 2019, an hour-long version of THE ITO SISTERS was broadcast on more than 200 PBS stations around the country.  THE ITO SISTERS has been an Official Selection of the Berkeley Video & Film Festival (where it was honored with a Grand Festival Award and an Audience Award); the Sacramento Japanese Film Festival (where it was recognized with an Emerging Filmmaker Award); the Women’s Film Festival San Diego; the Boston Asian American Film Festival (where it received the Audience Choice Award for Feature Documentary); the Asian Pop-Up Cinema Festival in Chicago; the Japan Film Festival Los Angeles (where it was honored with the Best Documentary Award); and the Cincinnati African & Asian Diaspora Film Festival.  Other screening events have been held at UC Berkeley; the Japanese American Museum of San Jose; The Presidio Trust in San Francisco; a Day of Remembrance event co-hosted by the Stockton Japanese American Citizens League and San Joaquin Delta College; the Sacramento River Delta Historical Society; the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles; Yale University; Tufts University; the Smithsonian Institution; and many other community venues.

   In Partnership with:


Cost: $8 JCC Members / $10 Public
Location: Hoytt Theater