Expired September 15, 2022 6:59 AM
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1 film in package

Before They Take Us Away captures the previously untold stories of Japanese Americans who self-evacuated from the West Coast in the wake of Executive Order 9066 during World War II. When the US Government declared that all Japanese Americans living on the West Coast would be forcibly removed and sent to concentration camps, they gave the community a seemingly impossible choice: If Japanese Americans could leave the western states immediately on their own, they could avoid incarceration. However, most Japanese Americans lacked the resources to move outside the restricted zone; additionally, many states announced that Japanese Americans were not welcome to relocate there.

Despite the daunting circumstances, approximately 5,000 Japanese Americans managed to leave the restricted zone on their own before voluntary self-evacuation was halted in March 1942. As the film shows, the experiences of self-evacuees varied greatly. A few found welcoming communities in which to rebuild their lives; many others encountered significant hardships including hunger, primitive living conditions, arduous and underpaid agricultural labor, hostility and racial violence. All endured a traumatic uprooting from their homes and communities, and were forced to fend for themselves without support of any kind from the US government. Before They Take Us Away powerfully chronicles the unique, largely unknown stories and voices of the self-evacuees, as well as their courage and persistence. The film also draws parallels between the Japanese American wartime experience and today’s anti- immigrant and anti-refugee political climate and the resurgence of Asian Hate and racial violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    82 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Premiere
  • Note
    Documentary (No Japanese)
  • Director
    Antonia Grace Glenn
  • Screenwriter
    Antonia Grace Glenn
  • Producer
    Evelyn Nakano Glenn