published on June 21, 2016 - 6:55 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

ValleyPBS has received a $373,000 cornerstone grant from the National Park Service to create and air a documentary film chronicling life before, during and after the incarceration of Japanese Americans from the San Joaquin Valley.

The 90- to 120-minute film will focus on their exodus to the Merced, Tulare, Fresno or Pinedale “assembly centers,” and then to various War Relocation Authority incarceration sites known as internment camps, ending with their return home to the San Joaquin Valley.

The documentary, tentatively titled ‘Silent Sacrifice: The Story of Japanese American Internment and Beyond in California’s San Joaquin Valley,’ still requires a local funding match of approximately $150,000 in order to be completed.

Sun-Maid Growers of California and the Nisei Farmers League have already committed their support toward the match.


Barry Kriebel, president of Sun-Maid said, “The story of Japanese Internment irrevocably touched many Sun-Maid growers and their families during a difficult chapter in American history. We are proud to support this project and encourage other businesses to help ValleyPBS reach its grant match target.”

The National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites grants fund educational programs, preservation projects, memorials and exhibits.

The 15 projects in five U.S. states will tell the story of the more than 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens, who were imprisoned by the U.S. government following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Phil Meyer, ValleyPBS president & CEO, said, “We know how powerful stories like these are, based on our previous local history films, such as last year’s Valley of Hope, about Armenian émigrés in the Valley. ValleyPBS is committed to telling this intensely personal story in the inspiring, educational and emotional manner that it deserves.”

Elizabeth Laval, executive producer of the film, added, “This film and curriculum project will serve as a capstone to the incredible efforts of many Japanese American groups across the Valley to ensure the incredible suffering and sacrifice of thousands of Americans of Japanese descent during WWII is not forgotten. We are so grateful and humbled to have been trusted with this responsibility by the National Park Service and by our local matching funders.” 

Eight video and printed lessons plans will also be created for 7th to 12th graders and be made available to teachers across the nation through the PBS LearningMedia website.

Meyer said local fundraising has begun for the matching portion of the project budget.

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