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By Dean Edward | March 9, 2003

“The Nisei Farmer” is a beautifully done little short, a touching examination of a man who has lived his entire life in the past.
Hank, a Japanese-American farmer in Southern California circa 1988, is about to be given twenty thousand dollars by the American government. The money is an apology, of sorts: as a child, Hank and his family were interred in one of those shameful concentration camps at the advent of WWII.
His wife Iko, a good woman who has been with him for twenty-two years, wants Hank to use the money to go away, to take a break from his obsession with the crops. They argue about his stubborn behavior, and we see flashbacks to when he was imprisoned. We see his mother telling him to “let his heart be free”.
The acting by the two leads is impressive. Kondo as the stubborn Hank has a wonderfully photogenic face, and Narita takes the hurt and frustration of twenty years of marriage to this man and underplays it perfectly.
Director of photography Cliff Hsui has captured the California desert with a grace of excellence. A scene where Hank watches the sunset is particularly moving. Yamada has made a nearly perfect film. I hope that someone out there sees this and encourages him to expand this to feature length. The characters are both charming and original creations and I for one want to see more.

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  1. Kiyo Sato says:

    Thank you, Dean Yamada.I JUST FOUND YOUR SITE OF 2002!
    I am delighted to see that someone is interested in the nisei farmer. My book focuses on the Issei farmer. The story of the nisei farmer is another incredible history of growing anything in any soil including the ten concentration camps located in the most desolate places in the United States.

    In a society of GMO foods and corporate farming, the nisei farmer teaches us the love and rewards of family farming. They will be our salvation. I hope you will continue to spread the work of your father and their generation.
    Kiyo Sato
    Author: KIYO’S STORY

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