FISCAL SPONSORSHIP SPOTLIGHT | Second In An Occasional Series
LIL TOKYO REPORTER
A SHORT FILM BASED ON THE LIFE OF SEI FUJII | By Jeffrey Gee Chin
Starring Lead Actor Chris Tashima (VISAS AND VIRTUE), Keiko Agena (GILMORE GIRLS), Eijiro Ozaki (LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA), and Ikuma Ando (LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA)
Jeffrey Gee Chin is a 3rd generation Chinese American who specializes in narratives about early Asian American pioneers. He received his BA from UC Berkeley and will receive his MFA at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. With the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, Jeffrey produced several documentaries uncovering the untold stories of immigrants coming to the United States from 1910-1940. He takes pride in the rich heritage of the Asian immigrant experience and plans to produce a series of live-action dramas inspired by his ongoing research.
Jeffrey first learned about the subject of his film, Issei Civil Rights Leader Sei Fujii, when he attended the First National APIA Historic Preservation Forum in 2010. Fujii was known as a community leader and newspaper publisher during 1920-'30s Little Tokyo and in his lifetime he won two landmark Supreme Court Cases together with his USC Law School classmate, civil rights attorney J.Marion Wright. (Jordan v. Tashiro & Fujii v. California) http://www.discovernikkei.org/en/journal/article/3357/
Carole Fujita, a founding member of the Little Tokyo Historical Society, spent three years uncovering Sei Fujii’s history and shared her research with Jeffrey; the story of a man who fought to protect his community from injustice and corruption became the catalyst for the development of a narrative short. Through their continued research they would learn that Fujii was also a man of great integrity as well as complexity; Fujii had a particular attraction to married women, as they did to him, and his “honest” articles often spurred the excitement of the local mafia and authorities. In short, he was human.
From 2010-2012 Jeffrey and Carole traveled from Los Angeles to Medford, Oregon to Sakata, Japan interviewing individuals with personal accounts of Sei Fujii. They uncovered further research about their involvement in overturning the California Alien Land Law in 1952 as well as a little known history about Sei Fujii as a newspaper publisher. The production was shot entirely in Little Tokyo and its surrounding areas with Producers Mayon Denton and Michael Iinuma.
The production has garnered significant support with the professional contributions of writer Guinevere Turner (AMERICAN PSYCHO), Editor Chisako Yokoyama (Ass't. Editor, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA), Sound Supervisor Sean Massey (RANGO), VFX Supervisor Kenneth Nakada (AVATAR), and Composer George Shaw.
The film stars Chris Tashima (VISAS AND VIRTUE), Keiko Agena (GILMORE GIRLS), Eijiro Ozaki (LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA), and Ikuma Ando (LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA).
The story highlights Sei Fujii’s experience in 1935 Little Tokyo, a couple years after founding of his newspaper.
With the support of Little Tokyo Historical Society, Jeffrey and Carole applied for fiscal sponsorship at Visual Communications, which allowed the project to garner significant support in talent and in-kind donations from industry professionals, individuals, as well as organizations. In the process, the production was able to host multiple fundraisers and promotional events where individuals could make tax-deductible donations. Thus far, the production has received grant support from the California State Library Public Education Program Grant, the Hisako I. & Paul Terasaki Foundation, and the Aratani Foundation.
The team is working on the final mix and is preparing the release of the film September 14-16th at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena. There will be six screenings over that weekend, two each day after 11:00 AM. Tickets will be $9 at the door and $7 for seniors/students. Exact show times will be available the week of the screenings on the website, on the film's Facebook page, or call (310) 478-3836.
673 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101
Laemmle Playhouse 7 Theatre
For more information about LIL TOKYO REPORTER, or to contribute to the completion of the film, please contact Milton Liu, Director of Programs and Artist Services at 213-680-4462 x21 or firstname.lastname@example.org.