The Cats of Mirikitani

May 1, 2008

Directed by Linda Hattendorf

A great film tugs at the heart, shows the best sides of humanity and sends a message. This one does just that. Director Linda Hattendorf takes you on a journey with 80-year-old Tsutomo "Jimmy" Mirikitani, a homeless artist in New York City. Through patience and empathy, the filmmaker digs out an incredible story about injustice-World War M's incarceration of Japanese Americans-and a lonely but dignified artist. Mirikitani was at Tule Lake for 3 1/2 years and lost his citizenship, but through the process of making the film, he realizes his citizenship was returned decades ago. Together, they discover he is related to Janice Mirikitani, poet laureate of San Francisco. In a great but tragic 9/11 moment, Hattendorf takes Mirikitani into her SoHo apartment as ashes fill the city sky. Scenes where Mirikitani denounces American government, both for its treatment of Japanese Americans and the current war, show how the past and present are linked. But the film is more than just a lesson about Japanese internment and war; it is about what possibilities emerge through compassion. -Momo Chang

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Momo Chang

Senior Contributing Editor

Momo Chang is the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media, and freelances for magazines, online publications, and weeklies. Her writings focus on Asian American communities, communities of color, and youth culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Her stories range from uncovering working conditions in nail salons, to stories about “invisible minorities” like Tongan youth and Iu Mien farmers. She has freelances The New York Times, WIRED, and East Bay Express, among other publications.