FACE TO FACE is an Electric Shadows Project Presented by ITVS Interactive
(SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA) – December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2002. . . two days that changed the world forever. Sixty years separate these two events and their aftermath, but how much have
things really changed? Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, people of Japanese descent living in the U.S. were subjected to the emotional venting of racial hatred and distrust, eventually resulting in the internment of over 120,000 Japanese Americans, many of them U.S. citizens, in relocation camps. Today, in the ominous shadow of the terrorist attacks, Arab and Muslim Americans and other people of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent fear for their lives and worry about their own futures.
Launching on August 29, FACE TO FACE (www.itvs.org/facetoface) is an interactive Web-based program that reaches across boundaries of time and culture to connect the experiences of Japanese Americans in the early1940s with those of Arab and Muslim Americans post-September
11th. A human chronicle of anger, fear, hatred, confusion, loyalty and trust unfolds as FACE TO FACE explores what it means to be an American with the face of the enemy. The emotional impact of first-person video narratives combined with the interactive power of the Web creates an experience that illuminates, educates and
resonates. Produced by filmmaker Rob Mikuriya, FACE TO FACE calls us to consider our own responses to the events, to lead us to an
understanding of others and perhaps even ourselves.
FACE TO FACE presents eighteen individuals – ten Japanese Americans and eight Arab and Muslim Americans who lived either through the
events of December 7th or September 11th – whose faces form the visual motif as their voices relate personal stories and memories.
Combining audio, digital photographs, graphics, Flash animation and text, FACE TO FACE offers multiple “entry points” where the user can
jump into the story and begin his or her own immersive journey. As the user travels through the interactive environment, similarities
and shared experiences are revealed; myths and untruths are uncovered and dispelled; common ground for understanding and tolerance is
discovered. A new kind of media experience, FACE TO FACE allows the user to explore those aspects of the material that are most interesting, creating a unique narrative each and every time the site is entered. Poetic, organic, and evocative in structure, the interactive narrative flows so that one person’s story leads to
connections with the stories of others. FACE TO FACE is designed to promote understanding of experiences with which many Americans are
unfamiliar and generate compassion for victims of discrimination.
FACE TO FACE will also feature lesson plans for teachers in the “Activities” section. A “Responses” area will encourage people to
leave their own FACE TO FACE stories or comments on the site. Selected submissions will be posted online, encouraging users to check back regularly and join the discussion.
About The Creative Team
Filmmaker Rob Mikuriya is a third generation Japanese-American or sansei. “Since the Japanese-American internment during WWII was such
a big part of my family’s history, I have always been looking for a context in which to explore, illuminate and gain insight into what happened. Following the horrifying and tragic events of 9/11, I realized that a strong connection was developing between what happened to my parents and other Japanese Americans in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and what is happening to Arab and Muslim Americans now. FACE TO FACE was a way to place both of these traumatic events into a context that was meaningful, engaging and accessible to a wide audience.”
Rob Mikuriya created and produced the Peabody Award-winning PBS series The Eddie Files and Futures With Jaime Escalante. In the
arena of new media, he produced “The Eddie Files New Media Project,” a groundbreaking interactive digital prototype based on the popular children’s series.
SECOND STORY INTERACTIVE STUDIOS
Second Story Interactive Studios is a leading creator of interactive educational entertainment. Since 1994, the studio has created more than fifty original interactive experiences by incorporating an inventive mix of technology and storytelling on topics spanning the liberal arts, sciences, humanities and exploration. Some of its industry-leading partners and sponsors include National Geographic, The Museum of Modern Art, Experience Music Project, DreamWorks Records, Virgin Records, Kodak, Discovery, PBS and the Smithsonian Institution. The studio’s pioneering work in blending interactive art, entertainment, and education has been recognized in every major interactive design competition and received more than one hundred awards and honors from the design community and popular press, as
well as being included in the Smithsonian’s permanent research collection on information technology.
The privately owned company designs and produces all of its work from a warehouse in Portland, Oregon.
FACE TO FACE Selected Quotes
“The word fear describes everything.”
-KHALED ABOU EL FADL
“I was playing outside on the street with my brother and somebody called me a Jap and I didn’t know what a Jap was.” -TORU SAITO
“And right then, this one guy who was standing a few feet away said they should just nuke the whole Middle East. And when he said that I was, like, I can’t handle this.”
“I looked over and this woman threw her window open and screamed at the top of her lungs, ‘Get off my porch, you dirty Jap!’ And I was
terrified that I had done something wrong, that something was wrong with me, and that she might hurt me.”
“The confidence and the forthrightness with which I had led my life up to that point basically shattered in an instant. And I felt fear, real fear for the first time in my life.”
“You never knew when your father was going to be taken away. Mr. Saiki got picked up off the farm. Our neighbor, Mr. Okazaki was taken
away. And they would take an old car battery or pick up a flashlight or something for evidence. It was very tragic when Mr. Iwasa, after he was harassed by the FBI, committed suicide; he hung himself in the barn.”
“You run the risk of being the victim of a terrorist attack as much as any other member of society, but you now also run the risk of being blamed for it, just simply by the fact that you’re Arab or Muslim.”
-KHALED ABOU EL FADL
“So at that moment I knew that Muslims and Arabs were being implicated, whether or not that was based in fact, they were already being assumed to be the culprits. And for that reason alone, I knew that this was going to affect me.”
“It was such a waste. We talk about the economy, or the money, the
government money-how much this must have cost to intern 120,000
Japanese Americans and the pain that it left each and every one of the families. I doubt if anybody could say what we gained. It was very disrupting. And for my family, still, sixty years later, it
hurts me to think what my father had to go through. He worked so hard and helped the community, but he lost everything.”
“When the government violates your rights, they’re not doing you any favors. People lost their jobs, they lost their fortunes, they lost
everything they had. But I know one thing, if it ever happened again to anybody else, any other group, I’ll be out there protesting
“Under certain circumstances I think what happened to the Japanese Americans can happen to any group. We see part of that jingoism and
patriotism today. And it could happen again.”
“You know, it’s just like that general who was in charge of the evacuation, he justified the evacuation, he says, ‘a Jap is a Jap, so what the heck,’ making no distinction between Japanese Americans and the Japanese of Japan. They’re all of the same lot to him and I suppose that same kind of feeling could exist today.”
“I felt very angry at them for having usurped such a moral religion for such an immoral purpose.”
“Well for example, even before the war, some people on Colorado Street would stop and ask me, ‘Are you Japanese?’ Just by looking at me. So I would say yes. Then I’d go home and I’m thinking how come I’m answering that as Japanese, when I should be saying I’m an American.”
“I’m not just an American, I’m a Japanese American, and no matter where I go, they will first see my Japanese face. I can’t escape that.”
“I love being an American, I love living in America. Does that matter when my skin is brown and my name is Sayema and I’m Muslim? It doesn’t matter to them. So that scares me.”
“We would go to school as children, pledge allegiance to the flag while guards were watching us. We would sing “God Bless America” and all these things that we were doing on the outside, but it became very absurd doing it inside the camp, when you’re at the mercy of the government and basically prisoners of war, yet you’re pledging allegiance to the very government that put you there.”
“I chose America deliberately, to be able to live in a democracy. I feel that freedom is a basic requirement for human-beingness. So I came here knowing that home is not where my grandfather is buried, home is where my grandson ought to be brought up.”
“The fact that I’m a Muslim doesn’t make me, as a person, any different from anybody else. You know, the fact that I wear an extra piece of clothing on my head doesn’t make me any different. People don’t seem to understand that. I’ve lived here all my life and even if I hadn’t lived here all my life, I’m not any different.” -AMNA CHAUDHARY
“Don’t judge a person by their looks, judge them by how they are. We’re not all terrorists, we don’t all blow up buildings, planes, ships, ourselves. We don’t kill innocent people. I am not a terrorist, I am an Arab American.”
-MUHAMMED EL NASLA
About Electric Shadows
ELECTRIC SHADOWS, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is a pilot project designed to bring independently produced, innovative, interactive projects to the Web. Technically innovative, these content-rich projects are also in keeping with ITVS’s mission to give voice to underserved communities and foster cross-cultural
understanding. The first two projects, FACE TO FACE and CIRCLE OF STORIES, were commissioned after an invited call for projects on the
theme of “Cultural Storytelling.” The selected projects are themed around the stories, and means of conveying stories, that are specific
to a particular group, defined in terms of ethnicity, geography, or any shared experience. FACE TO FACE is the first project to launch,
to be followed by CIRCLE OF STORIES(www.pbs.org/circleofstories), produced by Jillann Spitzmiller and Hank Rogerson, which will bring to life the vibrant art of Native American storytelling. CIRCLE OF STORIES will launch in October 2002.
Unique in American public television, the Independent Television Service (ITVS) was established by Congress to fund and present
programs that “involved creative risks and address the needs of underserved audiences, especially children and minorities,” while
granting artistic control to independent producers. Since its inception in 1991, programs produced by ITVS have transformed, reinvented and revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, daring to bring audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. ITVS presents critically acclaimed, award-winning documentaries, dramas, series and television spots for public television. The home of over 50 show-specific websites, ITVS.org includes searchable broadcast
listings, resources, articles, talkback forums and outreach tools.
ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
For information, contact
ITVS at 501 York Street, San Francisco, CA 94110; e-mail: Nancy_Fishman@itvs.org or visit the ITVS website at www.itvs.org.