In Double Solitaire, the filmmaker uses the motif of games to tell the story of her Japanese-American father and uncle’s incarceration as children in an internment camp during WWII, and the legacy of that experience up to the present day, including the effect of Redress and Reparations.

The film tells the tale of two brothers who, while playing cards and sports and recycling aluminum cans, discuss the internment as if making small talk during a late-night poker game.

Mark Nishimura, Hokubei Mainichi
Synopsis: 

In Double Solitaire, the filmmaker uses the motif of games to tell the story of her Japanese-American father and uncle’s incarceration as children in an internment camp during WWII, and the legacy of that experience up to the present day, including the effect of Redress and Reparations.

Although initially the men say that the experience didn’t affect them that much, closer examination reveals painful episodes and a sense of shame that manifested as a pervasive silence around the experience. The film is a quest on the family level to bring the experience forward and then integrate it into family history, mirroring the movement on a national level to also acknowledge and integrate this experience into U.S. history.

Reviews

This personal and experimental documentary... thoughtfully provokes its viewers to think past the surface of its content.

Student, San Francisco State University

Double Solitaire explores the internment experience of Ohama's father and uncle with a fresh wit and style previously unseen in other films about the subject.

Program Notes, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Director's Commentary: 

Double Solitaire was an attempt two reconcile two different stories: the one I knew- of my all-American, patriotic father and uncle, who loved bowling, baseball and playing poker; and the one I didn’t know anything about: that they were incarcerated as children by the American government during WWII because they were Japanese-American.

The film was an attempt to weave these two stories together in a way that felt by the end that we had achieved some sort of integration of the experience into our family life and history.

I consider this a Post-Redress film in that, because Redress and Reparations had already happened (in 1988), I didn’t feel that I always had to prove that the interment was a terrible thing, and I could dare to have my father and uncle open the film by saying that they didn’t think the experience affected them that much (statements that would go on to be complicated as the film continued). But when the film was first released in 1998, although younger Japanese-Americans really liked it, some of the older Japanese-Americans, specifically the Nisei who had suffered so much during the internment, gave it a lukewarm reception (which I completely understand).

I hope that viewers take away an appreciation of the weight of political decisions- how each one can have great impact – both positive and negative (in the case of the internment as well as Redress) on everyday citizens. I hope they support the teaching and learning of the histories of all the people of the United States, and to understand that it’s important to learn about and acknowledge the difficult aspects of our history as well as celebrating the good parts.