One December morning in San Francisco, a young girl's father was forced from his home and family. He was first and 120,000 Americans were next. This is her story.

"Told with elegance and sensitivity, FTG is a story of happiness in hardship and of joy in  adversity. Both a beautiful family history and a compelling reminder of a past too easily seen in the present, FTG will touch your heart and move you to action."

Joi Tribble, Shorts Programmer, Sidewalk Film Festival

A couple hours after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941, Ichiro Kataoka was the first San Francisco Japanese prisoner taken by the FBI from his hotel in Japantown. Through a series of unfortunate events, Ichiro would eventually reunite with his family three years later in Topaz, Utah after President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which forced all Japanese residing on the West Coast to relocate to desolate Internment Camps throughout the country. Their only crime was being of Japanese ancestry.

Decades later, though a collection of footage, the Kataoka family legacy is being told through Ichiro’s daughter, great grandson, and relatives of what this family had endured. Although this was a dark time in America’s history, we find that love and happiness can blossom in the darkest of places.


“This film is a must see. Not only does First to Go tell a story of a family’s journey, love story, and power of community, it also tells a story of resilience and cultural awareness that those in the Japanese community faced during WW2 battling racial injustice. It moves you. Educates you. It’s an experience that has lasting impact on those who watch.”

Travis L. Robinson, Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging @ Spotify

“Matsuno does a brilliant job at humanizing the issue of the injustice that was brought upon his extended family to make it relatable, which makes for a touching, entertaining, and educational experience for viewers of his film. I highly recommend."

Bret Kofford, University Professor @ San Diego State University

"FIRST TO GO is a powerful film that should be required for all Americans."

Keith McDaniel, University Professor @ Carson-Newman, TN
Director's Commentary: 

At the core of this story there is one attribute that I would want audiences to take with them: a sense of hope. A sense of hope that is attributed to family, love, and your own personal will. When gathering information and filming my grandmother to document the process, she wrote in her legacy letter this sentence, “Just like my mother, I, too, have lived a life of Shiawase.” Shi-a-wase in Japanese means fortunate or happiness. To me, that's amazing to think about. Her mother, being kept away from her husband and family for roughly 3 years while living in a concentration camp, lived a life of happiness.

The Japanese Internment Camps is something that’s glossed over in American history books that are taught in our education system and it was rarely discussed within my family. It wasn't until I read a printed copy of the front page of the San Francisco Examiner that my father has framed and hanging on the wall that I began to dig deeper. The paper was published on December 8th, 1941 and the image is of my great grandfather handcuffed by the FBI that read "First S.F. Japanese Prisoner”. The story that I found on my family legacy is one that is touching, inspiring, and historical.

This film was made to capture my families story and pass it down for generations. Something for them to have and, they too, can pass down. What started as a family project turned into something that has opened doors to bring people together to have honest and open conversations about the injustices that were brought upon the Japanese and relate that to injustices brought upon other people today. My intent wasn't to solely focus on the cruelty that the US Government did by interning roughly 120,000 Japanese Americans, but to show that good can come from horrible situations through resilience and perserverance.

As America is currently going through drastic changes, many Americans and immigrants are feeling fear and anger with certain outcomes within our country. My hope with this film is to help people remember a time that our great nation reacted out of those feelings and where that road can lead as a culture and country.

Hope is something that the world needs now more than ever.