Tag Archives: Pearl Harbor

Jimmy Murakami Non Alien — BLU RAY RELEASE

Sé Merry Doyle & Jimmy Murakami

Sé Mer­ry Doyle & Jim­my Murakami

Sé Mer­ry Doyle’s award win­ning doc­u­men­tary ‘Jim­my Muraka­mi — Non Alien’ gets a spe­cial release along­side Jim­my’s mas­ter­piece ‘When The Wind Blows’s. Both films are  now avail­able in a spe­cial lim­it­ed edi­tion from  Screen Archives


Jimmy Murakami the Director of ‘Snowman’ receives Animation award.

Jimmy Murakami at the exhibition of his Tule Lake Paintings in Dublin.

Jim­my Muraka­mi at the exhi­bi­tion of his Tule Lake Paint­ings in Dublin.

My life over the last few weeks seem to have revolved around Jim­my Murakami, the direc­tor of ‘Snow­man’ and ‘When the Wind Blows’ and also the sub­ject of my doc­u­men­tary ‘Jim­my Muraka­mi — Non Alien’. Din­gle Film Fes­ti­val innau­garat­ed a new annu­al award ‘The Jim­my Muraka­mi Award’ and asked me to present the first one to Jim­my. Din­gle also host­ed a spe­cial focus on Ani­ma­tion so all the lead­ing play­ers like Jam Media, Brown Bag and Car­toon Saloon were in Din­gle to give work­shops. So the venue was packed with ani­ma­tors who would con­sid­er Jim­my to be the man that gave this art form a kick start in Ire­land. Jim­my arrived in Ire­land 40 odd years ago to work on a fea­ture film and met a young lady called Etna and from then on Ire­land became his home.

I organ­ised a screen­ing of a short film made by Jim­my in 1969 called ‘The Good Friend’. It  was the first film award­ed a grant when the Amer­i­can Film Insti­tute was estab­lished. I also showed a short clip from ‘Non — Alien’ which told the sto­ry of Jim­my’s incar­cer­a­tion in Tule Lake con­cen­tra­tion camp in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia after Japan attacked Pearl Har­bour. He was only 8 years old at the time. He and his fam­i­ly spent 4 years locked up and Jim­my still sees it as one of the great scars in Amer­i­can his­to­ry. Jim­my took the stage and gave a great talk that took us through some high­lights of his won­der­ful life. Jim­my  is at an advanced stage of pre — pro­duc­tion on a fea­ture film based on the Atom­ic destruc­tion in Hiroshima.

All thanks must go to Din­gle for hon­our­ing Jim­my’s great con­tri­bu­tion to the Irish Film Indus­try. LONG OVERDUE. A few days lat­er the Dublin Branch of Roy­al Tele­vi­sion Soci­ety invit­ed Jim­my to give a keynote speech to its mem­bers on the grounds of RTE. The man is in great demand.

Jimmy Murakami — Non Alien

The mak­ing of the doc­u­men­tary ‘Jim­my Muraka­mi — Non Alien’ 

In this fea­ture doc­u­men­tary I went on a jour­ney with Jim­my Muraka­mi, the famous Japan­ese Amer­i­can ani­ma­tor of clas­sic films like ‘Snow­man’ and ‘When the Wind Blows’  and revealed the tragedy  he and his fam­i­ly endured in  a Japan­ese Con­cen­tra­tion Camp in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia dur­ing WW2.

Jim­my sad­ly passed away on the 18th Feb­ru­ary 2014.

My name is Jim­my Muraka­mi. Teru­a­ki is the Japan­ese name I was born with. It was tak­en from me in Amer­i­ca after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor’.


Jimmy Murakami painting of the Camp he spent 4 years in at Tule Lake Concentration camp during WW2

Jim­my Muraka­mi paint­ing of the Camp he spent 4 years in at Tule Lake Con­cen­tra­tion camp dur­ing WW2

My fea­ture doc­u­men­tary ‘Jim­my Muraka­mi — Non Alien’ has been doing the rounds at film fes­ti­vals across the globe for the last cou­ple of years, so it feels time­ly to shed some light on the back­ground to how I came across the sto­ry of Jim­my’s trag­ic child­hood in Tule Lake Con­cen­tra­tion Camp.

I first came across Jim­my in the mid eight­ies when I began my career as a film edi­tor in Dublin. In the ear­ly 70’s Jim­my  came to Ire­land to work on the fea­ture film ‘Von Richthofen and Brown’ where he met his future wife Eth­na and set up roots here. He was an exot­ic char­ac­ter on the Dublin film scene and I was in awe of the Oscar nom­i­nat­ed Japan­ese Amer­i­can ani­ma­tor whose cred­its includ­ed ‘When the Wind Blows’ and ‘Snow­man’. While assist­ing him on his films I got to know him rea­son­ably well and viewed some of his ear­ly exper­i­men­tal work like his Oscar nom­i­nat­ed ‘Breath’ and ‘Death of a Bul­let’. In the Dublin bars Jim­my told won­der­ful sto­ries about his film life: direct­ing ‘Bat­tle Beyond the Stars’ for Roger Cor­man, work­ing with David Bowie and Roger Waters from Pink Floyd on the sound­track for ‘When the Wind Blows’. But Jim­my also had a secret from his child­hood that he nev­er shared with any of his friends in Ireland.

Jimmy Murakami and Japanese Internment Camps WW2

The main focus of ‘Jim­my Muraka­mi — Non Alien’  is on Jim­my Murakami’s child­hood trau­ma, when he and his fam­i­ly were interned in an Amer­i­can con­cen­tra­tion camp after Japan attacked Pearl Har­bour in 1942. On the sig­na­ture of Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt, 140,000 peo­ple of Japan­ese ances­try were giv­en the new label of ‘Non Alien’ and lost their homes and their civ­il rights. After four years in camp, Jim­my’s fam­i­ly set­tled  in LA. He went to Art School and then joined an ani­ma­tion stu­dio and the rest is history.

Sé Merry Doyle & Jimmy Murakami

Sé Mer­ry Doyle & Jim­my Murakami

I would bump into Jim­my Muraka­mi at var­i­ous film events and we would swap sto­ries. One night  he told me that he was writ­ing his mem­oirs and also doing some new paint­ings con­cern­ing his child­hood in Amer­i­ca. I imme­di­ate­ly asked if I could come out to his home and film with him. He showed me his mem­oir and when I read the sec­tion deal­ing with the con­cen­tra­tion camps I knew I had to tell his sto­ry. The gen­e­sis of the com­plet­ed film is built around the nine paint­ings Jim­my showed me that day. They became the basis for some won­der­ful ani­ma­tion sequences cre­at­ed by Jim­my’s great friend Gui­do Orlan­di. The paint­ings are main­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tions of Jim­my’s impris­on­ment  in Tule Lake Con­cen­tra­tion Camp in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. He had tried to block this trag­ic episode out of his mind but was now going to con­front it in the only way he knew how, through his art!

'Leaving Home' Murakami Family packing up to go to Tule Lake concentration Camp. Exclusive to 'Jimmy Murakami - Non Alien'

Leav­ing Home’ Muraka­mi Fam­i­ly pack­ing up to go to Tule Lake con­cen­tra­tion Camp. Exclu­sive to ‘Jim­my Muraka­mi — Non Alien’

The first paint­ing in the series shows Jim­my’s dad load­ing all his earth­ly pos­ses­sions onto  his 1954 yel­low Ford, moments before his wife and 4 young chil­dren would begin their long jour­ney to Tule Lake Camp in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. They would nev­er see their lit­tle farm again. Jim­my was only 8 years old but still has vivid mem­o­ries of this time. Signs appeared every­where inform­ing all peo­ple of Japan­ese ances­try to assem­ble for trans­porta­tion to con­cen­tra­tion camps. Tule Lake became the biggest camp hold­ing 40,000 inmates. Jim­my’s per­son­al sto­ries of the time are the heart of the film. How his old­er sis­ter died in the camp from Leukemia. How tanks and mil­i­tary sur­round­ed the camp and vio­lence was endem­ic. How frus­trat­ed pris­on­ers allied them­selves to the Emper­or and vowed to return to Japan. The major­i­ty of those interned con­sid­ered them­selves  Amer­i­cans and were angry at being impris­oned for crimes they had no part in.  Dur­ing Ronald Rea­gan’s stint as pres­i­dent he apol­o­gized on behalf of the Amer­i­can peo­ple for the injus­tice inflict­ed on the Japan­ese Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty and award­ed all sur­vivors of the camp  $25,000 . Jim­my want­ed to buy a new Cadil­lac and put a sign on it say­ing “Is this what my life is worth?” and then dri­ving it off a cliff. His wife Eth­na point­ed out that their finan­cial cir­cum­stances were bad and per­suad­ed Jim­my to reluc­tant­ly take the cheque.

Freedom Train painting depicts Murakami family leaving Tule Lake concentration camp.

Free­dom Train paint­ing depicts Muraka­mi fam­i­ly leav­ing Tule Lake con­cen­tra­tion camp.

Jim­my Murakami’s  final paint­ing was called ‘Free­dom Train’ it showed the Muraka­mi fam­i­ly hud­dled togeth­er on a train head­ed to LA car­ry­ing the same suit­cas­es they had entered Tule Lake with four years ear­li­er, they also had the ash­es of Jim­my’s sis­ter Sumiko. With lots of research done Loopline Film con­vinced the Irish Arts Coun­cil to award a grant and make a fea­ture doc­u­men­tary on this dark episode in Jim­my’s life. We filmed in Ire­land, and the States, met his broth­er broth­er and sis­ter, and most point­ed­ly, we fol­lowed Jim­my back to Tule Lake where every year there is  cer­e­mo­ny for sur­vivors and their chil­dren. In the end a chance encounter with an old friend took me on a  jour­ney back to Jim­my’s child­hood through his paint­ing and spe­cial­ly com­mis­sioned ani­ma­tion. The film pre­miered to great acclaim at the Dublin Film Fes­ti­val and has gone to inter­na­tion­al screen­ings in Amer­i­ca and Japan.  The film won the ‘Direc­tors Choice Award’  at the Inter­na­tion­al Sacra­men­to Film and Music Fes­ti­val, vot­ed sec­ond best film at the Dublin Film Fes­ti­val and got a show­case screen­ing in Hiroshi­ma. We are cur­rent­ly mak­ing a one hour TV spe­cial for broad­cast­ers. Plans are also afoot to release the film on DVD and Streaming.

Dis­trib­u­tor: Mon­ster Film