The Ito Sisters

Japanese American DOCUMENTARY • 85 min

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The Ito Sisters is a documentary film capturing the rarely told stories of the earliest Japanese immigrants to the United States and their American-born children. In particular, the film focuses on the experiences of Issei (or immigrant) and Nisei (or first generation born in the US) women, whose voices have largely been excluded from American history. At the center of the film are three Nisei sisters: Natsuye (Nancy), Haruye (Lillian) and Hideko (Hedy), who were born on a farm in the Sacramento River Delta and whose lives were directly impacted by some of the most significant events of 20th-century America, from the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 to the Great Depression to World War II. The film also explores the lives of the girls’ parents, Yetsusaburo and Toku Ito, who came to the United States to earn money so they could return to Japan, but whose plans were repeatedly thwarted. These personal narratives are set against the backdrop of the anti-Japanese movement in California, a 60-year campaign by politicians, journalists, landowners, labor leaders and others that culminated in the evacuation and incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast. Featuring interviews with the three sisters—conducted in their 80s and 90s—the film is also brought to life through family and archival photographs and documents; verbatim quotes from leading historical figures; commentary and analysis from renowned scholars; and artistic illustrations. The Ito Sisters reveals a little-known chapter of American history, focusing on life in what was essentially a California plantation system between the world wars, with Asian and Mexican laborers working the fields of white landowners. The film explores themes that remain timely today: the meaning of American identity and citizenship for immigrants and their children; and tensions between new Americans and anti-immigrant forces. 


Director, Antonia Grace Glenn will coming screening & Q&A


Antonia Grace Glenn

(Director, Writer and Producer, The Ito Sisters: An American Story) is an actor, writer, producer, filmmaker and scholar. Her first documentary film, The Ito Sisters, explores her family’s history as Japanese American farm laborers struggling to eke out a living in the midst of a powerful anti-Japanese movement in the early 20th century. The film utilizes interviews with her grandmother and great-aunts — conducted in their 80s and 90s — as well as family and archival photographs and documents; actor voice-overs of verbatim quotes from prominent historical figures; commentary and analysis from renowned scholars; and beautifully rendered artistic illustrations to bring to life a little-known chapter of American history.


Director: Antonia Grace Glenn

Producer: Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Gregory Pacificar,

Writer: Antonia Grace Glenn

Cast: Dorinne Kondo,     Michael Omi, Jere Takahashi

Dir. Antonia Grace Glenn Q&A

English only, No Japanese subtitle

 JFFLA2019 Submission screening

Screening Schedule

OC: 11:30 am Aug.17