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Filmmaker Bio, Linda Hattendorf
For Linda Hattendorf, coming to Cincinnati and speaking with film audiences at the screening of her film has the excitement of a homecoming - the Queen City is where it all began for her.
She puts it this way: "We've traveled to Europe, Japan and across America with this film, but coming home is special - my family, old friends, familiar places, this is great!"
If you are over the age of 35 and attended U.C., chances are you knew, or knew of, Linda's father. Professor John Hattendorf, now deceased, spent almost forty years at the University of Cincinnati, as director of admissions, associate vice provost and professor in the division of professional practice. Linda's mother Ruth, since remarried, still lives in Anderson Township.
"We lived in College Hill when Linda was little," says Ruth, "and I remember taking her to the Cincinnati Art Museum each week for drawing lessons." Later, the family moved to the East Side, where Linda graduated from Anderson High School. After that, she attended college in Clifton and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Cincinnati with dual majors in Art History and English Literature.
After college, Linda served vegi-burgers at the New World Food Shop on Ludlow Avenue before joining the staff at Dramatics Magazine, published by the International Thespian Society. And she also worked at Prologue, the newsletter of Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park.
Linda left the familiar confines of Cincinnati to attend Radcliffe's Publishing Procedures Course at Harvard University, and then moved to New York City to work at Time Inc.
In New York, she earned a master's degree in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research, and began to work in documentary film.
For more than a decade now, Ms. Hattendorf has been working in the New York documentary film community and has had the opportunity to interact with outstanding documentary directors such as Ken Burns, Barbara Kopple, Josh Pais and Julia Pimsleur. Linda's editing work has aired on PBS, A&E, and The Sundance Channel as well as in theatrical venues and at many festivals.
Ms. Hattendorf is making her directorial debut with THE CATS OF MIRIKITANI, which she also co-produced. Based on the impact and popularity of this film, it looks like we'll be seeing great things from her in the future.
Linda Hattendorf Film Credits
Throughout the U.S. and around the world -- from the Midwest to the Mediterranean, from Dallas to Durbin South Africa, from Tribeca to Tokyo; festival juries and festival audiences (discriminating viewers with high expectations, like those who attend CWC), have consistently recognized The Cats of Mirikitani with their votes. Awards earned to-date include:
"Poignant beyond words"
~ Philadelphia Inquirer
"Quite simply, breathtaking"
~ New York Sun
In a simple, honest and personal way, this film conveys the power of friendship and compassion to combat injustice, racism, isolation, aging and homelessness.
The healing and restorative power of art.
THE CATS OF MIRIKITANI IS ONE OF THOSE RARE BIRDS in the documentary film world -- a first directorial work, made on a limited budget, that engages and entertains while addressing serious subjects. Although the film is sobering, "Cats" has a lot of character thanks to the film's principal persona, colorful octogenerian Jimmy Mirikitani.
WHAT MAKES THIS FILM A "MUST SEE:"
We urge you to see this heart-warming, sensitive and uplifting film while the opportunity exists.
About The Film
IF THE CATS OF MIRIKITANI were a work of fiction, it might have been written by O'Henry - "There's more poetry in a block of New York than in 20 daisied lanes."
BUT THIS FILM is not a work of fiction. It is the true story of mistreatment and mistrust, and ultimate healing made possible by compassion and friendship.
IT IS THE STORY OF TSUTOMU MIRIKITANI, known as "Jimmy," born in Sacramento California, raised in Hiroshima, who returned to the States in 1938 to mount a career as an artist. Jimmy's misfortunes began when he, along with more than one hundred thousand Japanese Americans, was imprisoned in the U.S. government Internment Camps at the outset of World War II. Through Jimmy's eyes, and his story, this film speaks to that ordeal.
IT IS THE STORY OF ONE MAN'S STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE mistreatment, and his eventual attainment of modest equilibrium. It is the story of how this delicate balance was disrupted and of Mirikitani's subsequent existence as an aging homeless person, creating art on the street for survival.
IT IS ALSO THE STORY OF LIFE in New York City in the months preceding 9-11-2001, and the impact upon the octogenarian Mirikitani as the twin towers came down that September day, echoing the loss of his beloved Hiroshima over fifty years earlier.
IT IS A STORY WITH A HAPPY ENDING. Mirikitani was literally pulled off the streets and out of the cloud of toxic fallout on that fateful date by a Good Samaritan. As a result we have the story of Mirikitani's reconnection with society, his positive experience with New York's social service safety net; and of his ability, at advanced age, to overcome the wounds of time, to heal, to forgive and find family members lost for decades.
AND, THERE IS A BACK STORY, perhaps as significant as the frontline documentary we see on the screen.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN who befriended Mirikitani encountered him many months before 9-11 and took an interest in his artwork, his personal history and his well-being. That person was a film editor, a behind-the-scenes professional whose work involves the shaping and creation of final cuts for a number of prominent documentary filmmakers.
THAT PERSON WAS LINDA HATTENDORF, whose experience with Jimmy Mirikitani moved her to document his story on film. Against the backdrop of changing seasons in New York, this film began as a study of an unconventional artist living on the street. With the advent of 9-11 and the revelation of Jimmy's life history, the project evolved into a detective story with the filmmaker personally involved in searching out facts and solutions that could improve Mirikitani's situation. It seems that Ms. Hattendorf is not a person inclined to seek notoriety or the "lime-light" and this trait is aptly conveyed as she stays off camera while the film focuses on Jimmy Mirikitani, not Linda's role in helping him.
"I want people to feel history ... to understand the lingering trauma of war and discrimination and the healing power of friendship and art. We are all one family."
LINDA HATTENDORF GREW UP IN CINCINNATI, took drawing lessons at the Cincinnati Art Museum as a child and went on to graduate summa cum laude from the University of Cincinnati. At a time when 'bad news' typically fills our local airwaves and newspapers, Ms. Hattendorf's compassion, friendship, and generosity, along with her cinematic artistry in conveying this compelling story, are testimony to her roots and upbringing in Cincinnati, crediting the values to which Cincinnatians have traditionally aspired.
WHAT MS. HATTENDORF'S own modesty and humility prevent her from saying, others have said instead:
"Hattendorf's spiritual practice of hospitality proves to be life-transforming. This is the kind of documentary which touches the heart and reveals a genuine reverence for life and those courageous souls who have creatively survived despite great suffering and loss." ~Spirituality & Practice
"With Ms. Hattendorf's generous assistance, Jimmy finally makes the necessary connections to reconcile himself with history's cavalier treatment of all his youthful aspirations. Ms. Hattendorf's is truly and profoundly a "found film," and it is deeply moving enough to be fondly remembered at year's end-and long after."
~The New York Observer
"...a movie that evolves naturally from the filmmaker's compassion for her subject; as much as possible, she remains off camera, and her immense act of charity is never permitted to become the film's focus. Instead this remarkable documentary offers a brief but satisfying look at a defiantly self-sufficient life."
~ The New York Times
"The Cats of Mirikitani, is a treasure of personal filmmaking, ... completely devoid of pretensions or aspirations beyond simple, intimate, storytelling." ~Cinematical
Links to Local Media Stories
REVIEW ~ Cincinnati CityBeat, by TT Stern-Enzi.
REVIEW ~ WVXU Cincinnati Edition, by Larry Thomas: Listen to it here or read it here.
STORY/INTERVIEW ~ Cincinnati Enquirer, by Jackie Demaline.
Links to National Interviews
INTERVIEW ~ Tribeca Film Festival website, after winning the Audience Favorite Award:
read it here.
FILMMAKER Q&A, Independent Lens/PBS:
read it here.
INTERVIEW ~ WNYC, New York Public Radio: Leonard Lopate with Linda Hattendorf and Roger Shimomura, March 12, 2007...
A full-size Cats of Mirkitani movie poster, signed by Linda Hattendorf, will be awarded to three CWC patrons who complete and turn in an audience survey. The winning names - one each from November 27, 28 and 29 - were drawn from the completed surveys submitted each night.
Tuesday, November 27 Winner: J. Falk
Wednesday, November 28 Winner: D. Ananda
Thursday, November 29 Winner: C. Alcorn
Signicant Events Affecting Japanese people in the United States.
A compilation by Shizue Seigel, George Kich, Ph.D. and Randall Senzaki from the National Japanese American Historical Society publication Nikkei Heritage.
The Cats of Mirikitani official website www.thecatsofmirikitani.com
Jimmy Mirikitani Resources & Links
The "Jimmy Mirikitani" page from the 2006 exhibit of his art at the Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute's American Gallery, curated by Roger Shimomura. Includes a curator's statement and artist's bio, plus selected Mirikitani artwork.
The 2006 Mirikitani exhibit at The Wing Luke Asian Museum, Seattle, Washington.
Jimmy's cousin, San Francisco poet laureate Janice Mirikitani, featured on KQED-FM's Speaking Freely: An Evening with Remarkable Women: Janice Mirikitani.
The website of Roger Shimomura, Jimmy's friend and colleague who is featured in the film and helps to curate Mirikitani's work.
The Center for Asian American Media,a funder of THE CATS OF MIRIKITANI. CAAM presents stories conveying the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible.
Japanese American Internment Resources & Related Links
C. John Yu's Internment Website An extensive compendium of government and private reports, memos and correspondence, including the Munson Report, contributions from camp residents and workers, including relevant pre- and post-war matters. Dozens of links and web documents. An eye-opening source of American History not prominently available elsewhere.
Seabrook Museum. Seabrook Farms and the Seabrook frozen food factory was where Jimmy Mirkitani was sent at the end of WWII.
KQED Asian Education Initiative The story of Angel Island Immigration and Detention Center; a history of U.S. worldview and immigration policies; Japanese, Chinese and general Asian immigration history. Angel Island video, Quicktime
www.densho.org, the organization that preserves the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II before their memories are extinguished. View firsthand accounts, a timeline of events, virtual exhibitions and more.
Confinement and Ethnicity, a National Park Service site about the camps. Note: page is not always active.
PBS.org: Conscience and the Constitution, a documentary about the organized draft resistance among Japanese Americans in internment camps. Read about the loyalty tests, the trials that followed the resistance and more.
PBS.org: P.O.V: Rabbit in the Moon, a documentary about internment, featuring video clips and interactive resources.
Independent Lens:Face to Face,an interactive project that documents the stories of Japanese Americans during World War II alongside those of Arab Americans post 9/11, exploring what it means to be an American with the face of the enemy.
PBS: Children of the Camps, a documentary by Satsuki Ina about Japanese American children confined in the internment camps. Ina also produced, directed and wrote From a Silk Cocoon: A Japanese American Renunciation Story.
The National Japanese American Historical Society, dedicated to the collection, preservation, authentic interpretation and sharing of historical information of Japanese American experiences, including internment and more.
The War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps, used to carry out the U.S. government's detention of persons of Japanese descent during World War II:
The California Tule Lake Internment Camp, the largest and most controversial of the ten War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps. Jimmy Mirikitani was imprisoned here and recently attended a Tule Lake Pilgrimage.
The camp at Granada, Colorado: the Amache Preservation Society and the Colorado State archives.
The camp at Gila River, Arizona.
The camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming.
The Arkansas Memory Project, for the camp at Jerome, Arkansas.
The camp at Manzanar, California.
The camp at Minidoka, Idaho.
The camp at Poston, Arizona.
The Arkansas Memory Project, for the camp at Rohwer, Arkansas, and the National Historic Cemetery Landmark.
The camp at Topaz, Utah.
Many thanks to Emily Momohara for the Internment site links. Other sources include PBS, Independent Lens, the National Park Service, et. al.