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The Cats of Mirikitani
Event Archive Page

A warm thank you goes out to ...

  • director Linda Hattendorf, for making this film and coming to Cincinnati to share her experience with our audience;
  • the 900+ people who attended the 3 November screenings;
  • the 300+ people who attended the April encore screening;
  • the Brown & Hattendorf families, the Knox Presbyterian community, the Japanese American Citizens League, Linda's Cincinnati friends, former teachers and schoolmates;
  • the CWC regulars who sent emails and called their friends;
  • the print, broadcast and web media who embraced this event;
  • and the fabulous CWC volunteers who made this event run so smoothly!

  • Event Info

  • Director Linda Hattendorf, USA, 2006
  • 35mm, TRT 74 min.
  • Genre: Documentary, NR (Not Rated)
  • Post-Film Discussion with the Director.
  • Dinner-and-a-movie options for each night.

  • Tuesday, November 27
  • Wednesday, November 28
  • Thursday, November 29
  • Screening at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:30 pm

  • Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park/Mt. Adams Easy Access, Free Parking — Directions & Map

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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:

    "The Cats of Mirikitani is a small miracle of a documentary, modest in gesture, immense in its reverberations and humanity." ~ AM New York

    "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.

  • Mirikitani's life-long passion for his art, which sustained him from bright beginnings, through anger and isolation, to peace and harmony.
  • As a documentarian, Linda Hattendorf has captured Mirikitani's metamorphosis, moving from obscurity to vitality, from subsistence to purpose. As a person, Hattendorf was able to extend a helping hand to Jimmy, which figures significantly in the outcome.
  • On a larger scale, the film invites the viewer to contemplate issues in our history and society that merit examination and discussion.
  • In the end we care deeply about Jimmy and come away with heightened awareness of the circumstances that have impacted thousands of people like him -- people in internment camps, people entering old age without a safety net and those who find themselves homeless.
  • The bottom line demonstrates the effectiveness of existing support services and that friendship and compassion, especially the one-on-one variety, can make a difference in the world.

    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."
             ~ director Linda Hattendorf

    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

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    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...

    Audience Survey Poster Winners

    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.

    1790 The first U.S. Naturalization Act limits the right to become a naturalized citizen to "free white persons."
    1880 California prohibits the issuance of licenses for marriage between a white person and "a Negro, mulatto, or Mongolian."
    1896 Plessy v. Ferguson The U.S. Supreme Court rules in an 1896 decision, that state-imposed racial segregation of railroad cars is constitutional. Homer Plessy was denied the right to sit in a "Whites Only" train section because he had one black great grandparent, thus establishing a legal precedent that legitimized the "One Drop" rule.
    1909 California passes a law specifically adding the Japanese to the list of those barred from marrying whites.
    1922 The Cable Act specifies that any U.S.-born woman marrying a "person ineligible for citizenship" would automatically lose her U.S. citizenship. In a marriage terminated by divorce or death, a Caucasian woman could regain her citizenship, but a Nisei woman could not, because she was "of a race ineligible for citizenship."
    In Ozawa vs. U.S., the U.S. Supreme Court rejects naturalization for Japanese immigrants on the grounds that Japanese, like other Asians, could never assimilate with white Americans.
    1924 The Quota Immigration Act, also known as the "Japanese Exclusion Act," stops further immigration from Japan.
    1936 The Cable Act is repealed.
    1942 E.O. 9066 sets into motion the eviction and incarceration of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. Since persons with as little as 1/16 Japanese ancestry were subject to internment, mixed-race people were also incarcerated. A subsequent policy of forced "resettlement" disperses internees to areas of the U.S. other than the West Coast.
    1945 California Assembly Bill SB 321, signed by Gov. Earl Warren, prohibits marriage between whites and "Negroes, mulattos, Mongolians, and Malays".
    1945-1953 The Occupation of Japan and the Korean War lead to significant U.S. troop levels in Japan. Despite restrictions against fraternization with the local populace, many relationships develop between servicemen and Japanese women.
    1946-1957 The "G.I. Fiancees Act", or "War Brides Act" allows the wives and children of American military personnel to enter the U.S. as non-quota immigrants. The law primarily benefits Europeans, but for the first time since 1924, some immigration from Japan is permitted. In 1947, legislation specifically addressing marriages between U.S. servicemen and Japanese citizens subjects both parties to rigorous background checks, and bars women who are employed in activities considered undesirable. Not until 1957 does new legislation relax restrictions against marriages between U.S. military and Japanese nationals.
    1948 In Perez vs. Sharp, the California Supreme Court rules against anti-miscegenation laws, stating that they were based on racial distinctions that were "by their very nature, odious to a free people". The U.S. Supreme Court rules that race-restrictive housing covenants are unconstitutional. As Japanese Americans move into integrated neighborhoods, increased social interaction leads to more intermarriage.
    1952 The McCarran-Walter Immigration and Naturalization Act allows Japanese immigrants to become naturalized citizens.
    1958 The first Gallup poll conducted on the subject of interracial marriage revealed that 94% of whites opposed them.
    1959 Judge Leon Bazile of Virginia sentenced Richard and Mildred Loving to prison for one year for their interracial marriage.

    In Loving vs. Virginia, anti-miscegenation laws are ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is argued by William Marutani, JACL legal counsel, and the first Nisei to argue before the Supreme Court.


    Resource Links

    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.

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