New York, NY – June 6, 2022 – POV, America’s longest-running documentary series, now celebrating its 35th anniversary season, exposes the legacy of colonization, racism, and environmental injustice in the Payahuunadü region (California’s Owens Valley). The national broadcast premiere of Emmy Award-winning director Ann Kaneko’s (Against the Grain: An Artist’s Survival Guide to Perú) and producer Jin Yoo-Kim’s (A Woman’s Work: The NFL Cheerleader Problem) Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust premieres Monday, July 18, 2022. The documentary is available to stream free until August 18, 2022, at pbs.org, and the PBS Video app. In addition to standard closed captioning, POV, in partnership with audio description service DiCapta, provides real-time audio interpretations for audiences with sensory disabilities.
At the foot of the majestic snow-capped Sierras sits Manzanar, the site of the World War II concentration camp where 11,070 Japanese Americans were incarcerated from March 1942 to November 1945. This place is the confluence for memories of Payahuunadü, the now-parched “land of flowing water.” In Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust, Kaneko – best known for films that weave her poetic aesthetic with the complex intricacies of political reality – documents the struggle of intergenerational women who share histories of forced removal: Japanese Americans who were incarcerated at the camp, Native Americans who were driven from these lands, and farmers and ranchers turned environmentalists, who were bought out by the LA Department of Water and Power.
Yoo-Kim knew it was important to capture the oral stories of these people as they formed an unexpected alliance to defend their land and water from the city of Los Angeles. She says: “There is a reason why this overlapping history is kept from the people and that’s the gap in knowledge the film and its impact campaign seek to address.” By connecting Manzanar to California’s environmental and political history, the documentary shows the intersectionality of three communities mistreated by government entities that have not served the interests of all of their people. When these three communities joined forces, they were able to successfully triumph over the behemoth of LADWP.
Erika Dilday, American Documentary | POV Executive Director said: “On behalf of American Documentary and POV, we’re so pleased to present Manzanar Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust – an enormously important film that really shows the power of coalition building, and the diverse and vitally connected histories of the Payahuunadü region.”
Filmmaker Kaneko says, “My family was unwittingly swept into a dark chapter of American history, and this film has become a platform for us to unravel how our story is entwined in the formation of the West and LA’s development as a megalopolis.”
In anticipation of the broadcast, the film team will be holding a National Day of Action on the weekend of July 16-17. Partnering with 18 Million Rising, Tsuru for Solidarity, the Sierra Club, and Nia Tero, they will spotlight local actions highlighting resource extraction, incarceration, and environmental justice in a Livestream video relay, passing the baton from one city to another. The 2-hour live stream will uplift water and land protectors. Please check out manzanardiverted.com for updates.
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Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust, is a co-production of the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), and Vision Maker Media with an American Documentary. Directed, produced, and edited by Ann Kaneko. Jin Yoo-Kim produced and served as the impact producer. The executive producers are Tracy Rector, Erika Dilday, and Chris White of American Documentary | POV. Susan Metzger and Ann Kaneko are editors; Lori Goldston, Steve Fisk, and Alexander Miranda are the composers and Dawn Valadez is the consulting producer.
About the Filmmakers
Ann Kaneko, Director/Producer, Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust
Kaneko is known for her personal films that weave her intimate aesthetic with the complex intricacies of political reality. An Emmy winner, she is currently in development on a food docu-series for MTV Films/Smithsonian Channel and 45/45 a personal film about the beginning and end of life. Her other credits include A Flicker in Eternity; Against the Grain: An Artist’s Survival Guide to Perú; Overstay and 100% Human Hair. She was a Fulbright, Japan Foundation Artist, Film Independent Doc Lab, and Jackson Wild Multicultural Alliance fellow. She currently teaches Media Studies at Pitzer College.
Jin Yoo-Kim, Producer, Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust
Yoo-Kim is a Korean Bolivian American filmmaker who directed for Take Out with Lisa Ling on HBO MAX and is in development for a food docu-series for MTV Films/Smithsonian Channel. She co-produced A Woman’s Work: the NFL’s Cheerleader Problem, and was an impact strategist for try harder! and Waking Dreams, a series by Independent Lens and PBS Digital Studios. She was a Sundance Creative Producers Fellow, a Firelight Media Impact Producing Fellow, and has an MFA in film production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.
Tracy Rector, Executive Producer, Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust
Tracy Rector is a mixed heritage filmmaker with a passion for amplifying and uplifting Indigenous and BIPOC voices. She holds three decades of experience as a community organizer, educator, filmmaker, film programmer, and art curator, all infused with her deep roots in plant medicine. For the last 20 years, she has directed and produced over 400 films including shorts, features, music videos, and virtual reality projects. Her work has been featured on Independent Lens, ImagineNative, PBS, and National Geographic, as well as at international film festivals including Cannes and Toronto.