An American Contradiction

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by Vanessa Yuille

13 min | Documentary Short | 2012

The Founding Fathers of the United States fought for freedom and liberty. However, during WWII the U.S. government violated the Constitution by forcefully removing approximately 120,000 Japanese and Japanese American citizens from their homes along the West Coast and incarcerating them in one of ten concentration camps for three years.

One of the camps was located at Heart Mountain, Wyoming and was euphemistically named the Heart Mountain Relocation Center. It was here, behind barbed wire, that the filmmaker's mother was born.

Filmmaker Vanessa Yuille journeys to her mother’s birthplace, Heart Mountain, Wyoming, where Japanese Americans were incarcerated in a concentration camp during WWII. Internees reflect upon the experience of leaving their homes as children and the wartime hysteria that stripped them of their lawful rights.

This dark chapter of American history not only contrasts with the natural beauty of the landscape but also calls into question the definition of what it means to be an American. Through her investigation, Vanessa challenges us to correctly define the true nature of what happened in this illegal place.

Official selection of the Cleveland International Film Festival, DocUtah International Film Festival, and Milwaukee Film Festival in 2012.