Film Screening: Hatsumi by Chris Hope

Lethbridge – This Thursday at 7:00 pm at the Galt Museum & Archives, filmmaker Chris Hope travels with his grandmother Nancy Hatsumi Okura through the locations of the Japanese-Canadian internment in Hatsumi, a documentary journey of discovery and hope in which Nancy tells the story of her internment experience for the first time. Chris Hope will join the audience by Skype following the screening of Hatsumi to answer questions.

During World War Two, Nancy was involuntarily removed from her home on the west coast and detained by the Government of Canada when it invoked the War Measures Act. Because of her ancestry, her rights as a Canadian citizen were denied.

Chris Hope’s first exposure to the internment was through a Grade 10 history book version which he found to be detached and remote. Turning to his family, Hope learned that his grandmother and other members of the Japanese Canadian community were reluctant to discuss their personal internment experiences due to shi kata ga nai; the traditional Japanese philosophy that one should only look forward since the past “can’t be helped”.

In subsequent conversations, Nancy spoke of her experiences in brief accounts only, and Chris became determined not only to learn her whole story, but to give life to that story. The film ultimately documents two stories; Nancy’s journey through the internment, and Chris’ own struggle to assist her to get over her reluctance to speak about it. By taking her to the actual locations of her internment, with cameras rolling, Chris witnessed Nancy radiating the emotion lacking in other real-life internment stories he had seen.

Hatsumi is the only documentary to date that records the entire process of a member of the Japanese Canadian community confronting their story and literally revisiting their past to reclaim it. Hatsumi was entirely self and community funded and took eleven years to complete. It was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Japan Prize in the fall of 2013.

“I spent eleven years making the film in an attempt to tell the story of the Japanese Canadian internment using my grandmother's personal experiences through it as a first-person guide,” explains Hope. “An extensive archive of historical material, much of it previously unseen, was brought vividly to life in the course of our journey to capture an elusive personal account of a dark chapter in Canadian history. Self-producing the film was nothing short of painful from a financial perspective, but the fact that people are identifying with it as a story that draws them personally to identify with my grandmother and to better understand what the Japanese Canadian internment was all about makes it all worthwhile.”

Admission to the November 20 special program is free, and presented with the Nikkei Cultural Society of Lethbridge and Area who will provide refreshments and introductions. The NCS has also worked with the Galt Museum & Archives in the development of the virtual exhibit “Nikkei Tapestry: Japanese Canadians in Southern Alberta” which is nearly complete. It will be unveiled following the screening of Hatsumi and Q & A, and includes the premiere of the 4-minute animation “Relocation”, commissioned for the virtual exhibit.  

The Archives, Discovery Hall and Museum Store are open Thursdays from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, with a cash bar open from 5:00 – 8:00 pm. For details on these and other programs and exhibits visit, call 403.320-3954, or email



“A beautifully crafted documentary that never once loses its innate humanity whilst portraying the rampant inhumanity that surrounded these hapless citizens of Canada.  Fierce, loving, strong, poetic.”

- Deepa Mehta, Academy Award® nominated director of Midnight’s Children

 “An extraordinary and beautiful film … exhaustively and passionately researched, both at the level of the filmmaker’s personal history and as an investigation into our national consciousness.”

- Atom Egoyan, Academy Award® nominated director of The Devil's Knot


"A family portrait that brings the heartrending story of wartime Japanese Canadian removal from the margins of history into our hearts."

- Greg Robinson, Author of A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America

Chris Hope

Chris Hope is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School, received his executive MBA from the University of Windsor and his Bachelor of Arts in Radio and Television Arts from Ryerson University. He is a general business lawyer with a significant experience in the practice of entertainment, intellectual property and media law. In 2013 Hope received the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers [FACL] Young Lawyer of the Year Award, and this fall was awarded the Best Under 40 Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. He is an active board member at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Vice President of the FACL in Toronto. Hope is also active as the first Canadian to be appointed to the Board of Governors of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

The Nikkei Cultural Society of Lethbridge and Area

The Nikkei Cultural Society of Lethbridge and Area is a non-profit organization whose interests include preserving the history of Japanese settlement in southern Alberta, as well as exploring aspects of traditional Japanese arts, crafts and culture.WEBSITE:

Anine VonkemanComment