American Pastime (film)


Title American Pastime
Date 2007
Director Desmond Nakano
Producer Tom Gorai
Screenplay Desmond Nakano; Tony Kayden
Starring Aaron Yoo (Lyle Nomura); Gary Cole (Billy Burrell); Leonardo Sam (Lane Nomura); Sarah Drew (Katie Burrell)
Music Joseph Conlan
Cinematography Matthew Williams
Editing Mark Yoshikawa
Runtime 105 minutes
IMDB American Pastime

A 2007 feature film directed by Desmond Nakano that is based on true events that occurred at Topaz, an American concentration camp in Utah which held thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II. The film's story focuses on the Nomura family, whose mother and father are both Issei, and their two Nisei children, Lane and Lyle. Following the signing of Executive Order 9066 in February 1942, the Nomuras, along with over 120,000 other Japanese living on the West Coast, are forced into desolate government camps across the country. To boost the morale of the younger inmates and help build a sense of community, Mr. Nomura, who was once a professional baseball player, forms an in-camp league within the concentration camp, in an attempt to to instill some sense of normality into their lives.

When the military draft is reinstated, Lane, the oldest son, enlists in the U.S. Army, joining the segregated all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team and taking part in the Rescue of the Lost Battalion, losing a leg in the battle. In contrast, Lyle, the younger son, is initially embittered by his and his family's incarceration and the resultant loss of baseball scholarship he had been offered. But his relationship with the white daughter of a camp guard and baseball prove to be turning points for him. The film climaxes with a game between camp inmates and a local team from the outside whose members display their bigotry against Japanese Americans.

The film was shot near the original Topaz camp in Delta, Utah, and includes historical footage shot of Topaz in the 1940s by Dave Tatsuno, who used a camera which had been smuggled into the camp to film scenes of everyday life and events, and whose documentary footage has now been placed in the National Film Registry, part of the Library of Congress. American Pastime stars Aaron Yoo (Lyle Nomura); Gary Cole (Billy Burrell); Leonardo Sam (Lane Nomura); and Sarah Drew (Katie Burrell).

Authored by Patricia Wakida

For More Information

American Pastime on Nisei Baseball Research Project website. http://www.niseibaseball.com/news_american_pastime.htm.

Banks, Taunya Lovell. "Outsider Citizens: Film Narratives About the Internment of Japanese Americans." Suffolk University Law Review 42 (2009): 769–94.

Dancis, Bruce. "'Pastime' Blends Love, Baseball and World War II Internment." PopMatters, May 30, 2007.

Mori, Darryl. "Baseball in the Camps: Behind the Scenes of 'American Pastime.'" Discover Nikkei, Aug. 24, 2007.

Salyers, Abbie Lynn. "The Internment of Memory: Forgetting and Remembering the Japanese American World War II Experience." Ph.D. dissertation, Rice University, 2009.