From Bullets to Ballots (film)


Title From Bullets to Ballots
Date 1997
Director Robert A. Nakamura
Producer Karen L. Ishizuka
Writer Karen L. Ishizuka
Starring Ed Ichiyama (interviewee); Ron Oba (interviewee); Daniel Inouye (interviewee); Ralph Yempuku (interviewee); Martin Tohara (interviewee); Joe Shimamura (interviewee); Mike Tokunaga (interviewee); Robert Katayama (interviewee); Stanley Akita (interviewee); Sakae Takahashi (interviewee); Young Kim (interviewee); Don Matsuda (interviewee); Turk Tokita (interviewee); George Ariyoshi (interviewee)
Music Dan Kuramoto
Cinematography Robert A. Nakamura
Editing Justin Lin
Studio Japanese American National Museum
Runtime 23 minutes

Documentary film on Japanese Americans from Hawai'i as part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and their role in the political realignment of Hawai'i after the war. From Bullets to Ballots was one of three short films directed by Robert A. Nakamura and produced by Karen L. Ishizuka in conjunction with From Bento to Mixed Plate: Americans of Japanese Ancestry in Multicultural Hawai'i, an exhibition produced by the Japanese American National Museum in 1997.

Based on interviews with fourteen veterans from of the 442nd or 100th Infantry Battalion, the bulk of the film tells the story of the Hawaii members of 442nd: their reasons for volunteering; dealing with color lines while training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi; their battlefield exploits in Europe; and the continuing discrimination they faced at war's end. The last section of the film covers the role of the veterans in the "Revolution of 1954," the Democratic takeover of Hawai'i electoral politics, focusing on their motivations for political involvement after their wartime sacrifices.

From Bullets to Ballots was featured in the From Bento to Mixed Plate exhibition at its opening at the Bishop Museum in 1997 and in its subsequent travels, along with two other short films, Plantation Roots, on the continuing legacy of Hawai'i's plantation history, and The Politics of Plate Lunch, on contemporary ethnic relations in Hawai'i. Initially released on VHS cassette, From Bullets to Ballots was issued on DVD with the other two films in 2009.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Japanese American National Museum media arts: http://www.janm.org/mediaarts/productions/bento/.