Half Kenneth (film)


Title Half Kenneth
Date 2008
Director Ken Ochiai
Producer Maya Kanehara
Screenplay Ken Ochiai; Michael Raphan
Story Maya Kanehara; Ken Ochiai
Narrator Sab Shimono
Starring Avery Dennis (Kenneth Handa); Hunter Dennis (Joseph Handa); Chris Tashima (Masamichi); Sab Shimono (Takahiro)
Music Charles Bernstein
Cinematography Chris Freilich
Editing Soojin Chung
Studio American Film Institute
Runtime 21 minutes
IMDB Half Kenneth

Short dramatic film about two mixed race brothers at Manzanar in 1945. A 21-minute short, Half Kenneth was made by Ken Ochiai as a master's thesis film at the American Film Institute.

The story focuses on two young brothers, twelve year old Kenneth Handa and his younger brother Joseph (played by real life brothers Avery and Hunter Dennis). Both are of mixed race ancestry. As the film begins in 1945, their Japanese American father has died, and they are set to be moved to the Manzanar Children's Village, an orphanage. But Ken decides he will not go and decides to sneak out of the camp to find his white mother, who stayed behind in the family house in San Pedro. As he sneaks into the back of a truck driven by Masamichi (played by Chris Tashima, he is a man who would be about his parents' age, but his relationship to the boys is never stated), he is initially disturbed to discover that Jo insists on tagging along. The boys eventually convince Masamichi to drive them to their prewar home in San Pedro where things aren't quite what they had hoped. The movie was filmed at Manzanar and in the Santa Clarita desert, where a replica barracks was built. The film begins with a brief description of Executive Order 9066 and its impact narrated by Sab Shimono's character over scenes from newsreels and War Relocation Authority films.

Director Ochiai is a native of Japan who came to the United States to go to college and to attend film school. He and his partners had hoped to make turn Half Kenneth into a feature length film.

Authored by Brian Niiya

For More Information

Half Kenneth website. http://kenochiai.com/works/03_hk/intro_e.html.

"HollyShorts Filmmaker Interview: Half Kenneth." Film Radar website, Aug. 8, 2009.

Winfrey, Yayoi Lena. "Half Kenneth Is All That, And Backed By Yoko Ono Lennon, Too!" Watermelon Sushi World, Dec. 16, 2009.