Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story (film)


Title Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story
Date 2000
Genre Documentary
Director Eric Paul Fournier
Producer Eric Paul Fournier; Dorka Keehn; Shirley Nakao
Writer Eric Paul Fournier
Starring Fred Korematsu; Donald K. Tamaki (interviewee); Peter Irons (interviewee); Ronald Takaki (interviewee); John Takeishi (interviewee); Rita Takahashi (interviewee); John Frank (interviewee); Tsuyako "Sox" Kitashima (interviewee); Ernest Besig (interviewee); Deborah K. Lim (interviewee); Dorothy M. Ehrlich (interviewee); Robert Post (interviewee); Rose Elizabeth Bird (interviewee); Dale Minami (interviewee); Kathyrn Korematsu (interviewee); Karen Korematsu-Haigh (interviewee); Karen Kai (interviewee); Marilyn Hall Patel (interviewee); Eva Paterson (interviewee); Norman Mineta (interviewee); Martha Jimenez (interviewee);
Music Bond Bergland; Michael Becker
Cinematography Peter McCandless
Editing Jean Kawahara; Eric Paul Fournier
Studio Fred Korematsu Film Project
Distributor Center for Asian American Media
Runtime 58 minutes
IMDB Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story

Documentary film by Eric Paul Fournier that chronicles the story of American civil rights hero, Fred Korematsu, whose refusal to obey orders prohibiting Japanese Americans from remaining on the West Coast led to a landmark Supreme Court case.

Of Civil Wrongs and Rights tells the story through interviews with Korematsu and a wide variety of others including family members, his original lawyer Ernest Besig and several of the lawyers who worked on his coram nobis case, historians and other academic experts, and contemporary civil rights lawyers. There is no narrator; key landmarks and dates are conveyed through titles and photographs. Fournier uses archival footage and photographs, along with some historic re-enactments of key scenes.

The film begins and ends with the presentation by President Bill Clinton of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Korematsu. The first half of the film covers the events of the World War II period: the attack on Pearl Harbor and subsequent run up to Executive Order 9066, Korematsu's decision to resist exclusion and his eventual capture by authorities, his first trial and conviction, and his Supreme Court case. The second half of the film covers the coram nobis case, with lawyers Peter Irons, Dale Minami, and Don Tamaki and Judge Marilyn Hall Patel providing a blow-by-blow account of the proceedings. (Notably missing is Justice Department lawyer Victor Stone.) In the last segment of the film, Korematsu's continuing activism is cited (at the time the film was made, he was alive and active in the community), and the various key players along with contemporary civil rights lawyers weigh in on the significance of the case.

The film's funders included both the federal Civil Liberties Public Education Fund and the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, along with a variety of foundations and other donors. Other documentary films that examine this story include Unfinished Business: The Japanese American Internment Cases (1985) and Fighting for Justice: The Coram Nobis Cases (1999).

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Public Broadcasting System "POV" series webpage

Center for Asian American Media webpage: http://caamedia.org/?s=of+wrongs+and+rights

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