Searchlight Serenade (film)

Title Searchlight Serenade: Big Bands in the World War II Japanese American Incarceration Camps
Date 2012
Genre Documentary
Producer Claire Reynolds (producer); Amy Uyeki (associate producer)
Starring Joy Takeshita Teraoka (interviewee); Chickie White (interviewee); Joe Shiro (interviewee); Alisa Lynch (interviewee); Bruce Kaji (interviewee); George Hirano (interviewee); Roy Hatamiya (interviewee); George Yoshida (interviewee); Noboru Nakamura (interviewee); Yone Fukui (interviewee); Yoshindo Shibuya (interviewee)
Cinematography Sam Greene
Editing Sam Greene; Claire Reynolds
Runtime 57 minutes

A 2012 documentary film on Japanese American swing dance bands in the World War II concentration camps. Produced by Claire Reynolds for KEET, a Eureka, California, based public television station serving California's northern coast, the hour long documentary debuted on October 30, 2012. The film was funded by grants from the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant program, the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, and the Humboldt Area Foundation (Victor Jacoby Artist Grant).

Built around interviews with ten former inmate musicians, Searchlight Serenade tells the story of the wartime roundup and incarceration of West Coast Japanese Americans in its first third, before delving into the story of the bands, which played big band swing jazz popularized by bandleaders such as Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and Glenn Miller, and that provided a source of recreation and pride in the bleak concentration camp settings. The story is augmented by Amy Uyeki's animations of the incarceration and of the band performances, which were created from her original woodcuts and drawings. The soundtrack includes popular music of the period that the bands played. The documentary also includes contemporary footage of some of the musicians performing.

Authored by Brian Niiya

For More Information

Official website:

Searchlight Serenade on KEET website.