Stand Up For Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story (film)

Title Stand Up For Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story
Date 2004
Genre Short Drama
Director John Esaki; Visual Communications; Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress
Producer Amy E. Kato
Writer John Esaki
Starring Alexis Cruz (Ralph Lazo); Chad Sakamoto (Jimmy); Brittany Ishibashi (Ruby); Marcus Toji (Art); Emily Kuroda (Mrs. Matsuoka); Tim Toyama (Mr. Matsuoka); Ciro Suarez (Ralph's father); Sarah Rincon (Ralph's sister); Hiro Ueno (photographer); Ron Martinez (senior Ralph); Takayo Fisher (senior Ruby)
Music David Iwataki; Quetzal Flores
Cinematography Dean Hayasaka
Editing Gail Yasunaga
Runtime 33 minutes
IMDB Stand Up For Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story

Short film that dramatizes the story of Ralph Lazo, a Los Angeles high school student of Mexican and Irish descent, who voluntarily chose to go to Manzanar to support his Nisei friends and protest the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans.

The film begins with Ralph (Alexis Cruz) and his Japanese American friends Jimmy (Chad Sakamoto) and Art (Marcus Toji) learning about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Ralph comforts Jimmy's family, whom we see selling their possessions and packing up in preparation for their forcible exclusion. He later gets letters from Jimmy from Manzanar. Learning that the last group of Japanese Americans is to be removed, Ralph goes to see Art and his sister Ruby (Brittany Ishibashi) off at the train station. Going onto the train to return something to Art, he decides to stay on the train. At Manzanar, Ralph reunites with his Nisei friends and befriends a Toyo Miyatake-like Issei photographer. After learning of Jimmy's brother Henry's death as a U.S. solider in Italy, Ralph debates serving in the military with an increasingly embittered Jimmy. The film concludes forty-five years later, when Ralph and Ruby return to Manzanar for a pilgrimage.

The 33-minute film was written and directed by John Esaki and produced by Amy Kato for Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR) and Visual Communications. Some camp and pilgrimage scenes were filmed at the Manzanar National Historic Site. The scenes of the removal and of camp life were also augmented by historic footage, both government and inmate derived. The film was funded in part by grants from the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, and Japanese American Community Services. The film premiered at the Los Angeles Day of Remembrance on February 21, 2004.

Authored by Brian Niiya

For More Information

"Stand Up for Justice" on the Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress website,