a story about reunion and remembrance

About the Project

On February 19, 1942, in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066.  The order required all persons of Japanese ancestry residing in the US from Arizona to Washington to relocate to one of ten government "war relocation centers" scattered across the country.  The order sparked the evacuation of 120,000 people, most of whom were American Citizens. Half of the evacuees were children.  My father was one of them.    He was eight.

For many years, my father would not talk about his upended life at the "war relocation center" called Manzanar, in a flimsy barrack he shared in the desert with his father and younger sister.  But we had a very unique glimpse into his past, one that captured the injustice and incredulity of such an order.  It was a photo.  And it was famous.


The iconic photo, "Boys Behind Barbed Wire," taken by Toyo Miyatake, includes my father along with two of his childhood friends in the camp.  The image is a heartbreaking one, juxtaposing the innocence of three young boys and the ugliness of a guard tower, set against an expansive backdrop of stunning beauty.  The "boys" are all now in their 80's, members of the last generation who can recall firsthand what life was like in these camps.  They had not been together since leaving Manzanar in 1946, and we thought it would be incredible if we could reunite them and learn from their experience.


This is the story of the 70-year old reunion of three men interned at Manzanar as children,  incarcerated by circumstance and bound by history.

-Akemi Ooka



The three "boys" from the photograph had not reunited since leaving Manzanar in 1945.  We wanted to bring them together to understand their experience, as they are part of the last generation to remember being "in the camps," and--as they are all now in their eighties--we thought it was important to hear their stories and document their memories for future generations.  My family and I contacted the three men, coordinated the reunion, and were thrilled to find a partner in Micro-Documentaries to help us preserve this reunion.

In the summer of 2016, were able to film Three Boys Manzanar at the War Relocation Center in Manzanar, California, now preserved as a national park.  In this tender, short film, we watch as the three men meet again for the first time since the period of the now famous photograph.  By observing them as they experience the harsh beauty of Manzanar once again, we explore how their unjust captivity shaped their lives, and what it means to be an American--then and now.

The following are a few of the people who made this film possible and to whom we are grateful:



As a creator, producer and award-winning director for short form documentaries, Preeti has been an observer of people, their motivations, and their daily lives--a story-seeker.  Her skills lie in helping people to craft and narrate their stories, and motivate others to join them in their mission.  Though she is drawn to the change-makers, the social entrepreneurs, and the "crazy ones," experience has taught her that everyone has a unique and engaging story to share.  She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two little boys.

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maria (Masha) karpoukhina--Director of photography & film editor

Masha was born and raised in Moscow, Russia in a family of filmmakers and visual artists.  She came to the United States in 1994 and received a Bachelors for Film and Television at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.  She is a founding member of Colorfool Films and a senior shooter/editor at Micro-Documentaries.  As both writer/director and cinematographer, Masha approaches film as an experience that needs to both inform and transform.  Her work is patient, acoustically rich, and melancholy.  When she was a little girl, she dreamed that "when she grew up, she would become a tree."


the three boys

The three boys are "Bob" Takamoto (left), "Bruce" Sansui (middle), and "Mas" Ooka (right).  The three men have not been together as a group since they left the camp in 1945.  The film has rekindled a friendship that was built and broken many years ago.  The men currently reside in the US, but meet up when they can to spend time together with their wives and families.


Three Boys Manzanar is proud to be named an official selection in the following film festivals. 

For more information on the film, please email us at

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Thursday, October 5, 2017 in Cinema B at 2:00pm

Saturday, October 7, 2017 in Cinema B at 1:30pm


Social Change Film Festival, Chicago, ILLINOIS.         October 13-15, 2017

Sunday, October 15, 2017 at the Harold Washington Cultural Center at 6:00pm

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Napa valley film festival, Napa, California.              NOvember 8-12, 2017

Documentary Shorts Series

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 1:30pm

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 5:15pm

Sunday, November 12, 2017 at 10:00am