Erika Street explores fear and friendship in “The Orange Story”

February 1942. President Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, which authorizes the forced “relocation” of 120,000 ethnic Japanese from their homes and into incarceration camps throughout the U.S.

Koji Oshima is the proud owner of a small corner grocery store, but he must now abandon everything and report to an assembly center. His belongings, his business – everything must be sold or left behind, except what he can carry in one large duffel bag.

Up against a wall, Koji receives only one low-ball offer for his store, which he has no choice but to accept. The lone bright spot during this turmoil is the friendship Koji develops with a precocious nine-year-old girl. On the day of his departure, however, Koji is saddened to learn that even this friendship has been tainted by the larger forces of fear and wartime hysteria.

Winner of Best Short Narrative at the Sacramento Asian Pacific FIlm Festival, the Thin Line Film Festival, and the Show Me Justice Film Festival.

The film’s director, Erika Street, is a producer and director of documentaries, short films, radio programs, and educational videos. Erika’s directorial debut, The Closure Myth, was broadcast nationally on LinkTV and internationally on AlJazeera English

If you would like to learn more about “The Orange Story,” check out their website. 

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Q/A with Erika Street Hopman

1. What first drew you to making this specific film project?

As a filmmaker, I’m very interested in the intersection of documentary and narrative fiction filmmaking, so this story was right up my alley. When I received the first draft of the script from our producer, Eugene, I was very moved by the story. It was a short, but it had so much richness and so many layers to explore with the actors. The film portrays an important but shameful moment in American history – one that is too often skipped or glossed over in school history classes. By telling this story through narrative film, I hoped we could help more people learn about Japanese American incarceration during WWII, and also help them connect it to contemporary issues and events. “The Orange Story” specifically examines the culture of xenophobia and fear that led up to the incarceration. These are topics that transcend this moment in history, and continue to be relevant and important now.

2. What is your favorite part of the filmmaking process and why? Any examples of this from your project screening at the MWFF?

Filmmaking is such a process of discovery and learning. One of the best parts is that you get to know people and situations much more deeply than you might otherwise. When making a documentary, you get the privilege of witnessing someone else’s world and experiences first-hand. It’s a beautiful way to learn about the world, other people, and ultimately yourself.  Working with actors is very similar – you get to simultaneously step into the character’s world, and learn more about the actor as a person. During the production of “The Orange Story,” I was very honored to work with Joe Takehara, who plays Koji. He was so committed to this project, and I really enjoyed working with him to develop the character – drawing on many of his own experiences, and finding ways to talk about the emotion throughout the film.

3. What were some influences for you on this project and/or as a filmmaker in general?

I don’t have a huge film library, and didn’t grow up watching much tv or many movies, so my inspiration as a filmmaker really comes more from the people I meet and my own life than from other films. I’m driven by a desire to share emotion, connect people, and create more understanding through my work. Aesthetically, I’m inspired by visual art more broadly. While preparing for this film, I looked at paintings by artists such as Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth.

4. What is your favorite film?

I’m not a big film buff, but I love Tarkovsky’s “Mirror.” It’s so visually stunning and carries so much emotion. Then for the less “film school” response… I’m also a sucker for musicals.

“The Orange Story” is the third Regional film of the evening on Saturday, August 26.

2017 MWFF TICKET INFORMATION

Fest tickets can be purchased online below or at mosaicfilmfest.com/attend for $10.

These are all screening/all weekend VIP tickets. They will also be available on Friday, August 25th at the Nordlof Center box office during the event.Single day tickets will be available at the box office on both Saturday the 26th and Sunday the 27th. They cost $5. Those tickets are only available on August 26th and 27th and are good for a full day of screenings on the day purchased.

For more information about the 2017 Mosaic World Film Festival as well as a list of all the films being featured visit mosaicfilmfest.com.

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