"DAY OF INDEPENDENCE" - Creative Team - synopsis | cast | creative team | donors | calendar | to order

 

CEDAR GROVE PRODUCTIONS
Production Company

Founded in 1996, Cedar Grove Productions is the independent production company which first brought the heroic saga of Holocaust rescuer Chiune Sugihara to American and International movie audiences with the 1997 Academy Award® winning dramatic short film, VISAS AND VIRTUE. This small creative family was first formed to pay tribute to Mr. Sugihara by adapting Tim Toyama's one-act play to the big screen, and takes it's name from the literal translation of the courageous diplomat's name: sugi meaning cedar, and hara meaning field or grove. They remain dedicated to developing projects which boldly defy mainstream Hollywood by giving Asian Americans the spotlight on stage, or the close-up on screen. Recently, Cedar Grove Productions presented "The AJA Circle: Artists of Japanese Ancestry," an educational forum for young Japanese actors, featuring such noted panelists as Wakako Yamauchi, George Takei and Tamlyn Tomita. In addition to DAY OF INDEPENDENCE, they are also developing a dramatic feature film about the Japanese American World War II experience endured in American's concentrations camps, and the inspiration and hope this imprisoned community gathers through baseball.

VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS
Non-Profit Fiscal Sponsor

Visual Communications is a community-based non-profit media arts organization dedicated to creating, preserving and presenting Asian Pacific American history and culture through the media arts. Founded in 1970, the organization, through its numerous film, video and community multi-media productions, and through its various screening activities, photographic exhibits and publications, has pioneered many vital developments in the national media arts arena. Visual Communications offers production and training in filmmaking, video and photography, for Asian Pacific Americans. In addition to maintaining a large archive of Asian Pacific photographs, Visual Communications annually presents VC FilmFest, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film & Video Festival. www.vconline.org

N.A.A.T.A.
(National Asian American Telecommunications Association)
Major Funding

Founded in 1980 by Asian American film, video and radio producers and community activists, NAATA has been at the forefront of supporting and showcasing Asian Pacific American media productions. NAATA's mission is to advance the ideals of cultural pluralism in the U.S. and to promote better understanding of Asian Pacific American experiences through film, video, radio and new technologies. To support Asian Pacific American filmmakers and extend the life of their work, NAATA has developed program areas providing production support, public television programming, exhibition activities and educational distribution. www.naatanet.org

CHRIS TASHIMA
Director, Co-Screenwriter

Chris studied filmmaking at UC Santa Cruz and with Visual Communications in Los Angeles, and has been an actor on both stage and screen for 18 years. Combining his passions, he directed and starred in VISAS AND VIRTUE, the dramatic short film tribute to Holocaust rescuer Chiune Sugihara, which he also co-wrote from the original play by Tim Toyama, receiving an Academy Award® for Live Action Short Film in 1998. In addition to developing future film projects, he currently directs and creatively assists The Grateful Crane Ensemble's on-going live productions of NATSUKASHI NO TABI, a bilingual entertainment program of nostalgic songs and stories offered to Southern California's Japanese American senior citizens.

TIM TOYAMA
Executive Producer, Co-Screenwriter, Playwright

Tim has had his plays produced at The Complex in Los Angeles, and The Road Theatre Company at the Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood. Among them is VISAS AND VIRTUE, which became the Academy Award® winning short film on which he served as Executive Producer. He has served on the Road Theatre's Artistic Board as well as the Literary Committee at East West Players theatre. It was in the David Henry Hwang Writers Institute at East West Players where he wrote the play VISAS AND VIRTUE, as well as several other works including INDEPENDENCE DAY.

CHRIS DONAHUE
Executive Producer

Chris currently serves as Executive Director for the HUMANITAS Prize, an annual writer's award that celebrates films and television shows that not only entertain, but also enrich the viewing public. For Paulist Pictures, he co-produced the feature film ENTERTAINING ANGELS: THE DOROTHY DAY STORY. Chris is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, holds graduate degrees from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, and has taught at AFI and Loyola Marymount University. Recent producing efforts include the documentary, BE GOOD, SMILE PRETTY, the independent feature film, STRAIGHT RIGHT, and VISAS AND VIRTUE, for which he received an Academy Award®.

LISA ONODERA
Producer

Lisa Onodera produced PICTURE BRIDE, directed by Kayo Hatta, starring Youki Kudoh, Akira Takayama and Toshiro Mifune, which won the Audience Award at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival. Her most recent film, THE DEBUT, starring Dante Basco, premiered at VC FilmFest in 2000 and has won Hawaii International Film Festival's Blockbuster Audience Award, an AMMY Award (Best Independent Feature), and MANAA's Media Achievement Award. She is a partner at Celestial Pictures which has completed two Asian American projects: THE DEBUT and RESTLESS - a romantic comedy set in Beijing. She is currently preparing a feature adaptation of Shawn Wong's popular novel, "American Knees," for Starz-Encore. She has participated in community-based educational events for Visual Communications, NAATA and CAPE, and serves on the Board of Directors the Independent Feature Project/West. A 1998 Spirit Award Nominee (Best Independent Producer), Lisa graduated from UCLA's Motion Picture/Television school, and was Associate Producer on Arthur Dong's acclaimed documentary, FORBIDDEN CITY, USA and the Frontline documentary, THE MONSTER THAT ATE HOLLYWOOD.

PABLO MIRALLES
Co-Producer

Pablo served as Production Coordinator on Cedar Grove Productions' first film VISAS AND VIRTUE. Other professional experience has included motion picture and television projects at Paramount, CBS, Neo Motion Pictures, Triangle Productions, Commercial Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures. Independently, he has produced, written and directed several DV short-shorts, including JESUS VS. BUDDHA and most recently produced on-line interactive marketing materials for such clients as AIG Insurance and Intomotion. He attended the UCLA Graduate Film Program where he won both the UCLA "Spotlight" and MPAA Student Filmmaker awards as a producer/writer/director for his short THE HAMMER. His UCLA thesis work, POSESIÓN, won Best Short Subject award at the Charlestown International Film Festival. As a writer, Pablo was runner-up for the 1998 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Production Grant and he was finalist for the first annual Nickelodeon Writer's Fellowship. Currently his screenplay BORDER LINE is part of the 2003 Sundance Writer's Workshop.

STACY TOYAMA
Director of Photography

Perhaps it was the two years Stacy spent studying abroad and trying to find new ways to communicate that sparked his interest in story telling. When he graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema and Television, Stacy turned his interest into a career, expressing himself visually as a director of photography on commercials and music videos. In 1996 he signed with November Films in Santa Monica, California as a director/cameraman, attracting such clients as Saatchi & Saatchi for Toyota, Rubin Postaer and Associates for Honda, and Skechers USA. So far, he has worked on well over 50 productions in addition to numerous international projects in Mexico and Asia. Stacy identifies the collaborative process and working alongside creative talent with varied backgrounds and experiences as the most enjoyable part of his job.

SCOTT NAGATANI
Composer, Music Supervisor

Scott authored the film score for VISAS AND VIRTUE, and the documentaries, MACEO - DEMON DRUMMER FROM EAST LA and REDRESS: JACL CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE. He is currently composer/music director for Readers' Theatre at the Children's Museum of Los Angeles, and musical director for the Pacific Youth Choir at the Japanese American National Museum. He is a recipient of the Cultural Heritage Award from the Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California, teaches theatre arts to 4th and 5th graders through a program with LA's Best, and recently composed a full-length children's musical, LARUE AND THE BROWN SKY, for the Air Quality Management District, debuting later this year. www.sansaymusic.com

AKEIME MITTERLEHNER
Production Designer

Akeime has designed and art directed a number of film and television projects, including STAND UP FOR JUSTICE from Visual Communications, THE TRANSCONTINENTAL RAIL ROAD on PBS, CULTURE CLASH for Fox and for the Sci-Fi Channel, EXPOSURES and AREA 52. Her theatrical designs have been seen at East West Players, Sundance Children's Theatre, Los Angeles Opera, Cornerstone Theatre Company, and the Mark Taper Forum. Among her additional Credits: Prop/Wardrobe Supervisor for Walt Disney Feature Animation, Assistant Set Designer at the Ahmanson Theatre and Prop Coordinator for Center Theatre Group. She has been a member of United Scenic Artists since 1999.

NAOMI YOSHIDA
Costume Designer

Naomi has designed for many theaters in Southern California including East West Players, The Colony Theatre and The Matrix, and is currently a Costume Designer for Disneyland. Film work includes PAPER DRAGONS, THE WATER GHOST and VISAS AND VIRTUE. Naomi has taught at El Camino College and California State University at Long Beach, where she earned her MFA in Costume Design. She has received a Theatre LA Ovation Award, a Back Stage West Garland Award, a Robbie Award, seven Drama-Logue Awards, as well as numerous other nominations.

KERRY YO NAKAGAWA
Japanese American Baseball Historical Consultant

Kerry created the first historic exhibit on Japanese American baseball: "The Nisei Baseball Research Project," shown in museums around the world, including The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and the Japan Hall of Fame in Tokyo, Japan. He has chaired Japanese American baseball tributes with the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A's. He recently completed the documentary, DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH: THE LEGACY OF JAPANESE AMERICAN BASEBALL, and authored the hardcover book, "Through a Diamond, 100 Years of Japanese American Baseball." He serves as Advisory Board Member to The Fresno Grizzlies baseball club, the California Historical Society and the College of Social Sciences at California State University at Fresno. Kerry's father, Dyna, was a baseball pitcher in the 20's and 30's. His uncles, Johnny, Lefty and Mas, competed with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jackie Robinson, and made goodwill baseball tours to Japan in 1924, 1927 and 1937. Kerry's grandfather emigrated to California in 1886, and helped many immigrants obtain land in California's Central Valley.