The Center for Social Justice & Civil Liberties presents Linda Hattendorf’’s award-winning 2006 documentary The Cats of Mirikitani on Thursday August 7th as part of the downtown Riverside First Thursday Artswalk. The film will be screened at 6:00pm and again at 7:45pm in the Center’s media vault. This event is free and open to the public. The Artswalk film series continues on September 4th with Chicano Rock!: The Sounds of East Los Angeles and on October 2nd with Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin.
Born in Sacramento, California in 1920 and raised in Hiroshima, Japan, Jimmy Mirikitani is living on the streets making art in New York City when he meets filmmaker Linda Hattendorf in 2001. What begins as a portrait of a unique and spirited individual becomes a document of the parallels of life before and after two horrors of recent history: the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Together, Linda and Jimmy confront his traumatic past and attempt to understand the painful present through his art, resulting in an intimate exploration of the lingering wounds of war and the healing powers of art and friendship.
Jimmy’s drawings are indicative of the traumas he survived and the indomitable spirit that kept him going. In 1941, he was sent to the Tule Lake internment camp, where he renounced his American citizenship under duress and watched the decimation of Hiroshima from afar. His whimsical drawings of cats contrast sharply with bleak portraits of the Tule Lake camp and the burning city of Hiroshima. In his displays of art on the sidewalks of New York, Jimmy makes his personal history visible and invites a shared experience of expression.
The atomic bombings of Japan marked the beginning of the nuclear age, and the attacks of September 11 ushered in a period of anxiety in America. Jimmy’s motto remains relevant: “Make art, not war.” Our screening of this film coincides with the 69th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and offers the chance to explore a unique perspective of remembrance. Join us in a shared contemplation of individual experiences of the social injustices of war and art’s revelatory and healing power.
This post was written by volunteer Danielle Kuffler.