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Award-winning documentary highlights Wat Masaka, pro basketball player

Sat, 31 Jan 2009 18:16:00
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Poster of upcoming screening of Transcending
The Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) will present a special community screening of Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story at 1 p.m. Feb. 14 at the center, 1840 Sutter St. in San Francisco.

Transcending – which was recently announced winner of the 2009 Gold Kahuna Award for excellence in filmmaking at the upcoming Honolulu International Film Festival – is the story of Misaka who was the first person of color ever to play in the National Basketball Association. This screening follows one held in September, which was sold out.

Misaka was a Nisei (second generation) who was born, raised and still lives in Utah. He was the first round draft pick of the New York Knicks in 1947 at a time when more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned behind barbwire during World War II.  

Misaka was a star player for the University of Utah and lead them to two national championships – a NCAA title in 1944 and a NIT championship in 1947 – while taking two years off in between to serve in the U.S. Army. His perseverance and loyalty to his teammates, other Nisei friends (including those interned at Topaz) and his family are testament to the unflappable Japanese American spirit.

This film includes in depth interviews with Misaka and his family; teammates from his championship teams; sports authorities; Bay Area natives Daisy Satoda and Marice Shiozaki; Paul Osaki; and many who continue to look up to him as both a role model and personal hero. The film also has video clips from his 1944 and 1947 college games, rare footage from a visit to the Topaz Internment Camp and countless photos of his career. This project was awarded two consecutive grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program.

New York-based award-winning filmmakers and JCCCNC friends Christine Toy Johnson and Bruce Johnson, who directed Transcending, will co-present this screening followed by a brief question and answer session. Admission is free and open to the public, but donations are being accepted. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.

Due to space limitations, attendees must RSVP to the JCCCNC (415) 567-5505 by February 9.

 
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