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Mineta Docu to Open S.F.’s CAAMFest 36

By May 1, 2018May 10th, 2018No Comments

Dianne Fukami’s ‘An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy’ Chronicles Politician’s Life, Contributions.

Norman Mineta is the subject of the documentary “An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy,” which is the opening night film at CAAMFest 36. (Photo: Courtesy of CAAMFest)

SAN FRANCISCO — The world premiere of “An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy” is slated to open CAAMFest 36 on May 10 at the historic Castro Theatre.

Directed and produced by Bay Area-native Dianne Fukami, the documentary captures the celebrated life, career and contributions of Norman Mineta, who was the first Asian American mayor of a major city, the first Japanese American from the mainland to be elected to Congress and the first Asian American to serve in a presidential cabinet.

“Beyond these groundbreaking achievements, Norman Mineta personifies our dreams and aspirations,” said Fukami. “He is the son of immigrants forcibly removed from their home to spend years in a U.S. concentration camp during World War II. And yet, he remains a patriot. He has led with integrity achieving a long and distinguished career as a public servant, and he continues to champion the underserved and mentor young leaders.”

Added co-producer Debra Nakatomi: “It took years for us to convince Mineta to agree to be the subject of a documentary profiling his life of public service. His story reflects what is best about all of us as Americans.”

To create the film, Fukami and Nakatomi pored over hours of archival videos, photographs and filmed numerous interviews over four years, including segments with former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

The result is a moving documentary about achieving the American Dream — one made all the more poignant when juxtaposed against the current political climate around immigration and threats to civil liberties. Mineta’s life is a rare constellation of bipartisanship, social justice and patriotism that serves as lessons for all Americans.

“An American Story” opens CAAMFest36, an 11-day celebration of film, music, food and digital media presented annually by the Center for Asian American Media.

“It is an honor for our world premiere to open this festival in the Bay Area, which was Norman’s home for so many years, including his time as a student at UC Berkeley and later as mayor of San Jose and as a U.S. Congressman,” Fukami said.

Tickets to the opening night screening and the CAAMFest gala at the Asian Art Museum are available online (

The Mineta Legacy Project is comprised of the one-hour documentary and educational curriculum, “What Does It Mean to Be an American? — The Mineta Legacy,” a free online resource for high school and college educators in development by the Stanford Program on International Cross-Cultural Education program at Stanford University.

Major funding for the Mineta Legacy Project was provided by the Terasaki Family Foundation and the Sachiko Kuno Foundation. Additionally, more than 30 Legacy Partners have joined the project.

“We’re grateful to the generous funders, donors and community organizations committed to sharing Secretary Mineta’s story with a national audience and the next generation of leaders,” Fukami said.

“An American Story” is a production of Bridge Media and the second documentary film from Fukami and Nakatomi. In 2014, they collaborated on “Stories From Tohoku,” a film about the survivors of the 2001 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, which aired on PBS and screened throughout the U.S. and Japan.