Director and producer Ann Kaneko (third from right) with subjects of her film “Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust,” including Monica Mariko Embrey (left).

InterSection Films is proud to announce that “Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust,” directed and produced by Ann Kaneko and produced by Jin Yoo-Kim, will be screening at the Los Angeles Historic Park on Thursday, Nov. 4, at 6 p.m. (pre-screening events begin at 5 p.m.).

This free screening kicks off “Our Stories / Our Water / Our Future,” a series of local screenings across Los Angeles of “Manzanar, Diverted” in collaboration with the Our Water L.A. coalition.

Panelists include environmental activists Isaiah Mendoza (Tongva filmmaker) and Monica Mariko Embrey (Manzanar Committee and Sierra Club). The panel will be moderated by Kaneko. There will also be a special guest appearance of East L.A. indie rocker Lysa Flores.

Our Water L.A., a diverse coalition of community members active in local water advocacy, is coming together to celebrate the water that travels from faraway places, highlighting how Los Angeles is dependent on imported water from three rivers.

An inspired and poetic portrait of a place and its people, “Manzanar, Diverted” follows intergenerational women from three communities who defend their land, their history and their culture from the insatiable thirst of Los Angeles. In this fresh retelling of the L.A. water story, Native Americans, Japanese American incarcerees and environmentalists form an unexpected alliance to preserve Payahuunadü (Owens Valley), “the land of flowing water.”

Kaneko says, “My family was unwittingly swept into a dark chapter of American history, and this film has become a platform for me to unravel how our story is entwined in the formation of the West and L.A.’s development as a megalopolis.”

Kaneko’s interviews include former Manzanar incarcerees Madelon Arai Yamamoto (above) and Henry Nishi (below). Her film traces the history of water access for Los Angeles.

Featuring breathtaking photography and immersive soundscapes, the film recounts more than 150 years of history, showing how this distant valley is tied to the city of Los Angeles. It reveals the forced removals of two peoples — the Nüümü (Paiute) and the Newe (Shoshone) who were marched out of the valley in the 1860s and the Japanese Americans who were forcibly brought here from their West Coast homes and incarcerated in a World War II concentration camp.

Filmed over five years, “Manzanar, Diverted” captures stunning and intimate imagery of this valley, combined with archival gems and careful research to narrate this epic story of the American West. The film contextualizes the current climate crisis — it tells how colonizers came and forced out Nüümü and Newe; how the L.A. Aqueduct sucked the valley dry; how incarcerated Japanese Americans made the land green again; how dusty Patsiata/Owens Lake became a health hazard and how this valley now bears the consequences of its water’s diversion.

Manzanar is the name of the former concentration camp that has become a national historic site. Its annual pilgrimage unifies descendants of incarcerated Japanese Americans and activists who strive for social justice. The film offers a hopeful message of how communities can come together to overcome histories of oppression and halt further development and monetization of a land.

This screening follows the Los Angeles premiere at the opening of the L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival. The film’s world premiere was at the critically acclaimed Big Sky Doc Film Fest. The film also screened at CAAMFest in San Francisco and the Milwaukee Film Festival. where it received Honorable Mention nods.

CAAMFest jurors announced: “a powerful documentary that explores vital topics including the devastating impact of climate change, water and land rights and intersectionality between the Asian American and Indigenous communities…an impressive film that equally entertains and educates.”

Other screenings during 2021 will occur at Self-Help Graphics on Saturday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. and at Plaza del Valle on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m.

For information on the Nov. 4 screening, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/manzanar-diverted-when-water-becomes-dust-community-screening-tickets-198570398407?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

For more information on the film, visit: https://www.manzanardiverted.com/  

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