Film still from “The Oath of the Sword” (1914). Preserved by the Japanese American National Museum with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation. Courtesy George Eastman Museum.

The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) will present the premiere screening of the recently restored 1914 silent film“The Oath of the Sword”at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, 6067 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, on Sunday, May 28, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $5 ($4 for members of the Academy Museum or JANM) and are available at

Once thought to be lost, the sole surviving print of “The Oath of the Sword” was recently rediscovered at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, N.Y., by scholar Denise Khor of Northeastern University. Made by the Japanese American Film Company, which was based in Los Angeles and led by Japanese immigrants, it had an all-Japanese cast. The three-reel film is believed to be the earliest Asian American film production.

The restoration was a partnership among Khor, JANM, and the George Eastman Museum and supported by a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

When the protagonist, Masao, leaves Japan to study at UC Berkeley, he also leaves his lover, Hisa, who is caring for her ailing father. As Masao becomes an athletic star at Berkeley, Hisa languishes in Japan. When they reunite four years later, they discover that their lives are irrevocably and tragically changed.

Remarkable location photography lends an air of realism to this once-lost treasure, which will be shown with live musical accompaniment by pianist, improviser, and composer Naomi Nakanishi.

Following the film, Renee Tajima-Peña, professor of Asian American studies at UCLA, will moderate a panel discussion with Stephen Gong, executive director of the Center for Asian American Media; Karen Ishizuka, chief curator at JANM; and Denise Khor, associate professor of Asian American studies and visual studies at Northeastern University.

For more information on JANM programs, visit or follow on social media @jamuseum.

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