Passing Poston

Directors: Joe Fox and James Nubile.

Time: 60 minutes. B&W/Color. $26.95.

This affecting movie focuses on Poston, the Japanese American internment camp planted in the midst of an Indian reservation off the Colorado River in Arizona. As the film cuts between period-piece government propaganda films and reminiscences by internees like Ruth Okimoto, a Veterans of Foreign Wars member whose deep ambivalence about the camp drives her to research, activism, and educational outreach, the film delivers sadly familiar tales of uprooting and loss—and jolting twists. This dust-blown scrap of land stamped with hasty barracks became the vehicle by which the whole Indian reservation at long last got electricity, plumbing, irrigation, schools—all delivered, ironically, by the unpaid labor of Japanese Americans. The story remained locked in the memory of both groups’ elders until 2000, when Okimoto started digging. To learn more, visit


Originally published in the September 2009 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.