Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

The Cats of Mirikitani

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Linda Hattendorf, a longtime documentary editor, met a homeless, 80-year-old Japanese-American artist a block from her SoHo apartment in early 2001, and after the World Trade Center attacks made living on the street impossible for him, she put him up, helped him find work and housing, and made him the subject of this impressive 2006 feature, her directorial debut. The fascinating narrative covers the artist's long stretch in a U.S. internment camp during World War II (ironically, he'd fled Japan to escape the rising tide of militarism) and his ensuing tangles with the government, while simultaneously charting his reconciliation with his checkered past. The storytelling is so masterful that Hattendorf doesn't have to spell out the striking parallels between the persecution of Japanese after Pearl Harbor and the harassment of Muslims after 9/11. In English and subtitled Japanese. 74 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. a Facets Cinematheque.

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