Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story Manhattan Screening on 5/18/09 by Lia Chang





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Uploaded on May 19, 2009

by Lia Chang/www.liachang.wordpress.com
It was an exciting evening for Christine Toy Johnson and Bruce Alan Johnson who attended the Manhattan screening of their new film, TRANSCENDING, THE WAT MISAKA STORY at Tribeca Cinema on May 18, 2009. The award-winning husband and wife filmmaking team have traversed the U.S. showing the film to standing room only audiences, and received the Golden Kahuna Award at the Honolulu International Film Festival in March. To celebrate Asian Heritage Month, the Actors Equity Association's EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) Committee hosted this invitation-only screening for their membership.

The documentary tells the story of Wat Misaka, the first person of color to be drafted into what is now the NBA. A Nissei who was born, raised and is still living in Utah, Wat was the very first draft pick of the New York Knicks, in 1947.

Against the backdrop of the volatile national political climate following the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II, which resulted in the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans in camps, Wat was a star player for the University of Utah 1944 and 1947 championship teams, taking 2 years off in between to serve in the U.S. Army. Playing for an entire community, his perseverance and loyalty to his teammates, other Nissei friends (including those interned at Topaz) and his family are a testament to the unflappable Japanese American spirit.

The film intersperses in-depth interviews with Wat and his family, teammates from his championship teams (including All-American star Arnie Ferrin of the Minneapolis Lakers) sports authorities (including Knicks Historian Dennis D'Agostino and ubiquitous New York sportscaster Spencer Ross), and many who continue to look up to him as both a role model and personal hero, along with video clips from his 1944 and 1947 college games, rare footage from a visit to the Topaz Internment Camp, and countless photos of his triumphant career.

For more information, visit www.watmisaka.com.

The filmmakers received two consecutive grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program for the making of TRANSCENDING, THE WAT MISAKA STORY.


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