Spotlight: Asian American Filmmaker
The lyrically stunning new documentary Omoiyari: A Song Film from Kishi Bashi focuses on violinist and songwriter Kaoru Ishibashi as he travels on a musical journey to understand WWII era Japanese Incarceration, assimilation, and what it means to be a minority in America today. When a media interview links the muslim ban and the immigration crisis at the USA-Mexico border with the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII, Ishibashi goes on a journey to learn about this history and its relevance. Along the way, he improvises and writes music in an effort to better understand his own identity as a bi-cultural American. Using never before seen archival footage from the camps, mixed with breathtaking visual storytelling, Kaoru weaves a story using history, music and current events to create a portrait of America from the perspective of someone caught between two worlds. Co-directors Kaoru Ishibashi and Justin Taylor Smith and Producer J.J. Gerber join us to talk about an artist and his production team’s journey through America’s past and present with hopeful eye on America’s future.
About the filmmaker – Kaoru Ishibashi is an internationally acclaimed Japanese-American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Having graduated from the Berklee College of Music with a degree in film scoring, Kishi Bashi has been rapidly bridging the gap between pop music and orchestral music. Omoiyari: A Song Film from Kishi Bashi is his first feature documentary film. Kishi Bashi is the pseudonym of Kaoru Ishibashi. For more: kishibashi.com
About the filmmaker – Justin “Chip” Taylor Smith is a self-taught filmmaker based in Bozeman, Montana. Growing up in California, he began using his family’s camcorder to make short surfing and skateboarding films, going on to work as a producer for DC Shoes. He eventually made his way to Jackson Hole, where he worked with Travis Rice on the seminal snowboarding film The Fourth Phase. Over the last decade, Smith has worked on some of the action sports industry’s largest film projects, including Ty Evans’ We Are Blood, Jetman’s Young Feathers, Robbie Maddison’s AIR.CRAFT and Rice’s Depth Perception. He aspires to deliver visceral, authentic film experiences. Smith is the director of IKIGAI (Mountainfilm 2019), co-director of 2019 Mountainfilm Commitment Grant winner Omoiyari – A Song Film by Kishi Bashi (Mountainfilm 2022) and co-director of FABRIC – A Documentary Series by Robin Van Gyn – Episode 1 “Knowledge” (Mountainfilm 2022). For more: mountainfilm.org/justin-taylor-smith
About the filmmaker – JJ Gerber is a Primetime Emmy nominated creative producer and storyteller, with over 15 years of experience on projects that span feature narrative and documentary films, music videos, commercials and pretty much any other form of moving image. JJ Gerber is a Primetime Emmy nominated creative producer and storyteller, with over 15 years of experience on projects that span feature narrative and documentary films, music videos, commercials and pretty much any other form of moving image. JJ’s feature documentary credits include Harmontown (SXSW 2014) and We Are Blood. He was a consulting producer on the feature documentary Beauty Is Embarrassing (Emmy Nominee / PBS Independent Lens 2014), helping with the strategy and implementation of nationwide theatrical self-distribution with Future You Media. He has worked with award winning design and production companies We Are Royale, Imaginary Forces, Fellow, LoyalKaspar and Future You Media. As a producer with these studios he worked with clients Oculus, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Netflix, Hulu, FX Networks, Showtime, Marvel Studios, Adidas as well as numerous ad agencies, studios, broadcasters, non-profits and other inspired people that just wanted to make some cool shit.
“Bashi’s music is powerful and compelling, enervating stories from the past that have shaped our present.” – Bradley Gibson, Film Threat
“A moving experience” – Unseen Films
“Offers a unique perspective on the bi-cultural experience and the process of making art on the artist’s own terms. – International Examiner