The Cats of Mirikitani Reviews

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Lanning :
Super Reviewer
September 8, 2010
Definitely not what I was expecting, although I'd only heard or read just a very little about this movie. While I expected the accomplished artist aspect, I had no idea that this would also be a very pointed examination of the WW II American internment of Japanese, most of them US citizens. It took me a while to figure out that the "cats" are not just a nod to one of Mirikitani's seeming favorite subjects, but they are also a key to one of his worst internment memories, the death at Tule Lake Camp of a young boy who loved cats and would always ask Mirikitani to draw them for him. It wasn't until the reunion of internees at Tule Lake, when Mirikitani mentions that story of the boy's death again, that the true plaguing meaning of his constant return to cats as subject hits home. And I must not fail to mention that a major theme here is that those people we see homeless on our streets are indeed people. Rather than ignore or avoid them, it might be wise to reach out to them. Hattendorf's reaching out to this particular homeless man served as a springboard to redemption, possibly both for Mirikitani and for Hattendorf. This is a must-see documentary.
Jessi t May 31, 2011
This documentary, and more to the point, the 'star' of the film, absolutely stole my heart. "Jimmy" Mirikitani is an artist living on the streets in New York, selling his art to admiring passerbys. Indeed, he refers to himself as 'grand master artist' (and later on, a karate master as well). It's hard to believe that man with such a pleasant disposition and such a charming way about him harbors as dark of a past as Jimmy does, having spent 3 and a half years in internment camps during WWII due to his Japanese descent.

The filmmaker, Linda Hattendorf, becomes increasingly involved in the subject she documents, and what started out as a cinema verite film moves quickly into a deeply personal documentary reflecting the inherent corruption of government, the frightening cycle of history and an 80 year old man's tremendous spirit and passion for art. I fell in love with this movie and with Mirikitani. Totally recommend this film.
Danalee L June 25, 2014
Outstanding! Jimmy Mirikitani survived Tule Lake by drawing--particularly cats. Later, he ended up in New York and when Filmmaker Linda Hattendorf meets him it is right before 9/11. The film shows a great resilience that allowed Jimmy to survive after being born in Sacramento CA, returning to Hiroshima, Japan but getting out 'in time' but being in CA again when the Executive Order send his family and so many others to the camps. The years later he survives 9/11. His art depicts the camps, Hiroshima, 9/11, lots of cats, and nature. His peonies were so realistic. Sadly he died in 2012. If you can get the DVD and the children's book using his cat art "The Cat Who Chose to Dream" you will be as touched as I am in discovering this beautiful, feisty man.
evening nightshade evening nightshade ½ July 30, 2013
Magical, moving, real, rich and inspiring. Great music score. Wonderful story.
Jenny N July 17, 2012
Wonderfully moving. Importantly inspiring. What an extremely important story to tell!
Shelley F July 15, 2012
Born a US citizen forced to live in an internment camp as a young man. Remarkable artist living on the streets of NY. Compelling, heartfelt.
Sue S June 23, 2012
I loved this documentary. I went in watching on the recommendation of a FB friend (hi! Jen Lyn Anderson) and it exceeded my expectations. I would also recommend other people watch it without knowing much about it, because it heightens the appreciation of Mr. Mirikitani, the wonderful director Linda Hattendorf, the Korean market owner and all the other good people.
Nancy R April 23, 2012
What a moving film....his is an amazing artist...
Jim B ½ May 1, 2011
I thought mr.mirikitani was incredibly wise and interesting. Its great to hear about historical events straight from people that were there. I felt alot of emotions watching this documentary.
Sue D March 2, 2011
I've recommended this to a few of you, so thought I would post a link.
Clarice M September 20, 2010
I had this film in my NetFlix queue for over a year. I'm sorry I didn't watch it sooner. The documentary is extraordinary on so many different levels. The story of Jimmy Mirikitani, an 80-year-old Japanese American artist who was "detained" for several years in the Tula Lake Internment Camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, is so moving and surprisingly relevant. Director, Linda Hattendorf started filming Mrikitani when she discovered him working and living on the street near the World Trade Center in Manhattan. From the beginning this was a delightful film about a unique and interesting character. But she happened to be filming on 9/11/2001... and the direction of the documentary as well as the director's relationship with Mirikitanii shifted dramatically. From that point, Hattendorf becomes part of the story as she digs deeper into Mirikitani's past. Hattendorf creates her own work of art as she weaves archive footage, historic photos and Mirikitani's personal photos to bring his story to life. I highly recommend this amazing documentary created by a very talented director who also happens to be an exceptional human being.
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