Hawaii International Film Festival

The Herbert Yanamura Story

Herbert Yanamura is an American, born and raised among the coffee farms of Hawaii’s Kona district. Yet the U.S. government branded him an “enemy alien” after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor because he looked like the invaders. So, like many of his friends and peers, Yanamura volunteered to join the Army to prove his loyalty. He first joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team but felt his use as a linguist would serve the army better rather than as an infantryman. He soon switched over to the Military Intelligence Service (MIS). Most of the MIS served in the Pacific, interrogating Japanese prisoners and deciphering maps, soldier diaries and other documents.

Yanamura was later awarded the Bronze Star for using a loudspeaker to successfully coax 1,500 civilians and 150 soldiers in the village of Maehira to peacefully surrender during the Battle of Okinawa with a total of 250,000 casualties (this incident is dramatically retold in the short film The Surrender Call, also in this program).

For many years, this modest, unassuming hero of the Greatest Generation wasn’t permitted to talk about his work with the MIS. Now, in his own words, he shares the fascinating, unheralded history and hidden human element behind this major WWII battle.


The Surrender Call

The Surrender Call is a retelling of one soldier’s bravery and compassion during the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest engagement of World War II where 250,000 people (including 150,000 civilians) died. The massive casualties of this pivotal battle influenced the United States’ decision to use atomic weapons just two months later.

This film captures the harrowing events of that day as well as the conflicts between Yanamura’s duty as a solider and his desire to save as many lives as possible, including “Hatsuko” who was only ten years old when an American soldier’s voice saved her life.


Black & White: The Early Years of Dan Inouye

Never before seen moving images of Daniel Inouye during his early political career. Revealing, insightful and historical this film shows an Inouye several generations never knew and a Hawaiʻi of another era. A compilation of beautiful 16mm black and white films, Black & White: The Early Years of Dan Inouye documents an extraordinary time beginning with the first political television ads produced for Candidate Inouye as he aims his sight on the U.S. House of Representatives.

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