A Documentary Feature Film

Produced and Directed by Antonia Grace Glenn

THE ITO SISTERS is a feature-length documentary film that captures the stories of three Japanese American sisters, interviewed in their 80’s and 90’s, as they recount how their immigrant parents struggled to make a life in America at the beginning of the 20th century. The family’s chronicle is set against the backdrop of the anti-Japanese movement in California, a 60-year campaign by politicians, journalists, landowners, labor leaders and others that culminated in the evacuation and incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast during World War II. THE ITO SISTERS is written, directed and produced by Antonia Grace Glenn, the granddaughter of the middle of the three sisters.

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film trailer

...addresses [a] missing piece of history as it captures an immigrant family’s stories in becoming Americans.
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ABOUT the film


THE ITO SISTERS captures the rarely told stories of the earliest Japanese immigrants to the United States and their American-born children. In particular, the film focuses on the experiences of Issei (or immigrant) and Nisei (or first generation born in the US) women, whose voices have largely been excluded from American history. At the center of the film are three Nisei sisters: Natsuye (Nancy), Haruye (Lillian) and Hideko (Hedy), who were born on a farm in the Sacramento River Delta and whose lives were directly impacted by some of the most significant events of 20th-century America, from the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 to the Great Depression to World War II. The film also explores the lives of the women's parents, Yetsusaburo and Toku Ito, who came to the United States to earn money so they could return to Japan, but whose plans were repeatedly thwarted.

Featuring interviews with the three sisters -- conducted in their 80s and 90s -- the film is also brought to life through family and archival photographs and documents; verbatim quotes from prominent historical figures; commentary and analysis from renowned scholars; and artistic illustrations. THE ITO SISTERS reveals a little-known chapter of American history, focusing on life in what was essentially a California plantation system between the world wars, with Asian and Mexican laborers working the fields of white landowners. The film explores themes that remain timely today: the meaning of American identity and citizenship for immigrants and their children; and tensions between new Americans and anti-immigrant forces.


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June 29, 2018

Tule Lake Pilgrimage Screening.


Saturday, June 16, 2018 / TBD


Japanese American National Museum

100 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Phone: 213.625.0414


To Be Announced




Tuesday, May 15, 2018 / 7:00 p.m.


Sacramento River Delta Historical Society

Jean Harvie Community Center         14273 River Road                    Walnut Grove, CA 95690


This is a free community screening event.


John Stutz at



April 11, 2018 / 4:00 p.m.


Japanese American Arts & Literature (AAS 332), San Francisco State University



Saturday, March 17, 2018 / 1:00 p.m.


Day of Remembrance, hosted by the Stockton JACL and the Asian Pacific Islander American Staff Association (APIASA) of San Joaquin Delta College

Tillie Lewis Theater                      San Joaquin Delta College                5151 Pacific Avenue                Stockton, CA 95207


This is a free community screening event. For more information, please contact Aeko Yoshikawa at


March 15, 2018 / 7:00 p.m.


Presidio Trust

Presidio Officers' Club                  50 Moraga Avenue                       San Francisco, CA 94129


This is a free screening event, in association with the exhibition, "EXCLUSION: The Presidio's Role in World War II Japanese American Incarceration".





Saturday, March 10, 2018 / 1:00 p.m.


Japanese American Museum of San Jose   535 North Fifth Street                 San Jose, CA 95112


$8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for JAMsj members. Reservations are required. To reserve tickets, please contact or (408) 294-3138.



Wednesday, February 28, 2018 / 11:00 a.m.


Extending Connections                Buena Vista United Methodist Church    2311 Buena Vista Avenue            Alameda, CA 94501

TICKETS:                              This is a free community screening event.




February 15, 2018 / 5:00 p.m.


UC Berkeley                 

Multicultural Community Center      Martin Luther King Jr., Student Union     2495 Bancroft Way                Berkeley, CA 94720


This is a free campus event.


SCREENING DATE / TIME:          Wednesday, February 7, 2018 / 12:00 p.m.

LOCATION:                              Cal State East Bay                    25800 Carlos Bee Boulevard              Hayward, CA 94542

TICKETS:                              This is a free campus screening event.


Sunday, December 3, 2017  /  2:00 p.m.   ( ENCORE SCREENING / Q & A to follow )  

Sunday, December 3, 2017  /  4:00 p.m.   ( ENCORE SCREENING )

Sunday, November 5, 2017  /  4:00 p.m.   ( Q & A to follow )                    


East Bay Media Center                    1939 Addison St.,               Berkeley, CA 94704


Tickets are $10 each.  To purchase tickets, go to        (click on "Donate" and specify "Ito Sisters tickets" under "Special Instructions") or call (510) 843-3699

THE ITO SISTERS had its public premiere as part of the art exhibition, "Shifting Movements: Art Inspired by the Life & Activism of Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014)," presented by the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) and the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center (APICC), as part of the 20th annual United States of Asian America Festival, May 4-25, 2017.  The film was screened in its entirety in a daily loop throughout the exhibition.



May 4-25, 2017 / Every two hours during exhibit


SOMArts Cultural Center                934 Brannan St. SF CA 94103.




...a very personal and intimate portrait of Japanese American women during internment from a really rich, textured point of view.
— Margaret Rhee, poet and scholar
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KPFA 94.1

Antonia Grace Glenn Radio Interview on THE ITO SISTERS "A Rude Awakening", hosted by Sabrina Jacobs

94.1 KPFA, May 1, 2017

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KPFA 94.1

Antonia Grace Glenn Radio Interview on THE ITO SISTERS "A Rude Awakening", hosted by Sabrina Jacobs

94.1 KPFA, Oct 30, 2017

Filmmaker Documents Family Experiences of Japanese American Internment

Marin Independent Journal,   May 3, 2017

‘Ito Sisters’ gives voice to pre-WWII Japanese American experience

East Bay Times, Oct. 26, 2017


Film Ito Sisters Chronicles Family's Struggle and Heart" 

Nikkei West, June 26, 2017

‘The Ito Sisters’ offers impactful story of empowerment in light of oppression

The Daily Californian,      Feb. 22, 2018

...chronicles the struggles of a Japanese American family against prejudice and the upheavals of a world war, but also recalls individuals with an indomitable spirit.
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Antonia Grace Glenn (Director & Producer)

An actor, writer, producer, filmmaker and scholar, Glenn holds a PhD in Theatre & Drama from a joint program at the University of California, San Diego and Irvine. Her dissertation, Racing and E-racing the Stage: The Politics of Mixed Race Performance, explores representations of mixed-race Asian American (Hapa) identity on stage and screen, as well as resistant performance and writing strategies employed by contemporary Hapa theatre artists. Glenn’s articles have appeared in Contemporary Theatre Review, LA Alternative Press and TheatreForum. Her stage credits include the world premiere of Michael John Garcés’ Los Illegals at Cornerstone Theater Company and the collaborative ensemble process for Alice Tuan’s interview-based play Black Flight for Watts Village Theater Company. Glenn holds an MFA in Acting from USC and a BA from Wellesley College.

Evelyn Nakano Glenn (Lead Scholar)

One of the country’s leading sociologists, Glenn's scholarship on the intersectionality of race, gender, citizenship and labor is groundbreaking. She is a Professor of the Graduate School and the Founding Director of the Center for Race & Gender at the University of California, Berkeley.  In 2009-10, she served as President of the American Sociological Association.  Her books include Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America; Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor; and Issei, Nisei, Warbride: Three Generations of Japanese American Women in Domestic Service. Honors include an Asian American Local Heroes Award from KQED and Union Bank, and the Nikkei of the Biennium Award for Contributions to Education from the Japanese American Citizens League. Glenn holds a BA from UC Berkeley and a PhD from Harvard University.

Gregory Pacificar (Producer & Editor)

A director, writer and producer, Pacificar has worked on over 12 films and documentaries addressing issues and communities often ignored by the mainstream. In 2006, he directed and edited the documentary film, Mangosteen: HIV/AIDS in Malaysia, which was voted “Best in Festival” at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Previous work includes a PSA addressing domestic violence in the South Asian community and The Unheard Musician (documentary feature). Pacificar’s most recent credit is directing Chaka Khan’s music video, “Love Yourself”, set to release in 2018. He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Film, Television and Asian American Studies.

Dave Iwataki (Composer)

An accomplished composer, arranger and keyboardist, Iwataki has collaborated with artists such as Peabo Bryson, the Pointer Sisters, Tom Scott, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Olivia Newton-John, Paul Anka and the Fifth Dimension. He was a founding member of the jazz fusion band Hiroshima, which was known for fusing Japanese and other World Music into its playing. Iwataki composed the scores for the documentary films Harsh Canvas: The Art & Life of Henry SugimotoToyo Miyatake: Infinite Shades of Grey; and Words, Weavings and Songs, all produced by the Japanese American National Museum. His albums include Barbed Wire and Hip Hop, a collaborative project combining original hip hop, rap and jazz music with spoken word.

Manuel Falcon Padua (Illustrator)

An experienced graphic artist whose work focuses on combining advocacy and social work with art and design, Padua created the marketing and educational materials for the Asian Pacific Islander AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT) Health Center. In 2009, Padua was recognized as a “Community Hero” by the City of West Hollywood and was featured in Frontier magazine for his advocacy work fighting AIDS in the Asian Pacific Islander community. In 2010, his artistic work on canvas was featured at the Festival of Philippine Arts & Culture in San Pedro, CA. Padua is a graduate of Brooks College Institute of Design and Technology with a degree in Computer Animation.

Kenneth Navarro (After Effects Artist and Animator)

Kenneth Navarro has worked for over eight years as a compositor, animator and editor for Dance Heads Recordings. Navarro is a graduate of Brooks College with an associate’s degree in animation, and The Art Institute of California with a bachelor’s degree in game art and design. He is originally from Puerto Rico and resides in California.


In 1988, after many years as a performing musician, arranger and producer, Gainen opened his recording studio, Maurice Gainen Productions, in Silver Lake, just east of Hollywood. Since then, he has produced, recorded, mixed and mastered too many CDs to count, in all genres, including jazz, alternative, rap, R&B, rock, Broadway and World Music. He has also played flute and/or sax on many of these CDs. Gainen does CD mastering and restoration for all of the major record labels, including more than 185 CDs for Starbucks. Music, songs and scores recorded in his studio have appeared in many movies and TV shows.  Gainen has worked with THE ITO SISTERS composer Dave Iwataki on many projects. He also has eight “Global Jazzatronica” CDs out as a recording artist, and has done two versions of Iwataki’s classic “Kokoro”, as well as co-writing and producing a brand-new song with him for the latest CD.

Dorinne Kondo (Scholar)

A Professor of Anthropology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, Kondo’s books include (Re)Visions of Race: Performance, Ethnography, PoliticsAbout Face: Performing Race in Fashion and Theater; and Crafting Selves: Power, Gender and Discourses of Identity in a Japanese Workplace. Her books include (Re)Visions of Race: Performance, Ethnography, Politics; About Face: Performing Race in Fashion and Theater; and Crafting Selves: Power, Gender and Discourses of Identity in a Japanese Workplace. In addition to her scholarship and teaching, Kondo has extensive professional theatre experience as a playwright and dramaturg, and has worked on several projects with renowned writer/performer Anna Deveare Smith, including the world premiere of Twilight: Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum. She holds a BA in Anthropology from Stanford University and an MA and PhD in Anthropology from Harvard University.

Michael Omi (Scholar)

An Associate Professor in Asian American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, Omi’s most influential work is Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s, co-authored with Howard Winant. Omi and Winant’s groundbreaking Racial Formation Theory looks at race as a socially constructed identity, determined by social, economic and political forces. Their other works include “Once More, With Feeling: Reflections on Racial Formation” in PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association of America) and “Asian Americans: The Unbearable Whiteness of Being?” in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Omi holds a BA in Sociology from UC Berkeley and an MA and PhD in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz.

Jere Takahashi (Scholar)

Until his recent retirement, Takahashi served as the Director of Multicultural Student Development and a Lecturer in Asian American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He also served as the Academic Coordinator of Asian Pacific American Student Development at UCB. His book, Nisei/Sansei: Shifting Japanese American Identities and Politics, provides a complex and nuanced account of Japanese American life. Recently, Takahashi served as a panelist for “Planning for War, Planning for Internment: The Japanese American Experience at the Presidio of San Francisco,” a day-long public program hosted by the National Japanese American Historical Society. Takahashi holds a PhD in Sociology from UC Berkeley.


Voiceover actors featured in The Ito Sisters include Scott Dawson, Patrick Alexander Glenn, David Johann Kim, Grace Kim, Tim Kniffin, Kerr Lordygan, Vance Reyes and Joel Rieck.



For screenings and press inquiries, please contact Antonia Grace Glenn

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