Film Image
A Song for Ourselves
35 minutes

A Song for Ourselves

A SONG FOR OURSELVES is an intimate journey into the life and music of Asian American Movement troubadour Chris Iijima. Struggling to make sense of their father’s early death, Iijima's teenage sons learn that during the 1970s when Asians in America were still considered “Orientals,” Chris’ music and passion for social justice helped provide the voice and identity an entire generation had been in search of. Through animated photographs, intimate home movies, archival footage of Chris’ introduction to nationwide television by John Lennon and Chris’ own songs, their father’s life takes on bigger meaning than they had ever dreamed of.

SPECIAL FEATURES on the DVD include 'Farewell Chris: Los Angeles Memorial,' 'Mother of the Movement: Kazu Iijima,' Chris Iijima extended interview and additional photos and music.
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Higher Education Institutions DSL 3-years License $300.00
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Higher Education Institutions Life Digital File License $600.00
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“Art for a purpose, art for building a community” - Los Angeles Times
“Will make your heart ache.” - LA Weekly
“Wonderful - extremely well-made and powerful in its message and the history it covers.” - Oliver Wang, Scholar / Writer / DJ
“This film immortalizes Chris’ inspiring songs that have been and will continue to be sung by generations of activists young and old.” - Yuri Kochiyama, Activist
“An essential document of Asian American cultural history told movingly through the life, legacy and song of one of its driving forces, the musician-activist, Chris Iijima.” - Renee Tajima-Peña, Oscar-Nominated Filmmaker
"With A Song For Ourselves, Nakamura is no longer a "fresh up-and-coming voice" but a force to be reckoned with." - Spencer Nakasako, Emmy-award winning filmmaker
“A young filmmaker who's somehow managing to make history cool.” - Pacific Citizen
"A beautiful, poignant film that captures the life of a passionate warrior for social justice." - Dale Minami, Civil Rights Attorney
“A moving and powerful third installment of Nakamura's trilogy on the early Asian American Movement.” - Warren T. Furutani, California Assemblymember
"A thirty five minute biography of the late Chris Iijima, Asian community activist, anti-war protestor, folk singer, teacher, lawyer and devoted father. The documentary makes use of home movies, family interviews, animated photographs, archival footage, television segments, and professional video. I recommend A SONG FOR OURSELVES to both college and university libraries that have Asian or multicultural studies programs. In addition, public libraries that serve large Asian communities will also want this poignant and arresting film." - Charles Burkart, Media Bibliographer, Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO)
"Singer-songwriter, political activist, and law professor Chris Iijima is spotlighted in Tadashi Nakamura’s documentary profile tracing the life and accomplishments of a man who helped to launch Asian American social movements in the 1960s and ’70s. Recommended." - Video Librarian Journal
"The world needs to hear about Chris Iijima. A loving tribute, A SONG FOR OURSELVES brings him and his work to our consciousness, and our consciousness needs this expanding. Suitable for high school classes and for college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of music, anthropology of protest and resistance, and Asian-American studies, as well as general audiences." - Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database

• Best Documentary Short Film, Urbanworld Film Festival, 2009
• Best Short Documentary, DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, 2009
• Special Jury Award, San Diego Asian Film Festival, 2009
• Honorable Mention, Columbus International Film + Video Festival, 2009
• Cine Golden Eagle Award, Documentary Short, Independent Division, 2009
• San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, San Francisco, CA
• Chicago Asian American Showcase, Chicago, IL
• Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Los Angeles, 2009
• Cape Fear Independent Film Festival, Wilmington, 2009
• Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, 2009
• Asian American International Film Festival, New York, 2009
• West Hollywood International Film Festival, Hollywood, 2009
• Indie Fest USA, Anaheim, 2009
• Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles, Los Angeles, 2009

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TWN acknowledges that in New York we are on the unceded territory of the Lenni Lenape, Canarsie, Shinecock, and Munsee peoples and challenges the harm that continues to be inflicted upon Indigenous and People of Color communities here and abroad, which is why we all need to be part of the struggle for rights, equality and justice.

TWN is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Color Congress, MOSAIC, New York Community Trust, Peace Development Fund, Humanities NY, Ford Foundation, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and individual donors.