Bates Technical College’s Digital Media program students create and produce documentary about Tacoma’s 1942 Japanese internment

Posted: August 04, 2022

Funded through Tacoma Creates, the film focuses on Tacoma’s Japanese community in World War II and premieres on Aug. 8 at The Grand Cinema.

Bates Technical College’s Digital Media program instructor Brian Parker knows the value of hands-on learning, so when the Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation approached the program to create a historical documentary, he grabbed the opportunity.

Said Parker, “Providing our students with opportunities like this is invaluable. A day in the real world is a week in the classroom.”

Since January 2022, instructors Parker and Kevin Gibson lead a group of seven students through the extensive undertaking of developing the process, editing, directing and producing the 25-minute film.

The documentary focuses on Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the relocation of Japanese people to internment camps. Tacoma and Fife-area residents were among the first in the country to be forced from their home.

Under the instruction of Parker and Gibson, students crafted a moving and emotional film that follows third-generation Japanese Sansei writer Merilee Tanbara as she writes a historical fiction novel while researching the experiences of her grandparents and parents. The novel’s subject is about Tacoma’s Japanese community before and after World War II and follows the lives of those who returned from the concentration camps, rebuilt their lives and raised their children.

Bates Technical College President Lin Zhou said, “I am proud of our students and faculty for creating and producing this documentary about a difficult time in Tacoma’s history. We learn a lot from our past and how it impacts us today. This was a meaningful project for our students to participate in, and I am honored we were able to collaborate with The Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation on this important effort.”

The documentary premieres on Monday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. at The Grand Cinema, 606 Fawcett Avenue in Tacoma. Attendees are invited to join in a discussion about the film, history of the Japanese in Tacoma, and Tanbara’s creative process. To purchase tickets, please visit The Grand Cinema. The event is free for students who live in Tacoma because of Tacoma Creates funding.

To learn more about Bates’ Digital Media program, please visit

About Bates Technical College
Founded in 1940, Bates Technical College offers certificate and degree opportunities in 45+ career education programs. The college serves approximately 3,000 career training students and 7,000 more community members annually in extended learning, distance learning, high school, and other programs. For more information, go to, or call 253.680.7000. Bates Technical College is proudly part of the Washington state community and technical college system.