Oscar Qualifying Short: “Nisei” - Hollywood Scout Report


Oscar Qualifying Short: “Nisei”

As one of the most impressive films on the Oscar slate, “Nisei” pulls no punches.


It is well known during world two, America was guilty of horrendous acts such as the displacement of Japanese Americans and placing them in Intermittent Camps.




Writer and director Darren Haruo Rae not only sheds new light on the oppression of the Japanese culture during that time period. Rae also delivers an impressive, intense war film mixed with an extremely sentimental touch centered around family and loyalty.


The film is based on stories and anecdotes from Rae’s Japanese American grandfather Minoro and uncle John Myasaki. Both men stripped of their citizenship and once placed in the horrendous camps, volunteer for the 42nd regimental combat team.


I hope when people watch our film, they will feel a sense of pride. That even through adversity, good people can stillprevail. It is important to look at these stories of the past and learn from them. Understanding the past means we won’tmake the same mistakes in the future


In an act of heroism and faith, we get a glimpse into their brave journey to serve in the all Japanese- American regiment, the most medaled unit in the history of the US military.


When the film starts, viewers are immediately immersed in 1944 California as the soldier in uniform (Jonathan Tanigaki) walks up to the camp to say goodbye to his father (Shiro Kawai) in the camp.  The dramatic tone is set when the condescending guard asks, “so were drafting japs now” and the soldier quickly responds, “no I volunteered”.

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This opening sequence unveils an overwhelming sense of situational irony. The two men are getting ready to leave to defend a county that is oppressing them and their loved ones.


The pride and love for their country also left them with no other choice than to prove their loyalty.


The action-packed short fails to disappoint. Throughout the piece, we witness the soldiers with their platoon engaged in heavy, intense combat in Italy as well as cutting back to heartfelt intense conversations with dad.


A first-generation Japanese American still suffering in the camp who has lost faith in an America that betrayed him.

Although the film is split into two parts that split back and forth, it enhances the film while adding context and action.


Rae puts an emotional human touch in a short time frame and heavy subject matter which is not only unique but makes for extremely impressive filmmaking.


Both  the scenes and dialogue throughout the film provide the audience with clarity on the tough position and adversity this family faced but ultimately prevailed.

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The top-notch cinematography, Caleb Wheelers superb editing and the steady cadence adds to the overall engaging experience, truly making this one of the best shorts to qualify for an Oscar in quite some time.


“Nisei” is an incredible film that has all the right elements, touching on themes of war, forgiveness, loyalty, bravery and family while simultaneously yet subtlety reminding us of an often-overlooked dark chapter in our nation’s history.


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It also celebrates the Japanese American hero’s that served our nation.
The film stars Jonathan Tanigaki, Brent Yoshida, Shiro Kawai, Jabez Armondia, Alfred Hising, Jason Jia , Jason Loy and was produced by Jessica Olthof and Nick Martinez.