"We often uncover secrets when making films, but the revelations in this documentary astonished us. We intended to tell the story of an unlikely hero, but the production became a discovery of the suppressed struggles of three generations of a Japanese-American family from Hiroshima divided by World War II. Their journey is an embodiment of the immigrant experience, ultimately revealing the extraordinary strength that America gains from its diversity."
-Don Sellers & Lucy Ostrander
In 2014 we were presented two prestigious national history awards. As far as we can tell, Honor & Sacrifice is the only film to ever win both awards.
ERIK BARNOUW AWARD. The Organization of American Historians is the major organization for historians who study and teach about the United States. They annually present a small number of awards in recognition of scholarly and professional achievements in the field of American history. Only one is for a film, so the award is extremely competitive. Past winners include distinguished filmmakers such as Ken Burns and Henry Hampton, as well as revered films such as The Most Dangerous Man in America and Death and the Civil War.
For the creators of historical documentaries, the Erik Barnouw Award represents one of the most significant honors achievable. Awarded by a preeminent academic organization, it not only recognizes the scholarly rigor of the work, but also its historical importance. We are honored to be this year's recipient. To see the Award press release, please go to our Press page.
HISTORY IN PROGRESS AWARD. The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) is the largest professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 70th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. In addition, Honor & Sacrifice was also selected as a 2014 HIP (History in Progress) Award winner by the Leadership in History awards committee. The HIP Award, given at the discretion of the Committee, is an additional award for an Award of Merit winner whose nomination is highly inspirational and exhibits exceptional scholarship.
Honor & Sacrifice tells the complex story of a Japanese immigrant family ripped apart by WWII. The Matsumoto family included five sons; two who fought for the Americans and three who fought for the Japanese. The eldest, Hiroshi (Roy), became a hero, fighting against the Japanese with Merrill's Marauders, an American guerrilla unit in Burma. He was born near Los Angeles, educated in Japan, and became a hero when he used his Japanese language skills and military training to save his surrounded, starving battalion deep in the Burmese jungle. At the same time his parents and sisters were living in their family’s ancestral home, Hiroshima. The story is told by Roy's daughter Karen as she discovers her father's work in military intelligence, kept secret for 50 years.
April 21st, 2014, Roy Matsumoto died, surrounded by his family. The date marked 70 years after the breaking of the siege at Nphum Ga, where Roy's actions were instrumental in saving his surrounded battalion. He will be remembered for his sacrifice and his courage for his country and his family. He will be missed by all who had the great honor of knowing him. We hope Honor & Sacrifice acts as a lasting tribute to him and other Japanese Americans who bravely faced the challenges of WWII.
Scholars have found Honor & Sacrifice of particular value. Here's some of their responses. More can be found on our Reviews page.
"Stourwater Pictures' documentary, Honor & Sacrifice, is a particularly important contribution to Asian American history....Honor & Sacrifice is a compelling, transnational story teaching lessons on honor, courage, sacrifice, love of country, and love of family that transcends the horrors of war. It is an exceptionally well-done and memorable documentary."
-Gail M. Nomura, Associate Professor, American Ethnic Studies,
University of Washington
"Honor and Sacrifice, an outstanding and beautifully illustrated biography of Mr. Roy Matsumoto, tells the little-known story of the Japanese American linguists who served with the famed Merrill's Marauders. On a secret mission, classified for decades, the Marauders served with valor, taking hair-raising risks to combat Japanese Imperial forces in Burma during World War II."
-Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, Aratani Endowed Chair,
Asian American Studies, UCLA
"This is an important film. In Roy Matsumoto's extraordinary heroism, we glimpse the confluence of racism in both Japan and the US during WWII and the irony of Japanese Americans contributing mightily to the success of the American military in SE Asia leading to the destruction of the Japanese Empire."
-Franklin Odo, Former Director
Smithsonian's Asian Pacific American Program
"Honor & Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story is an excellent case study that vividly illustrates issues surrounding early twentieth-century Japanese immigrants to the United States, their American-born children, and Japanese-American military service during the Second World War....There is much to recommend about this short film—Wakaji Matsumoto’s photographs of life in both California and Hiroshima wonderfully illustrate the hard work of immigrants, the importance of education, and the militarization of Japan....Narrated from the perspective of Roy Matsumoto’s daughter, Karen, the film has the intimate tone of a friend telling old family stories."
-John Sagers, Associate Professor of East Asian History
Be sure to sign up on our subscriber list on the right and we'll keep you posted on new reviews, upcoming screenings, and news to the general public.
Please view a short introduction to the film below: