The Cats of Mirikitani

  • 74'
  • USA
  • 2006
Jimmy Mirikitani is an 85-year-old Japanese American artist, born in California and raised in Hiroshima, but by 2001 he is living on the streets of New York. He sits alone on a windy corner in Soho drawing whimsical cats, bleak internment camps, and the angry red flames of the atomic bomb. When neighboring filmmaker Linda Hattendorf stops to ask about Mirikitani's art, a friendship begins that will change both their lives. Tales of his life emerge: childhood picnics in Hiroshima, ancient samurai ancestors, lost citizenship, Jackson Pollock, Pearl Harbor, Americans imprisoned in WWII desert camps... Slowly she begins to piece together the puzzle of Mirikitani's past. One thing is clear from his prolific sidewalk displays: he has survived terrible traumas and is determined to make his history visible through his art.September 11 thrusts Mirikitani once again into a world at war and challenges the filmmaker to move from witness to advocate. In the chaos following the collapse of the World Trade Center, she finds herself unable to passively photograph this elderly man coughing in the toxic smoke, and invites him into her small apartment. In this uncharted landscape, the two navigate the maze of social welfare, seek out family and friends, and research Jimmy's painful past. Jimmy's story comes full circle when he travels back to the West Coast to reconnect with a community of former internees at a healing pilgrimage to the site of his former internment camp. (EH)

Linda Hattendorf
Country of production
Production Year
Festival Edition
IFFR 2007
Betacam Digi PAL
English, Japanese
Linda Hattendorf, Masahiro Yoshikawa
Production Company
Lucid dreaming inc.
Lucid dreaming inc.
Linda Hattendorf
Deguchi Keiko
Joel Goodman