One small Japanese girl. One BIG American dream.
“MANZANAR” chronicles the life of 12-year-old Margaret Shimada and her family as their life is shattered due to World War II and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Margaret loves singing and has dreams of performing in a swing band but everything is put on hold when her father is taken away as a spy and the rest of the family is interned in the Manzanar relocation camp.
When it is learned that her father has died while incarcerated, the strained relationship between mother and daughter completely unravels. Older brother Yoshi joins the military and younger brother, Sam, is left to his own devices.
Unhappy and having no prospects for the future, young Margaret takes up smoking and other bad habits with her friends Lisa Sue and Aki and soon begins abusing sleeping pills to escape her bleak reality. Meanwhile, music teacher, Louis Frizzell, seeing Margaret’s life teetering on the edge, tries to nurture her talents as a singer in the hopes to give her a glimpse of a brighter future.
Despite the dark cloud of intolerance and injustice, the internees of the camp find personal moments of strength and joy as they transform the desert into their new home. They start a baseball league, dance festivals and other activities to show they can persevere and bolster the American spirit to show patriotism to the very country that rejected them.
The story of the Shimada family is an uplifting story of overcoming adversity when it seems all hope is lost.