A documentary spanning 100 years of Japanese-American history in San Diego will be produced by Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden with a grant and money raised from a Kickstarter campaign, the organization announced Wednesday.

“When I was approached by the Japanese Friendship Garden about creating a documentary that would highlight the Japanese American experience in one of their upcoming exhibits, I was all in,” documentary director Graham Sheldon says. “I think it’s an amazing project and I think the Japanese Friendship Garden is a perfect lens through which we can experience Japanese culture from 1915 to all the way up to 2015.”

“Garden of Unity: San Diego’s Japanese Legacy” will be funded by a $10,000 Community Stories grant from Cal Humanities, and another $10,000 the Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego needs to raise online in 60 days with Kickstarter.

“The Japanese Friendship Garden is appreciative of the grant provided by Cal Humanities,” Luanne Kanzawa, JFGSD  executive director, says. “We believe this major community engagement project will highlight both the historical events and unity of the Japanese American community in San Diego.”

The organization says the documentary will examine the historical events that have shaped the cultural identity of San Diego’s Japanese American community and preserve the personal experiences of the community through oral history. The Japanese Friendship Garden will create an archive of oral history featuring interviews of community members, a complimentary exhibition, and a website featuring the community stories.

“This documentary is an unprecedented opportunity to share the story of this community in a way it hasn’t been told before,” Marisa Takeuchi, JFGSD project director, says. “Our Kickstarter campaign is yet another opportunity for our community to unite toward a common goal of sharing these oral histories with a wider audience.”

Since 2003,  Cal Humanities has provided $3 million in grants that have allowed communities to voice, record and share previously untold or little known histories.

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