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Photos: Guillermo Ueno | Gianni Toyota


October, 2012

In October 2012, Executive Producer Stella M. Holmes and Producer Linda Corley traveled to Brazil to complete the filming of West Encounters East, a documentary film that aims to cross cultural. It focuses on a journey that uncovers the artistic talents of Brazilian artists of Japanese descent.

The documentary team, made up of individuals from various countries, spent one week in São Paulo, a city that boasts the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, shooting the famous Tanabata Festival, as well as interviewing experts and artists. From Professor Kokei Uehara, president of the Brazilian Society of Japanese Culture, gave a compelling and personal account of his immigration to Brazil. His history, from a poor coffee plantation worker to a successful engineer in South America, is the embodiment of the Japanese immigrant saga. His story is proof of the perseverance of the Japanese immigrants and their determination to make a good life in their adopted country of Brazil.

The history of the Japanese Brazilian artists exemplifies the struggles of the first, second and third generations of these immigrants, who often used art as way of communication. A historic meeting between the sons of some of the most revered  pioneers of the movement was filmed at the former home of legendary artist Manabu Mabe.

Manabu’s son Yugo; Gianni Toyota, son of sculptor Yutaka Toyota; Takashi Fukashima, son of Tikashi Fukashima; Roberto kinaka, son of Massao Okinaka, discussed the emergence of the various art movements and groups within the Japanese Brazilian community in the middle years of the 20th century.

Stella also interviewed the son of the great abstract painter Tomie Ohtake, who celebrates her 100th birthday next year and is still active as an artist. Ricardo Ohtake, director of the Instituto Tomie Ohtake, recalled his mother’s artistic evolution from a figurative painter to an abstract painter, as well as the impact of the Japanese on Brazilian art.

During her week-long journey, Stella also discovered a young Japanese Brazilian artist by the name of Catarina Gushiken who focuses on fantasy and fictional characters. Her fresh approach and ability to appeal to the younger generation of Brazil makes her a rising star in the urban culture of São Paulo.