A Nissei-American who was born, raised, and is still living in Utah, Wat was the very first draft pick of the New York Knicks, in 1947. Overcoming the national political climate during World War II, Wat was a star player for the University of Utah 1944 and 1947 championship teams, taking 2 years off in between to serve in the U.S. Army. His perseverance and loyalty to his teammates, other Nissei friends (including those interned at the Topaz camp) and his family are a testament to the unflappable Japanese American spirit.
Wat, a 5-foot 7-inch guard, appeared in three games and scored seven points for the 1947-48 Knicks before he was cut for reasons never made clear to him. But he recalls his brief stint in the NBA as a pleasant one. He turned down an offer to play for the Harlem Globetrotters so that he could return to school to earn a degree in engineering.
This is the inaugural year for RIIFF’s Roger Williams Independent Spirit Award, which recognizes an individual whose work reflects the values – freedom, equality, and tolerance – associated with Rhode Island founder, Roger Williams.
The film includes in depth interviews with Wat and his family, teammates from his championship teams (including All-American star Arnie Ferrin of the Minneapolis Lakers) sports authorities (including Knicks Historian Dennis D’Agostino and ubiquitous New York sportscaster Spencer Ross), and many who continue to look up to him as both a role model and personal hero. The film also has video clips from his 1944 and 1947 college games, rare footage from a visit to the Topaz Internment Camp, and countless photos of his triumphant career.
Directed by award winning filmmakers Bruce Alan Johnson and Christine Toy Johnson, TRANSCENDING – THE WAT MISAKA STORY was given two consecutive grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program. The film has won the “Gold Kahuna Award” from the Honolulu International Film Festival and the “Emerging Eye Directorial Discovery Award” from the Roving Eye Documentary Film Festival, which took place at Roger Williams College in April. For more information, visit www.watmisaka.com.
Meet Wat Misaka and filmmakers Bruce Alan Johnson and Christine Toy Johnson who will have a Q & A after the screening.
Festival tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Columbus Theatre Arts Center, or at the RIIFF office located at 268 Broadway in Providence.
Saturday, August 8, 2009 at 5 p.m.
Columbus Theatre Arts Center
Providence, RI 02903
Tickets are $10.00 and can be purchased at all venues and at the RIIFF office.
Here is a link to the Advance Ticket Order Form:
The Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) Office is located at:
268 Broadway, Providence, RI. 02903
401.861.4445 (f) 401.490.6735