By Monica Okamoto
The web series proposes to rethink our notion of the professional “success” of Japanese-Brazilians within our society. Rethink, because attention has always been given to the positive image of Japanese immigrants and their descendants who have achieved social mobility through efforts, discipline, and above all, through education. High rates of approval of Japanese Brazilians in prestigious traditional areas like Medicine, Engineering and Law in major public Brazilian universities from the 1950s support this reputation of nikkeis. On the other hand, this ethnic racial group continues to be under represented in certain professional areas such as dance, literature, journalism, theater arts, among others.
This project aims, therefore, to explore this other side of the story of nikkeis by presenting oral testimonies of pioneers in professional areas, where the presence of Asian descendants remained negative for a long time and is considered minimal even today. The idea is to show how these professionals found solutions- sometimes creative- to overcome stereotypes and ethnic barriers in a country where, according to some studies, the racial issue continues to predominate over the social. We will show three generations of nikkeis, who initiated their careers in the 1970s, in the 1990s and today, giving more emphasis to younger generations.
By Pedro Tinen
NipoBrasileiros is a production based on ideas of collaboration, listening and plurality of thoughts. Originally conceived by Ambassador Edmundo Fujita and executed under the coordination of Ambassadress Maria Ligaya Fujita and Professor Mônica Okamoto, the documentary emerged as an investigation on the insertion of Japanese descendants in different professional areas with emphasis on careers seen as “nontraditional” in Brazil.
From the start, we never aimed to present definitive answers on the theme; instead we wanted to point out the diversity of questions that can be raised. Based on this, we focused on listening, allowing each interviewee to feel free to share their experiences. By doing that, we could then propose a dialogue about the nikkei experiences in Brazil. We felt that the dialogue should start among ourselves and decided to choose a more collaborative direction: three directors, two of whom are of Asian ancestry.
The creation process, therefore, is part of the questioning and conversations shared by the entire team. It was necessary to rethink the pre-established images and molds in order to promote a dialogue about the notions of “ancestry”, “model minority”, “stereotypes” and about the Brazilian ethnic-racial configurations. However, although we aimed to discuss complex themes, our intent was always to contribute to this debate by listening to and comprehending each person´s discourse on their individual experiences. The result is an invitation to a debate, an invitation to the sharing of these life experiences and to listening to all of them.