The Cats of Mirikitani

2007- 2006 • Feature Film • Released
Biopic, Documentary



A portrait of an octogenarian outsider artist, Jimmy Mirikitani. Born in 1920 in Sacramento, California, Mirikitani grew up in Hiroshima and quickly showed a talent for painting. Hoping to avoid the draft in Japan, he returned to the U.S. during World War II and was forced into an internment camp. It became the decisive season of his life, and desolate images of the camp--as well as scenes from his beloved Hiroshima, both before and after its destruction--appear repeatedly in his work. But brilliant colors and felines, whether dreamy kittens or fierce tigers, also abound. In 2001, Mirikitani was living in Washington Square Park, still drawing pictures of the events that so dramatically affected his life. To rescue him from toxic dust after the World Trade Center collapse, filmmaker Linda Hattendorf impulsively brings Mirikitani home with her, like a stray. Now roommates, the filmmaker and elderly artist explore Mirikitani's painful past, navigate the maze of social services, and seek out his long-lost relatives-aided. Mirikitani even travels back to the camp where he was interned, to make peace with the past.


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