An old-fashioned journeyman docu, “Passing Poston” remembers the Poston Relocation Camp in Arizona, a WWII internment camp for Japanese-Americans located on an Indian reservation in the middle of the desert. Docu proceeds chronologically, intercutting reminisces by four former internees of ascending ages. Despite fascinating government newsreels putting a happy face on the “relocation” and the tacit mirroring of post-9/11 America by the recollected post-Pearl Harbor racism, pedestrian hour-long docu, which opened Feb. 20 at Gotham’s Two-Boots, seems best suited to tube play.
Unlike Linda Hattendorf’s dramatically oblique “The Cats of Mirikitani,” docu presents its agenda with sober deliberation. The distinct, quietly compelling survivors evoke the harsh conditions, their loss of purpose and feelings of betrayal. Some suspense is generated by the quest of the youngest, Ruth Okimoto, to understand the government’s rationale. Apparently the work done by the Japanese to make their desert barracks habitable later benefited the tribes of the Colorado River Indian Reservation. This aid to similarly dispossessed Americans comforts Okimoto, while the tribal members express empathy and an awareness of the historical irony implicit in a forced displacement to a barbed-wire prison within an alien nation.