The person who took these home movies was Dave Tatsuno (1913–2006). Mr. Tatsuno was well known within the Bay Area’s Japanese American community for operating the Nichi Bei Bussan stores in San Jose and San Francisco, California. The Tatsuno home movie collection documents activities in Topaz concentration camp as well as pre-WWII festivals, sporting events, family outings, holidays, celebrations, and the Tatsuno family business, the Nichi Bei Bussan.
In 1942, Mr. Tatsuno and his family were incarcerated at the Topaz War Relocation Center in the Utah desert. Over the next three years, shooting covertly with a contraband camera, he recorded everyday life in the dust-blown barracks community that at its height was home to more than 8,000 Americans of Japanese descent. Mr. Tatsuno’s haunting footage was later compiled into a 48-minute silent film, Topaz. In 1996, Topaz was placed on the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Mr. Tatsuno’s film was only the second home movie to be included in the registry, which is primarily dedicated to Hollywood classics like Citizen Kane and Casablanca. The first home movie to be included in the registry was Abraham Zapruder’s film of President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination.