New York, N.Y. – September 21, 2023 – Multi Emmy® Award and Peabody Award winning series, POV, presents the vibrant cine-poem Wisdom Gone Wild directed by Rea Tajiri (History and Memory, Strawberry Fields) and produced by Sian Evans and Tajiri. The documentary tells the remarkable story of Rose Tajiri, a Nisei woman who at the end of her life, following the onset of dementia, reinvents herself through her interactions with her daughter/care partner, bestowing a new name and identity on herself, altering her past along with her present. Wisdom Gone Wild renders a new look at dementia and presents a daughter’s evolution towards compassionate caregiving. The film is produced in association with The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).
Wisdom Gone Wild, makes its national broadcast premiere on POV, Monday, November 20, 2023 at 10pm (check local listings) and available to stream without PBS Passport membership until February 20, 2024 at pbs.org, and the PBS App.
In keeping with the night’s theme of transformative parent/child relationships, accompanying the premiere of Wisdom Gone Wild is the POV Shorts broadcast premiere of Still Waters directed by POV alumni Aurora Brachman (Joychild, POV Shorts Season 4) and produced by Brachman and Mariales Diaz. Through a series of extraordinarily honest and intimate conversations, filmmaker Aurora examines the intergenerational fallout of experiences her mother endured as a child. Together, they forge a path forward that offers them a new beginning.
In addition to closed captioning for all films, POV, in partnership with audio description service DiCapta, provides real time audio interpretations for audiences with sensory disabilities. POV, currently in its 36th season, is America's longest running non-fiction television series.
Director Rea Tajiri ‘s Wisdom Gone Wild offers a different story about aging, and about living with dementia. Rather than centering a disease, the film centers the form and content of Rose's perspective, telling the story of a life to be valued rather than a problem to be willed away.
At 93, Rose Tajiri is a history keeper and a chronicler of Japanese American experience. Diagnosed with dementia at the age of 76, Rose’s non-chronological access to key historical events is cued through daily encounters and reminiscences. Embarking on a fifteen-year odyssey, Rea gains wisdom by listening to the metaphors in her mother’s conversations. Rose’s allegories reveal her incarceration in a World War II concentration camp and a childhood as the daughter of Nikkei farmers in California’s strawberry fields. These stories help caregivers understand Rose’s needs and revise their care. Rea learns to identify Rose’s hopes and fears as they create a unique relationship based on play, improvisation and humor. The two travel together towards the end of life, each transformed by a journey through memory and the mind.
“With this film, I draw audiences to the possibilities of connection and intimacy with loved ones who live with dementia,” said director Rea Tajiri. “Through a portrayal of intimacy, I wish to normalize witnessing and listening to elders; to value their stories, their wisdom and their lived experience.”
"A born storyteller, Director Rea Tajiri's Wisdom Gone Wild disrupts the usual tale of a child caring for a parent living with dementia" said Chris White, Executive Producer, POV. "Her decision to capture the experience from her mother's perspective was a risk, but the embracing approach is inspiring and tenderly reveals the complexity of a mother/daughter bond. I know this film will resonate with our viewers."
Wisdom Gone Wild made its world premiere at the 2022 BlackStar Film Festival where it won the Audience Award and Jury Award, Honorable Mention for “Best Documentary.” The film played in International Competition at the 2022 International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA) and the Documentary Competition, at the 2022 Seattle Asian American Film Festival. Additional 2022 accolades include: “Best Documentary Feature,” and “Audience Choice, Best Documentary,” at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival; and the Grand Jury Prize at the San Diego Asian Film Festival. In 2023, the documentary took home the New Cinema Award at the Berwick Film and Media Festival and garnered Honorable Mention, “Best Documentary Feature,” at the Austin Asian American Film Festival. Wisdom Gone Wild was an official selection of CAAMFest 2023, Retrospective Spotlight; 2023 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival; 2023 FREEP Film Festival; 2023 Asian American Showcase, Chicago, IL; 2023 Diaspora Film Festival, Incheon, South Korea; 2023 Slamdance Film Festival, Unstoppable Section; 2023 DisOrient Asian American Film Festival; Seattle Asian American Film Festival 2023; New York Asian International Film Festival 2023; DOC NYC 2022, American Lives Section; and 2022 San Diego Asian Film Festival, Centerpiece.
“..Without falling into self-centered trappings of nostalgic family documentaries, Wisdom is a patient meditation on life, time, and love,
and a confrontation with monumental loss…
Blurs the lines by which we define ourselves and the roles we play in love… a slow burn that singes but doesn’t sever.”
-Bedhatri Choudhury, Hyperallergic
“...a vérité portrait of a mother who, in her dementia, maintains a sense of humor, a stubborn autonomy, and occasionally a glimpse of who she once was…The complex dynamics of an immigrant family are revealed…”
-Pat Aufderheide, Documentary Magazine
Wisdom Gone Wild is produced in association with The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). The film is directed by Rea Tajiri and produced by Sian Evans and Tajiri. The executive producers are Stephen Gong, Center for Asian American Media and Erika Dilday and Chris White for American Documentary | POV.
Director: Rea Tajiri
Producers: Sian Evans, Rea Tajiri
Executive Producers: Stephen Gong for Center for Asian American Media, Erika Dilday and Chris White for American Documentary | POV
Cinematographers: Christian Bruno, Dru Mungai, Rea Tajiri
Editors: Catherine Hollander
Composer: Shakuru Tajiri
Download Wisdom Gone Wild photos here.
About the Filmmakers
Rea Tajiri, Director, Producer, Wisdom Gone Wild
Rea Tajiri, is a Philadelphia based documentary filmmaker and interdisciplinary artist whose critically acclaimed career spans over 35 years. Poetic, subtly layered and politically engaged, her work advances the exploration of forgotten histories, multi-generational memory, landscape and the lives of the Nikkei.
Tajiri’s films have screened in several Whitney Biennials, the Venice Film Festival, Rotterdam, Slamdance, Seattle International Film Festival, MOMA/NY, Yamagata and DOC NYC. She is a 2023 Chicken & Egg Award winner and a 2022 Ford Foundation JustFilms grantee. Tajiri currently resides in Philadelphia where she is an Associate Professor in the Film Media Arts Department of Temple University.
Sian Evans, Producer, Wisdom Gone Wild
Sian Evans/Farthest Films is a documentary filmmaker and producer of films on topics as diverse as solar observatories, New York City’s Potter’s Field, Maine’s home movies and a child’s sense of home. She has produced for PBS, A&E, Discovery, ABC, and the UNDP. Sian writes and produces for other filmmakers as Farthest Films.
Produced by American Documentary, POV is the longest-running independent documentary showcase on American television. Since 1988, POV has presented films on PBS that capture the full spectrum of the human experience, with a long commitment to centering women and people of color in front of, and behind, the camera. The series is known for introducing generations of viewers to groundbreaking works like Tongues Untied, American Promise, Minding The Gap and Not Going Quietly, and innovative filmmakers including Jonathan Demme, Laura Poitras and Nanfu Wang. In 2018, POV Shorts launched as one of the first PBS series dedicated to bold and timely short-form documentaries. All POV programs are available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.
POV goes “beyond the broadcast” to bring powerful nonfiction storytelling to viewers wherever they are. Free educational resources accompany every film and a community network of thousands of partners nationwide work with POV to spark dialogue around today’s most pressing issues. POV continues to explore the future of documentary through innovative productions with partners such as The New York Times and The National Film Board of Canada and on platforms including Snapchat and Instagram.
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About POV Shorts
POV Shorts launched in 2018 as one of the first PBS series dedicated to bold and timely short-form documentaries.The series is known for its curation, and for broadcasting award-winning titles, including: Emmy® nominated Earthrise, Water Warriors, The Changing Same, Emmy® winner The Love Bugs and the Oscar® shortlisted A Broken House and Aguilas. It won Best Short Form Series at the IDA Documentary Awards in 2022 and 2020.
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