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‘An experience of pure joy’: Forgiveness author on the forthcoming CBC adaptation

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Mark Sakamoto's memoir 'Forgiveness' – which won the 2018 iteration of CBC's Canada Reads – is being adapted into a limited series by the CBC and Don Carmody Television. Photo courtesy Jeff Noon.

Allowing your art to be adapted by an outside creative team can be difficult – and doubly so when the project in question is something as personal as Mark Sakamoto’s 2014 memoir Forgiveness. But according to Sakamoto, the upcoming CBC adaptation – being produced in conjunction with Don Carmody Television – is in good hands.

“I thought about the creative team extremely, extremely closely. I had a lot of offers and the team that I chose are the best in the business,” Sakamoto said. “Don Carmody has produced Good Will Hunting, as an example of the emotional spectrum that they’ve been able to produce. It’s outstanding, and they’ve just been wonderful.”

Sakamoto will serve as a creative consultant on the project along with Joy Kogawa, recipient of the Order of Canada and author of Obasan.

“She’s one of Canada’s great, great authors. It’s been such a privilege to come to know her very intimately. I just love her to bits,” Sakamoto said. “It’s kind of interesting – I’ve been involved in the process, but they are very much in control of the process. I’ve really enjoyed watching what these other artists are doing with my art. For me, it’s been an experience of pure joy. I feel very confident in what they’re doing.”

Forgiveness serves as a chronicle of both sides of Sakamoto’s family during the Second World War. Sakamoto’s grandfather and grandmother, both Canadian citizens, see their lives in Vancouver irrevocably change in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

“It really was an act of ethnic cleansing that the Canadian government carried out, where they emptied the west coast of all Japanese Canadians – their only crime being their ethnicity,” Sakamoto said.

On the other side of the country, Sakamoto’s grandfather Ralph MacLean grew up on the Magdalen Islands and wanted to go fight in Europe, lying about his age to sign up. Instead, he was shipped to Hong Kong where he was captured by Japanese forces, spending the entire Second World War as a Japanese prisoner of war.

“It was living through absolute hell for every single day that he was imprisoned,” Sakamoto said. “So (the memoir) is looking at those injurious years in their life, but more importantly how they were able to move on after those injurious years and live a life that was full of hope, actually, and love.”

The gift passed on to him from his grandparents, Sakamoto said, was their decision to not pass on the injury of their past to their descendants, and instead teach them how to forgive.

“Going into the book, I thought of forgiveness as rather transactional – I harmed you, you harmed me, let’s say we’re sorry and move on. It was very much rear-view mirror looking, letting bygones be bygones,” Sakamoto said. “But my grandparents really profoundly cleansed their heart. It showed me that forgiveness is really a daily act and it’s a way of life. It’s a way of ensuring that no matter how dark your yesterday was, that doesn’t dictate your tomorrow. And I really came to need that in ways I never really thought I would.”

First published in 2014, Sakamoto said Forgiveness had took on a new relevance in today’s political climate, starting as a family retrospective but becoming a sort of “warning alarm” to racism, racist policies and ugly nationalism.

“I’m very confident that the series will act as an alarm – you never end up in the basement, you always gotta take steps there first,” Sakamoto said. “Those first few steps into the basement, sometimes they’re kind of easier – they seem small. But soon you’re in the depths of a basement that you never intended or you didn’t want. Those forces of darkness and anger are powerful.”

Getting out of that basement and moving a society back into a place of tolerance and compassion takes work, Sakamoto said, and often requires citizens to fight for – and sometimes die for – that freedom. The other side to forgiveness, that of it taking root in one’s personal life, requires a different sort of work.

“You have to find space in your heart to really own that compassion yourself. It’s sort of a cliché, but you have to be the compassion that you want to feel,” Sakamoto said. “So that’s what my grandparents were able to show me, is how to really engender that kind of compassion in their own hearts, even or despite what they went through. That’s really the power of their legacy, for me personally, and hopefully one shared with other folks as well.”

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Schitt’s Creek to conclude after next season

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The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will conclude with its sixth and final season, star and co-creator Dan Levy announced in a statement today. Photo courtesy CBC.
The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will conclude with its sixth and final season, star and co-creator Dan Levy announced in a statement today. Photo courtesy CBC.

The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will end at the conclusion of its sixth season, series co-creator and star Dan Levy announced March 21.

“We are so grateful to have been given the time and creative freedom to tell this story in its totality, concluding with a final chapter that we had envisioned from the very beginning,” Levy said in a statement. “It’s not lost on us what a rare privilege it is in this industry to get to decide when your show should take its final bow.”

Schitt’s Creek premiered on CBC in 2015, becoming one of the network’s most successful half-hour comedies ever. The show follows the fish-out-of-water Rose family, forced to assimilate into a small town after they lose their family fortune.

Though the show’s first season received mixed reviews, it grew in regard with both fans and critics over subsequent iterations. Schitt’s Creek’s fifth season, which premiered on January 8, 2019, scored a 100 per cent “Fresh” ranking on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.

The show is also among select company among Canadian sitcoms, drawing strong viewership in the United States and elsewhere thanks to distribution on Netflix and the American Pop network. Critics have reacted favourably to recent episodes, with TV Guide’s Megan Vick writing that each season of Schitt’s Creek has “gotten better and better.”

Read Levy’s full statement below.

New episodes of Schitt’s Creek air Tuesday nights at 9/9:30 NT on CBC.

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Watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short “Animal Behaviour”

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The National Film Board of Canada is offering Canadians the opportunity to watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short film "Animal Behaviour" until the end of today. Photo courtesy NFB
The National Film Board of Canada is offering Canadians the opportunity to watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short film "Animal Behaviour" until the end of today. Photo courtesy NFB

To get prepped for the 91st Academy Awards, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is offering Canadians the chance to check out Animal Behaviour, nominated tonight in the Best Animated Short Film category.

Animal Behaviour is a new short from Alison Snowden and David Fine, who previously won an Oscar in 1994 for Bob’s Birthday. The short is the 75th Oscar nomination for the NFB, and the first short film for Snowden and Fine since Bob’s Birthday. The 91st Oscars air tonight at 8 Eastern on ABC and CTV.

Watch Animal Behaviour below (expires tonight).

Next up on The Mutt: Wynonna Earp future in doubt as Season 4 delayed

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Wynonna Earp future in doubt as Season 4 delayed

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Wynonna Earp Season 3 Episode 11/12 - "Daddy Lessons/War Paint". Photo courtesy Bell Media
Wynonna Earp Season 4 is in jeopardy, according to the The Hollywood Reporter, due to financial difficulties. Photo courtesy Space

All of a sudden, Wynonna Earp is in Purgatory.

Earpers were stunned Thursday night when executive producer and showrunner Emily Andras posted (and subsequently deleted) a tweet suggesting that fans of the show may soon have to fight for it. Another tweet, posted shortly later, took a decidedly more straight-forward approach.

Andras appeared to be responding to the news that funding for the fourth season of Wynonna Earp appeared to be on shaky ground, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter. According to THR, financial challenges faced by IDW Entertainment have stalled production on Season 4, despite the company being contractually obligated to deliver the show to Syfy.

In response to the news, Earpers took to Twitter with the hashtag #FightForWynonna, which at the time of publication was one of the top Twitter trends in Canada. Though Season 4 has yet to be officially cancelled, IDW has yet to commit to a start date for the new season.

“IDW is committed to continuing to tell the Wynonna Earp story,” the company said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Much like the fans, we are passionate about not only the series, but the comics, the characters and the overall message that the Wynonna Earp franchise carries. We are in the process of working out the details for how the Wynonna story will continue and will share new details very soon.”

Our resident Earper, Ghezal Amiri, was a big fan of Season 3, writing that the show’s season finale, entitled “War Paint”, was a “wildly emotional conclusion.” Read her recap here.

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