The Coronado Historical Association (CHA) in partnership with the Coronado Island Film Festival will host a special screening event on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 at 5 pm of the silent film, The Dragon Painter (Haworth Pictures Corporation, 1919) at the historic Village Theatre. This event is a companion to CHA’s exhibit Uprooted: The Story of Japanese Americans in Coronado, which explores the influence of Japanese-style landscape arts in American society through gardens such as Coronado’s Japanese Tea Garden. The Japanese and Japanese American Community in Coronado have a deep history from immigration in the early 20th century to internment during World War II and post-war resettlement traced in the Uprooted exhibit.
Coronado also has a rich film history and Coronado’s second Japanese Tea Garden was host to many films, including two starring the remarkable Sessue Hayakawa: The Temple of Dusk  (lost to time) and The Dragon Painter . The garden, built-in 1906 and dismantled in 1936, was bounded by Glorietta, Adella, and Ynez. The Dragon Painter, despite being filmed here in Coronado’s Japanese Tea Garden over 103 years ago and inducted into the prestigious National Film Registry in 2014, will be screened for the first time ever in Coronado at the historic Village Theater on April 13.
The Dragon Painter stars silent-era heartthrob Sessue Hayakawa. In this romance drama, Hayakawa plays an artist desperate to find a sought-after princess muse, played by Hayakawa’s wife Tsuru Aoki. The black-and-white film features Coronado Japanese Tea Garden as a backdrop for the couple’s happy moments with many scenes also filmed in Yosemite National Park and the Hayakawa studio in Los Angeles. The film is accompanied by a complete score by contemporary Japanese-American composer Mark Izu. The run time is 53 minutes.
This much-celebrated film was inducted into the prestigious National Film Registry in 2014, nominated by Daisuke Miyao. Daisuke Miyao, who will provide Q&A at the VIP post-reception, is Professor and Hajime Mori Chair in Japanese Language and Literature at the University of California, San Diego. Miyao is the author of Japonisme and the birth of Cinema (Duke University Press, 2020) and Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom (Duke University Press, 2007). He is also the editor of Oxford Handbook of Japanese Cinema (2014).
The screening of this film is in collaboration with the Coronado Historical Association exhibit Uprooted: The Story of Japanese Americans in Coronado. From immigration in the early 20th century to internment during World War II and post-war resettlement, Uprooted traces the stories of Japanese American families in Coronado. Visit the exhibit to explore the influence of Japanese-style landscape arts in American society through gardens such as Coronado’s Japanese Tea Garden and learn more about Coronado’s Japanese American community. The exhibit is presented in partnership with the Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego and the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego.
The event will also feature Kyoko Takeda who will be playing the traditional Koto. The County of San Diego is commemorating this historic screening by declaring April 13th JAPANESE HERITAGE DAY. This declaration celebrates Coronado’s Japanese American Community, including their cultural and artistic contributions such as the Japanese Tea Garden in Coronado and in film, and honors those forcefully evacuated and incarcerated because of their Japanese ancestry, reminding us that the xenophobia that caused internment must never be repeated.
A limited number of The Dragon Painter screening VIP tickets will include a post-screening reception with Q&A with Daisuke Miyao, Professor and Hajime Mori Chair in Japanese Language and Literature at UCSD at the Coronado Historical Association (1100 Orange Avenue). Professor Miyao successfully nominated The Dragon Painter to the prestigious National Film Registry. VIP tickets cost $35 for Coronado Island Film Festival and Coronado Historical Association members and $40 for non-members. General admission tickets are $15. Tickets can be purchased on the Coronado Film Festival’s website.
Press kit and screening rights courtesy of Milestone Films and Kino Lorber. Screening rights are generously underwritten by Kimball Worcester and Margarita Rhodes. All proceeds from the event benefit the Coronado Island Film Festival and the Coronado Historical Association. The Uprooted exhibit is presented with free admission by CHA in partnership with the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego and the Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego in Balboa Park at the Historical Association’s Museum located at 1100 Orange Avenue.