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JANM Presents The Oath of the Sword at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on May 28, 2023

Once thought to be lost, the newly rediscovered and restored 1914 film by the Japanese American Film Company is believed to be the first Asian American film production.

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) will present the premiere screening of the recently restored 1914 silent film The Oath of the Sword at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles, on Sunday, May 28, 2023, at 2 p.m. PDT. Tickets are $5 ($4 for members of the Academy Museum or JANM) and are available at

Once thought to be lost, the sole surviving print of The Oath of the Sword was recently rediscovered at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, by scholar Denise Khor of Northeastern University. Made by the Japanese American Film Company, a company based in Los Angeles and led by Japanese immigrants, The Oath of the Sword had an all-Japanese cast. The three-reel film is believed to be the earliest Asian American film production. The restoration was a partnership among Khor, JANM, and the George Eastman Museum and supported by a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

When the protagonist, Masao, leaves Japan to study at UC Berkeley, he also leaves his lover, Hisa, who is caring for her ailing father. As Masao becomes an athletic star at Berkeley, Hisa languishes in Japan. When they reunite four years later, they discover that their lives are irrevocably and tragically changed. Remarkable location photography lends an air of realism to this once-lost treasure, which will be shown with live musical accompaniment by pianist, improviser, and composer Naomi Nakanishi.

Following the film, Renee Tajima-Peña, professor of Asian American Studies at UCLA, will moderate a panel discussion with Stephen Gong, executive director of the Center for Asian American Media; Karen Ishizuka, chief curator at JANM; and Denise Khor, associate professor of Asian American Studies and Visual Studies at Northeastern University. 


About the Japanese American National Museum (JANM)

Established in 1985, JANM promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. Located in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, JANM is a hybrid institution that straddles traditional museum categories and strives to provide a voice for Japanese Americans as well as a forum that enables all people to explore their own heritage and culture. Since opening to the public in 1992, JANM has presented over 70 exhibitions onsite while traveling 17 exhibits to venues such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Ellis Island Museum in the United States, and to several leading cultural museums in Japan and South America. JANM is open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday–Sunday from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and on Thursday from 12 p.m.–8 p.m. JANM is free every third Thursday of the month. On all other Thursdays, JANM is free from 5 p.m.–8 p.m. For more information, visit or follow us on social media @jamuseum.