East of the Rockies
Joy Kogawa and Jam3
| 40-60 min
Augmented Reality Experience
Selections and Awards
Official SelectionIDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling 2018
Official Selection - VIFF Immersed Exhibition Vancouver International Film Festival 2019
Prix Coup de Cœur Plaine Commune360 Film Festival, Paris, France (2019)
Winner - Arts and Entertainment: Interactive ContentRockie Awards International Program Competition (2020)
Best Video Game NarrativeCanadian Screen Awards (2020)
East of the Rockies is an experimental augmented-reality narrative written by 83-year-old Joy Kogawa, one of Canada’s most acclaimed and celebrated literary figures. The story is told from the perspective of Yuki, a 17-year-old girl forced from her home and made to live in the Slocan internment camp during the Second World War. As Yuki and her family adjust to their new reality inside the camp, they struggle to make life as normal as possible.
Users follow the story by tapping, swiping, inspecting and zooming in on key elements within each scene. Every interaction activates a piece of scripted narrative spoken by Joy’s own granddaughter, Anne. Spoken in the first person, each line illuminates a different aspect of life in the camp, as documented in Yuki’s journal.
East of the Rockies is an interactive narrative AR experience written by acclaimed Canadian author Joy Kogawa and told from the perspective of Yuki, a 17-year-old girl forced from her home and made to live in BC’s Slocan Japanese internment camp during the Second World War.
Origin of the project
The project began with Joy Kogawa—famed author, poet, activist, and member of the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia, as well as Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun. Joy is also a former internee at the Japanese-Canadian internment camp at Slocan, BC.
Kogawa’s novel Obasan stands as the most important account of this chapter in Canadian history. Powerful and passionate, Obasan tells, through the eyes of a child, the moving story of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Based on Kogawa’s own experiences, this award-winning novel was the first to recount the story of the evacuation, relocation, and dispersal of Canadian citizens of Japanese ancestry. Obasan was named one of the most important books in Canadian history by the Literary Review of Canada.
At 83 years old, Kogawa has teamed up with artists and producers at Jam3 to tell a completely original tale for an all-new medium. Together with Kogawa, the team is leveraging new and exciting technology to relate an amazing, substantive story and reach a new generation.
About the technology
East of the Rockies uses cutting-edge AR technology to bring impactful storytelling into the palm of users’ hands. Users become directors as they physically move through the 3D environment at their own speed with proximity-based interactions, tapping, and swiping.
Story-driven interactions emphasize story elements by showing life in Slocan, BC, or painting a picture alongside a character. Whether or not users enable AR, East of the Rockies tells an important story with innovative and artful technology.
Following Pearl Harbor, some 22,000 Canadians of Japanese descent or nationality were stripped of their property and interned under the War Measures Act.
The War Measures Act gave the federal government the power to regulate all persons “of the Japanese race”—which soon translated into forced relocation and years of internment for Japanese Canadians. Property was seized, stolen, looted, destroyed or left neglected while its owners were subjected to harsh conditions in remote locations, far from the homes and lives they once knew.
During this time, the rights of Japanese Canadians were severely curtailed. In August 1944, Prime Minister Mackenzie King announced that Japanese Canadians were to be moved east out of the British Columbia interior. The official policy stated that Japanese Canadians must move east of the Rocky Mountains or be repatriated to Japan following the end of the war.
It wouldn’t be until 1949, following years of internment, the confiscation and sale of their properties, and the Dispersal Policy, that the internees would be given the freedom to move anywhere within Canada.
For the roughly 22,000 Canadians affected, race superseded citizenship, regardless of class, sex, age or generation.
East of the Rockies is the story of a young millennial woman attempting to piece together the faded memory of her family’s past, set in an imagined version of the Slocan Japanese-Canadian internment camp—the site where her ailing grandmother lived and where her family’s lives changed forever.
By Joy Kogawa and Jam3
Produced by Jam3 and the National Film Board of Canada
DIRK VAN GINKEL
Executive Creative Director
Managing Director / Partner
Executive Creative Directors / Partners
Director of New Business / Partner
Lead Game Programmer
Grafics and Animator Programmer
Voice Over Artists
User Experience Designer
Motion Capture Performers
NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA
Studio Operations Manager
KATJA DE BOCK
CANADIAN RACE RELATIONS FOUNDATION
Director, Finance and Administration
LEATRICE NAKANO CHAN
WILLIAM ANDREW ROSSER
About the NFB
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won over 100 awards, including 21 Webbys. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.