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Exclusive interview with IFP Gotham Award winner Tadashi Nakamura

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On Monday, Dec. 2, Examiner.com was on the scene at the 23rd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards, presented by the The Independent Filmmaker Project at Cipriani Wall Street. In the green room, we had the opportunity to interview Tadashi Nakamura about his big win for "Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings" in the Gotham Independent Film Audience Award category.

How did you get involved with this film?

The project actually came about Don Young from the Center for Asian American Media actually hired me. This was my first feature documentary. So, we had worked together before on much shorter films, but basically hired me and asked if I’d like to do a film on Jake and I totally jumped on it.

Tell people what your film is about for people who haven’t seen it.

"Life on Four Strings" is about the ukulele virtuoso named Jake Shimabukuro and he’s a Japanense-American musician from Hawaii. I basically followed him for about two years, and just about his rise to fame and his continuation to elevate the genre of music.

Why is his story personal to you?

It’s personal because it’s about an Asian-American musician, but also beyond that it’s about a present-day virtuoso. And I think I really got along with Jake in the fact that we both utilize our craft to really touch people and try to create change and improvement in other people’s lives as much as we can.

Two years is a pretty long time.

Well, I think just like any documentary, you know, you just kind of have to follow the story. We traveled all around, so we shot in New York, L.A., Hawaii, and Tokyo. And one of the most difficult parts is we went to Sendai, Japan, five months after the tsunami. And so that’s part of the story.

What’s next for you?

I’m actually working on a retrospective on 50 years of independent Asian-American film and also working on a mural project in Hawaii on these two mural that’s named Estria and Prime, and they’re mural projects with local Hawaiian youth.

What are you based?

I’m based in Los Angeles.

The evening was presented by euphoria Calvin Klein, FIJI Water, Russian Standard Vodka and Mionetto Prosecco.

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