Fugetsu-Do

"We had to live the American Dream twice."

An intimate portrait of a sweet shop that has been an anchor for the Japanese-American community in Little Tokyo since 1903. The ingredients of the brightly-colored pieces of mochi-gashi that line Fugetsu-Do's wood-paneled cases include so much more than rice flour and sweet bean paste. Mixed inside are stories of joy and pain, tradition and racism, legacy and loss. Survival is never easy; it’s complicated and messy, full of contradictions and surprises. In the three generations that the Kito Family has been running Fugetsu-Do, the store has become a memory bank for the community and the stories that line its walls could not be more relevant in today's America.

  • Kaia Rose
    Director
    Climate Countdown
  • Kaia Rose
    Producer
    Climate Countdown
  • Eric Mann
    Cinematography
  • Jasmin Klinger
    Sound Design / Mixing
  • Kaia Rose
    Editor
  • Michele Zarbafian
    Colorist
  • Dominic Pitt
    Compositor
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    japanese-american, food, asian-american, american history
  • Runtime:
    12 minutes 31 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 30, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    RED
  • Aspect Ratio:
    1.9:1
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Boston Asian American Film Festival
    Boston
    United States
    October 21, 2020
    World Premiere
  • Oregon Documentary Film Festival
    The Dalles, Oregon
    United States
    February 28, 2021
    Oregon Premiere
    Best Picture
  • Short. Sweet. Film Festival
    Cleveland, Ohio
    United States
    February 24, 2021
  • Ogeechee International History Film Festival
    Statesboro, Georgia
    United States
    February 26, 2021
  • Nevada Short Film Festival
    Reno, Nevada
    United States
    March 27, 2021
  • DisOrient Asian American Film Festival
    Eugene, Oregon
    United States
    March 19, 2021
    DisOrient Heritage Award
  • Seoul Short Film Festival
    Seoul
    Korea, Republic of
    March 8, 2021
    Finalist: Short Documentary
  • New Wave Film Festival
    Munich
    Germany
    March 4, 2021
    Best Short Documentary
  • New York Tri-State Film Festival
    New York, NY
    United States
    February 27, 2021
  • Lonely Wolf London International Film Festival
    London
    United Kingdom
    March 27, 2021
    Nominated for Best Short Doc, Best Doc Director, Best Doc Cinematography
  • Houston Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival
    Houston, Texas
    United States
    June 3, 2021
  • Birmingham Film & Television Festival
    Birmingham
    United Kingdom
    March 14, 2021
    Semi-Finalist: Short Documentary
  • Kalakari Film Festival
    Dewas
    India
    May 1, 2021
    Indian Premiere
  • Carolina Short Film and Screenwriting Showcase
    Asheville, NC
    United States
    June 1, 2021
    Best Documentary
  • LA Shorts Awards
    Los Angeles, CA
    United States
    May 15, 2021
    Best Documentary
  • Love Wins Film Festival
    Roslyn, NY
    United States
    April 30, 2021
    Best Short Documentary
  • British Documentary Film Festival
    London
    United Kingdom
    May 14, 2021
    Best International Short
  • Fastnet Film Festival
    Schull
    Ireland
    May 26, 2021
    Honorable Mention: Best Documentary
  • Birmingham Film & Television Festival
    Birmingham
    United Kingdom
    May 14, 2021
    Semi-Finalist: Short Documentary
  • DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival
    Washington DC
    United States
    July 15, 2021
    Semi-Finalist
  • Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival
    Chicago, IL
    United States
    July 24, 2021
  • FFF - Food Film Fest
    Bergamo
    Italy
    August 25, 2021
    Finalist
  • Brazil International Monthly Independent Film Festival
    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazil
    June 1, 2021
    Nomination: Best Documentary
  • Austin Asian American Film Festival
    Austin, TX
    United States
    June 4, 2021
  • Houston Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival
    Houston, TX
    United States
    June 11, 2021
Director Biography - Kaia Rose

Kaia is a director and producer best known for Climate Countdown, an award-winning webseries that maps out the ecology of climate solutions. As a freelance filmmaker, Kaia has filmed and edited videos for such organizations as the United Nations, The Juilliard School, 350.org, and the World Bank. She has edited numerous independent short narrative and documentary films and was an editor and archive manager on the PBS documentary "Power to Heal", exploring how Medicare helped desegregate American hospitals in the 1960s. For many years she was the lead producer and studio manager at the BAFTA-winning production company ArthurCox in the UK, where she produced animated commercials, shorts, TV shows and feature films for such companies as Disney Jr, Aardman Animations, the BBC, the UK Film Council and 20th Century Fox TV. Kaia is a graduate of the University of Bristol and currently the Multimedia Content Lead at Connect4Climate, World Bank Group. For more, visit kaiarose.com.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

In the years since I moved away from California, stopping by Fugetsu-Do to pick up some fresh mochi-gashi is usually the first thing my mom and I do after she picks me up from the airport on a visit home. I guess I fell in love with the shop through my mom, who is a native Angeleno like Brian Kito. It's not just the bright colors and delicious flavors that brought me back time and time again, the shop itself drew me in. It feels like walking into a time capsule; in fact, Brian tells a story that once when he was considering renovating the store, an old woman opened the door and began crying because the shop looked exactly as it did when she was a child. Everything else in Little Tokyo had changed - except for Fugetsu-Do. So Brian left the shop as it was.

The same feeling that drew me into the shop drew me to this project. I had no idea when I started filming the breadth and depth of Brian's stories and how, in telling the history of Fugetsu-Do, we would be resonating with so many similar experiences, both past and present, across America. To me, Fugetsu-Do represents the importance of memory. Inside each vibrant, colorful, sweet piece of mochi is a bitesized bittersweet piece of history. We didn't learn about the atrocities of Japanese-American internment camps at my high school, despite growing up only 4 hours south of Manzanar. These stories need to be told. It is only by telling and retelling these stories that we can internalize them and take a piece with us to ensure that we don't repeat these experiences in the future.