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Pioneers of Rock Springs

In the 1800s, Rock Springs Wyoming became a hub of immigrant coal miners and railroad laborers, attracting workers from across the United States and worldwide from 56 nations, bringing their distinctive cultures, foods, and languages.

Immigrant Japanese were among those arriving in the 19th century to work on the railroad and coal mines. This film tells the story of one of those families and the legacy they created.

  • Don Aoki
  • Don Aoki
  • Don Aoki
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    11 minutes 17 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 22, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Wyoming International Film Festival
    Cheyenne, WY
    United States
    July 8, 2022
    World Premiere
    Nominee, Best Wyoming Documentary
  • 307 International International Film Festival (Wyoming)
    Laramie, WY
    United States
    August 27, 2022
  • Best Global Shorts
    November 7, 2022
    India Premiere
    Best Documentary Short
  • Asian Film Festival
    Los Angeles/Hollywood, CA
    United States
    December 1, 2022
    Nominee, Gold Diamond Award
  • Best Shorts
    La Jolla, CA
    United States
    June 19, 2023
    Award of Recognition: Documentary Short, Award of Merit: History/Biographical
  • Lonely Wolf International Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    December 21, 2023
  • Planet Cinema
    November 29, 2023
  • CLIMAX International Film Festival
    April 24, 2024
Director Biography - Don Aoki

A native Californian, Don has been making films recreationally since the age of 12 but spent the lion's share of his adult life as a Silicon Valley technology executive, advisor, and investor.

Outside of his technology and business interests, Don enjoys pursuing his creative endeavors, combining his love for travel, history, and storytelling.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

As a child growing up in Los Angeles, I heard tales of my maternal great-grandparents and their families residing and working in southwestern Wyoming as miners and railroad laborers during the first years of the 20th century.

Fascinated by the stories, I interviewed aging relatives, documented their oral recollections, placed them in the context of world events, researched the local history and conditions of that period, and collected old photos and relevant documents. Incorporating over 30 years of inquiry, the resulting narrative is this short film, Pioneers of Rock Springs.