Steven Okazaki

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Steven Okazaki
Steven Okazaki on Dulce Osuna.jpg
Okazaki in 2017
Steven Toll Okazaki

(1952-03-12) March 12, 1952 (age 70)
Alma materSan Francisco State University
  • Director
  • Producer
  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Cinematographer
Years active1976–present
(m. 1991)
ChildrenDaisy Tomoko

Steven Toll Okazaki (born March 12, 1952) is an American documentary filmmaker known for his raw, cinéma vérité-style documentaries that frequently show ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances. He has received a Peabody Award, a Primetime Emmy and has been nominated for four Academy Awards, winning an Oscar for the documentary short subject, Days of Waiting: The Life & Art of Estelle Ishigo.


Steven Okazaki started his career at Churchill Films in 1976, making narrative and documentary shorts. In 1982, he produced Survivors for WGBH Boston, a documentary short about Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors. In 1985, he received his first Academy Award nomination for Unfinished Business, about three Nisei Japanese Americans who challenged the Internment of Japanese Americans during World War II in court. In 1987, he wrote and directed the independent film, Living on Tokyo Time, which premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival and was theatrically released by Skouras Pictures.

In 1991, he won the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) for Days of Waiting: The Life & Art of Estelle Ishigo, about Estelle Peck Ishigo, a Caucasian artist who accompanied her Japanese American husband to a Japanese internment camp. Okazaki continued to make documentary films for PBS and later with HBO. In 2006, he received his third Academy Award nomination for The Mushroom Club, a personal documentary about his journey to Japan to interview atomic bomb survivors on the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. He co-received the 2008 "Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking" Primetime Emmy Award for White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and his fourth Oscar nomination in 2009, for the documentary short The Conscience of Nhem En. His production company, Farallon Films, is based in Berkeley, California.

Okazaki was also involved as a multi-instrumentalist in a San Francisco punk rock music group called The Maids (1977–79), whose sole record, a single called 'Back to Bataan,' gained some notoriety by way of later punk music compilations.[1]


Year Title Distributor
1976 A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N-S Farallon Films
1982 Survivors PBS
1983 The Only Language She Knows Farallon Films
1985 Unfinished Business PBS
1986 Living on Tokyo Time Skouras Pictures
1988 Hunting Tigers Farallon Films
1991 Days of Waiting: The Life & Art of Estelle Ishigo PBS
1992 Troubled Paradise PBS
1993 The Lisa Theory Finnish TV
1994 American Sons PBS
1995 Alone Together: Young Adults Living With HIV NHK
1996 Life Was Good: The Claudia Peterson Story NHK
1999 Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End Of The Street HBO
2002 The Fair PBS
2005 Rehab HBO
2006 The Mushroom Club HBO, Cinemax
2007 White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki HBO
2009 The Conscience of Nhem En HBO
2010 Crushed: The Oxycontin Interview Farallon Films
2011 Approximately Nels Cline Farallon Films
2011 All We Could Carry Farallon Films
2014 Giap's Last Day At The Ironing Board Factory PBS
2015 Heroin: Cape Cod, USA HBO
2016 Mifune: The Last Samurai Strand Releasing

Personal life[edit]

Okazaki has been married since 1991 to writer Peggy Orenstein. They have a daughter, Daisy Tomoko, born in 2003.[2]


  1. ^ "Back to Bataan". L.A. Weekly. June 21, 2000. Archived from the original on July 10, 2017.
  2. ^ "Orenstein uncovers pain of girls' hook-up culture". San Francisco Chronicle. June 21, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2019.

External links[edit]