Steven Okazaki

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Steven Toll Okazaki (born March 12, 1952, in Venice, California)[1] is an American filmmaker. He is Sansei Japanese American (3rd generation) and is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has received a Peabody Award and been nominated for four Academy Awards, winning an Oscar for the documentary short subject, Days of Waiting: The Life & Art of Estelle Ishigo (1990).


Okazaki started 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, about Estelle Ishigo, a Caucasian artist who went with her Japanese American husband to a World War II internment camp for Japanese Americans. He continued to make documentary films for PBS and later with HBO. In 2006, he received his third Oscar 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. Okazaki 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. Okazaki's 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 in 1977-1979, whose sole record, a single called 'Back to Bataan', gained some notoriety by way of later punk music compilations.[2]


Year Film Credited as Notes
Director Writer Editor
1976 A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N-S
1982 Survivors
1983 The Only Language She Knows
1985 Unfinished Business
1987 Living on Tokyo Time
1988 Hunting Tigers
1990 Days of Waiting: The Life & Art of Estelle Ishigo
1992 Troubled Paradise
1993 The Lisa Theory
1994 American Sons
1995 Alone Together: Young Adults Living with HIV
1996 Life Was Good
1999 Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street
2002 The Fair
2005 Rehab
2005 The Mushroom Club
2007 White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
2008 The Conscience of Nhem En
2015 Heroin: Cape Cod, USA
2016 Mifune: The Last Samurai[3] Yes Yes Yes Documentary

Personal life[edit]

Okazaki has been married since 1991 to writer Peggy Orenstein. They have a daughter, Daisy, born in 2003.[4]


  1. ^ Family Tree Legends
  2. ^ Back to Bataan by John McCormack
  3. ^ Okazaki, Steven (Director) (November 25, 2016). Mifune: The Last Samurai (Motion picture). United States: Creative Associates Limited.
  4. ^ "Orenstein uncovers pain of girls' hook-up culture". 2016-06-21. Retrieved 2019-12-18.

External links[edit]