Arts & Culture

Great Grandfather’s Drum

By LUKE PUTVIN | Last Updated October 3, 2019

Local documentary filmmaker Victoria Lewin was present at a showing of her 2011 film Great Grandfather’s Drum at the Lynnwood Senior Center on September 22. Lewin made the film along with her husband, Cal Lewin.

Great Grandfather’s Drum explores and celebrates Japanese-American culture in Hawai’i’s history. The documentary explored individual stories from the 1880s, when large numbers of Japanese people emigrated to Hawai’i, from the World War II and post-war era and from present day. The film is partially told through the lens of Maui Taiko, a contemporary Japanese-American drum ensemble.

“My husband Cal Lewin and I make documentaries as a team.  It’s an honor for us to be allowed into the lives of the people we film, and wonderful to get to know people so intimately,” Lewin said. “In Great Grandfather’s Drum, we sought to tell the story of a whole community through their own eyes and experiences, so that future generations won’t forget it.  We tell a century of history of Japanese Americans in Hawai’i by relating that history to the real lives of people living today.”

“The film is a story of immigrant success in America,” Lewin began, “but part of the film also shows when Americans let fear take over and condemned this whole group of people for their ethnic background, instead of judging them each based on their individual character or what they were really doing… The film shows a complex picture of the melting-pot history of Hawai’i, and how ethnic diversity makes America strong.”

“I hope viewers will come away from the film understanding the wonderful culture and contributions of Americans of Japanese Ancestry in Hawai’i,” Lewin concluded. For more information about the film, visit

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