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Office:

THE VETS

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Providence, RI 02903
tel: 401/861-4445
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RIIFF

NBA Sports Legend --

WAT MISAKA to receive

Roger Williams Independent Spirit Award

Saturday, August 8, 2009 at 5:00 p.m.

 

wat1

Presentation of first Roger Williams Award to celebrate an inspirational individual whose life was one of breaking barriers

 

Read the news release

 

Wataru “Wat” Misaka is the first person of color, as well as the first person of Asian descent, drafted into what is now the National Basketball Association (NBA). More than half a century before the Dallas Mavericks drafted China's Wang Zhizhi in 1999, the New York Knicks drafted Mr. Misaka in the first round. In honor of his accomplishments as a pioneer in the world of sports, the Rhode Island International Film Festival presents Wat with the Roger Williams Independent Spirit Award. 

 

A Nissei-American who was born, raised, and is still living in Utah, Wat was the very first draft pick of the New York Knicks, in 1947. Overcoming the national political climate during World War II, Wat was a star player for the University of Utah 1944 and 1947 championship teams, taking 2 years off in between to serve in the U.S. Army. His perseverance and loyalty to his teammates, other Nissei friends (including those interned at the Topaz camp) and his family are a testament to the unflappable Japanese American spirit.

 

Wat, a 5-foot 7-inch guard, appeared in three games and scored seven points for the 1947-48 Knicks before he was cut for reasons never made clear to him. But he recalls his brief stint in the NBA as a pleasant one.  He turned down an offer to play for the Harlem Globetrotters so that he could return to school to earn a degree in engineering.

 

This is the inaugural year for RIIFF’s Roger Williams Independent Spirit Award, which recognizes an individual whose work reflects the values – freedom, equality, and tolerance – associated with Rhode Island founder, Roger Williams.

 

The award will be presented on Saturday, August 8th at 5:00 p.m. at the Columbus Theatre Arts Center, 270 Broadway, Providence, RI. at the festival screening of the acclaimed documentary film “TRANSCENDING The Wat Misaka Story,” directed by Christine Toy Johnson and Bruce Alan Johnson.

 

This event is presented in collaboration with Sport in Society.
 
Tickets for this very special event are $10.00.

 

ABOUT THE FILM:

 

TRANSCENDING The Wat Misaka Story Directed by Christine Toy Johnson and Bruce Alan Johnson, (2008, 86 min. U S A)


This documentary film is about Wat Misaka, the first person of color to be drafted into what is now the NBA. A Nissei who was born, raised and is still living in Salt Lake City Utah, he was the very first draft pick of the New York Knicks, in 1947. Overcoming the national political climate during World War II, Wat was a star player for the University of Utah 1944 and 1947 championship teams, taking 2 years off in between to serve in the U.S. Army. His perseverance and loyalty to his teammates, other Nissei friends (including those interned at Topaz) and his family, are a testament to the unflappable Japanese American spirit. This film includes in depth interviews with Wat and his family, teammates from his championship teams (including Arnie Ferrin, Herb Wilkinson, Fred Lewis and Glynn Peterson), sports authorities, and many who continue to look up to him as both a role model and personal hero. The film also has video clips from his 1944 and 1947 college games, rare footage from a visit to the Topaz Internment Camp, and countless photos of his triumphant career.

 

Co-directed by award-winning filmmakers Bruce Alan Johnson and Christine Toy Johnson, this project was awarded two consecutive grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program.

 

 

THE WHO, WHAT AND WHERE OF IT:


The Roger Williams Independent Spirit Award presentation to Wat Miska and screening of “TRANSCENDING: The Wat Misaka Story,” directed by Christine Toy Johnson and Bruce Alan Johnson will take place at the historic Columbus Theatre Arts Center, (270 Broadway) in Providence, RI.

 

Date: Saturday, August 8, 2009.

 

Time: The award presentation and film screening will start at 5:00 p.m.

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Cost: $10 for general admission. Tickets will be sold at the door on a first-come, first served basis.

____________________________________________________________________________

 

Wat Misaka Roger Williams Independent Spirit Award Presentation and “TRANSCENDING: The Wat Misaka Story,” August 8th

$10.00

Film Screening and Award Presentation: 5:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Columbus Theatre Arts Center, 270 Broadway, PROVIDENCE

For student or group rates, please call our office to make reservations at 401.861.4445