Irish-based Jimmy Murakami, the director of ‘Snowman’, has major retrospective in Turin

The Snowman


Starting on the 15th December the Sottodiciotto Film Festival in Turin is honouring the career of the Oscar®-nominated Japanese American Animator, Jimmy Murakami, with a dedicated retrospective of his life’s work.  Also showing is Sé Merry Doyle’s  documentary “Jimmy Murakami – Non Alien” which tells the story of Jimmy’s incarceration alongside 40,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps after Japan attacked Pearl  Harbor . Jimmy is in very exalted company as Turin are also having retrospectives on Alan Parker The Comittments, Jaco Von Dormael, Toto the Hero, Marco Risi, Maradona, the Hand of God, Delphine Gleize Carnage, and Andrea Segre, The Green Blod. Among the films to be screened from Jimmy’s amazing catalogue are his evergreen Snowman, his apocalyptic nuclear war film When the Wind Blows, Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol plus his groundbreaking experimental works: Breath, The Magic Pear Tree, and The Good Friend.


Director of ‘Snowman’, Jimmy Murakami, to attend special screening at Shebeen Flick


On Tuesday, 8th November Shebeen Flick will welcome Oscar® -nominated animation director Jimmy Murakami to a special screening showing his 1969 short The Good Friend and the documentary Jimmy Murakami – Non Alien directed by Sé Merry Doyle.

Jimmy T. Murakami is a world-renowned Oscar®- nominated animator whose credits include When the Wind Blows and The Snowman but there is one dark chapter in his life that he has not revealed until recently. During WW2, Japanese-American citizens like Jimmy and his family were evacuated to a concentration camp in the California desert. The term ‘Non Alien’ refers to the status the Japanese American people were given at that time. They were neither Citizen nor Alien.

Jimmy Murakami – Non Alien takes you on an extraordinary journey with Jimmy, from his adopted country Ireland, through his Hollywood career, climaxing with his return to camp to confront his childhood demons and his still present anger with the American government that put him there.

Murakami short ‘The Good Friend’, which opens the screening, is a bitter, yet blackly humorous comment on the nature of love, friendship and the unfolding of these relationships. This short is very different in conception and style. Using highly stylized characters and animation in almost mono-colour a comic-tragic series of surreal events unfold that result in the ultimate sacrifice being made for love and friendship.

Shebeen Flick is a weekly film night showing loved and unseen Irish films on Tuesdays at 7pm downstairs in Shebeen Chic, 4 Georges Street, Dublin 2. The initiative is run in association with Jameson and the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland. For more details on upcoming screenings visit


'Jimmy Murakami – Non Alien' wins 'Directors Choice' award at Sacramento Film and Music Festival

Sé Merry Doyle and Jimmy Murakami

Sé Merry Doyle’s documentary Jimmy Murakami – Non Alien has won the director’s choice award at the Sacramento Film and Music Festival.

Murakami who is best known for his  work on The Snowman and When the Wind Blows has lived in Ireland for over forty years. However the documentary explores a period of his life that has, until now, remained hidden.

At the age of seven he and his family were incarcerated in Tule Lake Concentration Camp in Northern California, after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Considered a threat to national security they spent four years in the camp where, along with many thousands of Japanese-Americans, they suffered countless humiliations and an enormous loss of freedom. Now in early retirement, he has decided to return to this period of his life by creating a series of stunning paintings that illuminate his memories of prison life.

The documentary follows Murakami on an emotional return to Tule Lake.

For more details on the Sacremento Film and Music Festival click here

For more details on Jimmy Murakami: Non Alien click here


Issue 132 – Jimmy Murakami: Non Alien

Jimmy Murakami

The renowned animator of The Snowman revisits the American concentration camp in which he and his family were interned in this new documentary. Dermod Moore spoke to the director, Sé Merry Doyle, one of the producers, Vanessa Gildea, and to Murakami himself.

‘I was 9 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour. That was when the shit hit the fan for all Japanese people in America. My family, alongside 125,000 Japanese-Americans, were forced to evacuate their homes and were interned in concentration camps, west of the Mississippi. We ended up in Tule Lake, in Northern California, a dry, arid lake in the middle of nowhere. The War Relocation Authority hastily set about turning the desert into a prison. Our family had no choice but to settle in. Our new address was Ward 3, Block 24.’

These words open Loopline Film’s latest feature documentary, Jimmy Murakami: Non Alien. They are spoken by the eponymous narrator, the animator and director of such masterpieces as When the Wind Blows and The Snowman.

For most of his life, he has kept these early memories to himself.

Luck, a certain kind of continuous encouraging serendipity, played a large part in the making of this film. A former animation student of Murakami was told the whole story about ten years ago, and got a grant to write a treatment for a documentary. However, it contained only a brief mention of the concentration camp. The BBC turned it down, because they were already making a film about another animator at the time. The real story had been missed.

Sé Merry Doyle: I remember how this film started for me. At the 2007 Galway Film Fleadh, I saw Linda Hattendorf’s The Cats Of Mirikitani, a film about an 83-year-old homeless artist who was interned in Tule Lake Camp. Jimmy, an old friend of mine, was in the audience, and I remember asking him if he identified with it, because it was about a Japanese-American. He got quite emotional about it. ‘What’s the matter with you?’ I asked him. He said, ‘I was in that camp’.

Jimmy Murakami: The coincidences were all there – the artist in the film was called Jimmy M, he painted, he went to the same camp, although he was a lot older than me. I got very emotional because it was my past coming back.

SMD: I was shocked. He’d never told me. But I didn’t jump at it then, I let it go. It got a little seed going, but I didn’t push at it. However, when Jimmy told me he had started doing paintings about that period in his life, encouraged by his wife Eithne, I flew out to his house. I got excited, Jimmy was being active rather than passive about it, and it was visual. I brought a camera with me, we shot a pilot, and I immediately sensed this could be a great story. That’s a good year and a half ago…

The full article is printed in Film Ireland 132.