About The Filmmakers
Sandra Johnson Osawa (Makah Tribe) and Yasu Osawa met at the UCLA graduate film program which accepted 16 minority students for the first time in the 1970′s. These students were all determined to create stories of, for and about their respective minority communities. Thirty years later, Sandy and Yasu have produced a ten-part series on American Indian issues for NBC, five documentaries for PBS, a one-hour television special on treaty rights called The Eighth Fire, plus over 50 videos for museums, tribes and organizations. In addition, under the graphic design direction of Yasu Osawa, the company has created logos, newsletters, brochures, posters, and still photography for a wide variety of clients. They founded Upstream Productions, their own production company, in Seattle, WA in 1980, and have exhibited their work both nationally and internationally.
The team is interested in American Indian political issues as reflected by their films, Lighting the 7th Fire, about spearfishing rights in Wisconsin, and Usual and Accustomed Places, their in-depth look at treaty issues in the Northwest. In addition, they are interested in more contemporary images of Indian people as reflected in their portraits of jazz musician Jim Pepper and nationally known stand-up comedian Charlie Hill. Most recently, their program on prima ballerina Maria Tallchief continues that interest in exploring the lives of contemporary Indian artists.
The filmmakers plan and fund their own independent productions and work on at least 2-3 other videos a year with selected clients on a contract basis. Contact them directly for full production service inquiries.
The two are also available for speaking engagements on college campuses and often premier their new works in a college setting. They have also conducted filmmaking workshops in various communities. Contact them directly for speaking and workshop requests.
Sandra is one of the few American Indian members of the Writers Guild of America and has also published her essays in First Fish, First People: Salmon Tales of the North Pacific Rim and her poetry in Dancing on the Rim of the World, a collection of Northwest poets edited by Andrea Lerner. She is the sole writer behind all documentary scripts and exhibit pieces. Yasu is a skilled cameraman and editor, graphic artist and still photographer who has worked in Indian country for over 30 years. While working in Navajo country, he received the nickname, “Yazzie,” appropriate due to his strong commitment towards his partner’s fight for justice for Native Americans through filmmaking.