Transcript: The Legacy of Raymond Moriyama | Aug 12, 2020

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a black blazer over a blue blouse, and a golden pendant necklace.

A caption on screen reads "A celebration of Raymond Moriyama. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says RESPONSIBLE FOR MANY OF THIS PROVINCE'S MOST TREASURED BUILDINGS, RAYMOND MORIYAMA IS NOW THE SUBJECT OF AN EXCELLENT DOCUMENTARY TITLED, "MAGICAL IMPERFECTION - THE LIFE AND ARCHITECTURE OF RAYMOND MORIYAMA." IT'S HAVING ITS WORLD PREMIERE ON TVO, TONIGHT AT 9PM AND ALSO STREAMING ON TVO.ORG. THE CREATIVE FORCE BEHIND THAT DOC IS FILMMAKER AND DIRECTOR SCOTT CALBECK. AND HE JOINS US NOW FROM THORNHILL, ONTARIO FOR MORE.

Scott is in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with short white hair. He's wearing a white shirt.

Nam continues WELCOME. HI, SCOTT.

Scott says HI, Nam.

Nam says THIS DOCUMENTARY WAS... I WENT FROM CRYING TO LAUGHING BECAUSE RAYMOND IS ACTUALLY PRETTY FUNNY. WHAT LED YOU TO MAKE A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT RAYMOND MORIYAMA?

A picture shows Raymond Moriyama smiling. In the picture he's in his seventies, clean-shaven, with short white hair, wearing a black suit and shirt.

The caption changes to "Scott Calbeck. Filmmaker, 'Magical imperfection.'"

Scott says WELL, I FIRST HEARD ABOUT RAYMOND ONLY WHEN THE CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM OPENED IN 2005, AND MY INTEREST IN HISTORY, MY BACKGROUND, I FOUND THAT TO BE A FASCINATING BUILDING AND WHEN I FOUND OUT MORE ABOUT THE STORY OF RAYMOND, I THOUGHT HE WOULD BE AN EXCELLENT SUBJECT FOR A FILM. SO I CALLED UP HIS OFFICE AND HE INVITED ME TO COME OVER AND MEET HIM. WE TALKED. HE SAID HE THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA. BUT IT'S TAKEN US 15 YEARS TO GET TO THIS POINT. THAT'S HOW FILM OFTEN WORKS. BUT REALLY, RAY IS SUCH A GREAT PERSON. HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THIS... WE COULDN'T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT HIM, OBVIOUSLY. HE GAVE HIMSELF TO THE FILM AND WE'RE GRATEFUL.

The caption changes to "'Magical imperfection: The life and architecture of Raymond Moriyama.' Tonight 9 PM. Also streaming at tvo.org/documentaries."

Nam says AND IT'S BEEN WORTH THE WAIT. WAS IT HARD TO CONVINCE HIM TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DOCUMENTARY?

A picture shows a large angulous concrete building by a reflective pool.

Scott says NO, I THINK OUR TIMING WAS GOOD BECAUSE THE CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM WAS, IN A WAY, HIS FINAL PROJECT, AND HE WAS LOOKING MAYBE AT MORE OF A RETIREMENT AFTER THAT SO THE TIME WOULD BE AVAILABLE. BUT IT WASN'T UNTIL 2014 THAT WE ACTUALLY GOT HIM IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA. WE INTERVIEWED HIM IN THREE OF HIS BUILDINGS. AND IT WAS VERY IMPORTANT FOR HIM TO TELL HIS OWN STORY. AND I WANT TO MENTION MY PARTNER IN THIS, DAVID HOFFER, DID A TREMENDOUS JOB IN THE EDITING. HE ALLOWED RAY TO COME FORTH WITH THIS WONDERFUL STORY AND WE GET TO SHARE THIS REMARKABLE ARCHITECTURE.

Nam says YOU KNOW, YOU WALK THROUGH CITIES, YOU SEE BUILDINGS, AND YOU NEVER REALLY KNOW WHO DESIGNED THE BUILDINGS. CAN YOU GIVE US AN IDEA OF SOME OF MORIYAMA'S WORK IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO?

Scott says WELL, SURE. THE JAPANESE-CANADIAN CULTURAL CENTRE, EVEN THOUGH IT'S NO LONGER THE SAME BUILDING NOW, BUT WHEN IT WAS BUILT IN THE 1960S, IT REALLY WAS A WAY FOR THE JAPANESE COMMUNITY, JAPANESE-CANADIAN COMMUNITY, TO GET TO PARTICIPATE AGAIN IN THE CANADIAN MOSAIC....

A black and white picture shows a building with a flat concrete façade, standing on pillars.

Scott says AND THAT WAS IMPORTANT FOR A PEOPLE WHO REALLY HAD BEEN DENIED THEIR RIGHTS, STRIPPED OF THEIR HOMES AND BUSINESSES IN MANY CASES, BUT INSTEAD OF A BITTERNESS, RAY GAVE THEM A PLACE TO REINJECT THEMSELVES INTO THEIR CULTURE AND REALLY, LIKE I SAY, IT COULD HAVE BEEN BITTERNESS BUT INSTEAD WE HAVE A WONDERFUL BUILDING THAT ALLOWED PEOPLE TO SHARE AND PARTICIPATE AGAIN IN A CULTURE THEY WERE EXCLUDED FROM IN A WAY THAT IS HORRIBLE, WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT.

Nam says IN THE DOCUMENTARY, WE DO FIND OUT MORE OF THE BACKSTORY TO THAT PROJECT. BUT IT IS REALLY FASCINATING THAT A GROUP OF THEM GOT TOGETHER AND CONTRIBUTED TOWARDS THEIR COMMUNITY IN SUCH A UNIQUE WAY.

Scott says YES, IT'S VERY INSPIRING, BECAUSE AS RAY POINTS OUT, IF THE MORTGAGE WASN'T PAID ON TIME, ALL THE PEOPLE THAT CONTRIBUTED TO IT WOULD HAVE GONE UNDER AND THE COMMUNITY TOO WOULD HAVE SUFFERED. BUT INSTEAD IT JUST SHOWED WHAT THEY COULD DO, AND IT'S BEEN GREAT FOR THE PROVINCE, AND THAT'S JUST ONE OF THE BUILDINGS THAT WE COULD TALK ABOUT IN TERMS OF WHAT IT GAVE TO THE PROVINCE AND TO THE COUNTRY.

Nam says THE ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTRE, RIGHT?

Scott says THE ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTRE IS INTERESTING BECAUSE RAY WAS RIDICULED BY THE MUSEUM PROFESSIONALS WHEN HE TOLD THEM THAT THIS WAS TO BE A HANDS-ON MUSEUM.

A black and white picture shows the Ontario Science Centre.

Scott continues THERE HADN'T BEEN ANY BEFORE THAT. AND UNTIL THE DAY IT OPENED, HE SAID IT WAS LIKE HAVING ROTTEN TOMATOES THROWN AT HIM. BUT THE PUBLIC SPOKE. IT BECAME THE WAY THAT SCIENCE MUSEUMS ARE DONE GOING FORWARD THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

Nam says WHAT ELSE MAKES HIS ARCHITECTURE STAND OUT?

Scott says TO ME, IT'S THE FACT THAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS EARLY LIFE WERE SO DIFFERENT THAN MOST PEOPLE THAT HE WAS CHALLENGED IN SO MANY WAYS. HE DECIDED TO BE AN ARCHITECT AT THE AGE OF 4, WHEN HE WAS CONFINED TO A BED FOR 8 MONTHS AFTER SUFFERING A TERRIBLE BURN, AND SAW A BUILDING GOING UP ACROSS THE STREET AND DECIDED THAT'S WHAT HE WANTED TO DO. SO 8 YEARS AFTER THAT, WHEN THE JAPANESE-CANADIAN COMMUNITY IS BEING INTERNED IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, HE SAW AND LIVED THROUGH WHAT IT'S LIKE TO LOSE FREEDOM. AND THAT OBVIOUSLY IMPACTED HIM, AND HIS BUILDINGS NOW ALL REFLECT THE SPIRIT OF EQUALITY AND FREEDOM AND SOCIAL JUSTICE. THE TIMING COULDN'T BE BETTER IN TERMS OF THE DISCUSSION THAT WE'RE HAVING NOW IN THE BROADER WORLD, BUT AS RAY SAID, HE'S BEEN TALKING ABOUT THIS FOR 45 YEARS SO WE'RE JUST CATCHING UP TO HIM.

Nam says HE WAS BORN IN VANCOUVER IN 1929. WHAT WAS IT LIKE BACK THEN GROWING UP JAPANESE-CANADIAN DURING THE 1930S AND '40S?

Scott says WELL, RAY TELLS US THAT THE JAPANESE-CANADIAN COMMUNITY IN VANCOUVER WAS VERY CLEARLY DEFINED. THERE WAS BOUNDARIES THAT WERE CONSIDERED TO BE... YOU KNOW, YOU DIDN'T NECESSARILY CROSS, OR IF YOU DID, YOU WERE GOING INTO A DIFFERENT KIND OF WORLD, AND THERE WAS EVEN KIND OF A RIOT IN VANCOUVER, ANTI-ASIAN SENTIMENT WAS STRONG, YOU KNOW, IT EXISTED. THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT THE COMMUNITY HAD TO DEAL WITH. AND THEN OF COURSE 1941, THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOUR LED TO 22,000 JAPANESE-CANADIANS LOSING THEIR FREEDOM IN OUR COUNTRY, MANY OF THEM CITIZENS.

Nam says WE HAVE A CLIP OF THE DOCUMENTARY. WE'LL TAKE A LOOK. SHELDON, PLEASE ROLL.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "Magical imperfection: The life and architecture of Moriyama."
In the clip, Raymond Moriyama speaks.

He says THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT FREEDOM IS THAT PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE THE IMPORTANCE UNTIL THEY LOSE IT. YOU NEVER REGAIN FREEDOM. IT'S WITH YOU ALL YOUR LIFE. THE TREATMENT BY THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT WILL NEVER LEAVE ME. AFTER ALL THESE 60, 70 YEARS, I STILL THINK ABOUT IT, THAT INJUSTICE IS STILL THERE. YOU KNOW, WE'RE NOT OVER IT. IT SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED TO 22,000 PEOPLE AND IT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN TO ANY CANADIAN.

The clip ends.

Nam says HIS DAD WAS ACTUALLY IMPRISONED, AND HE... THERE'S MORE IN THE DOCUMENTARY AND I DON'T WANT TO GIVE IT AWAY. BUT HOW DID HIS TIME IN AN INTERNMENT CAMP FOR JAPANESE-CANADIANS HELP SHAPE THE MAN THAT HE WAS TO BECOME?

Scott says WELL, BECAUSE OF HIS BURN, HE WAS KIND OF OSTRACIZED IN THE CAMP. PEOPLE WOULD KIND OF MAKE FUN OF HIM OR TEASE HIM ABOUT HIS BAD SCARS AND HE DECIDED HE WOULD GO AND TAKE A BATH IN SLOCAN RIVER, WHICH WAS OUTSIDE THE CAMP AND WAS SOMEWHAT DANGEROUS BECAUSE HE KNEW HE COULD BE ARRESTED AND, YOU KNOW, SENT AWAY LIKE HIS FATHER. BUT HE'S THE MAN OF THE FAMILY NOW AT AGE 12, 13, SO HE BUILT THIS SECRET LITTLE TREEHOUSE WHERE HE COULD OBSERVE, FIRST TO SEE IF ANYBODY WAS COMING, BECAUSE HE HAD TO BE HIDDEN FROM PEOPLE WHEN HE WAS OUTSIDE THE CAMP. BUT THEN IT GAVE HIM A CHANCE TO SEE THAT NATURE REALLY WAS MORE PERMANENT THAN THIS KIND OF SOCIAL CONSTRUCT THAT WAS DENYING HIM HIS FREEDOM. AND IT CONNECTED HIS INTEREST IN BEING AN ARCHITECT, KIND OF SUSTAINED HIM THROUGH THAT VERY DIFFICULT PERIOD AND GAVE HIM A SENSE OF HOPE THAT MAYBE HE COULD IN THE FUTURE CONTRIBUTE TO THIS COUNTRY. AND HE CONTINUES TO DO THAT. HE CHALLENGES US TO BE BETTER THAN WE ARE IN THE SENSE THAT... I MEAN, WE IMPRISONED PEOPLE FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN THEIR RACE, WHICH IS HORRIBLE WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT. BUT HE WANTS TO MAKE CANADA A BETTER PLACE. AND WHEN YOU THINK HOW DIFFICULT IT WOULD BE FOR A CHILD... A YOUNG MAN, YOU KNOW, 12, 13, 14, ON HIS OWN, KIND OF SEPARATED FROM NOT ONLY HIS FATHER BUT OTHER PEOPLE IN THE CAMP, AND INSTEAD OF BEING BITTER, IT MADE HIM WANT TO MAKE THIS WORLD A BETTER PLACE. AND EVERY ONE OF HIS BUILDINGS GIVES US A CHANCE TO APPRECIATE THAT.

Nam says YOU NAMED THE DOCUMENTARY "MAGICAL IMPERFECTION." WHY THAT TITLE?

Scott says RAY TALKED ABOUT BEING A BOY, RECOVERING FROM HIS BURNS HE WAS SENT TO SEE A DOCTOR IN JAPAN WHERE HIS PARENTS STILL HAD RELATIVES, AND HIS GRANDFATHER, VERY INSTRUMENTAL IN HELPING HIM REALIZE THAT EVEN THOUGH YOU CAN STRIVE FOR PERFECTION, MAN IS NOT PERFECT, AND MAYBE THERE'S MAGIC TO IMPERFECTION. AND WE THOUGHT MAGICAL IMPERFECTIONS, MY WIFE FINE-TUNED IT A LITTLE BIT, AND WE CAME UP WITH THAT, AND WE REALLY THINK THAT DOES SPEAK TO RAY AND HIS WORK.

The caption changes to "Producer: Sandra Gionas, @sandragionas."

Nam says WELL, THIS DOCUMENTARY WAS PERFECT, NOT TO SOUND CHEESY. IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL PIECE OF ART. THANK YOU SO MUCH, SCOTT.

Scott says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Watch: The Legacy of Raymond Moriyama