CSUN Alumna to Screen Award-Winning Documentary, ‘Children of Internment’

Black and white scene from Children of Internment

An image from the documentary, Children of Interment.”

California State University, Northridge alumna Kristina Wagner will screen her award-winning documentary “Children of Internment” on campus next month.

Wagner’s work, which won Best Documentary at the Santa Fe Film Festival earlier this year, places a spotlight on children who were put into internment camps during World War II (WWII), and discusses the various racial groups, which were discriminated in the 20th century.

“I want the public to know that the internment of American citizens, aliens and aliens from Latin America really did happen,” Wagner said. “Some suspects were guilty and some were not. The problem is that they all got caught in a dragnet of wartime hysteria. Just because you look like the enemy, you are arrested.”

Wagner’s documentary work began while researching her senior thesis paper at CSUN in 2006. She was studying the detainment of Americans of Italian, German, Japanese and Latino descent during WWII.

Wagner interviewed two internment camp survivors for her thesis, Heidi Gurcke Donald and Eberhard Fuhr, who are featured in the documentary.

“Their stories are very detailed and gut-wrenching,” she said.

Several of the people who are featured in the film are expected to attend the event and share their experiences in internment camps, including John Christgau, author of “Enemies, WWII Alien Internment” and Sigrid B. Toyes, who was the child of an internee during WWII.

“I feel honored that these folks are willing to give their time to our panel discussion,” Wagner said.

Wagner, who started her film career in 1984 as an actress on the popular soap opera “General Hospital.” She has worked in the entertainment business for more than 20 years and said making the documentary gave her a new perspective to being on the other side of the camera.

“Having been a soap star for the last 25 years, this was the first time I was doing the interviewing,” she said. “I know from first-hand experience that the things that are said in an interview aren’t always conveyed accurately with the final outcome. I make it a priority to be as accurate with my documentary storytelling as possible.”

History department chair Richard Horowitz said the showing would be inspiring to watch.

“We think this will be really inspiring to our students, who sometimes see college as an obstacle course on the way to a degree,” he said.

The screening, which is open to the public, is slated for Thursday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m. in the Whitsett Room in Sierra Hall, located on the west side of the campus near Etiwanda Avenue and Prairie Street.

For more information, contact the Department of History at (818) 677-3566.