This weekend’s USA Film Festival may be taking place at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas, but there will be two notable Fort Worthians’ stories highlighted at the event.

Archival news coverage from Bob Ray Sanders’ time at KERA will be featured as well as a documentary showing a Japanese-American woman’s journey from Fort Worth to Japan in search for her birth mother.

At 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, one of the festival’s sessions will feature early reporting from the longtime journalist and a Q&A with Sanders hosted by the Star-Telegram’s Bud Kennedy.

The program will feature his reporting on a variety of subjects from a class-action asbestos lawsuit to a look at Fort Worth’s power brokers.

Sanders was surprised to learn that some of his early TV work survived.

“In those early days, we were shooting film when other people were shooting tape,” Sanders said. “We didn’t know how to store things there. We didn’t know about the climate that they had to be in and all that. I assumed much of it had been destroyed or simply thrown away because we had no room to keep it.” 

Even though the session is titled “Saluting Bob Ray Sanders,” he hopes that people will learn more about the people who invested in developing KERA in Dallas-Fort Worth — a place, he said, many people thought a public media outlet wouldn’t survive.

“There was a pioneering television station, a little educational station that started out with literally teachers pointing to blackboards on the screen and evolved into this thing that became a force and today is still a major force,” Sanders said. “I was glad to be just a little bit of that in the beginning.”

At 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 24 Barbara Mountcastle, born Kigawa Yoko, another Fort Worthian, will have her story featured at the USA Film Festival.

Her father was an American soldier, but for the first five-and-a-half years of her life she was raised by her single, Japanese mother. Hoping her daughter might have better opportunities, her mother put her up for adoption.

An American military family adopted her, changed her name and brought her to the United States. She said they turned out to be abusive, and, other than her memories, Mountcastle had very little to keep her connected to her roots.

“When I was growing up, they never showed me anything. They never told me anything. Even though I’d ask, they didn’t even take pictures. So I was just completely cut off. It was like I didn’t have that part of my life as part of my identity, and I knew that I was different, but I didn’t grow up with the heritage of the Japanese side of me,” Mountcastle said. “I didn’t have a clue.”

As an adult, she attempted to track down her birth mother, but she had a hard time getting information.

Several years later, one of her adult children tried to find relatives on Facebook by looking for people with the same family name: Kigawa. Through that hunt she was connected with Kigawa Tsuyoshi.

My daughter said, ‘Mom, he wants to come out here and meet you and look at the newspaper article and your birth certificate and such.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, why?’ And she said, ‘Well, he does documentaries and he does research and he’s interested in your story.’” 

The university professor and filmmaker isn’t related, but he helped Mountcastle look for her relatives. The result is a documentary titled “Yokosuka 1953.”

Mountcastle’s mother died before her trip to Japan, but she said that being able to visit her mom’s gravesite and speak to people who knew her mother was validating.

It was an experience that was like letting the breath come out of you, like it’s OK,” Mountcastle said. “I had these memories, but I didn’t have anyone to verify it for me, but I knew these memories were true.”

She hopes that people watching the documentary will learn to never give up; she attributes her own ability to persevere to her mother.

There’s a lot of things that could have gone wrong with me, but I didn’t go that route, ” Mountcastle said. “I think that all came from the love of my mother.”

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at marcheta.fornoff@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Marcheta Fornoff

For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...