Film poster for "Manzanar Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust" with illustration of mountains, grassland and dirt.
Film poster for "Manzanar Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust" with illustration of mountains, grassland and dirt.
Intergenerational women from Native American, Japanese American and rancher communities form an unexpected alliance to defend their land and water from Los Angeles


Regular price $129.00


Screened at 28 film festivals worldwide | BEST DOCUMENTARY - San Diego Asian Film Festival | HONORABLE MENTION - CAAMFEST and Milwaukee Film Festival

Asian American, Native American & Indigenous History • California Water & Environmental History • Diversity & Inclusion • Sustainability & STEM • Women’s Studies • Climate Change

Date of Completion: 2021 (festival cut) and 2022 (broadcast version) | Run Time: 84 and 52 minutes​​ | Language: English with English & Spanish subtitles | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript | Director: Ann Kaneko | Producers: Jin Yoo-Kim & Ann Kaneko

An inspired and poetic portrait of a place and its people, MANZANAR, DIVERTED: WHEN WATER BECOMES DUST follows intergenerational women from three communities who defend their land, their history and their culture from the insatiable thirst of Los Angeles. In this fresh retelling of the LA water story, Native Americans, Japanese-American WWII incarcerees and environmentalists form an unexpected alliance to preserve Payahuunadü (Owens Valley), “the land of flowing water.” Featuring breathtaking photography and immersive soundscapes, the film recounts more than 150 years of history, showing how this distant valley is inextricably tied to the city of Los Angeles. It reveals the forced removals of the Nüümü (Paiute) and the Newe (Shoshone) who were marched out of the Valley in the 1860s by the US Army, and the Japanese Americans who were brought here from their West Coast homes and incarcerated in a World War II concentration camp. Water lured outsiders in and continues to fuel the greed which has sucked this once lush place dry.

Educational Media Reviews Online | Allen Reichert, Electronic Access Librarian, Otterbein University
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED "This film does a great job of listening to the voices of the Paiute and Japanese Americans that lived in or were impacted by their time in the valley."

University of California, Los Angeles | Renee Tajima-Peña, Professor, Asian American Studies, and Documentary Filmmaker
“Brings together a broad range of communities, whose stories of forced removal and colonization link them together….I know of no other film that takes on this ambitious task, tying together these varied strands of history into a single, commanding narrative.

University of California, Santa Cruz | Karen Tei Yamashita, Professor Emerita, Literature, and Author, Letters to Memory
“Complicates and extends our history, taking us back in time to the displacement of other peoples, and resituates our story within the deeper and broader history of Southern California and the American Southwest.”

Pomona College | Char Miller, W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis and History
“A penetrating analysis of the historical and contemporary debates swirling around the Eastern Sierra’s most vital resource—water.”

University of California, Santa Barbara | David N. Pellow, Dehlsen Chair of Environmental Studies, and author of What is Critical Environmental Justice?
“A moving presentation of the complexities and inspiring possibilities of the intertwined struggles for racial and environmental justice.”

University of California, Santa Barbara | Janet Walker, Professor, Film and Media Studies
“This is a gorgeous cinematic work: fully intersectional, fully ecocentric, and eminently just.”

University of California, Riverside | Catherine Gudis, Associate Professor of History and Director, Public History Program
“The film sharply critiques the forms of state violence and racial injustice that have created the environmentally degraded landscape of Payahuunadü/Owens Valley…The project makes abundantly clear the ways in which race and capital together have shaped fundamentally inequitable patterns of global development.”

“A fascinating documentary looking at Los Angeles' fraught history of how it gets its water sources..”

Best Documentary | San Diego Asian Film Festival
Asian Voices Award | Portland Film Festival (Oregon Premiere)
Special Jury Award for Editing | LA Asian Pacific Film Festival (LA Premiere and Opening Night Film)
Honorable Mention | CAAMFEST (West Coast Premiere, Centerpiece Film)
Honorable Mention | Milwaukee Film Festival (Wisconsin Premiere)
Best Music Score nomination | IDA Documentary Awards


Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, 2021, (Documentary Competition, Closing Weekend Film)
One Earth Film Festival (Midwest Premiere)
DOXA Film Festival (Canada Premiere)
DC International Film Festival (East Coast Premiere)
Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival (Vermont Premiere)
Black Star International Film Festival (African Premiere)
Buffalo International Film Festival (New York State Premiere)
All Living Things Environmental Film Festival (Asian Premiere)
OC Film Fiesta
New Orleans Film Festival
Hawaii International Film Festival
Red Nation Film Festival
Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival
Colorado Dragon Boat Film Festival
Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema
Mammoth Film Festival
New Orleans Film Festival
ReFrame Film Festival
Seattle Asian American Film Festival
Santa Fe Film Festival
Gifts for the River Film Festival
The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
Harlem International Film Festival