Program Detail

Jake Shimabukuro Documentary

Tadashi Nakamura / USA / 60 min / English / Color / World Premiere


Those familiar with Jake Shimabukuro may know him as a ukulele virtuoso who has performed with artists as diverse as Bela Fleck, Cyndi Lauper and Yo Yo Ma, been featured in The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Time Magazine, and has earned comparisons to Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix. For those unfamiliar with his music, all it takes is to hear a few chords—or glimpse him in performance—and the appeal comes through instantly. Produced by CAAM & Pacific Islanders In Communications, this intimate documentary will give viewers a singular glimpse into not only Jake Shimabukuro, the performer and musician, but also Jake, the young boy who grew up in a modest apartment to a single mother and unsuspectingly rose to international stardom.

Rising young filmmaker Tadashi Nakamura (whose acclaimed trilogy on the early Asian American cultural movement includes Yellow Brotherhood, Pilgrimage, and A Song For Ourselves) provides an insightful portrait of this first-class musician, backstage, at home, on the road, and into his early days. A quiet boy, Jake quickly took to the ukulele, largely to deal with the troubling divorce of his parents. From there, Jake’s path would progress with perfect synchronization, from skinny teen (when his skills are recognized by a master ukulele craftsman) to young adult (when he starts getting local radio airplay, and is “discovered” on YouTube) and suddenly to international stardom, especially in Japan. His evolution as a musician is marked by increasing technical prowess (an aggressive strum that “could get a lot more speed”) and, perhaps more significantly, an introspective approach to creating new sounds—not with distortion panels and amplifiers, but with his bare hands.

Through it all, Jake continues to challenge himself, as both a musician and a person. On one trip, Jake travels with his manager to her hometown of Sendai, Japan, one of the casualties of the devastating tsunami. Performing at shelters for children and elders, Jake observes, “Nothing’s ever perfect... But things can feel perfect.” Experiencing the music of Jake Shimabukuro, one knows exactly what that means.

-Christine Kwon

Jake Shimabukuro will be in the house to give a mind-blowing ukulele performance!

Co-presenters: Japan Society of Northern California,, AAS @ SFSU

Special VIP Experience Ticket: Film, Performance, and VIP Gala Reception

Castro Theater Mezzanine, Castro Theater
Wednesday, Mar 14, 2012 6:00 PM
Before the show starts, attend this intimate pre-reception with Jake Shimabukuro, director Tadashi Nakamura and friends. Enjoy delicious food from some of the Bay Area's finest restaurants, including Ana Mandara and Roy's.


  • Director: Tadashi Nakamura
  • Executive Producer: Ruth Bolan, Stephen Gong
  • Producer: Donald Young
  • Cinematographer: Jim Choi
  • Sound: Adriano Bravo


March 14, 2012 7:30 pm
Castro Theater
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