Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority

PATSY MINK: AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY explores the remarkable political story of Patsy Takemoto Mink, an Asian American woman from Hawai‘i who, battling racism and sexism, redefined American politics.

Small in stature but a giant in vision, she began her life on a Maui sugar plantation and rose to become the first Asian American woman and woman of color in the United States Congress. A firecracker and a fighter, she continually pushed the limits of what was acceptable, speaking out against the Vietnam War and entering the 1972 presidential primary, making her one of the first women to seek the nation’s highest office. She transformed America’s schools as the co-author of Title IX, the landmark legislation that opened up higher education and athletics to women.

The film goes beyond Mink’s accomplishments, however, to reveal a woman whose political journey was lonely and tumultuous. Dispelling stereotypes of the compliant Japanese female, she battled sexism within her own party, whose leaders disliked her independent style and openly maneuvered against her. Her liberal politics, particularly her vocal opposition to the Vietnam War, engendered intense criticism.

As Franklin Odo, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, states: “Patsy Mink offers a phenomenal political story, because she was so outside what you would expect of a woman, of a Japanese American and of a member of Congress.” Simultaneously a woman of the people and a pioneer, a patriot and an outcast, her story proves endlessly intriguing, and one that embodies the history, ideals and spirit of America.

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Awards won:

Finalist – EPIC Emerging Artist Award
The White House Project, 2010

WINNER – CINE Golden Eagle (Documentary Short, Independent Division)
CINE, 2009

WINNER – Spirit of Humanity Award
Nominated – Best Documentary Film
San Joaquin International Film Festival, 2009

Nominated – Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, 2009

WINNER – Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature
DisOrient Asian American Film Festival, 2009

WINNER – Blue Magnolia Award for Best in Festival
WINNER – Zora Neale Hurston Award for Best Documentary Film
WINNER – Bennett Spirit Award for Most Positive Portrayal of a Woman
Gate City Women’s Film Festival, 2009

WINNER – Best Historical Documentary
WINNER – Best Editing
WINNER – Best Role Model for Women
San Francisco Women’s Film Festival, 2009

WINNER – Comcast Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature
Nominated – Best Documentary Feature
San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, 2009

WINNER – Best Documentary
WINNER – Best Hawaiian Film
WINNER – Gold Kahuna Award
Honolulu International Film Festival, 2009

Finalist – Cross-Cultural Ambassador Award
International Women’s Day Film Festival, 2009

WINNER – Audience Award for Favorite Documentary
Nominated – Golden Orchid Award for Best Documentary
Hawai‘i International Film Festival, 2008


Windward Community College, Kaneohe, HI, 2016
University of Hawai‘i Women’s Studies 40th Anniversary, Honolulu, HI, 2015
Hawai‘i State Bar Association Civic Education Committee / King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, Honolulu, HI, 2014
Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 2013
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, New York, NY, 2013
Women of Wonders Film Festival, Honolulu, HI, 2013
University of California Santa Barbara, 2012
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY, 2012
Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR, 2012
Foothill College, Los Altos, CA, 2012
Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, 2012
University of Minnesota Duluth, 2012
American Association of University Women (AAUW) Summit College Club, New Providence, NJ, 2012
Chicago Filmmakers, Dyke Delicious Season Finale, Chicago, IL, 2011
City of Bloomington, Minnesota and Normandale Community College, 2011
Chapman University, Reel Justice Film Series, Orange, CA, 2011
Kahilu Theatre, Waimea, Hawaii, 2011
American Association of University Women (AAUW) Somerset Hills Branch, Basking Ridge, NJ, 2011
Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI, 2011
Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA, 2011
American Association of University Women (AAUW) Madison Branch, Madison, NJ, 2010
Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, CA, 2010
National Archives, Washington, DC, 2010
Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 2010
Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, Illinois, 2010
F-Word Film Festival, Asheville, North Carolina, 2010
Clark University, Difficult Dialogues Series, Worcester, Massachusetts, 2010
Hawai‘i Pacific University, Viewpoints Film Series, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, 2010
Western Washington University, Women of Color Empowerment Dinner, Bellingham, Washington, 2010
University of Michigan, Spotlight Series at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2010
University of Hawai‘i Cinema Series, Women of the World, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, 2009
Austin Asian American Film Festival, Austin, Texas, 2009
Siren Nation Festival, Portland, Oregon, 2009
Pacific Rim Film Festival, Santa Cruz, California, 2009 
San Diego Asian Film Festival, San Diego, California, 2009
La Femme Film Festival, Hollywood, California, 2009
University of California Santa Barbara Multicultural Center, Santa Barbara, California, 2009
Loft Cinema, Tucson, Arizona, 2009
Houston Asian Pacific American Film Festival, Houston, Texas, 2009
University of Hawai‘i Women’s Studies Colloquia Series, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, 2009 
American Association of University Women (AAUW) National Convention, St. Louis, Missouri, 2009
San Joaquin International Film Festival, Stockton, California, 2009
Iao Theatre, Wailuku, Maui, Hawai‘i, 2009
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Los Angeles, California, 2009
Association for Asian American Studies Conference, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, 2009
DisOrient Asian American Film Festival, Eugene, Oregon, 2009
San Francisco Women’s Film Festival, San Francisco, California, 2009
Reel Women International Film Festival, Beverly Hills, California, 2009
Gate City Women’s Film Festival, Greensboro, North Carolina, 2009
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Washington, DC, 2009
Festival International de Films de Femmes, Creteil, FRANCE, 2009
Women of Color Arts & Film Festival, Atlanta, Georgia, 2009
University of Hawai‘i Law School, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, 2009
Women’s Film Festival, Brattleboro, Vermont, 2009
San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, San Francisco, California, 2009
Palace Theatre, Hilo, Hawai‘i, 2009 
Honolulu International Film Festival, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, 2009 
International Women’s Day Film Festival, Boston, Massachusetts, 2009
Kaua‘i Community College, Lihue, Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i, 2009
Hawai‘i International Film Festival, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, 2008

Sales information:


The film premiered nationally on PBS in May 2009 and will repeat on individual stations through 2013.  Contact your local PBS station for more information.


To purchase DVDs of the film for home video use, please go to:

In Hawai‘i

In Los Angeles, CA

In Washington, DC



DVDs of the film may be purchased for educational, institutional, non-profit or community group use directly through its distributor at:

Orders Department
Women Make Movies
115 W. 29th Street, Suite 1200
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 925-0606 ext. 360 (Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm EST)
Fax: (212) 925-2052


Produced, Directed and Written by
Kimberlee Bassford

Jean-Philippe Boucicaut
Kimberlee Bassford

Director of Photography
Michael Chin

Music by
Joel Goodman

Jody Mishan

Executive Producer
Marlene Booth

Associate Producer
Robin Lung

Production Assistant
Margret Arakaki

Creative Consultants
Ellen Bruno
Sasha Khokha
Judith Vecchione

Academic Consultants
Cynthia Harrison
Mary Hawkesworth
Franklin Odo
Dana Takagi
Eric Yamamoto

Jena Mukai
Kaitlyn Mukai

John McFadden
Paul Rusnak

Additional Camera
Dennis Burns

Location Production Assistants
Forrest Butler
Daniel Mulhearn
Dean Sensui
Christopher Wang

D.C. Archival Research
Daniel Mulhearn

Online Editor
Stanford Chang

Post Production
Gravity Digital Post

Sound Design and Audio Post
Shawn Takabayashi, Audio Bytes

Lauren Asinsen
Julie Brazen
Lauren Kawana
Katherine Kim
Angela Krattiger
Linda Lindsay
Kelly Ota
Elise Rosica
Aidan Smith

Motion Graphics by
GB Hajim
screaming wink productions, LLC

Transcription Services
Tech Synergy

Production Services by
Complex Corporation

Finance Insurance, Ltd.

Fiscal Sponsor
Hawai‘i Community Television
League of Women Voters of Hawai‘i

Archival Courtesy Of
Archive Films/Getty Images
George Bacon, Bishop Museum
BBC Motion Gallery
Ralph Crane/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Democratic Party of Hawai‘i
Harvey Finkle Photography
Larry Fried
Craig Hanson/
Hawai‘i State Archives
HBO Archives
Mark Hemmings Photography
Historic Films Archive, LLC
The Honolulu Advertiser
The Honolulu Beacon
Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Greg Huglin/Footage Search
ITN Source
ITN Source/Reuters
H. Iwanaga, Bishop Museum
Gretchen Kafoury
Christina Baker Kline
Photography by Stephen Lewellyn, courtesy of the Univ. of Chicago Law School
Patsy T. Mink Papers at the Library of Congress Manuscript Division
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Collection and FSA/OWI Collection
The Maui News
Emma Morris
National Archives
NBC News Archives
NCAA/Thought Equity Motion
LBJ Library photo by Yoichi R. Okamoto
Oregon Historical Society, Moving Image Archives
PARADE Magazine
Stephen Okino
Roger Ressmeyer/CORBIS
UCLA Film & Television Archive
Universal Newsreels
Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
University of Hawai‘i at Manoa Library, Hawai‘i Congressional Papers Collection
Archives & Special Collections, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries
Political Communication Center, the University of Oklahoma
University. of South Carolina Newsfilm Archive
The WPA Film Library

“The Mike Douglas Show”clip courtesy of CBS Television Distribution

Patsy Mink interview provided by the Center for Labor Education and Research Moving Image Archive

Interview of Mrs. Mink by Tom Coffman (1995) for the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i

“First Congresswoman from Overseas”
LIFE Magazine, January 22, 1965,
© 1965 Life Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

From The New York Times, 6/18/1975 and 7/17/1975 © 1975 The New York Times All Rights Reserved.

Patsy Mink 1976 U.S. Senatorial Primary Campaign Film Provided by Vogt Productions, Washington, DC

The Washington Post, 10/25/2001
© 2001 The Washington Post. All rights reserved.

Maui Girl
Performed by Andy Cummings from the Cord Intl./Hana Ola Records prod. HOCD 65000 Andy Cummings & His Hawaiian Serenaders c2004. Courtesy of Cord Intl. & Hana Ola Records. All Rights Reserved.
Performed by George Kahumoku Jr., Keoki Kahumoku and Bob Brozman on Footprints in the Poi: George Kahumoku Jr. Live!!
© 2003 Kealia Farms Record Company (KFRC1011)

Maui Chimes
Performed by Jules Ah See from the Cord Intl./Hana Ola Records prod. HOCD 34000 History Of Hawaiian Steel Guitar c1999. Courtesy of Cord Intl. & Hana Ola Records. All Rights Reserved.

Moving Home
Composed and Performed by Audy Kimura

Written by Otis Redding
Irving Music, Inc. on behalf of East Memphis Music Corp. (BMI)
Performed by Aretha Franklin
Courtesy of Rhino Entertainment Company
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing

Funding Provided By
The State of Hawai‘i
American Brewing Company
Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities
A&B Foundation
Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts
Commercial Enterprises Ltd.
Center for Asian American Media
Hawaiian Hardwood Company Ltd.
Dolores Furtado Martin Foundation
Kwai Dick & Evelyn Chun
Hawai‘i State AFL-CIO
Billie Jean King
American Savings Bank
Celia Bortfeld
Ms. Foundation for Women
Yee Hop Realty, Limited
FCH Enterprises
Ruth Oh
Laura Fitzsimmons
Ifuku Family Foundation
United Public Workers
Dennis Chun
Honolulu Business & Professional Women
Kona Business & Professional Women
Louise Wellborn
Ethel Yamaguchi
Foundation for Hawai‘i Women’s History
Jo Ann Kagawa
Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing
Barbara & Tony Long
Vheissu & Carolyn Keffer
Russell Baker
IFPTE Local 121
Gretchen Kafoury
Teamsters, Local 996
Engineering Concepts
Richard Port
David & Anna Sneed
Norma Titcomb
Mason Yamaki
Walter & Lora Sasaki
Takeo Shishido
Pat Hunter-Williams
Lori Kohara

Mahalo / Thanks
Aqua Hotels and Resorts
Association of American Railroads
John, Huong & Andrew Bassford
Fmr. U.S. Senator Birch Evans Bayh II
Celia Bortfeld & Russell Baker
Dan Boylan
Jerry Burris
Tim Carson
The Chun family
Elmer Cravalho
Laura L. Efurd
Jon Else
Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.
Mary Hawkesworth
Walter Heen
Fred Hemmings
Debbie Hoffmann
Harriette Holt
Jean Igarashi
U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye
Amy Isaacs
Fmr. U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs, Jr.
Jamal Kadri
David Lee
Joan A. Manke
Mari Matsuda
Cassandra Matsushige
Meg McAleer
David & Wendie McClain
U.S. Representative John L. Mica
Marie Nakanishi Milks
Fmr. U.S. Rep. Norm Mineta
Marilyn Moniz-Kahoohanohano
Tina Jensen & Bernie Moriaz
Ruth Mukai
Tim Nelson
Franklin Odo
Clarence Okamura
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Helen Rauer
Janice Ruth
Fmr. U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder
Bill Schultz
Mathew & Gin Sgan
Stewart R. Mott Charitable Trust
Eugene & Frances Takemoto
Calvin Tamura
U.S. Representative Maxine Waters
Kelly & Patty Westmiller
Leslie Wolfe
Judie Wong
Trudy & Al Wong
U.S. Representative Lynn Woolsey

Mahalo Nui Loa / Special Thanks
Michael Bassford
Gwendolyn Mink

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

Executive Producer for PBS Hawaii
Robert Pennybacker

Filmed on Location in Hawai‘i.
Mahalo to the State of Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Film Office and the Hawai‘i State Legislature.

This project is supported by a grant from the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This project is made possible with support from the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority is a co-production of Making Waves Films LLC and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), in association with PBS Hawaii and the Center for Asian American Media, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

This program was produced by Making Waves Films LLC, which is solely responsible for its content.
© 2008, Making Waves Films LLC. All Rights Reserved.