Scriptwriting is something seemingly everyone in Hollywood does, from cab drivers to this year’s Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres, who jokingly presented director Martin Scorsese with a script during the telecast. But the percentage of first-time scriptwriters who succeed in getting a feature film made is infinitesimal. And the number nominated for an Academy Award this year was exactly one, Iris Yamashita, for her work on Clint Eastwood’s “Letters From Iwo Jima.”
A Japanese-American born in Missouri and raised in California, Yamashita was working as a Web programmer when she wrote short stories and a script, “Traveler in Tokyo,” about her mother’s experiences in wartime Japan. It won a contest — and came to the attention of scriptwriter and director Paul Haggis, who recommended her to Eastwood for “Letters,” a film depicting the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese point of view.
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