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What to Watch During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month


The year 2020 started off on a joyous note as Asians and Asian Americans seemed to be making progress. “Crazy Rich Asians” had brought welcome attention to Asian Americans on and off screen in 2018, “The Farewell” had received critical acclaim in 2019, and the Korean movie “Parasite” made Oscar history in 2020.

Lately, I can’t stop thinking about a time when Asian Americans were warned not to visit Detroit after a Chinese American man named Vincent Chin was murdered by men who thought he was Japanese in 1982. Now, I wonder if there is anywhere Asian Americans are safe in the US, outside of Hawaii. In Los Angeles County, Asian Americans make up about 10 percent of the population. They are 16 percent in Pasadena, 47 percent in Monterey Park and 53 percent in San Marino. Yet last month, I’ve spoken with two people who have experienced first-hand the rise of anti-Asian sentiment in Los Angeles: Tzi Ma and Rosalind Chao.

Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2020 has become harder because of COVID-19. I asked some important voices in the community about what to watch while we’re stuck at home to celebrate the occasion. Here are their responses:

The Joy Luck Club

TZI MA

Star of “Tigertail,” “The Farewell” and the upcoming “Mulan.” He is also featured in the campaign, Wash the Hate.

FILM:

“The Sand Pebbles” (1966)

“The Hawaiians” (1970)

“The Joy Luck Club” (1993)

Chan Is Missing” (1982)

The Great Wall” (2016)

“Hiro Hata: Raise the Banner” (1980)

“Flower Drum Song” (1961)

“Chan is Missing”

ROSALIND CHAO

Star of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and the upcoming “Mulan.”

FILMS:

“Chan Is Missing” (1982)

“Eat a Bowl of Tea” (1989)

“The Joy Luck Club” (1993)

Plus One” (2019)

“Tigertail” (2020)

“A Thousand Pieces of Gold” (1991)

TV:

“Pen15”

“Hell to Eternity”

FRANK CHIN

One of the editors for the Asian American anthology, “Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers “and “The Big Aiiieeeee!: An Anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American Literature.”

FILM:

“La Bataille” (1923)

The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957)

“Chinaman’s Chance” (1972)

“Hell to Eternity” (1960)

“The Last of the Line” (1914)

“Tokyo Joe” (1949)

“What’s Wrong with Frank Chin?” (2005)

“The Farewell”

JUDY CHU

Representative for California’s 27th congressional district, and the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress.

FILM:

Always Be My Maybe” (2019)

“The Farewell” (2019)

“Tigertail” (2020)

TV:

“Little America” (2020)

BOOKS:

Duty & Honor: A Tribute to Chinese American World War II Veterans of Southern California

My Country Versus Me

“Charlie Chan in Honolulu”

ARTHUR DONG

Founder of DeepFocus Productions, Dong received an Oscar nomination for his documentary short “Sewing Woman” (1984), a film about his mother’s immigration from China to the US. He received a Peabody Award for “Coming Out Under Fire” which documents the military’s policy toward gays during World War II. He just published Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films.

FILM:

“The Curse of Quon Gwon” (1917)

“Blossom Time” (1933)

“Heartaches” (1936)

“Charlie Chan in Honolulu” (1939)

“King of Chinatown” (1939)

Mississippi Masala

GEETA GANDBHIR

Director and producer of “Asian Americans,” and co-winner of a primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming for “By the People: The Election of Barack Obama” (2009) and “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts” (2006).

FILM:

“American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs” (2013)

“Crazy Rich Asians” (2018)

“Enter the Dragon” (1973)

“The Farewell” (2019)

Gook” (2017)

“Mississippi Masala” (1991)

“Refugee” (2000)

BOOKS:

The Sympathizer

Pachinko

Patron Saints of Nothing

Internment

The Leavers

The Namesake

MANJUSHA KULKARNI

Executive Director of A3PCON, the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council, a coalition of community-based organizations that advocates for the rights and needs of the Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) Community in the greater Los Angeles area.

FILM:

“Always Be My Maybe” (2019)

“The Farewell” (2019)

“The Joy Luck Club” (1993)

Meet the Patels” (2014)

“The Namesake” (2016)

“The Problem with Apu” (2017)

BOOKS:

Interpreter of Maladies

Unaccustomed Earth

The Joy Luck Club

The Making of Asian America

Desis Divided

“Journey from the Fall”

RENEE TAJIMA-PEÑA

Oscar-nominated director for “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” and the winner for Best Documentary for the same movie at the Hawaii International Film Festival and the International Documentary Association. She is one of the producers of the PBS documentary series “Asian Americans.”

FILM:

Better Luck Tomorrow” (2002)

“Chan Is Missing” (1982)

“Delano Manongs” (2014)

“The Dragon Painter” (1919)

“Enter the Dragon” (1973)

“Journey from the Fall” (2006)

“Mississippi Masala” (1991)

All the Grandview Pictures movies that Arthur Dong is unearthing.

BOOKS:

America Is in the Heart

Moving the Image

The Sympathizer

The Making of Asian America

Bengali Harlem

Serve the People

“Who Killed Vincent Chin?”

NAYAN B. SHAH

Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at University of Southern California and the author of Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality and the Law in the North American West and Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown. He is one of the featured experts on the PBS documentary series, “Asian Americans.”

FILM:

“Better Luck Tomorrow” (2002)

“Chan is Missing” (1982)

“Chutney Popcorn” (1999)

“Colma: The Musical” (2006)

“Cosmopolitan” (2003)

“Gook” (2017)

“The Grace Lee Project” (2005)

The Half of It” (2020)

Late Night” (2019)

“Meet the Patels” (2014)

“Mississippi Masala” (1991)

“The Motel” (2005)

“The Namesake” (2006)

Saving Face” (2004)

Spa Night” (2016)

“Strawberry Fields” (1997)

“Taxi-Vala/Auto-biography” (1996)

“Touch of Pink” (2004)

“Who Killed Vincent Chin” (1987)

DINH THAI

Winner of several awards for his short film, “Monday,” including the HBO APA Visionaries (2017), the IFS Award (2017) for Best Independent Short and the NBC Universal Short Film Festival for Outstanding Director and Next Generation Filmmaker Award.  As part of the NBC Emerging Director Program, he directed the season finale for “New Amsterdam.”

FILM:

“Better Luck Tomorrow” (2002)

“The Farewell” (2019)

“Gook” (2017)

Ms. Purple” (2019)

Searching” (2018)

Late Spring

ALAN YANG

Writer and producer for NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” co-creator of “Master of None,” for which he won an Emmy. Writer/director of “Tigertail.” Because Yang felt, “There were almost no movies with Asian Americans when I was growing up. We weren’t in the movies,” he preferred to list Asian films that were influential.

FILMS:

The Assassin” (2015)

Burning” (2018)

“Happy Together” (1997)

In the Mood for Love” (2000)

“Late Spring” (1949)

Shoplifters” (2018)

Yi Yi” (2000)

“A Thousand Pieces of Gold”

JANA J. MONJI

My short stories are included in “Bold Words: A Century of Asian American Writing” and in the “Asian American Literary Review.”

FILM:

“Diamonds in the Rough: The Legacy of Japanese-American Baseball” (2004)

“The Joy Luck Club” (1993)

“Hollywood Chinese” (2007)

“Searching” (2018)

“The Slanted Screen” (2006)

“A Thousand Pieces of Gold” (1991)

“What’s Wrong with Frank Chin?” (2005)

“Who Killed Vincent Chin?” (1987)

“You Don’t Know Jack” (2009) 

TV:

“American Experience: The Chinese Exclusion Act” (2018)

“Asian Americans” (2020)

“Great Performances: The Year of the Dragon” (1975)



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