Asian Perspectives on Screen
In recent years, the entertainment industry seems to be moving a bit forward in a positive direction when it comes to Asian and Asian American films. In 2020, Parasite, a Korean movie, even made it to the Oscars and won Best Picture. We’ve gathered a few of our favorite movies and TV shows produced, directed, or written by Asian and Asian American creators. Turn on your screen, sit back, and enjoy!
Blue Bayou2021Get this item
Director Justin Chon does it again with this moving film that follows the story of Antonio, a Korean-American immigrant, confronting the ghosts of his past while facing the possibility of being deported. Apart from the stellar acting, what I found special about this film was the tenderness and heartfelt devotion Antonio has, particularly in his relationships with his daughter Jessie and friend Parker. A movie hasn't made me cry like this one did in a long time. Recommended by Leslie.
Yellow Rose2021Get this item
Rose is an undocumented Filipina teen living in Texas, and her dream is to become a country music singer. However, when her mother is picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Rose has to figure out a different path. A totally under-the-radar movie--the topic is timely and the result is heartfelt. Recommended by Sharon.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings2021Get this item
Marvel Cinematic Universe's first Asian male superhero. By rethinking the problematic origins of the comics, the writers have provided a new origin story that has its own visual and cultural touchstones of Chinese origin and a story centered on family. Recommended by Rummanah.
Columbus2019Get this item
Written and directed by Kogonada (After Yang and Pachinko), this film is unique and exquisite in its execution. In standout performances, John Cho and Hailey Lu Richardson play two people who are at a crossroads in life and bond over architecture. Every scene that shows a structure or building is striking and adds depth to the story. Recommended by Sharon.
The Joy Luck ClubGet this item
This is a beautiful story of family. It’s as hopeful as it is heart-wrenching, and the cast did a phenomenal job with their performances. You will laugh and cry, but in the end, it leavse you with great lessons about life, love, and joy. Recommended by Penny.
Minari2021Get this item
Here is one of my favorite recent movies. Filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung based the script on his own childhood and family experiences. Set in the 1980s, focusing on a South Korean immigrant family making a go at farming in Arkansas, it is a beautifully acted, well-told American dream story. Recommended by Sharon.
Minding the Gap2021Get this item
Filmmaker Bing Lui delves into the lives of two friends from his childhood who share his love for skateboarding. As he follows their stories, Lui decides that he too must be part of the documentary, after it is revealed that they grew up in abusive homes and they are still dealing with the long-term effects. Lui’s gift for sensitive, absorbing storytelling packs an emotional punch that is not soon forgotten. Recommended by Sharon.
Turning Red2022Get this item
In this coming-of-age story that explores identity, mother-daughter issues, and Chinese culture, animator/director/screenwriter Domee Shi, working with a women-led filmmaking team, brings us a beautifully animated movie that pulls at your heartstrings while making you laugh and relate. The story follows Meilin Lee, an energetic 13-year-old who transforms into a giant red panda when she gets too excited or stressed. Shi has already won an Oscar for her short animated feature film Bao, and I can’t wait to see where her career goes next. Recommended by Sharon.
Everything Everywhere All at Once2022Get this item
Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu star in this whacky, absurd, mind blowing--yet sentimental--sci-fi action comedy. They take a multiverse narrative to a whole new level of meaningful weirdness and enjoyment. Michelle Yeoh’s character, Evelyn, just might be the right Evelyn to save the universe from an evil agent of chaos--if she can connect to other Evelyns in other timelines to learn their skills. Looking at "what ifs" and roads not taken, family relationships, immigrant experience, generational trauma, and more, there is a lot that hits the mark. Recommended by Sharon.
The Farewell2019Get this item
Writer/director Lulu Wang hits the mark with this critically acclaimed dramedy. It’s based on a real family's life and focuses on a young Chinese American woman, wonderfully played by Awkwafina, who finds herself in the middle of two worlds when she accompanies her family to China to say goodbye to her beloved grandmother, Nai-Nai. Really, this is full of the life-affirming spirit that is Nai-Nai. Recommended by Sharon.
To Be Takei2014Get this item
Actor, author, activist George Takei is my hero. This documentary about his life, passions, and work is honest, revealing, informative, and oftentimes funny. Be sure to check out his 2019 biographical graphic novel, They Called Us Enemy, as well. This title is also available on Kanopy. Recommended by Sharon.
I Will Make You Mine2020Get this item
This under-the-radar gem from Lynn Chen is authentic, women-forward, well-observed, and Chen's directorial debut. She also wrote the screenplay and costars. The story follows three women, all involved with the same man years ago. Circumstances unexpectedly bring them into the same orbit, and they deal with their present while reflecting on the past. This is the third installment in a film trilogy, The Surrogate Valentine. However, it easily stands on its own, and seeing the previous two is not necessary. You might remember Chen’s breakout performance in Alice Wu’s terrific 2004 movie Saving Face. Also available on Hoopla. Recommended by Sharon.
Saving Face2005Get this item
By the same writer/director as Netflix's The Half of It, this is half family drama and half romantic comedy, and it does an incredible job with both sides of the story. Wil's relationship with her mother and her girlfriend feel so genuine, and all the characters have fantastic comedic timing. Recommended by Perry.
Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings2013Get this item
Innovative ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro says that he loves connecting with people. Indeed, some of my favorite scenes are when he’s out in the community sharing his music and enthusiasm with children. This music doc is a great way to learn about the ukulele and see how and why Shimabukuro became an international star. He is the coolest! Recommended by Sharon.
Kim's Convenience: Season 12017Get this item
This TV sitcom is about a Korean Canadian family running a convenience store in Toronto. Every character—from mom, pop, and two adult children, to all the multicultural neighbors—is unique and well done in this very funny, heartfelt series. Recommended by Lukie.
The Mindy Project: Season One2013Get this item
Mindy Kaling created this rom-com TV series and stars as an OB/GYN trying to balance the professional with the personal. Hilarity ensues. Kaling is an awesome talent. I enjoy whatever she does and like that she takes risks. Recommended by Sharon.
Searching2018Get this item
This mystery drama has a fantastic gimmick—it is told through a laptop and various electronic devices. When his 16-year-old daughter fails to return home from a study group, a widowed father (John Cho) breaks into her computer to search through her online history to find clues. The movie marks the first time an Asian American actor headlined a mainstream Hollywood thriller and it is Aneesh Chaganty’s directorial debut. Recommended by Sharon.
Meet the Patels2016Get this item
A romantic comedy documentary directed by siblings Geeta and Ravi Patel, the story follows first-generation Indian American Ravi Patel trying to find the woman of his dreams. Recently broken up with his secret white girlfriend of two years, he agrees to try an arranged marriage process. The film manages to be funny and heartwarming with a lot of thought-provoking observations about love, tradition, family, and cultural assimilation. Recommended by Sharon.
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