Looking for award-winning Asian American films to show in your class for free?

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Through your school’s library, you can stream all these great films and more, via their Kanopy streaming service. Just contact your school librarian for more information.
A Suitable Girl (2017), dir. Sarita Khurana & Smriti Mundra
A SUITABLE GIRL world premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, and won the Best New Documentary Director Award. The film follows three young women in India struggling to maintain their identities and follow their dreams amid intense pressure to get married. Documenting the arranged marriage and matchmaking process in vérité over four years, the film examines the women’s complex relationship with marriage, family, and society.
Beijing Taxi (2010), dir. Miao Wang
BEIJING TAXI is a timely, uncensored and richly cinematic portrait of China’s ancient capital as it undergoes a profound transformation. The film takes an intimate and compelling look at the lives of three cab drivers as they confront modern issues and changing values against the backdrop of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Through their daily struggles infused with humor and quiet determination, BEIJING TAXI reveals the complexity and contradictions of China’s shifting paradigm.
Bolinao 52 (2009), dir. Duc Nguyen
On a moonless summer night, a lone wooden boat cruised slowly on the Mekong River toward the ocean. Its mission was to quietly crept away from the shore of Vietnam in search of a new asylum. At the same time, the USS Dubuque of the US Navy, departed Sasebo, Japan. Its operation was to head a minesweeping force in the Persian Gulf. Their courses collided and the meeting exploded into a horrifying headline- “Cannibalism at Sea.”
Carved in Silence (1988), dir. Felicia Lowe
Angel Island Immigration Station comes to life with dramatic re-creations, interviews with former detainees, and recitations of poetry carved on the walls to reveal the human cost of the Chinese Exclusion Acts and the complexity of America’s immigration policies in what has become a classic teaching tool. Winner of a CINE Golden Eagle, Chris Plaque, National Educational Film and Video Association Honorable Mention.
China: Land of My Father (1979), dir. Felicia Lowe
One of the first Chinese “roots” trips filmed in the People’s Republic of China in 1979, Lowe meets her paternal grandmother for the first time, learns about the country her father left behind, and looks at the impact on families separated by war and emigration. EMMY nominee, CINE Golden Eagle, American Film Festival Red Ribbon Award.
Chinese Couplets (2015), dir. Felicia Lowe
Part memoir, part history, part investigation, the filmmaker’s search for answers about her mother’s emigration to America during the Chinese Exclusion era reveals the often painful price paid by immigrants who abandoned their personal identity, the burden of silence they passed on to their offspring and the intergenerational strife between immigrants and their American born children.
The Chinese Gardens (2012), dir. Valerie Soe
THE CHINESE GARDENS looks at the lost Chinese community in Port Townsend, Washington, examining anti-Chinese violence—lynchings, beatings, and murders—in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1800s and drawing connections between past and present race relations in the U.S.
My Life in China (2016), dir. Kenneth Eng
My father fled the Cultural Revolution in 1966. After risking his life to get to America, he started our family in Boston. But when his restaurant went bankrupt and my mom got sick, he began to feel like he’d failed at the American Dream. A story of migration is passed down from father to son, as we retrace the precarious steps he took in search of a better life. Ultimately asking the question, what does it mean to be both Chinese and American?
Seeking Asian Female (2012). dir. Debbie Lum
SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE follows Steven and Sandy — an aging white man with self-proclaimed “yellow fever” obsessed with marrying an Asian woman, and the young Chinese bride he finds online. Filmmaker Debbie Lum sets out to document the outcome of this unlikely match, and finds herself playing translator and marriage counselor through the couple’s precarious first year of marriage. Gender, race, and class collide in this intimate documentary that explores and challenges Asian fetishization.
Stateless (2015), dir. Duc Nguyen
In 2005, a spark of hope came when the U.S. immigration officials returned to Manila to review the cases of over 2000 Vietnamese refugees who spent over 17 years in the Philippines waiting for resettlement.
Take me to the River (2004), dir. Kenneth Eng
“Take Me to the River” immerses viewers in the Maha Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage that takes place every 12 years and is arguably the largest gathering in human history. Bear witness to the chaos of preparation and the ecstasy of the celebration on a roller coaster ride from obscurity to clarity along the dusty flood plains of the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers. Through misty dawns, peaceful moments, crowded streets and a chaotic sprint to the river, you’ll journey into the Sangam, the physical and spiritual heart of the Mela (festival). Sins are cleansed, infinite karmic cycles are washed away, all people are equal and world peace is possible.
Tested (2016), dir. Curtis Chin
“Tested” looks at the important issue of racial diversity and public schools by following a dozen families in New York City from different racial, socio-economic and religious backgrounds as they prepare to pass the grueling standardized test to get into one of the city’s best high schools.
Vincent Who? (2009), dir. Tony Lam; prod. Curtis Chin
In 1982, Vincent Chin was beaten to death in Detroit by two white autoworkers at the height of anti-Japanese sentiments. The culprits received a $3,000 fine and 3 years probation, but no jail time. Outraged by this injustice, Asian Americans around the country galvanized to form a pan-Asian identity and civil rights movement….VINCENT WHO? explores this important legacy through interviews with the key players at the time as well as a new generation of activists impacted by Vincent Chin. It also looks at the case in relation to the larger Asian American narrative, in such events as Chinese Exclusion, Japanese American Internment, the 1992 L.A. Riots, anti-Asian hate crimes, and post-9/11 racism….Ultimately, the film asks how far Asian Americans have come since the Chin case, and how far they have yet to go.
Who is Arthur Chu (2017), dir. Yu Gu & Scott Drucker
Arthur Chu hacks the American institution that is Jeopardy! and wins big, garnering the attention of everyone from Diane Sawyer to TMZ. He leverages his newfound online celebrity to battle dark forces on the internet as a blogger and cultural pundit, tackling issues from misogyny online to racism in America. Arthur stands up to a society that has sought to erase him and marginalize him as an Asian American, while attempting to balance married life with work. He also begins the painful process of purging himself of his own demons, bred from the traumas of immigration and familial expectations. WHO IS ARTHUR CHU? is the story of a tragic hero who realizes he can only create positive change in the world if he first heals his own wounds. This feature documentary has been a festival hit at Slamdance and Hot Docs, and won accolades at Austin Asian American Film Festival, CAAMfest and DisOrient Film Festival.

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