Asian American Filmmaking 2000–2009

Asian American Filmmaking 2000–2009

20 Episodes

The first decade of the twenty-first century witnessed an explosion of Asian American cinematic creativity, much of which went unseen by mainstream audiences. Politically complex and formally innovative, these films highlighted the intricacies of diverse communities shaped by a multitude of forces: colonialism, migration, racism, subcultures, gentrification, war, and the politics of appropriation and assimilation. Curated by Chi-hui Yang and Brian Hu, this program spotlights films that take an inventive approach to genre—personal documentary (I WAS BORN, BUT . . . ), musical (COLMA: THE MUSICAL), thriller (CAVITE), coming-of-age odyssey (IN BETWEEN DAYS), and beyond—revealing a rich and radical counter-cinema forged by artists still fighting for visibility.

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Asian American Filmmaking 2000–2009
  • Asian American Filmmaking 2000–2009 Introduction

    Episode 1

    This introduction by series programmers Brian Hu and Chi-hui Yang was recorded in 2022.

  • First Person Plural

    Episode 2

    Directed by Deann Borshay Liem • 2000 • United States
    Starring Deann Borshay Liem

    In 1966, Deann Borshay Liem was adopted by an American family and sent from Korea to her new home. Growing up in California, the memory of her birth family was nearly obliterated, until recurring dreams lead Deann ...

  • Better Luck Tomorrow

    Episode 3

    Directed by Justin Lin • 2002 • United States
    Starring Parry Shen, Jason Tobin, Sung Kang

    Future FAST & FURIOUS franchise helmer Justin Lin got his big break with this acclaimed indie in which a group of overachieving Asian American high school students seek release from the pressures of perfect...

  • Refugee

    Episode 4

    Directed by Spencer Nakasako • 2003 • United States
    Starring David Mark, Mike Siv, Sophal Meas

    Growing up in San Francisco, twenty-four-year-old Michael Siv never knew the details of why he and his mother fled the Khmer Rouge while his father stayed behind in Cambodia. To reconcile his feelings ...

  • I Was Born, But . . .

    Episode 5

    Directed by Roddy Bogawa • 2004 • United States

    Taking its title from a silent classic by Yasujiro Ozu, this uncompromisingly personal diary film from Roddy Bogawa finds the director journeying through his memories, from his childhood in Hawaii to his involvement in the LA punk scene of the 1970...

  • Man Push Cart

    Episode 6

    Directed by Ramin Bahrani • 2005 • United States
    Starring Ahmad Razvi, Leticia Dolera, Charles Daniel Sandoval

    A modest miracle of twenty-first-century neorealism, the acclaimed debut feature by Ramin Bahrani speaks quietly but profoundly to the experiences of those living on the margins of the ...

  • In Between Days

    Episode 7

    Directed by So Yong Kim • 2006 • Canada, South Korea
    Starring Taegu Andy Kang, Bokja Kim, Jiseon Kim

    So-yong Kim’s revelatory debut feature is an intensely intimate immersion into the world of a teenage immigrant recently relocated from South Korea to Toronto as she navigates both the challenges...

  • Journey from the Fall

    Episode 8

    Directed by Ham Tran • 2006 • United States
    Starring Kiều Chinh, Long Nguyen, Diem Lien

    Inspired by the true stories of Vietnamese refugees who fled their land after the fall of Saigon—and those who were forced to stay behind—JOURNEY FROM THE FALL follows one family’s struggle for freedom. April...

  • Punching at the Sun

    Episode 9

    Directed by Tanuj Chopra • 2006 • United States
    Starring Misu Khan, Nina Edmonds, Hassan El-Gendi

    Tanuj Chopra’s bold feature debut is a searing look at South Asian identity in post-9/11 New York City. It’s there that Mameet (Misu Khan), a Pakistani American teenager growing up in the diverse ne...

  • Colma: The Musical

    Episode 10

    Directed by Richard Wong • 2006 • United States
    Starring H. P. Mendoza, Jake Moreno, L. A. Renigen

    This charming DIY musical from director Richard Wong and screenwriter-composer-costar H. P. Mendoza follows three best friends from the eponymous Northern California town (most famous for its prepo...

  • The Betrayal

    Episode 11

    Directed by Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath • 2008 • United States

    Codirected by acclaimed cinematographer Ellen Kuras and subject Thavisouk Phrasavath, this haunting documentary chronicles a refugee family’s epic journey from Laos in the aftermath of the secret war waged by the United Stat...

  • Pirated!

    Episode 12

    Directed by Nguyen Tan Hoang • 2000 • United States

    Memories of a childhood on a refugee boat spark erotic desires for shirtless captors.

  • Barrier Device

    Episode 13

    Directed by Grace Lee • 2002 • United States
    Starring Sandra Oh, Suzy Nakamura, Melinda Peterson

    A researcher (Sandra Oh) for a female condom study discovers that one of her subjects (Suzy Nakamura) is dating her ex in Grace Lee’s Student Academy Award–winning short.

  • Balikbayan

    Episode 14

    Directed by Larilyn Sanchez and Riza Manalo • 2004 • United States, Philippines

    A migrant worker sends her dead mother back home in unexpected fashion.

  • Sangam
    Episode 15


    Episode 15

    Directed by Prashant Bhargava • 2004 • United States
    Starring Sanjay Chandani, Hesh Sarmalkar

    Two Indian American men—one a first-generation immigrant, the other second-generation—forge an unexpected connection aboard a New York subway train.

  • Summer of the Serpent

    Episode 16

    Directed by Kimi Takesue • 2004 • United States
    Starring Joyce Perrone, Keiichi Kondoh, Sarah Zhang

    Eight-year-old Juliette sits at the side of the local pool waiting for another lonely summer day to pass when a Japanese couple unexpectedly arrives. Fascinated by the mysterious black-clad woman ...

  • Cavite

    Episode 17

    Directed by Neill Dela Llana and Ian Gamazon • 2005 • Philippines
    Starring Ian Gamazon, Edwin Lagda, Edgar Tancangco

    Arriving in Manila for his father’s funeral, a Filipino American man (Ian Gamazon) learns that his mother and sister have been kidnapped—leading him on a harrowing odyssey through...

  • Windowbreaker

    Episode 18

    Directed by Tze Chun • 2006 • United States

    A string of break-ins breeds distrust in a racially mixed neighborhood outside of Boston.

  • Going Home

    Episode 19

    Directed by Hung Nguyen • 2006 • United States

    A Vietnamese American family reckons with their ailing father’s decision to leave home and enter a monastery in this intimate, emotionally charged look at the lingering traumas of forced migration.

  • In Space

    Episode 20

    Directed by Visra Vichit-Vadakan • 2009 • Thailand, United States
    Starring Don Castro, Vorapat Chutrvachirakul, Arunee Pattaphongse

    A young monk slips between the realms of life and death to be reunited with his grandmother.