In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, here are some extraordinary films about the Asian American & Pacific Islander experience that you can stream on Kanopy using your Livingston Library card…
(Note: Descriptions are taken from Kanopy)
The Farewell (2019) – directed by Lulu Wang
In this funny, heartfelt story, Billi’s (Awkwafina) family returns to China under the guise of a fake wedding to stealthily say goodbye to their beloved matriarch—the only person that doesn’t know she only has a few weeks to live.
Lucky Grandma (2020) – directed by Sasie Sealy
In the heart of Chinatown, New York, an ornery, chain-smoking, newly widowed 80-year-old Grandma (Tsai Chin) is eager to live life as an independent woman, despite the worry of her family. When a local fortune teller (Wai Ching Ho) predicts a most auspicious day in her future, Grandma decides to head to the casino and goes all in, only to land herself on the wrong side of luck…suddenly attracting the attention of some local gangsters. Desperate to protect herself, Grandma employs the services of a bodyguard from a rival gang (Corey Ha) and soon finds herself right in the middle of a Chinatown gang war.
Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart (1985) – directed by Wayne Wang
A Chinese immigrant, who is a widow, faces the New Year with apprehension after it was foretold that it would be the year she would die. All of the things she wants to do before she dies come into focus, including seeing her daughter married and visiting China one last time to pay her respects.
The Wedding Banquet (1993) – directed by Ang Lee
Wai-Tung (Winston Chao) and Simon (Mitchell Lichtenstein) are happily living in New York when word comes from Wai-Tung’s parents, who, tired of waiting for their son to marry, have hired a dating service to get him closer to the altar. Wai-Tung and Simon hatch a plot that’ll see Wai-Tung married to Wei-Wei (May Chin), an acquaintance in need of her green card. Problem solved. That is, until Wai-Tung’s parents announce a visit and insist that a customary wedding banquet be given for the couple.
Meet the Patels (2014) – directed by Geeta Patel and Ravi Patel
In this real-life “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” an Indian-American man who is about to turn 30 gets help from his parents and extended family so he can start looking for a wife the traditional Indian way.
August at Akiko’s (2018) – directed by Christopher Makoto Yogi
Armed with just his suitcase and a sax, cosmopolitan musician Alex returns home to Hawaii, having been away for nearly a decade. He takes refuge in a Buddhist B&B with a woman named Akiko. Alex’s experimental free jazz music at first collides with the sounds of Akiko’s meditation, but as the film evolves and a friendship develops, the two harmonize.
Spa Night (2016) – directed by Andrew Ahn
A portrait of forbidden sexual awakening set in the nocturnal world of spas and karaoke bars in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. Nominated for two prizes at the Sundance Film Festival, and winner of the John Cassavetes Award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.
Columbus (2017) – directed by Kogonada
Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) lives with her mother in a little-known Midwestern town haunted by the promise of modernism. Jin (John Cho), a visitor from the other side of the world, attends to his dying father. Burdened by the future, they find respite in one another and the architecture that surrounds them. Nominated for Best Cinematography, Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Also nominated for the Audience Award in the Best of Next! Category at the Sundance Film Festival.
To browse Kanopy’s complete collection of films by and about Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders, click here.
— Joe, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian