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Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Streaming and DVD Resources


The United States celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month during the month of May to recognize the achievements, challenges, culture, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans in the diaspora.

Images of AAPI Contributions

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IUB Streaming Titles

The following resources require IUB CAS Authentication.

The American Dream of the Chinese (71 min., 2010) The American Dream has drawn millions of people to the New World with the promise that all can reach their full potential if they work hard enough, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. In this program six Chinese citizens arriving in the U.S. over a 30-year period share their stories of how that dream has played out for them. A geophysicist who came in 1978 speaks movingly of finally being able to pursue his academic studies, forbidden during the Cultural Revolution, while a 21-year-old defends China at a Free Tibet rally. Providing insight into the hopes and sacrifices of transplanted peoples, the video brings to light the range of attitudes and lifestyles among those who have left their homeland.

American Experience: The Chinese Exclusion Act (160 min., 2018) On May 6th, 1882—on the eve of the greatest wave of immigration in American history—President Chester A. Arthur signed into law a unique piece of federal legislation. Called the Chinese Exclusion Act, it singled out as never before a specific race and nationality for exclusion, making it illegal for Chinese workers to come to America, and for Chinese nationals already here ever to become citizens of the United States. It is a deeply American story about immigration and national identity, civil rights and human justice; about how we define who can be an American, and what being an American means. The film examines the economic, cultural, social, legal, racial and political dimensions of the law; the forces and events that gave rise to it; and the effect it had, and continues to have, on American culture and identity. The Chinese Exclusion Act explores in riveting detail this little known, yet deeply resonant and revealing episode in American history—one that sheds enormous light on key aspects of the history of American civil liberties, immigration, and culture—during one of the most formative periods of U.S. history.

Angel Island: Story of Chinese Immigration (12 min., 2000) On Angel Island, the history is written on the walls. From 1910 until 1943, Chinese immigrants to America passed through Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, the Ellis Island of the West. Unlike other groups, the Chinese were legally discriminated against under an 1882 law called the Chinese Exclusion Act. This program looks at how two women-one an artist, the other a documentary filmmaker-are raising funds and awareness to have the old immigration station restored. Slated for destruction, the station was spared in 1970 when a park ranger discovered, beneath layers of paint, poems written by anxious detainees about their fears of deportation.

Becoming American: The Chinese Experience (254 min., 2003) What does it mean to become American? What is lost and what is gained in the process? In interviews with historians, descendants, and recent immigrants, this set of powerful Bill Moyers documentaries explores these questions through the dramatic experience of the Chinese in America. Includes Gold Mountain Dreams, Between Two Worlds, and No Turning Back.

Bill Moyers Journal:  Robert Bly and Grace Lee Boggs ( 56min., 2007)   Boggs, 92-years-old, continues to fight for civil rights. She grew-up in New York City, the daughter of Chinese immigrant parents, and explains how she came to identify more with the black American world than the Chinese American world.

Chinese in America (42 min., 2017) Lisa explores the massive and economically diverse movement of immigration from China to the United States – and traces her own family roots, to find out what it means to be Chinese in America.

Chinatown Files (57 min., 2000) Amy Chen's acclaimed new documentary The Chinatown Files reveals the hidden story of Chinese-American men and women who were hunted down, jailed, and targeted for deportation during the Cold War hysteria of the 1950's and l960's. Their interviews are interwoven with rare home movies, photographs and archival films exploring the prejudice and xenophobia surrounding U.S.-China relations. During the McCarthy era witch hunts, the loyalties of over ten thousand American citizens of Chinese descent were questioned based on their ethnicity and alleged risk to national security. Henry Chin, a laundry worker and president of the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance and the China Daily News, describes how "Chinese immigrants came to America for a better life for themselves and the loved ones they left behind in their impoverished villages." Yet for sending money home, his friends were charged by the U.S. government for trading with the enemy and his life was shattered by constant FBI surveillance and harassment. Other people featured in the film include several members of Mun Ching, the Chinese American Democratic Youth League in San Francisco who were harassed by the FBI. Several agents speak candidly of the FBI objectives in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York. The Chinatown Files is a cautionary tale of how nationalist paranoia can quickly lead to racially-motivated violations of civil rights and liberties. It serves as a dramatic and enduring reminder of the fragility of constitutional protections, encouraging viewers to reexamine the democratic promises of the American government and to hold all of society responsible when rights are infringed.

Chinatown: Strangers in a Strange Land (94 min., 2000) Their ancestors came from one of the world's most ancient civilizations. From a country rich in history and tradition, they journeyed across the globe to a new frontier rich in little but opportunity. Excluded from most of those opportunities by a dark wall of racial discrimination, they were forced to settle in stifling tenements that came to be called Chinatown. Yet they not only survived, but prospered, becoming one of the most successful immigrant groups in North America. This program presents a unique view of a unique place, taking viewers inside Chinatown to view the Chinese-American experience through the eyes of the people who live it every day.

Home From the Eastern Sea (58 min., 1990) This is the story of the immigration of the Chinese, the Japanese and the Filipinos to America. The documentary explores the history of each nationality through the personal stories of representative families. The film begins with the story of the Yee family of Seattle, who represent four generations of Asian-Americans in the United States. Their roots go back to the building of the transcontinental railway, and there are fascinating archival photographs of these events. The Hondas of Spokane are a lively testament to the resilience of Japanese-Americans. Having suffered discrimination during the war, they display a strength of character engendered by their wartime experiences. Lorena Silva lives in a close-knit Filipino-American community, where extended family ties give support. Intercut with family stories and rare archival footage are the observations of scholars, community activists, and writers.

Jung Sai: Chinese Americans (29 min., 1977) A young Chinese American journalist seeks her ethnic origins by traveling through the West Coast Chinese community interviewing people on the coolie labor immigrations, work in railroads and mines, and contributions made by Chinese to American culture.

The Living Tree: Chinese American Identity (27 min., 2006) Because of her family's efforts to avoid scrutiny during the Cold War era of the 1950s they tried hard to blend in with their surroundings and little mention was made at home of their Chinese past. Light -hearted letters which would pass the scrutiny of censors on both sides of the Bamboo Curtain were the only way family ties were maintained. It was not until Flora's Aunt Ping immigrated to America in the late eighties that Flora learned about her ancestors and the intertwining of Chinese history and family history. She also learned about the recent past, when her "capitalistic" family was subject to attack during the Cultural Revolution. The silence her parents had maintained about their past hardships and the loneliness experienced as immigrants was finally revealed. The thoroughly westernized Flora Moon once identified with ancient Rome, not ancient China. She had been labeled a "banana" -- yellow outside but white inside Now a new dimension--her Chinese roots-- has been revealed and absorbed . A charming film for use in multicultural studies.

My Mother Thought She Was Audrey Hepburn (18 min., 1992) In this funny and sometimes irreverent journey through San Francisco's Chinatown, Suzanne comes to terms with her own ethnic identity. This film is a personal statement about growing up Asian-American in a white society. Suzanne was brought up "not to be Chinese." All traces of her family's Chinese culture and traditions were to be left in China. Her mother was proud to dress like Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Kennedy, thinking she had attained the American dream if she modeled herself after them. Though she never became an active member of white society, she unwittingly fostered a "Chinese self-hatred" in her daughter.The film suggests that racial stereotypes are imprisoning whether the minority person rebels against them or conforms. Thus Suzanne, after mindlessly alternating between a series of different self images, goes full circle, accepting, at last, her ethnic heritage.

Under the Willow Tree: Pioneer Chinese Women in Canada (52min., 1999): In 1860, the first Chinese women landed in British Columbia, beginning a trickle of immigration despite a policy of excluding Asian females. While the New World used Chinese men to build the railroads, they were not encouraged to increase and multiply here. Under the Willow Tree tells a remarkable tale of courageous women who left their families behind in China, knowing they would never see them again.

Who Killed Vincent Chin? (82 min., 1990) This Academy-Award nominated film is a powerful statement about racism in working-class America. It relates the stark facts of Vincent Chin's brutal murder. A 27-year-old Chinese-American, Chin was celebrating his last days of bachelorhood in a Detroit bar. An argument broke out between him and Ron Ebens, a Chrysler Motors foreman. Ebens shouted ethnic insults, the fight moved outside, and before onlookers, Ebens bludgeoned Chin to death with a baseball bat.In the ensuing trial, Ebens was let off with a suspended sentence and a small fine. Outrage filled the Asian-American community to the point where they organized an unprecedented civil rights protest. His bereaved mother, brought up to be self-effacing, successfully led a nationwide crusade for a retrial.This tragic story is interwoven with the whole fabric of timely social concerns. It addresses issues such as the failure of our judicial system to value every citizen's rights equally, the collapse of the automobile industry under pressure from Japanese imports, and the souring of the American dream for the blue collar worker. Widely acclaimed by the press, Who Killed Vincent Chin? is a memorable film for all audiences.


IUB DVD/Video Films

To check out media items, you must have a valid IU crimson or borrower's card. Be sure to check with Media Services for hours. VHS titles are housed off-site at ALF, and can be requested via IUCAT. Suggested keywords in IUCAT: Chinese, Chinese Americans, Asian(s). Limit to film & video, dvd/videodisc, Bloomington campus.

American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (84 min., 2013) What does it mean to be an American revolutionary today? Grace Lee Boggs is a 98-year-old Chinese American writer, activist, and philosopher in Detroit. Rooted for more than 70 years in the African American movement, she has devoted her life to an evolving revolution that encompasses the contradictions of America's past and its potentially radical future. [This documentary presents] Boggs's lifetime of vital thinking and action, traversing the major U.S. social movements of the last century; from labor to civil rights, to Black Power, feminism, the Asian American and environmental justice movements and beyond.

Ancestors in the Americas (124 min., 2001) Pt. 1 tells the story of how Asians--Filipino, Chinese, Asian Indian--first arrived in the Americas. Film crosses centuries and oceans from the 16th century Manila-Acapulco trade, to the Opium War, to the 19th century plantation coolie labor in South America and the Caribbean. Pt. 2 relates the history of Chinese immigrants in California.

Chan is Missing (80 min., 2006) Two cabbies search San Francisco's Chinatown for a mysterious character who has disappeared with their $4000. Their quest to figure out what happened to Chan and their missing cash leads them on a journey that illuminates the pitfalls of Chinese-Americans trying to assimilate into contemporary American society.

Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart (87 min., 2006) A Chinese immigrant widow faces the New Year with apprehension after it is predicted that it would be the year she dies. Her list of things to do, which includes seeing her daughter get married and visiting China one last time, soon comes into focus.

Eat a Bowl of Tea (102 min., 2003) In New York's Chinatown of the late 1940's, young Ben Loy, fresh out of the service, has his whole life spread out before him - including a job, an apartment and a marriage arranged by his father.

Flower Drum Song (132 min., 2006) Set in San Francisco's Chinatown in the late 1950's. Pretty Mei Li has stowed away on a Chinese steamer with her professor father to become a mail-order bride for nightclub owner Sammy Fong. Sammy, however, is completely infatuated with saucy showgirl Linda Low, who is intent on making him jealous enough to propose to her. As Sammy sets out to assign his marriage contract (and Mei Li) to Wang Ta, a handsome college student living in Chinatown.

A Great Wall (102 min., 2002) This moving and humorous story chronicles the return of Leo Fang and his American-born wife and son to his native China and provides a comical insight into the cultural clashes between traditional Chinese families and Chinese-American families.

Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films (89 min., 2007) Documents the representation and involvement of the Chinese in American cinema from the silent era to the 21st century.

The Joy Luck Club (139 min., 2002) Four mothers. Four daughters. Eight stories. The Joy Luck Club is four women in San Francisco who have played mah jong together on a weekly basis to for forty some years. One of them, Suyuan, has died, and her daughter June is preparing to go to China. Auntie Lindo with daughter Waverly, Auntie Ying Ying with daughter Lena, and Auntie An Mei with daughter Rose are at the going away party. Born in China, the Joy Luck Club members came to America as young adults; their daughters are 100% American. The old days are seldom spoken about, and some things about those times have never been said aloud, but the experiences left behind color the hopes and expectations these women have for their daughters. If daughters become their mothers--no matter how much both parties desire that it not happen--daughters also become different from their mothers--despite all attempts to perpetuate the status quo.

The Motel (76 min., 2005) Chinese-American adolescent Ernest works after school cleaning rooms at the dingy motel owned by his bossy mother. A Korean-American playboy drifter helps Ernest come out of his shell, encouraging him to pursue an older girl he has a crush on. Ernest absorbs life lessons about girls, bullies, baseball and success.

My American Vacation (90 min., 1999) A Chinese grandmother joins her family in America for a vacation, touring California in a RV. The bonds of family are tested in this bittersweet and often humorous drama about life, love and the pursuit of ying and yang.

Requiem (30min., 1995) A young Asian woman relives memories of her Hong Kong childhood and her triumph as a ballet dancer. She pays tribute to her brother who supported her on her path to success, but who died of AIDS.

Saving Face (98 min., 2005) Wilhelmina is a Chinese-American lesbian and a young surgeon who has kept her sexual orientation secret from her conservative Chinese community in New York. But when her widowed mother becomes pregnant and is kicked out by her own parents, Wil suddenly has to juggle her mother's secrets with her own. 

The Search for General Tso (73 min., 2017) This film travels the globe to unravel a captivating culinary mystery. General Tso's Chicken is a staple of Chinese-American cooking, and a ubiquitous presence on restaurant menus across the country. But just who was General Tso? And how did his chicken become emblematic of an entire national cuisine?

Vincent Who? (40 min., 2009) Looks at the legacy of the case of Vincent Chin, a young Chinese American man who was attacked and killed at his bachelor's party at a suburban Detroit bar by current and former autoworkers who were unhappy with competition from Japanese auto manufacturers. The case attracted wide attention after Chin's attackers struck a plea bargain and were sentenced to three thousand dollars in fines and three years in prison, time that they never were required to serve after posting bail. Indignation by the Asian American community and others led to further charges being filed against the perpetrators. The film explores how the murder of Vincent Chin continues to have meaning to society today, as well as how the hate crime remains unknown or forgotten in many Americans' minds.

Xmas Without China (63 min., 2013) Exploring the intersection of consumerism and immigration in American culture, XMAS WITHOUT CHINA is an intimate portrait of families wrestling with our drive to consume cheap products, but also with our desire for human connection and a sense of who we are in a fast-changing world. Pride and mischief inspire Chinese immigrant Tom Xia to challenge the Americans in his Southern California suburb to celebrate Christmas without any Chinese products. With deep ties to his extended family back home, Tom is incensed by how he considers China is misunderstood, particularly by the American media. But he gets more than he bargains for when he meets the Joneses, a young family trying to keep their children safe as a wave of Chinese toy recalls forces them to have their son tested for lead poisoning. The Joneses start to give up not just toys, plates, lamps, and clothes, but the beloved hair dryer, coffeemaker, X-Box, and many Christmas decorations, challenging the way they live everyday life and how they celebrate Christmas. Meanwhile, Tom's parents are constructing a new home, proudly using Chinese materials to build their American dream. As they decorate for Christmas for the first time and the interactions between the Xias and the Joneses intensify, Tom realizes that he's on a deeper journey to understand the complexities of his own divided loyalties between America and China.

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