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Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Streaming and DVD Resources


Celebration is an integral part of the human experience.  Whether the festivities are related to religious or traditional cultural observances, or they commemorate one person's groundbreaking achievement, celebrations make space for human connection.  The films in this libguide touch on a variety of topics related to celebrations within Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.  Whether it is more insight to the roots of celebrations or appreciating cultural milestones, this guide presents viewers with further resources for education. 

Join us in learning about holidays like the annual Santo Niño Ati-Atihan Festival as well and celebrating world renowned musicians like Jake Shimabukuro with this libguide dedicated to Asian American and Pacific Islander cultural festivities and milestones.

Images of Celebrations, Observances, and Cultural Milestones

Still from Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings. Vimeo.


Still from "The Farewell." Photo courtesy

Still from In the Wake of Our Ancestors. Alexander Street Press. Accessed April 6 2021.

Still from "Hinduism: The Eternal Way." Films On Demand. Accessed April 6 2021.

Portrait of Grace Lee Boggs for her Memorial. American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. Accessed April 6 2021.

Still from Soh Daiko: taiko in New York. Alexander Street Press. Accessed April 6 2021.

IUB Streaming Titles

The following resources require IUB CAS Authentication.

Hinduism: the Eternal Way (22min., 2012) Its followers prefer to call it Sanatana Dharma - the Eternal Way - but in the West the 4,000-year-old group of practices and beliefs is known as Hinduism. This program traces the origins of Hinduism before examining its main tenets, major deities, and sacred texts. Particular attention is paid to how cultural customs in India are shaped by Hinduism, with information on bhakti yoga, Diwali, and the Bhagavad Gita, and what living according to the Dharma means to Hindus today. Filmed on location in India, the U.K., and Iceland.

Making belief visible : the cultural and civic work behind the annual Santo Niño Ati-Atihan Festival in the Philippines (26min., 2014) Making Belief Visible is a visual ethnographic account of a Filipino-American filmmaker's journey back to his father's hometown in the Philippines to learn about the town's local ritual and now global tourist attraction - the Santo Niño Ati-Atihan Festival.  The religious festival has evolved since its origins in the 1200's and has been referred to as the Philippines' Mardi Gras and Carnival.  Making Belief Visible deconstructs the phenomenon through the filmmaker's participation in the event and interviews with locals about the practices, histories, cultural performances, perspectives, sensibilities, and tensions that embody the festival's yearly enactment.  

Michelle Wie (11min., 2015) Michelle Wie She was a global star before hitting her teenage years, a child prodigy on the golf course. Michelle Wie has been one of the biggest players in the game since she was 12. With her killer swing, Wie has made a career of collecting accolades. In a candid conversation with Kristie Lu Stout, we get an inside look into the world of the celebrity golfer and one of the world's most celebrated female athletes.

Moving Mountains the Story of the Yiu Mein (58min., 1991) This film is an intimate and caring look at the Yiu Mien, Southeast Asian refugees who originally settled in the Pacific Northwest. In their ancient society in the mountains of Laos, this hill tribe had no electricity, cars, or any other twentieth century technology. Their involvement with the CIA during the Vietnam War forced the Mien to lose their homeland. Coming here, they were catapulted from one century into another. 

Nā Kamalei : the Men of Hula (58min., 2006) Nā Kamalei: The Men of Hula captures the journey of legendary master hula teacher Robert Cazimero and the only all-male hula school in Hawai'i as they prepare to compete in the world's largest hula festival. Beyond deep-rooted stereotypes of 'grass skirt girls', the film tells a story of Hawaiian pride as the men celebrate their 30th anniversary in continuing the revival of men dancing the hula.

One Voice (85min., 2009) One Voice is a documentary film that tells the story of the Kamehameha Schools Song Contest through the eyes of the student song directors. Every year in Hawai‘i, 2000 high school students compete in the Kamehameha Schools Song Contest where young leaders direct their peers in singing Hawaiian music in four-part harmony. The Contest is a unique cultural celebration that has become a major local event, broadcasted live on TV, played on the radio, and streamed on the Internet.

A Personal Journey with Gish Jen, Author (15min., 2006, 2003) Born and raised in the United States, Gish Jen has become a leading literary voice of the Chinese American experience. In this program, Bill Moyers talks with the critically acclaimed writer, whose novels and short stories are known for their humorous and incisive edge.

Soh Daiko: Taiko in New York (66min., 2011) Born in New York City, Soh Daiko has taken the traditional festival drumming known as taiko from its Japanese homeland and drawn inspiration from the living world cultures surrounding it. This is the story of a collective drumming community and an empowering Asian American art form, from it beginnings in the basement of the New York Buddhist Church in 1979, as told by its founders and its former and present members. A fascinating and memorable documentary about the committed and impassioned life of a New York taiko group directed by Minette Mangahas.

Spirit of the Land: In the Wake of Our Ancestors (29min., 1992) In The Wake of Our Ancestors follows a group of dedicated Hawaiians who embark on a journey to rediscover their past by building a voyaging canoe out of traditional natural materials. An extensive search fails to produce koa trees large enough for the hulls. The once plentiful forests on the island of Hawai'i have been depleted, and the unique koa ecosystem virtually destroyed. In order to continue with the project, another source of timber had to be located. Native Alaskans offer them two enormous Sitka spruce trees. After a dramatic tree felling ceremony in the forests of Southeast Alaska, the logs arrive in Hawai'i, and builders begin shaping the canoe's hulls. 

A Wok in Progress (56min., 2001) The third film in the Springroll Trilogy interweaves a love of food with cultural and psychic survival. Paul Kwan, who was uprooted from his family and native country by the fall of Saigon, finds comfort in recreating his native foods in San Francisco, his new home (Anatomy of A Springroll). He faced the physical impairment imposed on him by a debilitating stroke (Pins and Noodles).In A Wok in Progress, Paul triumphs over the demons with his sense of whimsy, lyricism, and of course, his enjoyment of food and family. 

Xmas without China (63min., 2013)  Exploring the intersection of consumerism and immigration in American culture, this film 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.

IUB DVD/Video Films

During Covid, only IU faculty, staff and students can borrow materials from Media Services with a valid IU crimson card.  Face masks are required. 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: Asian American/Pacific Islander and celebration, observances, culture. 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.

8月의크리스마스 = Christmas in August (97min., 2002) A dying man falls in love with a woman who frequents his photo shop.

Crazy Rich Asians (120min., 2018) A native New Yorker Rachel Chu accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young, to his best friend's wedding in Singapore. Excited about visiting Asia for the first time but nervous about meeting Nick's family, Rachel is unprepared to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his life. It turns out that he is not only the scion of one of the country's wealthiest families but also one of its most sought-after bachelors.

The Farewell (98min., 2019) Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself. To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, uniting family members scattered among new homes abroad. As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations and proprieties, she finds there's a lot to celebrate. 

金門銀光夢 The Golden Gate Girls/ Title in Chinese: Jinmen yin guang meng (90min., 2014) Author and professor S. Louisa Wei tells the story of filmmaker Esther Eng, the first woman to direct Chinese-language film in the US, and the most prominent woman director in Hong Kong in the 1930's. A San Francisco native and open lesbian, her contribution to film history is sadly overlooked -- her 11 feature films mostly lost. After the retirement of director Dorothy Arzner in 1943 and before Ida Lupino began directing in 1949, Eng was the only woman directing feature length films in the US.

Holi hey a Festival of Love, Color, and Life (54min., 1996 ) Expresses the many customs and practices of the people of the Vraj region of northern India. Documents the Holi Hey festival. 

Jake Shimabukuro Life on Four Strings (56min., 2013) Follows Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro on a nine-month tour throughout the U.S. and Japan. The documentary was filmed at concert halls, elementary schools, senior care centers, and in Sendai, the small town in Japan that was ravaged by the March 2011 tsunami. Home video footage, family photos, and interviews with family and friends also document Jake's rise to international fame.

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.

Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi (36min., 2014) A journey of devotion for the goddess Radha. Loosely following the episodic template of 'Le Sacre du Printemps', 'Radhe Radhe' is also a ballet of sorts: a performative encounter between live music and film, between lived experience and myth, the self and the transformed self, winter and spring. 

Vietnamese-American Heritage (25min., 2006) This program introduces children to Vietnam's varied geography and history, and shows them how the people of Vietnam live, work and play. Children learn why many Vietnamese people immigrated to America and about the traditions they keep alive in the United States. Everyone learns how to count to ten and say a few words in Vietnamese, then it's off to the Saigon Mall in Falls Church, Virginia, for a look at a variety of traditional Vietnamese food, music and jewelry. Children watch an animated folktale called The First Dragon, make a dragon costume for the Vietnamese New Year and sing "Ly Tinh-Tang," a folksong about a starling.

Internet Resources