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The APAHM Project: Celebrating Culture Through 31 Days of Asian American Cinema

Updated: May 11, 2020

*This post was edited on May 11th to replace Day 11’s film*


The end of April is nearing and you know what that means.





Alright, as much as I love *NSYNC, let’s get down to business.


Yes, that last line was intentional because May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! (Cue Mulan celebration music)


Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we have been locked away at home to prevent spreading the novel coronavirus. However, for many Asian Americans, myself included, we stay home for another reason. Fear.


Asian Americans are being targeted for hate crimes all across the U.S. by people claiming that we are the reason for the virus’ appearance in the states and, consequently, the economic and medical fallout that occurred as a result.


I won’t go into detail about this obviously concerning issue of xenophobia and racism here since that is not the intention of this post and the blog posts that come after it. However, it had me thinking that perhaps Asian and Pacific Islander Americans may be afraid to outwardly celebrate this cultural appreciation month because of the Coronavirus.


I am here to tell you that we should be proud of who we are and where we come from every day of the year, and to never let this pandemic or anything else stop us from being exactly who we are. And we have a right to celebrate our heritage during this month and every month.


With everyone sitting at home and turning to art, including movies, I thought a great way to spread positivity and awareness would to curate a list of movies every day for the entire duration of APAHM. As an aspiring Asian American filmmaker, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some of my favorite Asian American movies with you as well as watch some new ones that were recommended to me. Each day I will publish a blog post about the day’s film, a short review, why it was chosen for this list, and it’s significance to APA heritage. I present to you, The APAHM Project.




In 2018, Jon M. Chu’s “Crazy Rich Asians” was noted as a catalyst for a new wave of Asian Americans in Western cinema and television. While this was definitely the case, the majority of films on this list were released before 2018. Which made me wonder, are we advocating for something we already have? While of course, I never want to jump off the high of Representation, it is interesting to see those who have already begun paving the way for us with memorable performances and excellent movies.


The purpose of this list is to highlight these great creators and artists while also bringing awareness to films that maybe people had no idea were created by Asian Americans. The purpose of this project is to hopefully build a community through film to celebrate our heritage as well as demonstrate why proper representation in media is so important.


With the help of some social media friends, I was able to accumulate a list of about 65 movies that met the one or more of the following criteria:


  • Written by an East Asian, Indian, or Pacific Islander American,

  • Directed by an East Asian, Indian, or Pacific Islander American, or

  • Had an East Asian, Indian, or Pacific Islander American in a Leading Role.

  • Additionally, films preferably need to be accessible through popular streaming sites for easy viewing.


This list does not include:

  • Foreign films (sorry “Parasite,” I still love you)

  • Sequels, unless it had a great significance (sequels will be recommended in the original film’s blog post)

  • Television shows (there will be a separate bonus post for TV shows)


Without further adieu, I present the movies for APAHM:


May 1: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

  • Available to watch on: Netflix

May 2: Kung Fu Panda 2

  • Available to watch on: Netflix

May 3: The Farewell

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime

May 4: John Wick

  • Available to watch on: Xfinity

May 5: Always Be My Maybe

  • Available to watch on: Netflix

May 6: Tigertail

  • Available to watch on: Netflix

May 7: Late Night

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime

May 8: The Sixth Sense

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, or iTunes to rent or buy or on Hulu with a Showtime subscription

May 9: Running for Grace

  • Available to watch on: Netflix

May 10: The Joy Luck Club

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, or iTunes to rent or buy

May 11: Mulan

  • Available to watch on: Disney +

May 12: Water

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, or iTunes to rent or buy

May 13: Free Solo

  • Available to watch on: Hulu or Disney +

May 14: Aquaman

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, or iTunes to rent or buy or on Hulu with HBO Add-On

May 15: Abominable

  • Available to watch on: Hulu

May 16: Bumblebee

  • Available to watch on: Hulu

May 17: Life of Pi

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, or iTunes to rent or buy

May 18: Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle

  • Available to watch on: Netflix

May 19: Searching

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, or iTunes to rent or buy or Hulu with STARZ Add-On

May 20: Moana and Lilo & Stitch

  • Available to watch on: Disney +

May 21: Everything Before Us

  • Available to watch on: iTunes to buy

May 22: Star Trek Beyond

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, or iTunes to rent or buy or Hulu with Live TV Add-On

May 23: Gandhi

  • Available to watch on: Crackle

May 24: Sense and Sensibility (1996)

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, or iTunes to rent or buy or on Hulu with STARZ Add-ON

May 25: Ping Pong Playa

  • Available to watch on: Tubi

May 26: The Glass Castle

  • Available to watch on: Vudu

May 27: Rush Hour

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, or iTunes to rent or buy or on Hulu with Live TV Add-On

May 28: Better Luck Tomorrow

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, or iTunes to rent or buy or on Hulu with STARZ Add-On

May 29: The Flower Drum Song

  • Available to watch on: Vudu

May 30: Crazy Rich Asians

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, or iTunes to rent or buy or Hulu with HBO Add-On

May 31: Enter the Dragon

  • Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, or iTunes to rent or buy



Some of these movies are nostalgic classics to me. Others I know for a fact are great and enjoyable. Some I have never seen before (and subsequently may not be great, we’ll find out together. And if you already know it isn’t great, I apologize in advance) but were chosen for a specific reason or recommended to me. The Disney animated films are included as double features since I figured most people have maybe seen them already. So sit back in your sweatpants after your long day of Zoom meetings and watch along with me all month as we celebrate our unique and beautiful culture together. As the great Sandra Oh once said, “It’s an honor just to be Asian.” Happy APAHM!


*Note: I am not a film critic, just someone who enjoys films. Please do not be rude or offended by the movies on this list. I apologize if a favorite of yours was not included in the list, maybe next year!

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