This May, WORLD Channel, in partnership with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Pacific Islanders in Communication (PIC) and KQED San Francisco, celebrates the voices of Asian Pacific Americans with a selection of eight original and compelling documentary films that spotlight the identity and diverse stories of this community.
Local, USA: Forever, Chinatown, presented in partnership with KQED’s Truly CA, is a story of self-taught, 81-year-old artist Frank Wong who has spent the past four decades recreating his fading memories by building detailed miniature models of the San Francisco Chinatown of his youth. This film takes the journey of one individual and maps it to a rapidly changing urban neighborhood from 1940s to present day. In his compromise with immortality, Frank announces plans to cremate his exquisite works with him upon his death in order to ‘live inside them forever’ in his afterlife. Forever, Chinatown will also air on KQED’s main channel in San Francisco on May 8 at 9:30PM PT.
For 29-year-old filmmaker Matthew Hashiguchi, growing up half-Japanese American in an Irish-Catholic neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, was a difficult experience. His inability to blend in with the predominantly White population of his surroundings translated into his own personal struggles with race, and in America ReFramed: Good Luck Soup audiences join Matthew on a journey to discover how Japanese heritage influenced the lives of his Japanese American family members; before, during and after World War II.
Doc World: Finding Samuel Lowe follows retired NBC executive Paula Williams Madison and her brothers, Elrick and Howard Williams, who were raised in Harlem by their Chinese Jamaican mother. In order to fulfill a promise to their mother to connect to her estranged father’s people, they embark on a journey to China to uncover their ancestral roots and search for clues about their long-lost grandfather, Samuel Lowe.
Local USA: The Roots of ‘Ulu, presented by Pacific Islanders in Communication, transports audiences from the Polynesian voyaging canoes that brought ‘ulu from Tahiti to Hawai’i, up through the present day efforts of native practitioners, medical specialists and agricultural experts who have a shared vision of the ‘ulu (breadfruit) tree playing an important role in cultural preservation, health restoration and food sustainability for Hawai’i’s future.
When he was six-years-old, Dinesh Sabu’s parents died. Raised by his siblings, he had little idea who his parents were or where he came from. Now as an adult with a burning curiosity, Dinesh sets out on a journey across the United States and India to piece together their story. Uncovering a silenced family history of mental illness, Dinesh confronts the legacy of having a schizophrenic mother who died by suicide, the reality of growing up an orphaned immigrant, and the trauma of these events in America ReFramed: Unbroken Glass.
The 2008 Sichuan earthquake, China’s deadliest disaster in three decades, killed 90,000 people, including more than 5,000 children. Losing a child is an immeasurable tragedy for parents anywhere, but in China the effect is compounded by the one-child policy. In response to the earthquake, China’s government made an exception for those who lost their only child to conceive another. Doc World: One Child follows the journey of these three families as they try to restore a sense of normalcy and struggle to move past the loss of their children.
Arrested at 16 and tried as an adult for kidnapping and robbery, Eddy Zheng served over 20 years in California prisons and jails. America ReFramed: Breathin’ – The Eddy Zheng Story paints an intimate portrait of Eddy-the prisoner, the immigrant, the son, the activist-on his journey to freedom, rehabilitation and redemption.
As leader of the world’s only LGBT political party, Bemz Benedito dreams of being the first transgender woman in the Philippine Congress. But in a predominantly Catholic nation, rallying for LGBT representation in the halls of Congress is not an easy feat. Taking their equality campaign to small-town hair salons and regional beauty pageants, the activists mobilize working-class trans hairdressers and beauty queens to join the fight against their main political opponent, a homophobic evangelical preacher. Culminating on election day, Doc World: Out Run provides a unique look into the challenges LGBT people face as they transition into the mainstream and fight for dignity, legitimacy, and acceptance across the globe.
Special encore programming that includes award winning documentary films is also airing this month as a part of APA Heritage Month.
Born in a refugee camp in Cambodia, poet Kosal Khiev was lucky to escape the wartorn country before he was two years old; he was granted asylum and grew up in the U.S. By the age of 16, he was convicted of attempted murder and spent the next 14 years in jail where he found the power of writing and spoken-word. After being released from prison, as a refugee with no permanent resident status in the U.S., Khiev was deported to Cambodia, a country he’s never known. America ReFramed: Cambodian Son, an Asian American Journalist Award winner, follows a year in the life of Khiev, while he navigates his new fame as Phnom Penh’s premiere poet and receives the most important invitation of his career-to represent the Kingdom of Cambodia at the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
Doc World: The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor tells the story of Haing Ngor, one of the most recognized survivors of the Cambodian genocide and a man who became a worldwide ambassador for justice in his homeland, only to be murdered in a Los Angeles Chinatown alley. Dr. Ngor revisited the story of the Cambodian death camps in his Oscar-winning performance in the theatrical film The Killing Fields. Anchored by Ngor’s powerful autobiography and presented in an original mix of animation and live action, the film presents a transcontinental journey of loss and reconciliation.
Audiences are invited to learn more about this community through the #MyAPALife social conversation on WORLD Channel’s Facebook and Twitter, in partnership with American Documentary, PBS, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC). WORLD and American Documentary will be hosting a live digital conversation between Asian Pacific American filmmakers from America ReFramed, Doc World and Local, USA in May. *this is still a work in progress with details on moderator, date, etc. to be solidified