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Films to Watch for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

by Sarah Soliman

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and something to celebrate this month is the number of excellent films by and about the AAPI community that have come out in recent years.

There’s Jon M. Chu’s lavish blockbuster romance Crazy Rich Asians, Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, about an American-raised woman wrestling with familial expectations when she goes to China to spend time with her dying grandmother, Lee Isaac Chung’s family drama Minari, which was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, won the Best Supporting Actress statue for Youn Yuh-jung, and made history with its Best Actor nomination for Steven Yeun — 2021 being the first time an Asian man had been nominated for Best Actor (both something to celebrate and an indictment of Hollywood that it took so long). A personal favorite of mine is Kogonada’s Columbus, a tender and meditative film about the friendship between Jim (John Cho) and Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), as each of them comes to a crossroad in their relationship to a parent.

If you’re a fan of documentaries, you should watch (or rewatch) Bing Liu’s innovative and wrenching Minding the Gap, a film that starts out as a skateboard documentary and becomes an exploration of cycles of violence. Up-and-coming documentarian Jalena Keane-Lee’s short film Standing Above the Clouds takes audiences into the heart of an activist community in Hawaii — and you can watch the film right now on YouTube.    

In a happy coincidence, you can see the singular and astounding Everything Everywhere All at Once — a visionary, hilarious sci-fi fantasy that tells the story of Evelyn, a Chinese-American woman, and her family — on the big screen right now. And you can enjoy this roundup of writing on the film from Asian voices, who have talked about what the film means to them.

First though, we’ll start with actress Michelle Yeoh, who plays Evelyn, talking about some of her career-defining roles.

Michelle Yeoh on GQ  

Michelle Yeoh on NPR

Asian Men Needed a Movie Like Everything Everywhere All at Once by Chris Karnadi

Everything Everywhere All at Once Review by Walter Chaw

Everything Everywhere All at Once is the Non-Diaspora Diaspora Story We’ve Been Waiting For by R.F. Kuang

How Everything Everywhere All at Once Wields Science Fiction in a New, Empowering Way by Jessica Zhou

As a Queer Woman, Everything Everywhere All at Once Hits Different by Maggie Zhou