10 Movies To See for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

  |   Article, Commentary

The month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, recognizing the contributions of the AAPI community to our country.  One of the best ways to get to know more about the AAPI community is through movies and TV shows.  However, AAPI representation in early Hollywood perpetuated harmful stereotypes that exist to this day and the community still faces under-representation in our media.  Movies that tell authentic stories about the AAPI community can help bring us all closer together.


Internet Video Archive (IVA) created a collection of movies and TV shows called “Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage” (Collection #1299) that can easily be accessed by IVA clients to showcase titles for their own articles for AAPI Heritage Month.  IVA offers collection “types” ranging from shared universes, iconic authors, iconic titles, etc. as well as editorial. Our editors researched and pulled together a list of over 135 different movies and TV shows that focus on the AAPI community.


Below is a sampling of that collection of authentic portrayals of AAPI family life.  The titles may span different genres but the titles were filtered by the theme “family relationships.”  All of us are partially defined by our family life and experiencing movies about AAPI family life can help educate others and break the bleak stereotypes.


IVA stands by the AAPI community and recognizes their contributions that enrich all of us.


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Minari (2020)


Description: A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, Minari follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, Minari shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.



Trailer and links to where to stream







The Namesake (2007)


Description:  The story of the Ganguli family whose move from Calcutta to New York evokes a lifelong balancing act to meld to a new world without forgetting the old. Though parents Ashoke and Ashima (Irrfan Khan, Tabu) long for the family and culture that enveloped them in India, they take great pride in the opportunities their sacrifices have afforded their children.



Trailer and links to where to stream







Crazy Rich Asians (2018)


Description: The story follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu (Wu) as she accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young (Golding), 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. Being on Nick’s arm puts a target on Rachel’s back, with jealous socialites and, worse, Nick’s own disapproving mother (Yeoh) taking aim. And it soon becomes clear that while money can’t buy love, it can definitely complicate things.



Trailer and links to where to stream




Meet the Patels (2015)


Description: Fresh out of a breakup with his American girlfriend and freaked out that he’s almost 30 and single, Indian American Ravi Patel goes on a family vacation to India with his head and heart spinning. Ravi is desperate to find love and is willing to do whatever it takes. Through his journey to India, he realizes that the inner workings of his culture, that inevitably lead back to the semi-arranged marriage, might not be so terrible. Struck with how overwhelmingly happy the marriages are of his Patel family and friends, and with the help of his legendary matchmaker mother and life advice spouting father, Ravi decides to embark on a worldwide search for another American Patel just like him.



Trailer and links to where to stream





The Farewell (2019)

Description: A headstrong Chinese-American woman returns to China when her beloved grandmother is given a terminal diagnosis. Billi struggles with her family’s decision to keep grandma in the dark about her own illness as they all stage an impromptu wedding to see grandma one last time.



Trailers and links to where to stream









The Big Sick (2017)


Description: Academy Award nominee, heart-warming, hit comedy from producer Judd Apatow (Bridesmaids, Trainwreck). The Big Sick is based on the real-life courtship between Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani (Nanjiani) and grad student Emily Gordon (Zoe Kazan) who fall in love but struggle while dealing with Emily’s mysterious illness and their families’ culture clash.



Trailer and links to where to stream








The Joy Luck Club (1993)


Description: The life histories of four Asian women and their daughters reflect and guide each other.



Trailer and links to where to stream









Once Were Warriors (1994)


Description: The film tells the story of the Hekes, an urban Māori family, and their problems with poverty, alcoholism, and domestic violence, mostly brought on by the patriarch Jake. Editor’s Note: This is one of the most powerful indie films of all time. Though it is set in New Zealand, it shows how colonialism tore apart indigenous traditions and families.



Trailer and links to where to stream







A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (2007)


Description: Family ties bind us together in visceral ways, but the forces of modern life often seem to drive parents and children apart. Elderly Mr. Shi (Henry O), a widower and a retired scientist, has arrived from Beijing to spend time with his divorced daughter, Yilan (Faye Yu). He hopes to help her sort out her life in this strange new country. That, after all, is his duty as a parent. Twelve years ago, Yilan came to the United States to study, and ended up staying and working at the local university in this unnamed Midwestern town.



Trailer and links to where to stream







Children of Invention (2010)


Description: Two young children living outside Boston are left to fend for themselves when their mother gets embroiled in a pyramid scheme and disappears. After being evicted from their home, the Cheng family finds that times are tighter than ever. Hardworking single mom and recent Boston transplant Elaine tries desperately to find the means to support her young children, Raymond and Tina. When Elaine doesn’t return home one night, things take a turn for the worse. Nobody knows the kids are home alone, and they are left to fend for themselves. As the days pass, Raymond realizes he needs to come up with a plan to take care of his little sister.


Trailer and links to where to stream




Other notable AAPI Movies and TV shows: Fresh Off the Boat, The Mindy Project, Better Luck Tomorrow, Mississippi Marsala, Saving Face


This article was created using Internet Video Archives’ database that includes metadata about movies and TV shows, poster art and trailers/clips available to clients via its APIs and editor’s interface Media Manager.  If you would like to learn more about how IVA can support your entertainment information needs to enhance your websites, applications or services, please contact