"Watch any good documentaries lately?"
Welcome back to another monthly installment of all the documentaries I've watched recently. Last month, in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, all the films I watched focused on different AAPI stories. I will note that I found most documentary/film curation for AAPI month to be quite lacking across Netflix, Amazon, Hulu etc. and actually found quite a few independently hosted on YouTube/Vimeo and other hosting platforms. Hence, you'll notice a few of these stories are not necessarily American stories, as I cast the net a bit wider to include Asian and Pacific Islander stories in general. I did, of course, have a few notable standout favorites — both Amy Tan: An Unintended Memoir and American Revolutionary — The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs are excellent watches about two inspiring trailblazing women. Highly recommend putting them first on your "to-watch-next" list.
- Standing Above the Clouds: Native Hawaiian activists try to protect a sacred mountain from the proposed construction of the world's largest telescope. Available on YouTube, 7/10 IMDb rating
- The Claudia Kishi Club: The premise revolves around the director Sue Ding interviewing people about the character of Claudia Kishi, part of The Baby-Sitters Club, and her importance being an Japanese-American character. Available on Netflix, 6.9/10 IMDb rating
- Asian Americans: A five episode series about the role of Asian Americans in shaping American history and identity. A great history refresher for a lot of figures and topics that were likely glossed over or omitted entirely in your history classes. Available via PBS on Amazon, 8.2/10 IMDb rating
- Spelling the Dream: Directed by Sam Rega and written by Sam Rega and Chris Weller. The premise of the film revolves around competitive spelling bees, which have been dominated by Indian-Americans in recent times. Available on Netflix, 6.9/10 IMDb rating
- The Problem with Apu: Comic Hari Kondabolu examines the East Indian cartoon character Apu on the long-running TV series "The Simpsons." Available on Amazon and HBOMax, 3.5/10 IMDb rating
- My Love — Six Stories of True Love: Six longtime couples from around the world share their love stories in portraits filmed over the course of one year. Episode three follows a sweet couple in Japan — Kinuko who has cared for Haruhei ever since they met at a facility where he was being treated for leprosy. But now it's his turn to be the caretaker for her. Available on Netflix, 7.6/10 IMDb rating
- Good Luck Soup: Filmmaker Matthew Hashiguchi explores how Japanese heritage influenced his Japanese-American family before and after World War II. Available on Amazon, 8.7/10 IMDb rating
- Ulam — Main Dish: The first food documentary following the rise of the Filipino food movement via the chefs crossing over to the center of the American table. Available on Hulu, 7.1/10 IMDb rating
- Kusama — Infinity: Artist Yayoi Kusama's journey from a conservative upbringing in Japan to her brush with fame in America during the 1960s. Available on Hulu, 7.2/10 IMDb rating
- Twinsters: A French fashion design student stumbles upon a familiar face on YouTube: her own. Finding the resemblance uncanny, she sends the video's American creator a message and the two discover that they are, in fact, twins separated at birth. Available on Amazon, 7.6 IMDb rating
- American Revolutionary — The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs: In Detroit, a 97-year-old Chinese-American woman has immersed herself in social activism for more than 70 years. Available on Amazon, 7.8/10 IMDb rating
- Amy Tan — Unintended Memoir: From her painful past to her successful career after The Joy Luck Club, groundbreaking writer Amy Tan shares her life story. Available on Netflix, 7.6 IMDb rating
Now tell me, what documentaries have you recently watched? Any favorites?