In May 2014, WORLD Channel continues to drive the focus of it's programming on identity. Throughout the month, WORLD has lined up stories that celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
May 2 at 6pm & 9pm: Among B-Boys
Christopher Woon's first documentary feature explores the intersection of rugged urban bboyin' (breakdancing) and the traditional roots of Hmong culture. But instead of the usual generational conflict, Among B-Boys unveils a story of the modern and the traditional actually affirming each other, visually weaving between the older generation's memory of ethnicity and war and the younger generation's toprocks, footwork, freezes and power-moves. Woon focuses on three breakers - Impact and Vlln of Underground Flow, and Sukie of Velocity/Soul Rivals Crew-who reveal the path towards b-boy cultural citizenship in America, but continually steer us back to their families, history and community. Produced as a short in 2004 and originally focused on the California Central Valley, the feature film follows the expansion of the Hmong community into the Midwest, with its main protagonists now in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
May 2 at 7:30pm: The Grace Lee Project
When Korean American filmmaker Grace Lee was growing up in Missouri, she was the only Grace Lee she knew. Once she left the Midwest however, everyone she met seemed to know "another Grace Lee." But why did they assume that all Grace Lees were reserved, dutiful, piano-playing overachievers?
Lee plunges into a funny, highly unscientific investigation into all those Grace Lees who break the mold -- from a fiery social activist to a rebel who tried to burn down her high school. With wit and charm, The Grace Lee Project puts a hilarious spin on the eternal question, "What's in a name?"
May 2 at 7pm: Calling Tokyo
This documentary tells the unheralded story about a group of Japanese Americans, who as civilians served America during World War II, even as their families and friends were incarcerated in concentration camps. While the unequaled battle records of Japanese American soldiers are now legendary, little is known about the vital role played by these US citizens who did language translation work and short wave radio broadcasting to Japan, assisting in the war efforts of Britain and the USA. Through actual recordings and first-person interviews with the participants of those broadcasts, CALLING TOKYO is a fascinating story about a unique effort to help hasten the end of the war.
May 5 at 7pm: E Haku Inoa: To Weave a Name
Filmmaker Christen Marquez's drive to learn the meaning of her enigmatic Hawaiian name impels her to unite her scattered family and come to terms with her estranged, mentally ill mother, who is the only person in the world who knows the meaning of her name.
May 5 at 8pm: Pacific Heartbeat: Na Lani ‘Eha from ‘Iolani Palace—The Music of Hawaiian Royalty
This historic production brings together some of Hawai'i's most beloved musicians to perform songs composed by the last members of Hawai'i's ruling monarchy. 'Iolani Palace's executive director and curator provide a historical background of the royal palace - the only one of its kind in the United States - and the musicians explain the cultural significance of the royal repertoire.
May 9 at 6pm & 9pm: Mulberry Child
This film is the moving story of author Jian Ping's (Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China) coming of age as the daughter of a senior government official and her family's struggle to survive China's Cultural Revolution of 1966-1979. The story follows Jian's life through her present-day relationship with her American daughter, addressing universal issues between mother and daughter; triumph and adversity; and overcoming the immigrant challenges. Narrated by actress Jacqueline Bisset.
May 9 at 7pm: Global Voices: A Village Called Versailles
A Village Called Versailles is the incredible story of this little-known, tight-knit community in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When the storm devastated New Orleans in August 2005, Versailles residents rebuilt their neighborhood faster than any other damaged neighborhood in the city, only to find themselves threatened by a new toxic landfill slated to open just two miles away. Forced out of Vietnam by the war 30 years ago, many residents felt their homes were being taken away from them once again.
May 9 at 8pm: Mr. Cao Goes to Washington
What happens when the naivete of a political rookie clashes with the realities of racial and partisan politics of the South? This film is a character study of Congressman Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese American Republican elected by surprise in an African American Democratic district in New Orleans. Will Cao make it through his term with his idealism intact?
May 11 at 5pm: China’s Challenges: Are the Chinese People Really Happy?
May 11 at 6pm: China’s Challenges: Where Is China’s Economy Going?
May 12 at 7pm: Japanese American Lives: Mrs. Judo—Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful
Using rare archival footage, intimate interviews and plenty of on-the-mat action, director Yuriko Gamo Romer eloquently brings to life the inspiring story of a remarkable woman and judo master. At a time when women went from childhood home to wife and homemaker, Keiko Fukuda made an unpopular choice and took a different path, saying, "This [Judo] was my marriage...this is when my life destiny was set." This documentary beautifully showcases the life of 99-year-old Sensei Fukuda, presenting her as not only a pioneer for women but as an inspiration to us all.
May 12 at 8pm : Pacific Heartbeat: Tonga—The Last Place on Earth
Tonga, an archipelago of 169 islands in the South Pacific, cut off from modernity as it is physically from the Western world. Each month, however, the United States deports ethnic Tongans convicted of murder, gang violence and other serious crimes to this peaceful island kingdom. Forced to leave behind spouses, children, and family in the U.S., the convicts arrive to an unfamiliar homeland and met by a community wary of their presence. The film explores whether Tonga can absorb this influx of hardened criminals and whether these men and women can adapt and survive in exile or revert to their violent ways.
May 16 at 6pm & 9pm: Independent Lens: Left by the Ship
JR, Charlene, Margarita and Robert are half American; they are among the many children born to U.S. servicemen who were stationed in military bases in the Philippines until 1992. Like most Filipino Amerasians, they were left behind by their biological fathers and largely forgotten. Over the course of two years, they delve into the psychological and social consequences of the U.S. military presence and its legacy.
May 18 at 5pm: China’s Challenges: Are the Chinese People “Real” Citizens?
May 18 at 6pm: China’s Challenges: China Can Produce, Can China Create?
May 19 at 7pm: Japanese American Lives: Don’t Lose Your Soul/Honor & Sacrifice
"Don't Lose Your Soul" by Jim Choi and Chihiro Wimbush - This documentary is an intimate portrait of Asian American musical legends bassist Mark Izu and Grammy-nominated drummer Anthony Brown, two founders of the Asian American Jazz Movement. Both have been revered throughout the Asian American community both as artists and community activities since the 1960's. "Honor & Sacrifice" by Lucy Ostrander - "Honor & Sacrifice" tells the complex story of a Japanese immigrant family ripped apart by WWII. The Matsumoto family included five sons; two who fought for the Americans and three who fought for the Japanese. The eldest, Hiroshi (Roy), became a hero, fighting against the Japanese with Merrill's Marauders, an American guerrilla unit in Burma.
May 19 at 8pm: Pacific Heartbeat: Let’s Play Music Slack Key with Cyril Pahinui and Friends
In this intimate backyard performance, master slack key musician Cyril Pahinui (featured in last season's "Waimea 'Ukulele and Slack Key Guitar") jams with some of the most talented musicians in Hawaii. The Oscar-winning film The Descendantsprominently featured the music of Cyril's father, Gabby "Pop" Pahinui, considered the "Godfather" of Hawaiian slack key guitar.
May 19 at 6pm & 9pm: Local, USA: Building an Identity
May 21 at 7pm: Little Manila: Filiponos in California’s Heartland
The "Little Manilla" section of Stockton, Calif., filled with chop-suey houses, gambling dens and dance halls, served as the de facto hometown for displaced Filipinos at the turn of the 20th century. In its heyday, this lively area contained the largest population of Filipinos outside of the Philippines. LITTLE MANILLA: FILIPINOS IN CALIFORNIA'S HEARTLAND details the impact of Fillipino immigrants on the community from the 1930s to the present. Educators, historians, labor leaders and long-time residents recounts the immigrant story - the backbreaking farm work, low wages and racism - in Filipinos' pursuit of the American dream. The final part of the documentary examines the efforts to save Little Manila's last standing buildings.
May 25 at 5pm: China’s Challenges: What Do the Chinese People Believe?
May 25 at 6pm: Every Day Is a Holiday
Chinese-American filmmaker Theresa Loong creates an intimate portrait of her father, a man fifty years her senior. In this documentary, we explore the bonds of the father-daughter relationship and place themes of growing older, immigration and racism in the context of "living history." Paul Loong (American Legion member, retired Veterans Affairs doctor, practicing Catholic) talks of his experiences as a POW in Japan and his subsequent quest to become an American. We discover why, despite much suffering, "Every Day Is a Holiday."
May 26 at 7pm: Japanese American Lives: Stories from Tohuku
Two years after the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, survivors are still struggling to rebuild. The Japanese American community has continued to raise money and organize aid trips to the region. This powerful documentary explores both the endurance and frustration of the survivors and the hope inspired by the visitors. Olympic Gold medalist VGristi Yamaguchi is featured.
May 26 at 8pm: Pacific Heartbeat: Hula—Language of the Heart
The Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, a four-day competition and exhibition often referred to as the "Olympics of Hula," showcases the elegance, power and storytelling richness of this ancient art form. The program, which highlights the 2012 festival winners, presents an entertaining yet thought-provoking look at hula's role in the past, present and future of the Hawaiian people.
May 28 at 7pm: Forsaken Fields
FORSAKEN FIELDS documents what happened to the first and second generation of Japanese- American farmers after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Emmy award-winning journalist Jan Yanehiro interviews farmers who worked the land in California before the war, as well as those citizens who were incarcerated in relocation centers or forced to move to the interior of the United States by executive order. The program honors the Japanese-Americans who helped build California agriculture and explores the racism and intolerance that gripped the country at that time.
May 28 at 7:30pm: Indelible Lalita
Indelible Lalita tells the story of a beautiful woman whose resilient spirit survives her body's transformation by cancer, heart failure, and a dramatic loss of skin pigment. Meditatively flowing between surface and interior, the film follows Lalita as she migrates from Bombay to Paris to Montreal, and becomes completely White along the way. Lalita learns to let go of her body as the sign of her ethnicity and femininity, and ultimately realizes that her body is just a temporary vessel for her spirit.
May 30 at 6pm & 9pm: Passing Poston: An American Story
Between 1942 and 1945, The Poston Relocation Center in Arizona housed more than 18,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans, who worked as laborers to construct schools, farm the land and construct an irrigation system. PASSING POSTON: AN AMERICAN STORY recounts the moving and haunting stories of four former detainees. A tragic past haunts each person, now in the last chapter of their lives, as they struggle to reconcile the trauma of their youth. They also give voice to the sense of dislocation Japanese-Americans felt and how many of them still search and yearn to find their rightful place in the United States.