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Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Every May we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month by shining a light on AAPI experiences and filmmakers. Why May? you ask. In 1977 the U.S. Congress (spearheaded by Representative Frank Horton of New York and Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawai'i) chose the first ten days of May to commemorate the history and contributions of Asian American communities here in the U.S. The week's observance became a month, the very month in which the first Japanese immigrants came to the U.S. in 1843. We also commemorate the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 as the majority of workers who laid those railroad tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Enjoy this collection of films premiering this month as well as some gems to revisit. These documentaries celebrate the light and love in our diverse AAPI communities.

Premiering in May on PBS Utah and World

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Independent Lens | Try Harder!

At San Francisco’s Lowell High School, stressed-out seniors chase college dreams.


Asian American Stories of Resilience and Beyond | On All Fronts

A biracial family navigates conversations about racial reckoning and its impact on them.

premieres tuesday, may 10

American Masters | Waterman – Duke: Ambassador of Aloha

Jason Momoa narrates the story of five-time Olympic medalist and surfer Duke Kahanamoku.

PREMIERES tuesday, may 19

American ReFramed | Geographies of Kinship

The rise of Korea's global adoption program through the stories of four adoptees.

premieres monday, may 23

Local, U.S.A. | A Tale of Three Chinatowns

Exploring the survival of three Chinatowns in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Boston.

premieres tuesday, may 24

American Experience | Plague at the Golden Gate

How the bubonic plague in 1900 set off fear and anti-Asian sentiment in San Francisco.

premieres Thursday, may 26

American ReFramed | Chinatown Rising

A chronicle of the battles for social justice in the historic San Francisco neighborhood.

 From PBS Utah

This Is Utah


Merine “Vida” Tu’itama’alelagi Hafoka and her son Haviar “Havi” Tuitama Hafoka run Malialole, a Polynesian music and dance group that celebrates and preserves Pacific Islander art, culture, and history. Now three generations strong, Malialole is spreading Polynesian culture to today’s youth, helping to foster a sense of identity and strengthen the community of Pacific Islanders in Utah.

This Is Utah

Women of the World

Since 2009, Women of the World has helped forcibly displaced women build a new community in Utah, helping them to secure jobs, learn the language, and build connections. The highlight of the year is the annual fashion show, which not only showcases beautiful ethnic fashions from around the world, but introduces Utahns to their newest neighbors in style.

Why Local Civics Matter

Student Reporting Lab Interview with Nyalok Akec

PBS NewsHour Student Reporter Nyalok Akec interviews Susi Feltch-Malohifo'ou about her involvement and impact in the community.

Let's Talk

Annie + Jahn

Let’s talk about the importance of building empathy.

Modern Gardener

Gardening as Art

We met with home gardeners Analy and Dave to take a peek in their yard.

This Is Utah

Golden Spike and the History of Chinese Railroad Workers

Learn about the role of Chinese railroad workers on the transcontinental railroad.

Modern Gardener

A New Roots Community Gardener

Learn about New Roots and visit the deliciously unique garden of a New Roots gardener.

Podcast Feature

If you see an alarmingly high infant mortality rate in a group of people - how do you go about changing it? One program used cultural knowledge, intergenerational wisdom, and storytelling to create awareness about maternal and infant health in Utah's Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

More Than Half Website

Cooking Spotlight

local food lab

Indian Street Food with Lavanya Mahate of Saffron Valley

In this video, we meet Lavanya Mahate, owner of the Saffron Group, for a demonstration of some amazing Indian street food recipes. We also see an interview with Lavanya conducted by a student from Judge Memorial High School working with PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs.

local food lab

Anny Sooksri of Fav Bistro Demos a Thai Dish

We meet Anny Sooksri, owner of Fav Bistro in Holladay, for an exclusive demo of a popular Thai dish: papaya salad. Students from Judge Memorial with the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs worked with PBS Utah on our local Foodlab project, conducting interviews with the featured restaurant owners. 

 More From PBS

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America ReFramed | Curtain Up!

In New York City's Chinatown, the theater club of PS 124 is staging an adaptation of the film "Frozen.” As the 5th graders gear up and rehearse for the musical production, nervous excitement and flubbed lines brush up against cultural stereotypes, family expectations, and post-graduation uncertainties. CURTAIN UP! shares a kid’s-eye view of the wonders of discovering art, culture and identity.

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Pacific Heartbeat | The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu

On Honolulu's famous Waikiki Beach stand four large stones that represent a Hawaiian tradition of healing and gender diversity that is all but unknown to the millions of locals and tourists passing by. According to legend, the stones are a tribute to four mahu, people of dual male and female spirit, who brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii and used their spiritual power to cure disease.

Documentaries From POV

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American Revolutionary: Meet Grace Lee Boggs

Meet Grace Lee Boggs, waging a revolution for over 75 years.

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Call Her Ganda

Activists pursue justice for a Filipina transgender woman murdered by a U.S. Marine.


The Apology

Three former "comfort women" forced into sexual slavery during World War II speak out.

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About Love

About Love examines the many affections across three generations of the Phadke family.

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Betrayed: Surviving an American Concentration Camp

Expires: 2028-05-01
Rating: TV-PG

The story of the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans and the loss of civil rights.


Nine Books to Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

PBS KIDS put together a list of favorite books featuring Asian characters, written by Asian authors or illustrated by Asian artists—all chosen by kids and parents! Check out these heartwarming and fun tales with your family.

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