On TV: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — May 2021

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Still from American Masters' Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir

KQED is proud to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month starting in May with a special TV programming lineup. Premiere dates are listed below. 


Mon, May 3
9pm American Masters: Amy Tan—Unintended Memoir (NEW)
An intimate portrait of the groundbreaking writer that interweaves archival imagery, including home movies and personal photographs, animation and original interviews to tell the inspiring story of Tan’s life and career.

11pm Poetry in America: Urban Love Poem—Mary Chin
The program explores San Francisco's history from the Gold Rush and early Chinese immigration to the rise of Silicon Valley, through Marilyn Chin's "Urban Love Poem". In this series opener, host Elisa New brings together acclaimed memoirist Maxine Hong Kingston, tech investor Randy Komisar, and four Bay Area residents on a rooftop in Chinatown to discuss the love of a great city.

Tues, May 4
11pm Pacific Heartbeat: The Australian Dream (NEW)
The Australian Dream unravels the remarkable and inspirational story of Indigenous AFL legend Adam Goodes to tell a deeper and more powerful story about race, identity and belonging. The film unpacks the events of the 2013-15 AFL seasons and asks fundamental questions about racism and discrimination in society today

Still from "Nobody Dies: A Film About a Musician, Her Mom and Vietnam"

Sat, May 8
6:30pm Nobody Dies: A Film About a Musician, Her Mom and Vietnam 
SF-based indie singer-songwriter Thao Nguyen journeys to Vietnam for the first time and brings her mother- who hasn’t been back since the fall of Saigon. The trip causes Thao to reflect on her upbringing in the United States and her extended family in Vietnam.


Mon, May 10
9pm Antiques Roadshow: Celebrating Asian-Pacific Heritage
Travel with Antiques Roadshow as they turn the spotlight on the incredible items with Asian and Pacific Islands origins including a Hawaiian Kou bowl, a Gandhi presentation spinning wheel, and an 1888 Joesph Nawahi painting. 

Tues, May 11
11pm Pacific Heartbeat: For My Father’s Kingdom (NEW)
In For My Father’s Kingdom, we follow Tongan pensioner Saia Mafile'o and his family as they are stretched to breaking point by the commitment and passion to God that has driven Saia's life. 

Sat, May 15
6:30pm Next Gen Asian American Art
Discover how Asian American artists in California's Central Valley are using art to reshape narratives about and within their communities

Tues, May 18
11pm Pacific Heartbeat: Stan (NEW)
Stan Walker, a 26-year-old musician, has a rare cancer caused by a genetic mutation that has killed 25 members of his family. Facing his diagnosis with humor and determination, he embarks on a mission to seek aggressive treatment and convince his family members who carry the gene that they need to face their potential fate.

Still from "Finding Virgo"

Wed, May 19
11pm Finding the Virgo
Vietnamese boat refugee, Lauren Vuong, embarks on a decades long search for the heroic captain and crew of a US cargo ship that rescued her at sea at 7-years-old and saved her family and 57 other immigrants from certain death.

Sat, May 22
6:30pm POV Shorts: In The Absence
A South Korean community is torn apart by a ferry disaster which claimed the lives of hundreds of children. When government incompetence is revealed as the main cause, the victims' families seek justice.

Still from "Donut King"

Mon, May 24
10pm Independent Lens: The Donut King (NEW)
Follow the incredible story of Cambodian refugee, Ted Ngoy. After fleeing Cambodia for the United States, he built a multi-million-dollar fried pastry empire, Christy's Doughnuts. 


Still from "Hayao Miyazaki: 10 Years with the Master"

Sun, May 2
5pm Hayao Miyazaki: 10 Years with the Master: Ponyo Is Here
Watch an intimate four-part documentary chronicling the creative process of the legendary Japanese filmmaker. He is shown as a passionate artisan, a steadfast trailblazer, and a father.

6pm Pacific Heartbeat: Born This Way: Awa's Story and the Rogers
In this episode of Pacific Heartbeat, we follow two separate stories about transgender individuals in the Pacific Islands. 

9pm The Chinese Exclusion Act: American Experience 
Examine the origin, history and impact of the 1882 law that made it illegal for Chinese workers to come to America and for Chinese nationals already here ever to become U.S. citizens. It remained in force for more than 60 years.

11pm Registry
This film breaks open the hidden history of the US Army's Military Intelligence Service (MIS) during World War II -- a story made possible because of a few aging Japanese American veterans with a little Internet savvy and a lot of determination.

Mon, May 3
3pm Relocation, Arkansas - Aftermath of Incarceration
In 1942, nearly 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were forced into prisons because they looked like the enemy. Two of those prison camps were in Arkansas, a land of deep racial divide.

Still from "POV: About Love"

Tues, May 4
4pm POV: About Love
Three generations of the Phadke family live in their home in Mumbai. When the youngest daughter turns the camera toward her family, the personal becomes political as power structures within the family become visible -- and eventually unravel.

Thurs, May 6
2pm Asian Americans: Good Americans
Learn how Asian Americans are simultaneously heralded as a model minority and targeted as the perpetual foreigner during the Cold War. It is also a time of bold ambition, as Asian Americans aspire to national political office.

3pm Ka Hana Kapa
Ka Hana Kapa is the story of kapa making in Hawai'i, as told by these dedicated kapa practitioners and their students, who have given new life to this intricate cultural practice.

Still from "Mr. Tanimoto's Journey"

11:15pm Mr. Tanimoto's Journey
After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, 120,000 American citizens of Japanese descent were wrongfully imprisoned in internment camps across the country. Jim Tanimoto, born in in California is the last living member of a group of men known as Block 42, who bravely protested the loss of their constitutional rights. This is his story.

Sun, May 9
5pm Hayao Miyazaki: 10 Years with the Master: Drawing What's Real
As Miyazaki dreams up characters and plot lines for Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, he delves into memories of his late mother for a thread to weave the story. "Movies show who you are," Miyazaki says, "no matter how hard you try to hide it." This is the second episode of a four-part documentary series. 

Still from "Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story"

11pm Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story
Meet the statesman who served as cabinet secretary for Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush. Imprisoned by the U.S. during World War II for his Japanese ancestry, Mineta rose to become the first Asian American to serve in a presidential cabinet.

Tues, May 11
4pm Independent Lens: Out of State
Shipped thousands of miles away from Hawaii to a private prison in the Arizona desert, two Native Hawaiians discover their indigenous traditions from a fellow inmate serving a life sentence.

Thurs, May 13
2pm Asian Americans: Generation Rising
Follow a young generation's fight for equality in the fields, on campuses, and in the culture, claiming a new identity: Asian Americans. New immigrants and war refugees expand the population and definition of Asian America.

11pm Ito Sisters: An American Story
Explore the lives of three Nisei sisters from the Sacramento Delta, from their childhood on a farm in the Delta to their internment during WWII and beyond.

Still from "Bloodline"

Sat, May 15
8:30am Bloodline
Bloodline is an intimate profile of Vietnamese-American chef Tu David Phu and the evolution of his culinary aesthetic - borne from a bloodline that traces back through childhood and his family's unspoken history of war.

Sun, May 16
5pm Hayao Miyazaki: 10 Years with the Master: Go Ahead - Threaten Me
Sparks begin to fly as Miyazaki and his son Goro, an up-and-coming director, work on the 2011 film From Up on Poppy Hill. In the final stretch, a massive earthquake and nuclear disaster rock Japan and leave the team in shock. Amid power outages, they decide they must pause their work. That's when Hayao puts his son's resolve as a director to the test. This is the third episode of a four-part documentary series. 

Still from "And Then They Came for Us"

9pm And Then They Came for Us
Seventy-eight years ago, Executive Order 9066 paved the way to the profound violation of constitutional rights that resulted in the forced incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans.  Featuring George Takei and many others who were incarcerated, as well as newly rediscovered photographs from Dorothea Lange.

10pm Silent Sacrifice - Stories of Japanese American Incarceration
This is the riveting and emotional story of Japanese Americans who were forced into encampments in the U.S. during World War II. 

Tues, May 18
3pm Pacific Heartbeat: Anote’s Ark
The Pacific Island nation of Kiribati (population: 100,000) is one of the most remote places on the planet, seemingly far removed from the pressures of modern life. Yet it is one of the first countries that must confront the main existential dilemma of our time: imminent annihilation from sea-level rise.

Still from "Independent Lens: Eating Up Easter"

4pm Independent Lens: Eating Up Easter
See how climate change and a booming tourism trade threaten the fragile economy of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, and meet the local artists, ecologists and developers balancing their strong cultural heritage with modern-day challenges.

Thurs, May 20
2pm Asian Americans: Breaking Through
Revisit the turn of the millennium, when Asian Americans are empowered by growing numbers and rising influence but face a reckoning of what it means to be an American in an increasingly polarized society.

4pm The Story of China with Michael Wood: Ancestors/Silk Roads and China Ships
Explore China's early history with host Michael Wood as he joins a million people at a festival devoted to ancient gods, hear the tale of China's bloodthirsty First Emperor and travel the Silk Road to discover the brilliant Tang dynasty.

11pm Nothing Left to Lose
A group of Vietnamese refugees living in hiding for 25 years search for a new place to call home.

Sun, May 23
5pm Hayao Miyazaki: 10 Years with the Master: No Cheap Excuses
At age 72, Miyazaki takes on a new challenge - one that would become the highly-acclaimed 2013 film The Wind Rises, Miyazaki's first film about a historical figure. Bringing the film from concept to reality turns out to be a long and difficult journey. In the process, Miyazaki grapples with tough questions about issues such as aging, and the meaning of making animated films in a turbulent time. This is the fourth episode of a four-part documentary series.

Still from "POV: My Love, Don't Cross That River"

11pm POV: My Love, Don't Cross That River
Spouses 89-year-old Kang Gye-yeol and 98-year-old Jo Byeong-man have shared a home for 76 years. While they spend every day together like a newlywed couple, they now must face the reality of their aging romance.

Tues, May 25
3pm Pacific Heartbeat: Power Meri
“Power Meri” follows Papua New Guinea's first national women's rugby league team, the PNG Orchids, on their journey to the 2017 World Cup in Australia.

Thurs, May 27
4pm The Story of China with Michael Wood: Golden Age/The Ming
See the stunning achievements of two of China's most brilliant dynasties: the Song, creators of a Chinese Renaissance, and the Ming, builders of the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

Still from "Play Like A Lion: The Legacy of Maestro Ali Akbar"

11pm Play Like A Lion: The Legacy of Maestro Ali Akbar
Twenty-four year old American-born Alam Khan is traveling to India on his first concert tour without his ailing father, legendary Indian classical maestro sarodist Ali Akbar Khan. When Alam feels the weight of living up to his family's North Indian Classical music tradition, he remembers his father's advice: 'Don't worry, Play like a Lion!'


Sat, May 1
7pm Asian Americans: Breaking Ground 
See how new immigrants from China, India, Japan, the Philippines and beyond, despite anti-Asian laws, still manage to build railroads, dazzle on the silver screen and take their fight for equality to the U.S.

Mon, May 3
6pm Local, USA: Ku Kanaka 
At 15-years-old, Terry Kanalu Young took a dive into shallow waters, becoming a quadriplegic in a split second. Nonetheless, he learned to value the life he lived rather than mourn the life he lost, using that insight to offer hope to those dispossessed. At the end of his life, Kanalu was able to inspire Native Hawaiians to reclaim their sense of worth.

Still from "America ReFramed: Far East Deep South"

Tues, May 4
5pm America ReFramed: Far East Deep South (NEW)
Charles Chiu and his family’s search for their roots take them on an eye-opening journey through the Mississippi Delta, uncovering otherwise unknown stories and the racially complex history of Chinese immigrants in the segregated South.

Wed, May 5
12pm Korea: The Never-Ending War
Discover more about the world we live in by shedding new light on a geopolitical hot spot. Often considered a "forgotten war," the Korean War was an important turning point in world history that still reverberates today.

Sat, May 8
7pm Asian Americans: A Question of Loyalty  
An American-born generation straddles their country of birth and their parents’ homelands.

Still from "Touching the Sound"

Tues, May 11
4pm Touching the Sound 
Touching the Sound traces the artistic development of young pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii, from his early ability to play piano by ear, undeterred by his lifelong blindness, to his gold medal triumph in the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, to his debut at Carnegie Hall.

5pm America ReFramed: Curtain Up (NEW)
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.

Tues, May 18
4pm Reel South: Gimme a Faith
Thousands of Chinese students arrive in the United States each year, often confronting loneliness and culture-clash upon arrival. Arriving in North Carolina to study filmmaking, Hao Zhang is surprised to find a unique community of Chinese students, connected by a newly discovered evangelical Christianity that is often at stark odds with their communist roots in China.

5pm America ReFramed: First Vote 
With unparalleled access to a diverse cross-section of politically engaged Chinese Americans, First Vote offers a character-driven verité look at Chinese American electoral organizing in North Carolina and Ohio. The film weaves their stories from the presidential election of 2016 to the 2018 midterms, and explores the intersections between immigration, voting rights and racial justice.

Still from "Mr. Tornado: American Experience"

Wed, May 19
12pm Mr. Tornado: American Experience
Meet pioneering meteorologist Ted Fujita, who transformed our understanding of tornados. His technological advancements saved lives and helped Americans prepare for and respond to dangerous weather phenomena.

4pm Shanghai 1937: Where World War II Began 
When did World War II begin? Americans might say December 7, 1941. For Europeans, it was September 1, 1939. In China, people will tell you August 13, 1937. That day, after a century of humiliation and six years of repeated “Incidents” initiated by the Japanese military, China finally “stood up.” This act of defiance took place in Shanghai, the most international city in Asia. The Battle of Shanghai has been described as the last battle of World War I and the first of World War II.

Mon, May 24
4pm Gandhi’s Awakening & Gandhi’s Gift, Pt. 1 
This two-part series chronicles Gandhi's life and legacy. The film offers a deep, discerning look into Gandhi's spiritual ideals as he practices and teaches them in his first revolutionary ashrams. 

Tues, May 25
4pm Reel South: Seadrift 
In 1979, a fatal shooting ignites a maelstrom of hostilities against Vietnamese refugee fishermen along the Gulf Coast. Set during the early days of Vietnamese refugee arrival in the U.S., "Seadrift" examines this turbulent yet little-seen chapter of American history and explores its consequences that continue to reverberate today.

Still from "America ReFramed: Hamtramck, USA"

5pm America ReFramed: Hamtramck, USA (NEW)
Once known as a Polish Catholic town, Hamtramck, MI is now home to America’s first Muslim-majority city. As election season approaches, candidates set out to win hearts, minds and votes in this rapidly changing city. Going behind the scenes of small-town politics, Hamtramck, USA explores the beauty and challenges that come with multiculturalism.

6pm Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story 
In August 1943, the last surviving clandestine radio operator in Paris desperately signaled London for additional weapons and explosives for the French underground. She knew her time was limited. Within a month, she too would be taken. Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story is the story of one woman’s extraordinary courage, tested in the crucible of Nazi-occupied Paris.

Mon, May 31
4pm Gandhi’s Awakening & Gandhi’s Gift, Pt. 2 
This two-part series chronicles Gandhi's life and legacy. The film offers a deep, discerning look into Gandhi's spiritual ideals as he practices and teaches them in his first revolutionary ashrams. 

Still from "Pacific Heartbeat: Tokyo Hula"

5pm Pacific Heartbeat: Tokyo Hula (NEW) 
Today it is estimated there are nearly 2 million people dancing hula in Japan - a figure greater than the entire population of Hawai'i. Tokyo Hula examines how tourism, economics, and a love for all things Hawaiian have fueled this cultural phenomenon by focusing on the personal stories of Japanese teachers who have started their own schools and Hawaiian master teachers who are now living and teaching in Japan.