May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), and especially considering recent racism directed toward members of that community, it’s more important than ever to unite with them in solidarity. One way to do this is by screening and celebrating content that accurately tells stories about people with Asian and Pacific Islander heritage. We’ve got you covered with three films that you can stream right now, as well as the performances in them to watch.
The 2019 comedy was written and produced in part by its lead actors, Ali Wong and Randall Park, and tells the story of two childhood friends that reconnect later in life. Sasha Tran (Wong) and Marcus Kim (Park) are reunited when the former returns to San Francisco, where they grew up together. Their young friendship had blossomed into romance before the two drifted apart, and they’re forced to face as adults any lingering feelings that may remain. Wong and Park spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the importance they placed on bringing authenticity and relatability to the romantic comedy. And besides being a win for representation, Always Be My Maybe will leave you laughing at the impeccable comedic timing that its stars deliver with their performances.
Where to Watch: Netflix
It’s no secret that Disney has made missteps in the past when it comes to honoring various cultures displayed in its films. But for Moana, the studio took the important step of creating an Oceanic Trust that worked to ensure the film would remain true to the rich heritage it depicts. One result of the trust’s efforts was the transformation of the character Maui. His original design featured a bald demigod, which was changed to include a head full of hair since that was believed to be connected to Maui’s power. But Moana isn’t just a positive example of a Disney film that worked to accurately represent and honor the heritage of its non-white characters. It also tells an inspirational story that may be especially welcomed by both children and adults during the current state of events. You can get lost in ancient Polynesia with the story of a young girl who ventures into the unknown to save her island from a curse unwittingly unleashed by the demigod Maui. The storyline features courage and perseverance in the midst of great adversity, and it might be just the film you need in your life at the moment. Plus, you can take in Auli’i Cravalho’s voice-acting performance as the titular character, a breakout role that launched the young actor’s career. And you’ll get to enjoy Dwayne Johnson’s heart-warming portrayal of the boisterous demigod Maui.
Where to Watch: Disney+
Bong Joon-ho’s genre-defying film swept up this year’s Oscars with its wins for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature. Parasite made history as the first non-English-language film to win Best Picture, and it’s also the first Korean production to have won the award. The movie follows the Kim family, whose members are barely making ends meet before they insert themselves into the household of the wealthy Park family under false pretenses. The wealth disparity displayed between the two families is impactful, even before it is contrasted with another. We won’t give too much away in case you’ve yet to see the masterpiece that is Parasite, but it’s safe to say that you can anticipate stellar performances from an entirely-Korean cast. As the Kim family patriarch, Song Kang-ho particularly shines, as does his on-screen son Ki-woo, portrayed by Choi Woo-shik. The film holds a number of powerful performances, and it could double as a free master class in acting, as well as filmmaking, for its viewers.
Where to Watch: Hulu
You can take in the films from this list based on the type of content you’re in the mood for. Perhaps you need something funny to enjoy in the midst of current events, in which case Always Be My Maybe is the one for you. Or maybe you want an inspiring story about persistence against all odds, which would lead you to Moana. And if you’re after a thought-provoking story told with masterful filmmaking, check out Parasite. No matter which you pick, you can enjoy exceptional performances from actors of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. Let us know in the comments below which films you plan on viewing during APAHM!