Amazing AAPI Movies!

by Associate Librarian Debbie

Asian and Pacific Islander Month is winding down, but it’s never too late to check out some awesome Asian films and directors! Here, I’ve gathered some excellent movies and films from a diverse array of Asian and Asian-American filmmakers and directors that you can find right here at the Bexley Public Library! From Wong Kar-Wai to Naomi Kawase, these are some movies and filmmakers worth celebrating.

Wong Kar-Wai burst onto the screen in the 90s with beautiful, color saturated movies that were sweepingly romantic and breathtakingly cool. His breakout film was the 1994 movie Chungking Express, which is an excellent movie to start with. Chungking Express is wonderful, witty, romantic, and touching, although you may never be able to hear the song ‘California Dreaming’ again without thinking of the rain soaked streets of Hong Kong.

2018 Cannes Jury Prize Winner Capernaum is a powerful movie from Lebanese director, Nadine Labaki, that focuses on the plight of street children and vulnerable people. The twelve year old lead actor, Zain Al Rafeea, was himself a Syrian refugee in Lebanon and an unprofessional actor when he made the film. Capernaum can be raw at times but the performance by the young lead is amazing, the filmmaking is stunning, and the story is compelling.

Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda is the modern day heir to the filmmaking style of Ozu, family dramas that are simple on the surface but are quietly profound. The characters are so real and sensitively drawn that they seem like they will continue on long after the final credits have rolled. Kore-eda won the illustrious Palme d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival for The Shoplifters and the 2013 Cannes Jury Prize for Like Father, Like Son.

Indian-born American filmmaker Mira Nair was the first woman to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for her delightful movie Monsoon Wedding. Her first film, Salaam Bombay!, is a vibrant, compassionate story about street children. It won twenty three international awards and was nominated for Best International Film at the Oscars. Another excellent film to try is Mississippi Masala – a touching immigrant story and a sweet romance with a young Denzel Washington.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, colloquially known as ‘Joe,’ has been described as the David Lynch of Thailand.  His films are thought-provoking, challenging, and hypnotic.  They are the type of movies that you settle into, soak up the atmosphere, and then fall under their spell.  His films may not be easy to understand but they are hard to forget. His mysterious, mesmerizing Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives won the 2010 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or and is great for adventurous viewers.  Those who want to dip in a little might want to try Blissfully Yours, which is one of his most accessible movies. It’s about a romantic picnic… or is it?

The movie Sweet Bean by Japanese director Naomi Kawase is a bittersweet but heartwarming story of a struggling baker who hires an eccentric older woman and finds out that she has amazing recipes. Sweet Bean is a lovely, quiet film about loners and misfits finding each other and making their world a better place.  It will also make you hungry for Japanese pastry!

This is just a small sampling of all the amazing Asian films but I hope you enjoy them and seek out many more!