12th Annual Asian American Film Series


Due to COVID-19, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation has suspended all public events and programs, including our popular Asian American Film Series. This year however, in-lieu of in-person screenings, our Asian American History Committee has taken a look back at ten years of selections to select four films to be viewed remotely. Each Friday this month, we will share a film and the easiest way(s) for you to stream them in the comfort of your own home.

Since 2010, SBTHP has presented the Asian American Film Series, a four-part event held each Friday in July at the Alhecama Theatre. In an effort to explore the history and cultures of the Asian communities that once thrived in and around the Santa Barbara Presidio area, the series includes films that speak to the Asian American experience in the western US. The films have addressed a broad range of historical and modern topics, such as the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, Chinese American adoptions, and the contributions of key Asian American figures. This film series is made possible by the generous support of the George H. Griffiths and Olive J. Griffiths Charitable Foundation.

2020 Film Selections

Flower Drum Song

The first film of our inaugural AAFS in 2010, Flower Drum Song priemered on Broadway in 1958 and was adapted for film in 1961. The Rogers & Hammerstein musical was one of the first films about Asian Americans starring an all Asian American cast. We celebrate these actors for their courage and passion in representing Asian American culture on film.

Available on Amazon Prime

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings

Originally screened in 2015, Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings features an inspiring and inventive musician whose skills on the ukulele have transformed the instrument’s potential.  His journey is personal and passionate.  Jake often played in Santa Barbara, especially at SoHo.  Showing this film brings him "home" to the Santa Barbara community once again.

Available on Vimeo and Amazon Prime

Meditation Park

Written and directed by Mina Shum, Meditation Park is a wonderful story about overcoming loneliness, finding friends and fitting in. With great performances from Cheng Pei Pei, Tzi Ma, and Sandra Oh - everyone will find something they can relate to within these characters. Meditation Park was originally screened in 2018.

Available on AppleTV

I Am Bruce Lee

I Am Bruce Lee tells the story of an icon who is universally recognized as the pioneer who elevated martial arts in film to an art form. The film explores Bruce Lee’s enormous impact, ever-expanding legacy, and reveals why his flame burns brighter now than when he died in 1973. I Am Bruce Lee was originally screened in 2013.

Available on YouTube

Previous Selections


Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority

For the Sake of the Children

ULAM: Main Dish

Bittersweet Roots: The Chinese in California's Heartland


Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice

Meditation Park

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heroes of the United Farm Workers & the Chinese Exclusion Act


Off the Menu: Asian America


My Life in China




Chinese Couplets


Transcending - The Wat Misaka Story






Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings



Anita Ho


My Grandfather’s Drum



The Cats of Mirikitani

I am Bruce Lee

Somewhere Between



Dim Sum Funeral

Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story

Snow Falling on Cedars



American Pastime

The Debut

The Joy Luck Club

The Slanted Screen



Flower Drum Song

Forbidden City

Picture Bride

Sewing Woman

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