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WTIU Presents Asian-American/Pacific Islander Programs

WTIU celebrates Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month with new programs that celebrate the Asian-American experience.

Anna May Wong black-and-white movie still


Hollywood actress Anna May Wong in a scene from one of her films.

BLOOMINGTON, IN (April 16, 2014) – In commemoration of Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month and as part of its year-round commitment to provide diverse programming and resources for all Americans, PBS announced new shows and online content.

Journey of the Bonesetter’s Daughter
Sunday, May 4 at 11:00pm

This program follows the creation of the San Francisco Opera’s production of The Bonesetter’s Daughter, based on the bestselling novel by Amy Tan. Composed by Stewart Wallace with a libretto by Tan, the opera is an ambitious cross-cultural tour de force that brings together artists from China and the United States to tell the moving story of Tan’s family history.

Ninoy Aquino and the Rise of People Power
Sunday, May 4 at 2:00pm

Benigno S. “Ninoy” Aquino II was the boy wonder of Philippine politics until the object of his criticism, Ferdinand Marcos, threw him into prison. There Aquino became a reflective and spiritual man who changed the course of history. Whereas Gandhi used non-violence to drive out the colonizer, and Dr. King used it to fight for civil rights, Aquino adapted non-violence to overthrow a national dictatorship. The Philippine uprising in the wake of his 1983 assassination began a global wave of pro-democracy movements that continue today.

Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words
Thursday, May 5 at 10:00pm

Anna May Wong knew she wanted to be a movie star from the time she was a young girl and, by 17, she became one. A third generation Chinese-American, she went on to make dozens of films in Hollywood and Europe. She was one of the few actors to successfully move from silent to sound cinema, co-starring with Marlene Dietrich, Anthony Quinn, and Douglas Fairbanks along the way. She was glamorous, talented, and cosmopolitan, yet she spent most of her career typecast either as a painted doll or a scheming dragon lady. For years, older generations of Chinese-Americans frowned upon the types of roles she played; but today a younger generation of Asian-Americans sees her as a pioneering artist who succeeded in a hostile environment. Yunah Hong’s documentary is a survey of Wong’s career, exploring the effect Wong had on images of Asian-American women in Hollywood, both then and now. Excerpts from Wong’s films, archival photographs, and interviews enhance this picture of a woman and her extraordinary life.

Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma: Live from Tanglewood
Friday, May 9 at 9:00pm

Embark on a musical journey around the world as the Silk Road Ensemble celebrates 15 years together with a summer concert at Tanglewood in Western Massachusetts. This eclectic group brings together distinguished musicians, composers, and performing artists from more than 20 countries to experiment with a wide variety of cultural approaches to musical performances. Called a “roving musical laboratory without walls” by The Boston Globe, the Ensemble has performed to critical acclaim throughout Asia, Europe, and North America and has recorded five albums.

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings
Friday, May 9 at 10:00pm
Sunday, May 11 at 1:00pm

This program is a portrait of the inventive musician whose virtuoso skills on the ukulele have transformed previous notions of the instrument’s potential. Through intimate conversations with Shimabukuro, this program reveals the cultural and personal influences that have shaped the man and the musician. On the road from Los Angeles to New York to Japan, the film captures the quality of life on tour: the exhilaration of performance, the wonder of newfound fame, and the loneliness of separation from home and family.

E Haku Inoa: To Weave A Name
Friday, May 9 at 1:00pm
Sunday, May 11 at 2:00pm

In Hawaiian culture, a name is considered a sacred extension of a person’s identity. You don’t give a name, you “weave” it. Words are woven together to create a poem celebrating the namesake’s heritage and destiny. This film documents the drive of Hawaiian filmmaker Christen Hepuakoa Marquez, who, after nearly 20 years of living in the continental U.S., returns to Hawaii to learn the meaning of her enigmatic Hawaiian name from her estranged mother Elena. Diagnosed with schizophrenia when Christen was a young girl, Elena created Christen’s name and is the only person who knows its true meaning. Marequez pursues this piece of her identity, struggling through tears and misunderstandings to unlock the mystery of her name, and of her mother.

Black Grace: From Cannon’s Creek to Jacob’s Pillow
Sunday, May 11 at 11:00pm

When Black Grace, a dance troupe of Pacific Islander and Maori men, first burst onto the New Zealand stage, they were a revelation. Fusing traditional Pacific and contemporary dance forms with athleticism and grace, they electrified audiences. Melding Pacific and contemporary dance in an extraordinary and dynamic form, Black Grace has become renowned for its artistry, creative excellence, and innovation, while becoming the world’s leading exponent of Pacific-infused contemporary dance. This film follows Black Grace’s journey from Cannon’s Creek, a small town outside of Wellington, New Zealand, to the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the oldest one of its kind in North America.

Every Day Is a Holiday
Friday, May 23 at 1:00pm

Chinese-American filmmaker Theresa Loong creates an intimate portrait of her father Paul Loong, a man fifty years her senior. The documentary explores the bonds of the father-daughter relationship and places themes of growing older, immigration, and racism, in the context of “living history.” Paul Loong—retired Veterans Affairs doctor, American Legion member, practicing Catholic—talks of his experiences as a prisoner of war in Japan and his subsequent quest to become an American. We discover why, despite much suffering, “every day is a holiday.”

You Don’t Know Jack Soo
Sunday, May 25 at 11:30pm

This program tells the story of a pioneering American entertainer, Jack Soo, an Oakland native who became the first Asian-American to be cast in the lead role in a regular television series and later starred in the popular situation comedy Barney Miller. Featuring rare footage and interviews with Soo’s co-stars and friends, including actors George Takei, Nancy Kwan, and Max Gail, comedians Steve Landesberg and Gary Austin, the film traces Soo’s early beginnings as a nightclub singer and comedian, to his breakthrough role as Sammy Fong in the stage and movie versions of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Broadway musical The Flower Drum Song. The film also explores why Soo, a former internee who was born Goro Suzuki, was forced to change his name to perform in clubs in the Midwest. Throughout his career in films and television, Soo refused to play roles that were demeaning to Asian-Americans and often spoke out against negative ethnic portrayals. The film shows how Soo’s work laid the groundwork for a new generation of Asian-American actors and comedians.

Mulberry Child
Thursday, May 29 at 10:00pm
Friday, May 30 at 1:00pm

Mulberry Child is Jian Ping’s heart-wrenching story of her family’s struggle to survive China’s Cultural Revolution of 1966-1979. Ping grew up as the daughter of a high-ranking government official at a time of famine and political upheaval. Her innocent childhood came to an abrupt end when the Cultural Revolution engulfed the country like wildfire. Her father, falsely accused of treason, was detained, beaten, and publicly shamed, and her mother was paraded in public and imprisoned by the Red Guards. The film follows Ping’s life through her current relationship with her American daughter, addressing universal issues between mother and daughter, triumph and adversity, and overcoming immigrant challenges. Actress Jacqueline Bisset narrates.

WTIU Media Contact:
Scott Witzke

Indiana Public Media is a producer and distributor of public media from WFIU Public Radio and WTIU Public Television at Indiana University including your favorite programming from NPR and PBS.


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