AANHPI Heritage Month: Stories Spanning the Diaspora on WORLD


Every May, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a time to elevate voices of the diaspora, encouraging the growth of AANHPI representation in the media and everyday life. 

This month, films premiering on WORLD explore the Asian American experience in two New York City boroughs: On May 9, Alaudin Ullah brings viewers with him on a journey from his home in Harlem to his parents’ Bangladeshi roots in In Search of Bengali Harlem, and Chinatown Auxiliary follows Chinese residents who volunteer as NYPD officers to protect Manhattan’s Chinatown on May 13.

Plus, watch Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander stories on Pacific Heartbeat, celebrating surf, sport and fashion through the eyes of young Hawaiian and Tahitian women breaking boundaries and striving for greatness.

WORLD is excited to grow our library of AANHPI films – watch over the next few weeks and return to the collection all year long.


Documenting Police Use of Force | FRONTLINE
May 1 on TV, online, YouTube & on the PBS app

FRONTLINE and The Associated Press investigate deaths that occurred after police used tactics like prone restraint and other “less-lethal force.” The documentary and accompanying reporting draw on police records, autopsy reports and body cam footage, and the most expansive tally of such deaths nationwide.

Chinatown Rising | America ReFramed
May 2 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Weaving together never-before-seen archival footage and photographs, the film reveals a deeply-personal portrait of a San Francisco neighborhood in transition. Chinatown activists of the 1960s reflect on their years as young residents waging battles for bilingual education, tenants’ rights and ethnic studies curriculum that would shape their community and nation.

The Only Doctor | Reel South
May 5 on TV | Available now online & on the PBS app

There is only one doctor in rural Clay County, Georgia, one of the state’s poorest and unhealthiest counties. After several years of working without pay, she can no longer volunteer full-time and faces the possibility of closing her clinic. Committed to her community, she seeks to continue serving her patients amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, dwindling support, and broken promises.

A Tale of Three Chinatowns | Local, USA
May 6 on TV, online & on the PBS app | Available now on PBS Passport, Apple TV+ and Prime Video

Explore the survival of urban ethnic neighborhoods in three American cities: Washington, D.C., Chicago and Boston. Through the voices of residents, community activists, developers, and government officials, the film looks at the forces altering each community and the challenges that go with them, including the pressing issue of urban development and gentrification.

NEW Belonging | Stories from the Stage
May 6 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Belonging is a fundamental human desire that transcends geographical, cultural, and social boundaries, encompassing the search for identity, acceptance, and connection within communities, families, and oneself. Grace Talusan shares how a green station wagon helped her family become Americans; Chris Ko searches for the meaning of home; and in response to racism, Salil Patel takes a different path.

Space: The Longest Goodbye | Independent Lens
May 8 on TV, online & on the PBS app

NASA's goal to send astronauts to Mars would require a three-year absence from Earth, during which communication in real time would be impossible due to the immense distance. Meet the psychologists whose job is to keep astronauts mentally stable in outer space, as they are caught between their dream of reaching new frontiers and the basic human need to stay connected to home.

NEW In Search of Bengali Harlem | America ReFramed
May 9 on TV, online, YouTube & on the PBS app

As a teen, Alaudin Ullah was swept up by the energy of hip-hop and rebelled against his Bangladeshi roots. Now a playwright contending with post-9/11 Hollywood’s Islamophobia, he sets out to tell his parents’ stories, tracking his quest from mid-20th-century Harlem to Bangladesh and unveiling intertwined histories of South Asian Muslims, African Americans and Puerto Ricans.

For the Record / I'm the Girl – The Story of a Photograph | Reel South
May 12 on TV, online & on the PBS app

For the Record: In a small Texas Panhandle town, a few things have remained constant– cowboys, high school football, conservative voters, and the family-owned weekly newspaper, The Canadian Record. Publisher and editor Laurie Ezzell Brown strives to keep the town’s paper of record and her family’s legacy alive despite an oil bust, a global pandemic, and a growing mistrust for all media and her own liberal column.

I’m the Girl – The Story of a Photograph: In 1951, a little girl became mesmerized by a Christmas display window in downtown Louisville. A photo of her has remained iconic for over seventy years. To this day, the identity of this wide-eyed child remains unconfirmed, except among the dozens of women who claim to be her. 'I'm the Girl' investigates the power of a single image, what it means to be seen, and the magic of the Holiday season.

NEW Chinatown Auxiliary | Local, USA
May 13 on TV, online YouTube & on the PBS app

For decades, Chinese residents have patrolled Manhattan's Chinatown as NYPD volunteer police to protect the few blocks they call home while finding belonging in a foreign, unwelcoming country. From the savage tribulation in the '70s to “Asian Hate” during the pandemic, these stories remind us of the hope the U.S. represented to the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to belong.

NEW Body and Soul | Stories from the Stage
May 13 on TV, online & on the PBS app

In the tapestry of existence, body and soul are interwoven threads. Alexandria Sharpe discovers body gratitude through a harrowing medical journey; with her grandmother’s guidance, Shirley Jackson Whitaker reconciles with the passing of a family friend; and Milos Bjelica harmonizes a birth injury with the redemptive melodies of his clarinet. 

A Dangerous Assignment | FRONTLINE
May 15 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Exposing the shadowy figure at the heart of a corruption scandal spanning from Venezuela to the U.S. With the Venezuelan news outlet, Armando.info, the inside story of Alex Saab, his capture, then release by the U.S. in a controversial prisoner swap.

Far East, Deep South | America ReFramed
May 16 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Charles Chiu and his family’s search for their roots takes 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. This Chinese American family’s unforgettable story offers a poignant and important perspective on race relations, immigration and American identity.

Ganden: A Joyful Land | Doc World
May 16 on TV | Available now on PBS Passport, Apple TV+ and Prime Video

Likened by Buddhists to the Vatican City, Ganden is considered the most influential monastery of Tibetan Buddhism. Monks lived in the monastery for more than 500 years before a brutal invasion drove them to India. Follow the lives and remembrances of the remaining generation of monks to have studied at the monastery in Tibet where the Dalai Lama’s lineage began.

The Accused: Damned or Devoted? | Doc World
May 16 on TV | Available now on PBS Passport, Apple TV+ and Prime Video

Powerful cleric Khadim Rizvi has one mission: to preserve blasphemy laws in Pakistan - they prescribe a death sentence for disrespecting the Prophet Muhammad. He is running for the country's highest office to carry out his goal, silencing anyone who tries to change the law with death. This Emmy®-nominated film follows the rise of Rizvi’s push for power as people who have been accused, are just pawns in his game.

Asian American Stories of Resilience and Beyond, Volume One | Local, USA
May 20 on TV | Available now online, the PBS app, Apple TV+ and Prime Video

Queer filmmaker Quyên Nguyen-Le recovers and articulates the legacy of their mother's nail salon for their refugee family, and Filipino-American filmmaker Frances Rubio captures the experience of being distanced from her sick father, who has been isolated in his facility during the pandemic. Watch the full series now on YouTube.

NEW Youth Rising | Stories from the Stage
May 20 on TV, online & on the PBS app

In the exuberance of youth lies the heartbeat of change. Beatriz Perez grapples with being “too girly” in the rigorous world of STEM; Omar Muhuddin’s underdog mayoral race captures the essence of youthful idealism; and Sara Karp shares the behind-the-scenes story of young, climate education activists. 

The Tuba Thieves | Independent Lens
May 22 on TV, online & on the PBS app

What is the role of sound and what does it mean to listen? Hard of hearing filmmaker Alison O’Daniel uses a series of tuba thefts in Los Angeles high schools as a jumping-off point to explore these questions. Through several d/Deaf people telling stories in a unique game of telephone, the central mystery of The Tuba Thieves isn’t about theft of instruments; it’s about the nature of sound itself.

Blurring the Color Line | America ReFramed
May 23 on TV, online, on YouTube & the PBS app

Follow director Crystal Kwok as she unpacks the history behind her grandmother’s family, who were neighborhood grocery store owners in the Black community of Augusta, Georgia during the Jim Crow era. By centering women’s experiences, Kwok poses critical questions around the intersections of anti-Black racism, white power, and Chinese patriarchy in the American South.

The Riot Report | American Experience
May 24 on TV, online & on the PBS app

When Black neighborhoods in scores of cities erupted in violence during the summer of 1967, President Lyndon Johnson appointed the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to answer three questions: What happened? Why did it happen? And what could be done to prevent it from happening again? The bi-partisan commission’s final report, issued in March of 1968, would offer a shockingly unvarnished assessment of American race relations.

Asian American Stories of Resilience and Beyond, Volume Two | Local, USA
May 27 on TV | Available now online, the PBS app, Apple TV+ and Prime Video

Filipinx filmmaker Bree Nieves and her cousin grapple with what remains of their dreams, after losing one of their fathers during the pandemic; and Chanthon Bun, who lost his legal protection to live in the U.S. after conviction, must tread carefully after being released - ICE could deport him. Watch the full series now on YouTube.

It's All Relative | Stories from the Stage
May 27 on TV | Available now online & on the PBS app

Family. Sometimes they choose us, sometimes we choose them. Anoush tries out the party life and finds her family waiting when she crashes; Jerry and his wife become foster parents, and face disaster on day one; and George pranks his overprotective mother with red ink.

Geographies of Kinship | America ReFramed
May 30 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Weaving together the complex personal histories of four adult adoptees born in South Korea with the rise of the country's global adoption program, this film maps the geographies of kinship that bind them to a homeland they never knew as each sets out on a journey to reconnect with their roots.


Pacific Heartbeat
Season 12 available now online & on the PBS app

Pacific Heartbeat is a national public television series of critically acclaimed documentaries that provides an authentic glimpse into the Pacific Islander experience. Creative and beautifully told stories about arts, culture and intimate human stories, the series features a diverse array of programs intended to draw viewers into the heart and soul of Pacific Island culture.

Liquor Store Dreams | POV
May 1 on TV | Available now on PBS Passport

Two Korean American children of liquor store owners reconcile their own dreams with those of their immigrant parents. Along the way, they confront the complex legacies of LA's racial landscape, including the 1991 murder of Latasha Harlins and the 1992 uprisings sparked by the police beating of Rodney King, while engaged in current struggles for social and economic justice.

Asian Americans
May 4, 11 and 18 on TV | Available now on PBS Passport

Asian Americans is a five-hour film series that delivers a bold, fresh perspective on a history that matters today, more than ever. As America becomes more diverse, and more divided while facing unimaginable challenges, how do we move forward together? Told through intimate personal stories, the series will cast a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played.

Growing up Asian | Stories from the Stage
Available now online & on the PBS app

Every day, millions of people are creating their own definitions of what it means to be Asian American. Suzanne works with a parents association to organize during Boston's busing desegregation crisis and gains strength from the women; David travels to China for the first time to connect with his roots; and after being held at gunpoint in her family’s store, Eson learns the definition of love.

The Sauce
Available now on YouTube

Asian and Asian American communities have an exciting and diverse history that influences all aspects of culture in the American South. The cultural contributions add a flavor that is unique and undeniable: The Sauce. Co-designed by CAAM and NOVAC, the fellowship supports young, emerging filmmakers working on a series of shorts about their experience of being Asian American in the South and provides a platform for Asian American stories to be lifted from a personal perspective. Learn more.

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Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Stories

While the month of May has officially been recognized as Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, oftentimes the cultural nuance of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities is lost under a large, diasporic umbrella. As WORLD celebrates AANHPI Heritage Month along with our partners and community members, it's important to highlight the stories of ritual, pride and trailblazing diversity that come from Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.