May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders and their vibrant cultural heritage in the United States. In honor of APA Heritage Month, PBS is proud to present a number of programs on topics ranging from Filipino American soldiers who became General Douglas MacArthur's secret weapons in World War II to the dance stories of the Pacific Islands to a fascinating portrait of former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos. Reflecting the diversity of ethnicities, experiences and regions with a breadth that can't be found anywhere else, these compelling programs examine the rich history, cultural contributions and distinguished heritage of Asian Pacific Americans.
Since 1977, APA Heritage Month has taken place in May to mark the month in which immigration of the first Japanese to the United States took place (May 7, 1843) and to commemorate the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. Chinese immigrant workers formed the majority of laborers who laid down the tracks.
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SUGIHARA: CONSPIRACY OF KINDNESS (Premiere)
Thursday, May 5, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET
One of the most compelling and inspirational stories of courage during World War II is that of Chiune Sugihara. In the face of the Nazi onslaught, this modest diplomat saved thousands of lives, using his authority to rescue fleeing Jewish refugees. This remarkable documentary chronicles the life of Sugihara and the little-known relationship between the Japanese and Jews in the 1930s and 40s.
DANCES OF LIFE (Premiere)
Thursday, May 12, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
This performance documentary reveals the cultural history and diversity of the Pacific Islands through their "dance stories," which for nearly 50,000 years have been an expression of Pacific Islanders' origins, their journeys, their struggles and their very existence. The program views dance through the eyes of the people who practice it as an art form and as a way of life. Keisha Castle-Hughes, the young star of Whale Rider, narrates.
TIME OF FEAR (Premiere)
Monday, May 16, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
In World War II, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were forced to leave their homes and relocate to military camps. This documentary tells the story of the 16,000 men, women and children who were sent to two camps in southeast Arkansas, one of the poorest and most racially segregated places in America. It also explores the reactions of the native Arkansans who watched in bewilderment as their tiny towns were overwhelmed by this influx of outsiders. With rare home movies of the camp and interviews with Japanese Americans and Arkansans who lived through these events, TIME OF FEAR is a tale of suspicion and fear, of resilience and of the deep scars left by America's long and unfinished struggle with race.
AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH (Premiere)
Monday, May 30, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Narrated by Lou Diamond Phillips (whose mother is a Filipina), AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH tells the never-been-told story of the U.S. Army's lst and 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiments, made up of immigrants and sons of immigrants living in Hawaii and the Mainland America at the time Pearl Harbor was bombed. Using the men of the Filipino Regiments as "Secret Weapons," MacArthur sent members of the 1st Recon Battalion into the Philippines by submarines to act as spies behind Japanese enemy lines. These "Filipino Commandos" proved to be an indispensable asset to help MacArthur fulfill his promise to the Filipino people of "I shall return!"
INDEPENDENT LENS (Premieres)
Tuesdays, 10:00 p.m. ET
- "Imelda" (Premiere)
Tuesday, May 10, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET
Few contemporary political figures have been as controversial and outspoken - and even misunderstood - as Imelda Marcos, the first lady and subject of award-winning filmmaker Ramona Diaz's compelling and entertaining film. For the first time ever, Mrs. Marcos tells her own story: how, by using a combination of guile, ambition and beauty, she rose from humble provincial origins to become one of the richest and most powerful women in contemporary world history.
- "Vietnam: The Next Generation" (Premiere)
Tuesday, May 17, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Eight young Vietnamese, some born in the final days of the Vietnam War, others in the war's tragic aftermath, are entrepreneurs and street kids, farmers and students, artists and engineers. Together they embody the hopes, dreams and frustrations of a new Vietnam. Through their stories, this groundbreaking program takes an in-depth look at modern-day Vietnam, where communism and capitalism are going head-to-head.
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE (Premiere and Re-broadcast)
Mondays, 9:00 p.m. ET
- "Victory in the Pacific" (Premiere)
Monday, May 2, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, this documentary examines the final year of World War II in the Pacific, including the rationale for using the atomic bomb. The two-hour program features the first-hand recollections of both American and Japanese civilians and soldiers - even a kamikaze pilot who survived his failed mission.
- "Bataan Rescue" (Re-broadcast)
Monday, May 30, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
In late 1941, tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers fought a desperate battle to defend the Bataan peninsula in the Philippines against the Japanese. When they lost, they were marched to prison camps in sweltering heat through mosquito-infested jungles. With little or no food or water, thousands died along the way. Three years later, with the war in the Pacific coming to an end, only 500 men in the Cabanatuan camp had survived the brutality of their captors and epidemics of tropical diseases. Fearing the Japanese would murder their captives before the U.S. Army could liberate the camp, the Americans sent an elite Ranger battalion to rescue the prisoners. The rangers sneaked 30 miles behind enemy lines and with the help of courageous Filipino resistance fighters, mounted an astonishing rescue that was fraught with danger but ultimately triumphant.
BECOMING AMERICAN: THE CHINESE EXPERIENCE (Re-broadcast)
May 2005 (check local listings)
Bill Moyers and a team of filmmakers collaborate to tell the fascinating and dramatic story of the Chinese experience in America.
- "Gold Mountain Dreams"--As civil war and famine ravaged southern China in the mid-19th century, word of the California Gold Rush reached the port of Canton. Looking more for a new livelihood than a new homeland, young Chinese men set sail across the Pacific, hoping to provide a better life for their families. But, when the gold strikes tapped out and hard economic times loomed in California, Chinese immigrants faced a wave of violence, terror and discrimination.
- "Between Two Worlds"--The 1882 Exclusion Act prohibited Chinese laborers from entering the country and becoming citizens. It also ushered in the most violent decade in Chinese-American history. This episode tells the story of these hostile years when Chinese Americans existed in a kind of limbo, denied the rights of their new country and no longer at home in their former one.
- "No Turning Back"--World War II ushered in the beginning of major changes for the Chinese. At war with Japan, China became an American ally. In an abrupt about-face, Chinese Americans found themselves suddenly embraced by America's political establishment. To fuel the war effort, Chinese men and women were moved into factory jobs, the military service and other arenas formerly closed to them. But it was in the late 60s, as civil rights laws and the 1965 Immigration Reform Act took effect, that Chinese Americans began their rise to the pinnacle of U.S. life.
May 2005 (check local listings)
- "American Aloha: Hula Beyond Hawai'i"--For Hawaiians, the hula is not just a dance but a way of life - even for those who no longer live on the islands. While most Americans know only the stereotypes of grass skirts and coconut bras, the hula is a living tradition that tells of the rich history and spirituality of Hawai'i through music, language and dance.
- "Mai's America"--In Marlo Poras' film, a spunky Vietnamese teenager named Mai gets the chance of a lifetime - to study in the United States. Expecting Hollywood, she lands in rural Mississippi, a crazy quilt of self-proclaimed rednecks, cliquish teenagers, South Vietnamese exiles and transvestite soulmates. As she tries to fit in and to make ends meet, Mai discovers that "America" is both less and far more than she bargained for.
INDEPENDENT LENS (Re-broadcast)
May 2005 (Check local listings)
- "Shaolin Ulysses: Kungfu Monks in America"--The famous fighting monks of the Shaolin Monastery have seen a resurgence throughout the world, aided in part by the popularity of kung-fu movies among the hip-hop set and films like The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This film follows a handful of Shaolin monks who have brought the style to America, chronicling their adventures in New York City, Houston and Las Vegas.
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