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Since 2010, SBTHP has presented the Asian American Film Series, a free event held on Fridays 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 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.

13th Annual Film Selections

Free Chol Soo Lee

In 1970s San Francisco, 20-year-old Korean immigrant Chol Soo Lee is racially profiled and convicted of a Chinatown gang murder. Sentenced to life, he spends years fighting to survive until investigative journalist K.W. Lee takes a special interest in his case, igniting an unprecedented push for social action that would unite Asian Americans and inspire a new generation of activists. 


Watch our Q&A about the documentary with Directors Julie Ha and Eugene Yi, and narrator, Sebastian Yoon here.


A Vanished Dream: Wartime Story of My Japanese Grandfather

Photojournalist Regina Boone’s grandfather was a Japanese immigrant arrested on the day of the Pearl Harbor attack, never to come home or be heard from again. Once Regina’s dying father asks that she uncovers the mysteries of her grandfather’s disappearance, her long quest begins.

A Q&A with Regina Boone will follow.

Watch the film >>

Seen the film? Please fill out a NHK World-Japan survey about the film >>

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Five-time Olympic medalist and Native Hawaiian Duke Paoa Kahanamoku shattered records and brought surfing to the world while overcoming a lifetime of personal challenges. Waterman explores his journey and legacy as a legendary swimmer, trailblazer, and the undisputed father of modern- day surfing, following the sport’s first-time inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 (2021) Games – a fitting tribute to his work promoting the sport around the globe.

A Q&A with Producer David Ulich and Director Isaac Halasima will follow.

Learn more about the film >>

Additional thanks to The Foundation for Global Sports Development & Sidewinder Films

Previous Selections



Grasshopper for Grandpa

Sonzai: Japantown Santa Barbara


Flower Drum Song

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings

Meditation Park

I Am Bruce Lee


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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