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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 event is free to attend for all SBTHP members, with a suggested $5 donation for non-members. Seating is first come, first served! 

This film series is made possible by the generous support of the George H. Griffiths and Olive J. Griffiths Charitable Foundation.

14th Annual Film Selections

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Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066

July 7, 2023 · 6 p.m.

This is an award-winning documentary feature film about the false information and political influences which led to the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans. Alternative Facts sheds light on the people and politics that influenced the signing of the infamous Executive Order 9066 which authorized the mass incarceration of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans. The film exposes the lies used to justify the decision and the cover-up that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Alternative Facts also examines the parallels to the current climate of fear, targeting of immigrant and religious communities, and similar attempts to abuse the powers of the government.


Followed by a Q&A with Director Jon Osaki.

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Liquor Store Dreams

July 14, 2023 · 6 p.m.

Director and liquor store baby, So Yun Um and her father have never seen eye to eye on anything, especially not her career choices. Although his liquor store has provided her financial stability to dream big, there’s tension between father and daughter, and how their Korean culture and store have had a complicated past within a Black community. So goes on a journey to unpack this tension as well as the generational divide between her and her father. Liquor Store Dreams is a portrait of two second generation Korean Americans trying to create their own future by honoring their parent’s past through understanding and healing.


Followed by a Q&A with Director So Yun Um and Producer Eddie Kim.


The Donut King

July 21, 2023 · 6 p.m.

Everything you thought you knew about the donut begins with Ted Ngoy. This is the unlikely story of a Cambodian refugee arriving in America in 1975 and building a multi-million-dollar empire baking America’s favorite pastry, the donut. Ted’s story is one of fate, love, survival, hard knocks, and redemption. Ted sponsored hundreds of visas for incoming refugees and helped them get on their feet teaching them the ways of the donut business. By 1979 he was living the American Dream. But, in life, great rise can come with great falls.


Followed by a Q&A with Producer José I. Nuñez, and Editor Carol Martori .

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Chinatown Rising

July 28, 2023 · 6 p.m.

Against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-1960s, a young San Francisco Chinatown resident armed with a 16mm camera and leftover film scraps from a local TV station, turned his lens onto his community. Totaling more than 20,000 feet of film (10 hours), Harry Chuck's exquisite unreleased footage has captured a divided community's struggles for self-determination. Chinatown Rising is a documentary film about the Asian American Movement from the perspective of the young residents on the front lines of their historic neighborhood in transition. Through publicly challenging the conservative views of their elders, their demonstrations and protests of the 1960s-1980s rattled the once quiet streets during the community’s shift in power. Forty-five years later, in intimate interviews, these activists recall their roles and experiences in response to the need for social change.


Followed by a Q&A with Co-Director/Producer Josh Chuck.

Previous Selections


A Vanished Dream: Wartime Story of My Japanese Grandfather


Free Chol Soo Lee



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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