Written by Cara Delos Reyes
Edited by Susan Kuroda
On Sept. 8, 2020, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their new diversity requirements for equitable representation and more inclusion in the film industry. Since the release of “Crazy Rich Asians” in 2018, the push for more Asian representation continues as more and more studio executives realize the significance and impact of diversity and representation in film. Here are upcoming films by Asian artists to look out for:
“Yellow Rose” (2019)
“Yellow Rose” follows the life of Rose, an undocumented Filipina teen living in Texas with dreams of becoming a country music performer. Rose embarks on a journey of self-discovery after her mother is taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Diane Paragas, the director and writer, made her debut narrative feature with “Yellow Rose”, which stars Eva Noblezada (“Hadestown”) and Lea Salonga (“Mulan”, “Aladdin”). “Yellow Rose” is one of the first Filipino-led films released by a major Hollywood studio, an incredibly significant feat in cinema history. “Yellow Rose” made its debut at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival on May 2, 2019, and released in theatres in the U.S. on Oct.9, 2020. Its digital release is yet to be announced.
“Minari” follows a Korean American family as they adjust to their new home and life after moving to a small farm in Arkansas in search of the American dream. “Minari” is a deeply poetic portrait of assimilation to life in America in the 1980s through the lens of David, a young Korean American boy. Director and writer Lee Isaac Chung based “Minari” off of his own childhood. Chung is known for his critically acclaimed film “Munyurangabo” which premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. “Minari” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 26, 2020, winning both the U.S. Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. A24 has also confirmed that Steven Yeun, who plays Jacob, David’s father, is campaigning for his performance as lead actor to be nominated for the Oscars. If nominated, Yeun would be the first Asian American to be recognized in the category. “Minari” is set to release on Nov. 20, 2020.
Aneesh Chagnty, director of “Searching” starring John Cho, makes his sophomore directorial debut in the suspense thriller film “Run” starring Sarah Paulson and Kiera Allen. “Run” follows Chloe, a teenager in a wheelchair and her codependent mother, Diane. As Diane’s behavior becomes more suspicious and erratic, the more Chloe learns about her mother’s secrets. Eventually, Chloe makes a desperate attempt to escape from her mother’s grasp. “Run” is set to release on Nov. 20, 2020.
“Raya and The Last Dragon” (2021)
“Raya and The Last Dragon” is written by -”Crazy Rich Asians” screenwriter Adele Lim and Qui Nguyen. “Raya and The Last Dragon” is the first feature Disney animated film to star a Southeast Asian female protagonist. The film plans to represent influences from several Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, Laos, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. Kelly Marie Tran stars as Raya, the fearless princess warrior set to track down the last dragon in the fantasy world of Kumandra where humans and dragons live together in harmony. “Raya and The Last Dragon” is set to release March 12, 2021.
“Blue Bayou” (2021)
“Blue Bayou” follows the life of Antonio LeBlanc, a Korean adoptee living in a small town in the Louisiana Bayou with his wife, Kathy, and their stepdaughter, Kathy. Striving for a better life for his family, Antonio faces the possibility of being deported from the very country he has begun to call home. The writer and director, Justin Chon, also stars in “Blue Bayou” as Antonio LeBlanc. He works alongside Alicia Vikander who plays LeBlanc’s wife, Kathy. Chon made his filmmaking debut back in 2017 with the film “Gook.” Chon has also starred in films such as “Twilight,” “Wendy Wu Homecoming Warrior” and “Seoul Searching.” “Blue Bayou” is set to make its theatrical release on June 25, 2021.
“Nomadland” is the upcoming film directed, written, co-produced and edited by Chloé Zhao, and is based on the non-fiction novel “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder. “Nomadland” follows Fern (Frances McDormand) a sixty year old woman who leaves her hometown to travel around the American Midwest after losing everything in the Great Recession. Chloé Zhao is a Chinese filmmaker who made her debut in “Songs My Brother Taught Me” in 2015 at the Sundance Film Festival and received a nomination for best film and director at the Independent Spirit Awards. “Nomadland” premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Sept.11, 2020, and is set to release on Dec. 4, 2020.
“Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (2021)
“Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is the upcoming superhero film based on the “Shang Chi” Marvel Comics, and it is the 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This movie is expected to explore the origin story of the superhero Shang Chi. ”Shang Chi” is directed by Japanese American filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton. Cretton is known for directing films such as “Short Term 12,” “Glass Castle” and “Just Mercy,” and he has been nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards for “Short Term 12.” “Shang Chi” stars Simu Liu, Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Ronnie Chieng, and Michelle Yeoh. “Shang Chi” is the first Marvel film to have an Asian lead. “Shang Chi” is set to release July 9, 2021.