In 1992, the United States designated the month of May to be Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. Given the recent rise of hate crimes against Asian-Americans, it is perhaps more important than ever to celebrate the achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in our community. In honor of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, here are eight queer Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) creators you should know.
Marin Lepore is a Chinese-American screenwriter and the co-founder of Sad Girl Productions, a film production company that aims to highlight women, women of color, and LGBTQ women on screen and behind the scenes. Recently, Lepore wrote and directed I Put the Bi in Bitter, a coming-of-age web series that follows a bisexual high schooler as she navigates friendships and first relationships.
Madeline Lim is a producer, director, cinematographer, editor, and the founding Executive Director of the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, which “promotes the creation, exhibition and distribution of new films and videos that increase the visibility of queer women of color.” Her 1997 award-winning film Sambal Belacan in San Francisco remains banned in Singapore for its exploration of race, sexuality, and nationality.
Fawzia Mirza is a Pakistani-Canadian-American filmmaker and actresss, who created and starred in Me, My Mom and Sharmila, a one-woman show about growing up queer and South Asian. The film was adapted into a feature screenplay and shown at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival Writers Studio and Filmmaker Lab. Mirza also starred in, co-wrote, and produced Signature Move, a film about a Pakistani Muslim lesbian living in Chicago with her mom.
Isabel Sandoval is a transgender Filipina filmmaker and actress who directed and starred in the film Lingua Franca. Now streaming on Netflix, Lingua Franca tells the story of an undocumented transgender woman who falls for the grandson of the elderly woman for whom she is caring. In 2019, Sandoval made history with Lingua Franca as the first transgender woman of color to compete at the Venice Film Festival.
Shamim Sarif is a British novelist and filmmaker of South Asian and South African descent whose feature films include The World Unseen and I Can’t Think Straight. In 2019, Sharif published The Athena Protocol, a queer YA novel about a “spy gone rogue.” The book is currently being adapted for television. Its sequel, The Shadow Mission, was released in October 2020.
Wu Tsang is a Chinese-American transgender filmmaker and performance artist who received a MacArthur “Genius Grant” in 2018. Her films, performances, and videos combine narrative and documentary styles and explore issues including transgender identity and the queer community. This summer, Tsang will present a large-scale film installation at the Guggenheim Museum that explores the word “anthem.”
Mari Walker is a biracial, Asian-American transgender director, writer, and editor whose film See You Then premiered at this year’s SXSW. The film won an award for “Best Narrative Feature” at the 2021 Sun Valley Film Festival. Partly inspired from Walker’s personal experience, See You Then tells the story of a transgender woman and her ex who reunite a decade after their breakup.
Alice Wu is a Chinese-American director and writer whose most recent film, The Half Of It, premiered on Netflix in May 2020. The Half Of It follows straight-A student Ellie Chu, as she writes love letters for a high school jock to the girl she also loves. Wu’s first film, Saving Face is about two Asian-American women falling in love, and is now available on Amazon Prime.