Celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in LA

Cultural exhibits, film screenings, live performances and more

Every May, the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) presents Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a citywide celebration that honors the cultures of the AAPI community, and the generations of AAPIs who have helped make Los Angeles one of the most diverse cities in the world.

The theme for this year's celebration is "Strength Through Community," a message that reflects the importance of the bonds in the AAPI community throughout Los Angeles.

Read on for highlights of the numerous cultural exhibits, film screenings, live performances, and online activities taking place throughout the month.

Felicia Chiao, "Giant Robot Cover" at JANM
Felicia Chiao, "Giant Robot Cover" at JANM | Photo: Giant Robot

Giant Robot Biennale 5 - JANM (through Sep. 1, 2024)

Located in Little Tokyo, the mission of the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) is to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience.

Since 2007, JANM has partnered with Eric Nakamura, founder of Giant Robot, to produce the Giant Robot Biennale, a recurring art exhibition that highlights diverse creative works celebrating the ethos of Giant Robot—a staple of Asian American alternative pop culture and an influential brand encompassing pop art, skateboard, comic book, graphic arts, and vinyl toy culture. On view through September 1, Giant Robot Biennale 5 features artists Sean Chao, Felicia Chiao, Luke Chueh, Giorgiko, James Jean, Taylor Lee, Mike Shinoda, Rain Szeto and Yoskay Yamamoto.

Ireichō sacred book at JANM in Little Tokyo
Ireichō | Photo: JANM

Ireicho - JANM (through Dec. 1, 2024)

Irei: National Monument for the WWII Japanese American Incarceration is a multi-faceted project that addresses the erasure of the identities of individuals of Japanese ancestry who experienced wartime incarceration and to expand the concept of what monument is through three distinct, interlinking elements: a sacred book of names as a monument (Ireichō), a website as a monument (Ireizō), and light sculptures as monuments (Ireihi).

JANM invites the public to stamp the Ireichō, a sacred book that records the names of more than 125,000 persons of Japanese ancestry who were unjustly imprisoned in U.S. Army, Department of Justice, and War Relocation Authority camps during World War II. Stamping the Ireichō requires a reservation. All visitors are welcome to stamp the Ireichō. Each group may stamp up to six names per reservation. You do not have to be a former incarceree, a relative, or a descendant of a former incarceree to stamp the book.

40th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
40th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival | Photo: VC Film Fest

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (May 1-10, 2024)

Since 1983, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (VC Film Fest) has presented more than 5,000 films, videos, and digital mediaworks by Asian & Pacific Islander artists, and features seminars, panels, in-person guest appearances, and filmmaker awards. The VC Film Fest continues to be the largest festival of its kind in Southern California and is the premier showcase for the best and brightest of Asian Pacific cinema.

The 40th Annual VC Film Fest features in-person programming at venues spanning Little Tokyo to UCLA, along with virtual programs for audiences at home in Southern California and beyond. Festival sections include Narrative Features, Special Presentations, Democracy Series, Documentaries, Cinema Musica, Pacific Cinewaves, Animation and Shorts Programs. For tickets and a complete schedule, visit the Festival website.

Kingston to Tokyo at JACCC
Kingston to Tokyo | Photo: JACCC

Kingston to Tokyo: Japanese Reggae - JACCC (May 10, 2024)

Since opening its doors in 1980, the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) has become one of the largest cultural art and community centers in the U.S.

Taking place on Friday, May 10, Kingston to Tokyo: Japanese Reggae Listening Party is part of an ongoing collaborative listening series presented by JACCC and In Sheep’s Clothing. Explore the influence of Jamaican reggae and dub on the sounds of Japanese artists from the 1980s through the '90s including Izumi "Mimi" Kobayashi, Pecker, Mute Beat, Ryojiro Furusawa, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Luv Master X, and more. Listening sessions are hosted by the team behind In Sheep’s Clothing and select Japanese whiskey, beer and wine.

Kibō Nobori Children’s Day Festival in Little Tokyo
Kibō Nobori Children’s Day Festival | Photo: Terasaki Budokan

Kibo Nobori Children’s Day Festival (May 4, 2024)

A celebration in Japan since ancient times, Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi) is a national holiday that takes place each year on May 5.

The third annual Kibō Nobori Children’s Day Festival is taking place from 11am to 4pm on Saturday, May 4 at the Terasaki Budokan community center in Little Tokyo. Presented in collaboration with artist Faith-Ann Kiwa Young and co-mrkt, the free event will feature a full day of family-friendly activities, including art installations, arts & crafts, an AAPI-curated marketplace and live performances.

Smorgasburg Los Angeles at ROW DTLA
Photo: Smorgasburg Los Angeles, Facebook

AAPI LA Market - Smorgasburg (May 19, 2024)

The third annual AAPI LA Market at Smorgasburg is back on Sunday, May 19. Taking place at ROW DTLA from 10am to 4pm, this one-day only fundraising event will feature baked goods, savory bites, packaged goods and merchandise - all prepared by local AAPI chefs and makers. Programming includes a mini-mart showcasing startup CPG brands, a kids corner with Mandarin Arts Studio, book author signing with Teach AAPI and mahjong tutorials with LA Mahjong League.

"Alice Wang: We Are Extraterrestrial" at the Vincent Price Art Museum
Alice Wang, "Pyramids and Parabolas III" | Photo: Vincent Price Art Museum

Alice Wang: We Are Extraterrestrial (May 4 - Aug. 3, 2024)

In her first solo museum exhibition in the United States, We Are Extraterrestrial, artist Alice Wang showcases recent prints and glass sculptures, alongside newly-commissioned ceramic sculptures, film, and an artist book. On view at the Vincent Price Art Museum from May 4 to August 3, these works are the result of her immersive research trips to sites with similar conditions to extraterrestrial bodies in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and across Iceland and the Arctic. Screening as part of the exhibition, Pyramids and Parabolas III is a structuralist film by Wang that's comprised of footage from her solo expeditions over the past six years that seeks terrestrial topographies on Earth that resemble those found on other planets.

The Ali Wong Residency at The Wiltern
The Ali Wong Residency | Photo: Netflix is a Joke

The Ali Wong Residency - The Wiltern (May 2-12, 2024)

Award-winning creator, director, actor and bad*ss stand-up comedian Ali Wong takes over The Wiltern for a limited run as part of the Netflix is a Joke festival. The first few shows are sold out - tickets are going fast for the rest of the series, so get them while you can!

Bruce Lee exhibit at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Bruce Lee exhibit at the Academy Museum | Photo: Joshua White, AMPAS

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Opened in September 2021, the spectacular Academy Museum of Motion Pictures houses more than 13 million objects in a 300,000 square-foot campus designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano.

Martial arts icon Bruce Lee is featured in an exhibit that includes a blue suit he wore in Enter the Dragon, a pair of nunchaku, and The Way of the Dragon script with his drawings. Other artifacts in the museum include Ang Lee’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000) and Eiko Ishioka’s Best Costume Design award for Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992).

"Minari" | Photo: Academy Museum

윤여정: Youn Yuh-jung - Academy Museum (May 2024)

The Academy Museum is presenting a retrospective series of Youn Yuh-jung, an irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind actor in the history of Korean cinema, celebrating the remarkable array of work she has crafted over the fifty-plus years of her career. Since her film debut in Kim Ki-young’s Woman of Fire (1971), Youn has refused to compromise her practice to serve the patriarchal systems which dominate the majority of mainstream cinema in Korea. Youn will appear in-person for the screenings of Minari on Friday, May 17 and Woman of Fire on May 18.

"Everything Everywhere All at Once"
"Everything Everywhere All at Once" | Photo: A24

Everything Everywhere All At Once - Academy Museum (May 12)

Michelle Yeoh, who is one of the 2024 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is featured in a 4K screening of her historic Oscar-winning performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once on Sunday, May 12.

Daughter of the Dragon at the Academy Museum
Daughter of the Dragon | Photo: Academy Museum

Daughter of the Dragon - Academy Museum (May 24)

On Friday, May 24, the Academy Museum and OneSky present a conversation between author Yunte Huang and filmmaker Arthur Dong about the life and career of the famed Chinese American movie star Anna May Wong. The panel will be followed by a book signing of Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History with author Yunte Huang.

Fanny's Executive Chef Jun Bum Oh
Fanny's Executive Chef Jun Bum Oh | Instagram: @fannysrestaurantandcafe

Fanny's (May 2024)

To celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, Executive Chef Jun Bum Oh is featuring weekly global specials at Fanny's: Donkatsu (May 1-5), Kung Pao Chicken (May 6-12), Bibimbap (May 13-19), Chicken Adobo (May 20-26) and Chicken Tikka Masala (May 27-31). Reservations at OpenTable.

Ronny Chieng: The Love to Hate It Tour
Ronny Chieng: The Love to Hate It Tour | Photo: Netflix is a Joke

Ronny Chieng - Dolby Theatre (May 3, 2024)

As part of the massive Netflix is a Joke festival, Ronny Chieng brings his Love to Hate It Tour to the world-famous Dolby Theatre on Friday, May 3. An acclaimed standup comedian, actor and Correspondent on The Daily Show, Chieng has starred in two Netflix stand-up comedy specials, and made notable appearances in Crazy Rich Asians, Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and will star in the upcoming Hulu series Interior Chinatown.

Only the Young: Experimental Art in Korea at the Hammer Museum
Only the Young: Experimental Art in Korea | Photo: Hammer Museum

"Only the Young" - Hammer Museum (through May 12, 2024)

Only the Young: Experimental Art in Korea, 1960s–1970s is the first North American exhibition to explore the groundbreaking work of a generation of artists who emerged in the decades following the Korean War (1950–53). Now on view at the Hammer Museum through May 12, the exhibition offers unprecedented insight into a moment in which artists in Korea began to take a stance against what they saw as a limiting approach within the local art world and instead embraced innovative and often provocative practices.

Esther Eng from "Golden Gate Girls"
Esther Eng | Photo: UCLA

"The World of Dong Kingman" + "Golden Gate Girls" (May 10)

Screening at the Hammer Museum's Billy Wilder Theater on Friday, May 10, Golden Gate Girls (2013) by S. Louisa Wei and The World of Dong Kingman (1953) by James Wong Howe document the lives and work of Chinese American artists. Golden Gate Girls surveys the career of pioneering female filmmaker Esther Eng; and The World of Dong Kingman follows a day in the life of renowned painter Dong Kingman. These artists' careers span decades between China and the United States and are carefully depicted in these portrait documentaries. Golden Gate Girls director S. Louisa Wei will participate in a Q&A moderated by UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television Professor Amy Villarejo.

Free admission, no advance reservations. Your seat will be assigned when you pick up your ticket at the box office, which opens one hour before the screening. Seats are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

Chess Set from India at the Norton Simon Museum
Chess Set from India (c. 1850), The Norton Simon Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon, © The Norton Simon Foundation

Norton Simon Museum

The Norton Simon Museum houses a world-renowned collection of art from South and Southeast Asia, including examples of the rich sculptural and painting traditions that developed in that region for more than 2,000 years. Sculptures from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, Cambodia, and Thailand are on permanent display, as are selected works from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), China, Vietnam and Indonesia.