The Top Asian United States of American Narrative Feature Filmmakers

by Michael Kang | created - 16 Jan 2012 | updated - 17 Jan 2012 | Public

For your edutainment, here is a list of all the Asian Americans who have made a narrative feature film. The list is limited to people of Asian decent who are at least 1.5 or 2nd generation US resident/citizen and who have made at least one narrative feature film that can be verified (e.g. IMDB, official website, festival screening, etc.)

Examples of filmmakers not included in the list:

ex. 1: Ang Lee (The Incredible Hulk) is not included because he spent his formative years in Asia. ex. 2: Julia Kwan (Eve and the Firehorse) is not included because she is Canadian. ex. 3: Rena Tajima (Who Killed Vincent Chin) is not included because she makes documentaries. ex. 4: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) is not included because he is not Asian nor American.

If we combined all the co-directing efforts and hapas, we hover around 100 total. Pretty inspiring. These are the pioneers. The Film Committee of 100 so to speak. BTW many of these films are available on DVD -- get to know your history and support Asian American film!

Help me if I missed anyone. I compiled this list a couple years ago so it is probably missing some folks. Also, FYI for putting the list together, I am putting myself at the top.

1. Michael Kang

Director | The Motel

Michael Kang is a Korean American filmmaker based in New York. He was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island but has been in New York since attending New York University Tisch School of the Arts' Dramatic Writing Program where he was a Founder's Day Honors Scholar. His feature film directorial...

Michael Kang is an independent filmmaker currently in recovery from a three year stint in Los Angeles.

Before becoming a filmmaker, Michael had the highest batting average on his little league team and scored 750 on the math section of the SATs -- two skills which never come into play in his current daily life.

His feature film directorial debut "The Motel" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and an internationally premiered at the Pusan Film Festival. The film is currently available on DVD through Palm Pictures. “The Motel” is the recipient of the Humanitas Prize as well as three top jury prizes from the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, The San Diego Asian Film Festival and The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival . The film was also nominated for “Best First Feature” at the Independent Spirit Awards.

In addition, Michael was a fellow at the Sundance Filmmakers Lab in 2002. He also received the 2002 Geri Ashur Award in screenwriting through the New York Foundation for the Arts. Michael was also honored with a National Endowment for the Arts Artist’s Residency at the prestigious MacDowell Colony. Michael also recieved a fellowship with the ABC/DGA New Talent Television Directing Program.

His second feature film "West 32nd" premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film made its international premiere at the Pusan International Film Festival where Michael received the Overseas Korea Foundation Filmmaker Award. The film is available on DVD through Pathfinder Pictures.

Michael's latest feature "Knots" made its world premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival.

2. Narhee Ahn

Writer | Purity

Narhee Ahn is known for her work on Purity (2006), The Unbidden (2016) and It's Asian Men! (2016).

3. Steve Akahoshi

Actor | Fatal Beauty

To be a "series regular" on a primetime network television show is a plateau of success to which many actors aspire. For Steven, who starred as "Doc" Randy Matsuda on the critically acclaimed Emmy Award winning CBS Vietnam drama series Tour of Duty (1987) (1987-88; and currently in syndication on ...

4. Michael Aki

Actor | Strangers

Michael Aki is an actor and director, known for Strangers (2012), Sunsets (1997) and Daylight Savings (2012).

5. Francisco Aliwalas

Cinematographer | Blue Hour

Francisco Aliwalas is a cinematographer and director, known for Blue Hour (2005), Disoriented (1999) and 5 Takes: Pacific Rim (2006).

6. Gregg Araki

Director | Mysterious Skin

Gregg Araki was born on December 17, 1959 in Los Angeles, California, USA. He is a director and producer, known for Mysterious Skin (2004), Kaboom (2010) and White Bird in a Blizzard (2014).

7. Bernard Badion

Writer | Sounds We Have No Letters For

Bernard Badion was born on August 16, 1983 in Santa Clara, California, USA as Bernard Vallejo Badion. He is a writer and director, known for Sounds We Have No Letters For (2015), Leave It to Chance (2005) and Aswang Next Door (2017).

8. Darshan Bhagat

Actor | Karma Local

Darshan Bhagat is an actor and director, known for Karma Local (1998), No Thanks Not Sure Yes Please (1993) and A Night in New York (2002).

9. Ramin Bahrani

Writer | 99 Homes

Ramin Bahrani was born on March 20, 1975 in North Carolina, USA. He is a writer and director, known for 99 Homes (2014), Chop Shop (2007) and Man Push Cart (2005).

11. Dante Basco

Actor | Hook

Dante Basco was born on August 29, 1975 in Pittsburg, California, USA as Danté Roman Titus Basco. He is an actor and producer, known for Hook (1991), Hang Loose (2012) and But I'm a Cheerleader (1999).

12. Darion Basco

Actor | Cesar Chavez

Darion Basco was born on March 26, 1974 in Pittsburg, California, USA. He is an actor and director, known for Cesar Chavez (2014), The Debut (2000) and The Brady Bunch Movie (1995).

13. Derek Basco

Actor | Six Days Seven Nights

Derek Basco was born on August 29, 1970 in Pittsburg, California, USA. He is an actor and producer, known for Six Days Seven Nights (1998), This Is 40 (2012) and Dexter (2006). He is married to Emily Cho.

14. Dion Basco

Actor | Dahmer

Dion Basco was born on January 29, 1977 in Pittsburg, California, USA as Dionysio Basco. He is an actor and director, known for Dahmer (2002), The Head Thieves (2016) and Beauty and the Beast (1987).

15. Prashant Bhargava

Director | Patang

Prashant Bhargava was born on January 12, 1973 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Prashant Kumar Bhargava. He was a director and editor, known for Patang (2011), Sangam (2004) and Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi (2014). He died on May 16, 2015 in New York City, New York, USA.

Prashant was born and raised on the southside of Chicago - land where them Cadillacs got big rims, the chicken is better known as Harold's and the beats hit hard like the wind.

Prashant began his career as a graffiti artist tagging up on desks in seventh grade. His favorites include Hanuman, films by Terence Malick and deep dish pizza. He is an international science fair award winner and surprising agile on the dance floor. He can also cook. He was last seen fishing for his golf ball on the 11th hole.

Prashant studied computer science at Cornell University and theatrical directing at The Actors Studio MFA program.

Seven years in the making, his feature film debut PATANG premiered this year at the Berlin Film Festival and in the World Narrative Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival and was the Best Narrative Feature at the Hawaii Film Festival and at the DC APA Film Festival.

His short film SANGAM premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, garnering several awards and distinctions. The film was distributed by Film Movement and MUBI and broadcast on Arte/ZDF, The Sundance Channel and PBS.

For the past fifteen years, Prashant has directed and designed commercials, promos, title sequences and music videos for such clients as HBO, IBM, PBS and Accenture.

17. James Boss

Actor | Eternity

Korean American James Boss was born in Los Angeles and attended The Art Institute of Los Angeles to study graphic design. He later began acting at the Howard Fine Studio, studied under Ivanna Chubbuck, and then relocated to South Korea's Seoul Institute of the Arts to further his study in theater. ...

18. Q. Allan Brocka

Writer | Boy Culture

Q. Allan Brocka was born as Quenton Allan Brocka. He is a writer and director, known for Boy Culture (2006), Eating Out (2004) and Eating Out: Drama Camp (2011).

19. Tony Bui

Writer | Three Seasons

Arrived in US at age 2, and raised in Sunnyvale, California. His father ran a video store and he soon was inspired to make his own Super8 movies. Studied film at LA's Loyola Marymount University. Visited Vietnamese several times before making first short film, Yellow Lotus (1995). His 2nd film, ...

20. Timothy Linh Bui

Writer | Green Dragon

Timothy Linh Bui was born on April 13, 1970 in Saigon, Vietnam. He is a producer and writer, known for Green Dragon (2001), Powder Blue (2009) and Three Seasons (1999).

21. Eric Byler

Director | Charlotte Sometimes

Chinese American writer/director Eric Byler grew up in California, Virginia, and Hawaii before graduating from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Eric was nominated for a 2003 Independent Spirit Award for his debut feature film Charlotte Sometimes (2002), which also earned nominations for producer ...

22. Gene Cajayon

Producer | The Debut

Attended University California Irvine

23. Christopher Ad. Castillo

Director | In Darkness We Live

Christopher Ad. Castillo is a director and writer, known for In Darkness We Live (2014), The Diplomat Hotel (2013) and The Sky Is Falling (2002).

25. Jay Chandrasekhar

Director | Super Troopers

Jay Chandrasekhar was born on April 9, 1968 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Jayanth Jambulingam Chandrasekhar. He is a director and actor, known for Super Troopers (2001), Beerfest (2006) and Club Dread (2004). He has been married to Susan Clarke since September 18, 2005. They have three children.

27. Huy Chheng

Producer | Sweet and Sour

This shy Angelino grew up in the outskirts of Chinatown, Echo Park. As a child, Huy Chheng knew she wanted to pursue arts, which developed into a passion for filmmaking after taking her first course at the University of California, Los Angeles. Since then, filmmaking and finding funding for her ...

28. Timothy A. Chey

Producer | Fakin' Da Funk

Educated at Harvard University, USC Film School, and Boston University School of Law. Chey's work has been seen on E! Entertainment, The Wall Street Journal, The LA Times, VIBE TV, MTV, Daily Variety, Hollywood Reporter, TNT, USA Networks, the Dove Awards, MovieGuide Awards, People Magazine, and ...

31. Tanuj Chopra

Director | Grin

Completed his Master of Fine Arts in Film degree from the Columbia University School of the Arts in New York City (May 2007).

32. Jon M. Chu

Director | G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Jon is an alumni of the USC School of Cinema-Television. There, he won the Princess Grace Award, the Dore Schary Award presented by the Anti-Defamation league, the Jack Nicholson directing award, and recognized as an honoree for the IFP/West program Project: Involve.

After making his student short, ...

33. Tze Chun

Writer | Children of Invention

Worked as a painter after graduating from college.

34. Lee Isaac Chung

Director | Munyurangabo

A son of Korean immigrants, Chung grew up on a small farm in rural Arkansas and then attended Yale University, majoring in Ecology. During his senior year, Chung dropped his plans for medical school and turned to filmmaking. He studied film at the University of Utah, earning his MFA in 2004.


35. Juwan Chung

Director | Baby

Juwan Chung is a director and writer, known for Baby (2007) and Cake (2004).

36. Mark Decena

Writer | Dopamine

Mark Decena is a writer and director, known for Dopamine (2003), e2: The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious (2006) and The Light (2005).

37. Neill Dela Llana

Sound_department | Cavite

Neill Dela Llana is known for his work on Cavite (2005) and 2006 Independent Spirit Awards (2006).

39. Dayyan Eng

Producer | Che si shi si

Dayyan Eng was born in 1975 in Taiwan. He is a producer and director, known for Bus 44 (2001), Inseparable (2011) and Waiting Alone (2004).

40. Patrick Epino

Producer | Awesome Asian Bad Guys

Patrick Epino is a producer and director, known for Awesome Asian Bad Guys (2014), Mr. Sadman (2009) and Void (2005).

41. Cary Fukunaga

Producer | Beasts of No Nation

Cary Fukunaga was born on July 10, 1977 in Oakland, California, USA as Cary Joji Fukunaga. He is a producer and director, known for Beasts of No Nation (2015), Sin Nombre (2009) and True Detective (2014).

42. Ian Gamazon

Director | Cavite

Ian Gamazon is a director and writer, known for Cavite (2005), Living in Seduced Circumstances (2011) and Freud's 2nd Law (2001).

43. Nisha Ganatra

Director | Chutney Popcorn

Nisha Ganatra was born in Vancouver, Canada, and raised in California in a traditional household.

Ganatra is a graduate of the prestigious New York University (NYU) film school, where she studied with Martin Scorcese, Barbara Kopple, and Spike Lee. Chutney Popcorn (1999) was her feature film debut.

44. Stephane Gauger

Cinematographer | Cú và chim se se

Stephane Gauger is known for his work on Cú và chim se se (2007), Sài Gòn Yo! (2011) and Six-String Samurai (1998).

45. Patricio Ginelsa Jr.

Director | Lumpia

Patricio is originally from Daly City, California, where he started making video movies with his neighborhood at the age of 13. After graduating with a BA in cinema production at the University of Southern California, Patricio became the Associate Producer of the award-winning film The Debut" and ...

46. Cellin Gluck

Director | Sugihara Chiune

Cellin Gluck is a director known for Persona Non Grata (2015), Oba The Last Samurai (2011), Sideways - aka Saidoweizu (2009) and Lorelei (2005) .As an assistant director/production manager he is known for Godzilla (2014), Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Transformers (2007), Remember the Titans (2000) ...

47. Michael Goi

Cinematographer | American Horror Story

Michael Goi, ASC, ISC was born and raised in Chicago. He attended Columbia College, graduating as valedictorian of his class with a BA in Film. He subsequently served as a part-time instructor at the college, teaching lighting and basic film techniques. He has compiled over 70 narrative credits, ...

48. Philip Kan Gotanda

Director | Life Tastes Good

Philip Kan Gotanda is a director and writer, known for Life Tastes Good (1999), The Kiss (1992) and The Wash (1988).

51. Steven Hahn

Director | Pretty to Think So

Steven Hahn is a director and actor, known for Pretty to Think So (2008) and Party (2006).

52. Gregory Hatanaka

Producer | Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance

Gregory Hatanaka is a film distributor and producer.

Hatanaka has overseen and/or been affiliated with the distribution of over 200 films including: John Woo's iconic film The Killer starring Chow Yun-Fat; The Coen Brothers' Blood Simple; The Stranger, directed by the legendary Academy Award ...

53. Woody Han

Director | Link

Woody Han is known for his work on Link (2011), Asian Pride Porn (2000) and Mouse (1997).

54. Kayo Hatta

Director | Picture Bride

Was in talks to direct the Ethan Hawke film, Snow Falling on Cedars (1999), but lost out to director Scott Hicks.

55. James Wong Howe

Cinematographer | The Rose Tattoo

Master cinematographer James Wong Howe, whose career stretched from silent pictures through the mid-'70s, was born Wong Tung Jim in Canton (now Guangzhou), China, on August 28, 1899, the son of Wong How. His father emigrated to America the year James was born, settling in Pasco, Washington, where ...

56. George Huang

Director | Swimming with Sharks

Writing the screenplay based on the comic book "Madman" by Mike Allred. The movie is to be co-directed by Allred and Huang's friend, Robert Rodriguez.

57. James Huang

Actor | Starting from Scratch

James Huang was born and raised in New York and attended high school and college in New Jersey. He was captain of his high school Varsity football team, played LaCrosse and Wrestled, while learning Taekwondo in the summers. At 17, a full financial-aid scholarship took him to Rutgers University ...

58. Tom Huang

Writer | Why Am I Doing This?

Tom Huang is a writer and director, known for Why Am I Doing This? (2009), Freshmen (1999) and Unusual Targets (2014).

60. Cecilia Hyoun

Editorial_department | Vanilla Sky

61. Sara Hyoun

Visual_effects | The Chronicles of Riddick

Sara Hyoun is known for her work on The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), Score! (2002) and Con Air (1997).

62. Diana Lee Inosanto

Actress | The Sensei

Diana Lee Inosanto is the daughter of legendary martial artist, Dan Inosanto and Sue Ann Reveal. She is also the goddaughter of global icon, the late Bruce Lee. Dan was such close friends to the late Bruce Lee, that in honor of his friend, he named his daughter, and first child, "Diana Lee".

Born in...

63. Amyn Kaderali

Director | Little Man

Amyn grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and got his bachelor's degree at UCLA before finding his sweet spot in New York. He got his MFA in Directing at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program, where he made his mark with "Little Man," which garnered awards worldwide, including Best ...

64. Joseph Kahn

Director | Bodied

Joseph Kahn was born on October 12, 1972. He is a director and editor, known for Bodied (2017), Detention (2011) and Torque (2004).

65. Nikhil Kamkolkar

Director | The BOYE Division

Nikhil Kamkolkar was born in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. He is an actor and director, known for The BOYE Division (2014), Indian Cowboy (2004) and American Desi (2001).

66. So Yong Kim

Director | Na-moo-eobs-neun san

She originally comes from Korea but also grew up in Los Angeles, USA.

68. Chil Kong

Producer | The Mikado Project

Chil Kong is an actor and producer, known for The Mikado Project (2010), The Gambler (2014) and The Oh-Malleys in Daddy's My Mercedes (2008). He has been married to Erin Quill since October 8, 2005.

70. Jackie Kong

Director | The Being

Jackie Kong is a director, producer, and screenwriter known for irreverent comedy and over-the-top horror films. In 1983, she made her feature film debut as director with the low-budget drive-in horror film The Being, which starred Martin Landau and Jose Ferrer. In 1984, she followed up by ...

71. Shawn Ku

Director | Beautiful Boy

Shawn Ku is a producer and director, known for Beautiful Boy (2010), Pretty Dead Girl (2004) and Seeds of Yesterday (2015).

72. Nathan Kurosawa

Director | The Ride

Nathan Kurosawa was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. He is a director and writer, known for The Ride (2003), Kadomatsu (1996) and 6B: An Anthology of Hawaii Films (2011).

73. Karyn Kusama

Director | The Invitation

Karyn Kusama was born on March 21, 1968 in Brooklyn, New York, USA as Karyn K. Kusama. She is a director and writer, known for The Invitation (2015), Girlfight (2000) and Æon Flux (2005).

75. Stan Lai

Director | An lian tao hua yuan

Born in Washington D.C., he holds a PhD in Dramatic Art from Berkeley. He taught at Taiwan's National Institute of the Arts and helped established the Graduate School of Theatre. Founder of renowned theatrical troupe, Performance Workshop, he is one of Taiwan's leading playwright and theatre ...

77. Benson Lee

Director | Seoul Searching

Benson Lee is a director and producer, known for Seoul Searching (2015), Battle of the Year (2013) and Planet B-Boy (2007).

78. Chris Chan Lee

Director | Yellow

Chris Chan Lee is an editor and director, known for Yellow (1998), Undoing (2006) and Jasmine (2015).

79. Dennis Lee

Writer | Jesus Henry Christ

Dennis Lee is a writer and director, known for Jesus Henry Christ (2003), Jesus Henry Christ (2011) and Imperium (2016).

80. Grace Lee

Director | American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee was born in Columbia, Missouri, USA. She is a director and producer, known for American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (2013), Barrier Device (2002) and Janeane from Des Moines (2012).

81. Jieho Lee

Writer | The Air I Breathe

Jieho Lee was born in 1973 in New York City, New York, USA. He is a writer and director, known for The Air I Breathe (2007), A Nursery Tale (1999) and Kane & Lynch. He has been married to Min Kim since April 29, 2006.

82. John H. Lee

Director | Nae meorisokui jiwoogae

John H. Lee's films are imbued with top-notch cosmopolitan sensibilities. He has become one of the most sought after directors in all of East Asia and is a member of the rising generation of international directors from the region, having both a distinct voice as an auteur and wide commercial ...

83. Fay Ann Lee

Actress | East Broadway

Fay Ann Lee is an actress and producer, known for Falling for Grace (2006), Henry Fool (1997) and Third Watch (1999).

84. Georgia Lee

Writer | The Expanse

Award-winning writer/director Georgia Lee has directed five short films. Her first two shorts, "The Big Dish: Tiananmen '89" (B&W, 16 mm 1998), and "Bloom" (Color, 16 mm, 1999), have shown at numerous film festivals. "Bloom" was also acquired and broadcast by PBS as part of the Reel New York series...

85. Abraham Lim

Actor | The Catch

Abraham Lim is known for his work on The Catch (2016), Chicago P.D. (2014) and The Real O'Neals (2016).

86. Justin Lin

Producer | Better Luck Tomorrow

Justin Lin is a Taiwanese American film director whose films have grossed $2 billion worldwide. He is best known for his work on Better Luck Tomorrow, The Fast and the Furious 3-6 and Star Trek Beyond. He is also known for his work on television shows like Community and the second season of True ...

88. Dom Magwili

Actor | 50 First Dates

Dom Magwili was born on December 8, 1949 in Alameda, California, USA as Domingo Albert Magwili. He is an actor and director, known for 50 First Dates (2004), American Streetfighter (1992) and Much Adobo About Nothing (1999). He is married to Saachiko.

89. Edward J. Mallillin

Producer | Brown Soup Thing

Edward J. Mallillin is a producer and actor, known for Brown Soup Thing (2008), Anniversary (2014) and BehindLIFE (2012).

90. Steven E. Mallorca

Director | Slow Jam King

Steven E. Mallorca is a director and cinematographer, known for Slow Jam King (2004), Three to Five & Glassy (2007) and Pamanhikan (2015).

93. Paul Mayeda Berges

Writer | Bend It Like Beckham

Paul Mayeda Berges was born on September 11, 1968 in Los Angeles, California, USA. He is a writer and producer, known for Bend It Like Beckham (2002), What's Cooking? (2000) and Paris, je t'aime (2006). He is married to Gurinder Chadha. They have two children.

94. Anurag Mehta

Writer | American Chai

Anurag Mehta is a producer and writer, known for American Chai (2001), The Trident (2007) and What Goes Around (2009).

95. H.P. Mendoza

Writer | I Am a Ghost

H.P. Mendoza was born on March 13, 1977 in San Francisco, California, USA. He is known for his work on I Am a Ghost (2012), Colma: The Musical (2006) and Fruit Fly (2009).

96. Brian A. Metcalf

Producer | Living Among Us

Brian A. Metcalf, a member of the (DGA) and (VES), attended the Joe Kubert School of Art and the Gnomon School of Visual Effects. He has since held a number of positions as a creative director, traditional artist, writer, photographer, visual effects artist and supervisor working on games, DVDs, ...

97. Anne Misawa

Producer | Waking Mele

She has studied filmmaking at the University of Southern California's Graduate Film and Television Program and also has a previous Master's degree in Creative Writing from New York University and has studied at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Naropa Institute with its ...

98. Ron Morales

Camera_department | Graceland

99. Jon Moritsugu

Director | My Degeneration

Jon Moritsugu was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1965. He started filmmaking when he went to Brown University in 1985. Ever since graduating with his thesis film "Der Elvis," he has been a cinematic force to be reckoned with. His films have been all over festivals from New York Underground to Sundance...

100. Jimmy T. Murakami

Director | Breath

Jimmy T. Murakami was born on June 5, 1933 in San Jose, California, USA as Teruaki Murakami. He is known for his work on Breath (1967), Heavy Metal (1981) and When the Wind Blows (1986). He was married to Ethna Murakami. He died on February 16, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland.