PROTESTERS: The people united will never be defeated.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.
SARITA KHURANA: Everyone that I've grown up with and love was at risk of being attacked or killed.
JOUA LEE GRANDE: Without stories to help people understand what's happening in the world, there can't be change.
Whoever controls the stories that the public has, they kind of control what happens on a systemic level.
When you come from, say, a marginalized community or an immigrant community, it's a lens that allows you to look at a broad spectrum of things and bring nuance.
So it's not just telling South Asian stories, it's disrupting conventional narratives.
♪ ♪ (speaking Punjabi): POLICE DISPATCHER: Attention all units, there is only one shooter, gunshot wound to the head-- he is down.
KHURANA: I feel like those, those narratives, those ancestors' voices, our families voices, are critical to, like, preserving who we are, and those stories need to be told.
(woman sobbing, speaking softly) FRANCES RUBIO: It's so good to see you, Dad.
BREE: Say hi, Mommy.
TINA MCDUFFIE: On this episode of Local, U.S.A., two films that reflect the joys, hardships, and hope of uniquely Asian American experiences.
QUYEN NGUYEN-LE: Maybe other filmmakers aren't asked, you know, "Why is your point of view important?"
It's something that I always have to articulate.
I think it's something that I struggle with.
Like, "It's because I'm special."
But actually, I think everyone's point of view is special.
I think the more we have slight nuances of difference, the more we can really understand our society.
MCDUFFIE: Asian American Stories of Resilience and Beyond: Volume II, on Local, U.S.A. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ BREE: My Uncle Vince died on February 20, my 24th birthday.
It was a terrible birthday gift.
No amount of prayers could bring him back, and what really hit me was the loss I knew my cousin Giselle felt.
(phone ringing out) (on voicemail): Hey, we're gonna go to mass at 5:00, okay?
I can pick you up-- let me know.
(narration): In college, I had some existential woes that dispelled my staunch atheism.
It led me right to God, and I even thought about becoming a nun for a year.
I shed old friends, old habits, and really only spent time with Giselle when I was home.
It took so long for me to recognize who and what really mattered.
I wanted to fit in with my White friends, be a Southern belle, love football, and hey, maybe even join sorority life.
Giselle and I are three years apart.
She was well-behaved, well-liked, and very Catholic.
I, on the other hand, got into trouble very often, dealt with anorexia and bulimia, drug usage, and run-ins with the law.
Giselle has two siblings and I have one, Leilani, who's 13 years older than me.
I grew up closer to the Puerto Rican side of my family, my dad.
Giselle's parents met when they were in Hawaii and retired in Niceville, Florida, just like mine.
One thing both of our parents agreed upon was that inside of the house, we were both combative.
Aunty Liza would say Giselle was maldita, like herself when she was young.
Although I thought she was the perfect child.
My uncle and aunt always shared their faith through their actions, and looking back, I understand just how much parents love you, and just how much my parents and her parents loved us.
(VHS tape loading) (tape playing) DERRICK (softly): Baby.
(woman singing in Spanish) GRACE: Here.
Oh, oh, my girly girl.
My big girl.
DERRICK: What are you doing with your teeth?
- (laughs): She always does that, it's so funny.
BREE: Our parents support us through big events.
They're there for us even when they're tired.
(in video): Say hi, Mommy!
- Can I help you?
(narration): And whenever we do things a little unconventional, they're there to say... - Voilà!
- (giggles) LIZA: Everything starts at home.
Our parents are our first teachers.
(people talking in background) (woman laughing) That upbringing is so strong, that brings, that becomes who you are outside of home.
Giselle, in a way, has my disposition, but she looks like Papa.
So she has our combo.
(chuckles) I'm feeling old now, okay?
(birds chirping) ALL: Holy Mary, Mother of Grace, Mother of Mercy, pray for the soul of Vincent.
(phone ringing out) LIZA: So it's okay, honey.
We'll take it one day at a time, even if hour at a time.
You rest, you gather your energy.
In God's time, God's divine mercy, you will heal, okay?
VINCENT (faintly): Yes.
LIZA: Yes, good, good.
Honey, you are surrounded by angels.
There are angels on Earth, honey.
You're getting the best care at Eglin.
We're so thankful and grateful.
So they will do everything... (phone audio fades) (weeping) (sniffles, people talking in background) (sobbing) (music playing) GISELLE: God, look how flaco Papa is now.
He lost so much weight.
No booty, no arms, no tummy, no tooth.
Papa, let me see your-- no tooth!
BREE: There's a certain foreverness and love that a parent brings that you only recognize when they're gone.
My uncle loved my cousins.
My dad loved me and my sister.
WOMAN: Thank you so much.
♪ ♪ (VHS tape loading) DERRICK: Move out!
DERRICK: What was that?
- (babbling) DERRICK: What?
- Dada... DERRICK: Hm?
- (babbling) (gasping) It's heavy, Dad.
(both laughing) DERRICK: Oh!
(ball hits fence) Dad!
DERRICK: And here's Lani riding the pine, collecting splinters again.
(makes punching noise) GRACE: Wow, you're doing a great job.
(cheers and applause) She did it.
GRANDPA: Lani, Lani, Lani, Lani!
(talking in background) GRACE: Kiss, kiss, kiss.
GRANDPA: Daddy, get Daddy, oh, yeah!
♪ ♪ (talking in background) (bell ringing) (talking in background) So we're gonna pray!
So that we can eat.
- (whistles for attention) - If I could have everybody's attention.
Uh, you know, we're here today to honor the life, the life of Vincent.
And his family and a lot of us have been praying along with them for 40 days, 40 days of mourning, 40 days of grief.
But today is a day of celebration.
Because we know where our brother is.
(talking in background) (talking in background) ♪ Faded into gray, and can you see ♪ ♪ That I don't know if it's you or if it's me?
♪ ♪ If it's one of us, I'm sure we both will see... ♪ GISELLE: That's in Hawaii, when he went to go visit Mama.
♪ Look at me and tell me ♪ ♪ Amie, what you wanna do?
♪ ♪ I think I could stay with you ♪ (on recording): Do you remember when we were driving out of Pensacola?
Like, we had prayed at the hospital.
You just, like, held my hand and you kept praying.
And I replayed that moment over and over for one day.
If it was anybody else, they probably would have been, like, "It will be okay, everything's fine, nothing's going to happen," and that's definitely not, like, what I needed to hear, and I would think about that moment.
I looked at you and I said, like, "I don't want my dad to die."
Yeah, I don't know, there's, there's a lot to say about your silence in the moment, and, like, maybe, like, the silence of a father when you're, like, praying and you're begging, and it makes me think about a lot, like, that moment meant a lot to me, and I need to think about that in a moment that I feel like God is silent to me, that maybe he's holding my hand and I don't even know it.
♪ ♪ BREE: Aw, Giselle.
This means so much to me that you're sharing this with me.
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ I come from a military background, so I've been raised in the South, in New York, and in Hawaii, and kind of just all around.
Because I have multiple ethnicities, I think I'm experiencing "Asianness" in a lot of different ways.
My dad is Afro-Puerto Rican, and then my mom is Native Hawaiian, Polynesian, Filipino.
It makes it so hard to relate to people sometimes, but then, like, at the same time, you can relate to so many people.
(in video): Say hi, Mommy.
(narration): My mom is, like, a diehard American.
A lot of people can be in the A.A.P.I.
community and yet hold views that you would not expect them to have.
We just don't see characters that are fully immersed in their perspectives.
We have a lot of different identities.
GRACE: Wow, you're doing a great job.
BREE: Me, myself, growing up, learning how to speak Polynesian, the Hawaiian dialect, and doing hula, but then feeling uncomfortable as an adult, even referring to Hawaii as "Hawai'i," those are, like, interesting things, you know.
♪ ♪ GPS: Take Exit 2A.
(device beeping) BUN: We're going to San Quentin in hopes that there's a Thanksgiving holiday for my friend Binh Vo.
He's paroling today.
I was incarcerated with him for about five years.
This is the backside of the prison, where ICE sneaks up and get people.
GPS: Turn left onto Main Street, then your destination will be on the right.
BUN: Dealing with immigration, we don't know what the outcome is.
Once he is in their custody, it's hard, because you don't know if they're gonna put him on a plane, go back to Vietnam.
I was told not to go on prison grounds.
The risk is, um, ICE even coming to get me if, if, if somebody calls on me.
♪ ♪ It's 6:15 now, they should be...
If they're gonna get him, they should be coming pretty soon.
♪ ♪ The worst-case scenario is, they detain him, and they'll come out this way.
We'll, we'll put up signs letting Binh know that he got support out here.
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ In 1975, my country was tooken over by the communist Khmer Rouge after the Vietnam War.
I was born in 1979 on the border of Cambodia and Thailand.
When I was about four, my family decided to run the border and try to make it to the refugee camp in Thailand.
♪ ♪ When we came here, we came here with nothing, so we started with nothing.
We moved to a poor part of L.A. right by Dodger Stadium and I started school.
It was hard.
We were on welfare, Medicare...
In the '80s and '90s, it was dangerous for a teenager, especially a person of color, the neighborhood we lived in.
It, it was a war zone.
I was illiterate, I couldn't find a job, um...
I, I have a kid and another one on the way.
And all I knew was the street life.
♪ ♪ So when I was arrested, I was, like, "Okay, I'm a lookout.
I'll probably end up doing no more than five years."
All of a sudden, it's, like, you're facing almost 50 years.
I was, like... (stammering): "What?
I don't understand what you're telling me."
And nobody was physically harmed.
They just threw my life away.
♪ ♪ I started changing slowly.
It took me about 13 years to really change the way I thought, change the way I behave.
And it, it took a lot of studying and understanding myself.
I was given a chance to go to the parole board in February 2020.
It was, it was a long time coming.
It was a dream come true.
I was so, I was so happy, I was numb.
But knowing I got freedom from CDCR, the reality of a ICE hole hits me, like, "You're not free yet.
You're going to a detention center."
I'm free, but I'm going to be locked up again.
My mom couldn't comprehend that.
She's, like, "What do you mean?
I was, like, "Well, they're gonna let me out of prison, but immigration is gonna hold me."
She's, like, "But you did your time.
You did 23 years."
I was, like, "I know, Mom, but it's just the law."
♪ ♪ When we first heard of COVID from the news, we knew that it's going to hit San Quentin.
It's not how it's going to hit it, it's when it's going to hit it.
If you had COVID or you reported that you had COVID, they were locking you up in solitary.
I still think that ICE was gonna pick me up.
So I'm stressed, like, what am I doing?
I have no phone call-- they shut off all the phones because of COVID.
I'm looking for an ICE agent to come in with paperwork to pick me up.
I don't see none.
8:00, 9:00 come-- I don't see none.
They said, "You're going to a bus station."
I was, like, "For real?"
They're, like, "Yeah."
And I play off, like, "Okay, cool."
But I'm, like, "Is ICE gonna pick me up in front?
Are they tricking me?
What are they doing?"
I go through the front gate, and they stop the car, and they're, like, "Are you sure he's supposed to come out?"
The officers are having an argument about paperwork, and I'm sitting there, "Oh, they caught me right at the gate.
I can't believe I made it to the gate and they caught me."
He said, "You know what?
I don't care what he's saying.
"I'm gonna drop him off, and when we come back, we'll do the paperwork."
And I'm, like, "Yes, please do that."
♪ ♪ The last time I seen my sister, I believe it was 2011.
Hi, Cori, Coco!
Are you ready to be surrounded by all your sisters and your mom?
You're the only boy.
- I know.
I've been thinking about that, I think I am.
I haven't seen my mom since '98, I believe.
Last time was behind glass.
Oh, Mom is here!
(chuckles) (lock turns) (security alarm beeps softly) (both laughing) (mother sobbing, speaking softly) ♪ ♪ MOTHER (in Cambodian): (people talking in background) - Mm, Mama.
♪ ♪ BUN: I consider myself Cambodian American.
I still hold on to my roots, my ancestors, and my tradition.
But I've never lived a Cambodian life.
I'm a foreigner in that country, I don't know how to read or write, and I believe my Cambodian is not even strong enough over there.
I don't know if I could make it there, because it's so limited for me.
And if I was to be deported there, uh, I leave my family behind.
(vehicle motor humming) (Bun speaking indistinctly) SARAH LEE: Okay.
Maybe you and Ke can be on the main gate side?
Something like that?
- And then Nate can join Marady and I on this side.
I want to help, because I know what, what these families are, are going through.
And a lot of these guys are my friends.
The best-case scenario is, uh, they, they don't pick him up.
Right-- oh, there go a white van right there.
Let's see if it's turning in.
There-- it's turning in, look, right there.
There's a white van right there.
That, that's the van they come in.
♪ ♪ ICE OFFICER: If you guys want to stop by and visit, we'll, we'll allow that, okay?
WOMAN: Okay, thank you.
LEE: All right.
Can you tell Binh Vo that... ICE OFFICER: He's seen the sign there, he wanted us to honk, but I can't, can't do that... WOMAN: Okay.
- ...but I figured I could let you guys know.
630 Sansome Street, okay?
LEE: They're bringing Binh Vo to the ICE detention processing center in San Francisco right now.
(car engine starting) ♪ ♪ BUN: A lot of us from Southeast Asia go through a lot of trauma about family separation, you know?
We have family member that passed away and never heard of from again, and family that went missing during the war.
It's the same trauma that comes back up when we're detained.
I live every day with fear.
But I don't want to allow that to stop me from enjoying my family, enjoying my freedom, enjoying my second chance.
♪ ♪ (laughing) BUN: Bro!
(woman laughing, cheering) ♪ ♪ (breeze blowing) DOBRIN: So I'm, like, California-born and -raised, half-Korean and half-White American.
Spending time with Bun's friends and family, you know, I felt immediately at ease.
And I know he did, as well, because there are certain things you do in Asian, Asian American households that just feel natural.
Look, there are certain cultural norms that, although every Asian country is different, there's, there's also some similarities.
♪ ♪ It's important for myself as an Asian American filmmaker to tell other Asian, Asian American stories, because I'm just going to approach it with a different mindset compared to people who aren't of the same, same background.
You know, there's just a lot of lived experience that, that you can't get no matter what.
At the same time, you know, it's a little bit of a double-edged sword.
I don't want to be pigeonholed into telling only Asian, Asian American stories.
I think our communities are capable of telling other stories, as well.
But there is that, like, instant familiarity when covering a story that's maybe a bit more controversial or does tend to highlight some parts of a specific community, where, you know, if you have some relation to that community, it's certainly going to help.
(woman cheering) WOMAN: Are you ready to be surrounded by all your sisters and your mom?
You're the only boy.
- I know.
I've been thinking about that, I think I am.
DOBRIN: Something that I did that was maybe a bit more unique, like, even throughout the edit process, I showed Bun the different cuts that were happening.
Because not only did I want his story to be represented fairly and accurately, but, you know, it was a really personal story about him and his own family, so I really wanted to make sure that he was happy with the result, as well.
I know that's what I would want if I was in his position.
I think previous generations of documentary filmmakers or journalists wouldn't necessarily show their subjects earlier cuts for fear of, you know, maybe losing editorial control.
There-- it's turning in, look, right there.
DOBRIN: Because Bun's story, or this piece, is kind of fraught with some legal implications, as in terms of, you know...
He's very much at risk of being deported right now.
So, making sure he was okay with the information that was shared was important through every step of the filmmaking process.
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪