Best 50 Asian American Filmmakers in the United States

by amy_ross16 | created - 13 Feb 2018 | updated - 14 Feb 2018 | Public

Here is my list of the best 50 Asian American Filmmakers in the United States whose work is worth checking out. In order to qualify, they would have had to make a narrative feature film and are of Asian heritage but make films in the States.

1. Ang Lee

Director | Wo hu cang long

Born in 1954 in Pingtung, Taiwan, Ang Lee has become one of today's greatest contemporary filmmakers. Ang graduated from the National Taiwan College of Arts in 1975 and then came to the U.S. to receive a B.F.A. Degree in Theatre/Theater Direction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, ...

2. James Wan

Writer | Saw

James Wan (born 26 February 1977) is an Australian film producer, screenwriter and film director of Malaysian Chinese descent. He is widely known for directing the horror film Saw (2004) and creating Billy the puppet. Wan has also directed Dead Silence (2007), Death Sentence (2007), Insidious (2010)...

3. 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, ...

4. Taika Waititi

Actor | What We Do in the Shadows

Taika Waititi, also known as Taika Cohen, hails from the Raukokore region of the East Coast of New Zealand, and is the son of Robin (Cohen), a teacher, and Taika Waiti, an artist and farmer. His father is Maori (Te-Whanau-a-Apanui), and his mother is of Ashkenazi Jewish, Irish, Scottish, and ...

5. 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 producer, known for The Invitation (2015), Girlfight (2000) and Æon Flux (2005).

6. Destin Daniel Cretton

Director | Short Term 12

Destin Daniel Cretton was born on November 23, 1978 in Maui, Hawaii, USA. He is a director and producer, known for Short Term 12 (2013), The Glass Castle (2017) and Short Term 12 (2008).

7. Cary Joji Fukunaga

Producer | Beasts of No Nation

Cary Joji Fukunaga was born on July 10, 1977 in Oakland, California, USA. He is a producer and director, known for Beasts of No Nation (2015), Sin Nombre (2009) and Maniac (2018).

8. Ramin Bahrani

Producer | 99 Homes

Ramin Bahrani was born on March 20, 1975 in North Carolina, USA. He is a producer and director, known for 99 Homes (2014), Chop Shop (2007) and Fahrenheit 451 (2018).

9. Justin Lin

Producer | Furious 6

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 ...

10. Gregg Araki

Writer | Mysterious Skin

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

11. Joseph Kahn

Director | Bodied

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

12. Michael Goi

Cinematographer | Mary

Michael Goi, ASC, ISC

Michael Goi, ASC, ISC was born and raised in Chicago, where he established himself in the fields of documentaries and commercials. As a cinematographer, he has compiled over 70 narrative credits, including films for cinema and television screens such as "American Horror Story,"...

13. Michael Aki

Actor | Strangers

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

14. Tze Chun

Writer | Children of Invention

Worked as a painter after graduating from college.

15. Kevin Tancharoen

Director | Fame

Kevin Tancharoen is a filmmaker, writer, producer and choreographer whose Mortal Kombat series revived the live action format for the franchise.

Kevin came to the attention of Warner Bros. with the stealth release of his viral video Mortal Kombat : Rebirth that re-imagined the video game franchise ...

16. Jay Chandrasekhar

Director | Super Troopers

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

17. M. Night Shyamalan

Producer | Lady in the Water

Born in Puducherry, India, and raised in the posh suburban Penn Valley area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, M. Night Shyamalan is a film director, screenwriter, producer, and occasional actor, known for making movies with contemporary supernatural plots.

He is the son of Jayalakshmi, a Tamil ...

18. Brian A. Metcalf

Producer | Adverse

Brian A. Metcalf (WGA, PGA, DGA, VES, ASCAP) is an Asian-American writer, director, producer and actor. His most recent film, Adverse, is a drama/thriller that he produced, directed, wrote and acted in and stars a large ensemble cast with Academy Award® Nominee Mickey Rourke, Academy Award® Nominee...

19. Jennifer Phang

Director | Advantageous

A Berkeley-born daughter of Chinese-Malaysian and Vietnamese heritage, Jennifer Phang is a graduate of the MFA Directing program at the American Film Institute.

Her sophomore feature Advantageous won a Jury Prize at Sundance 2015 and was based on her award winning Futurestates short Advantageous (...

20. 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) ...

21. 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).

22. Patrick Epino

Actor | Bitter Melon

Patrick Epino is a producer and director, known for Bitter Melon (2018), Awesome Asian Bad Guys (2014) and Mr. Sadman (2009).

23. Lou Diamond Phillips

Actor | Courage Under Fire

Lou Diamond Phillips was born on February 17, 1962 in Subic Bay Naval Base, Olongapo City, Zambales, Philippines as Lou Diamond Upchurch. He is an actor and director, known for Courage Under Fire (1996), The Big Hit (1998) and La Bamba (1987). He has been married to Yvonne Boismier Phillips since ...

24. Jon Moritsugu

Director | Scumrock

Jon Moritsugu was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and graduated from Brown University in 1987. As a writer and director, he has created 7 features and numerous shorts, music videos, and commercials which have screened at MOMA, the Guggenheim, Whitney, Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, Rotterdam, and more. He is a...

25. 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 Scorsese, Barbara Kopple, and Spike Lee. Chutney Popcorn (1999) was her feature film debut. ...

26. Benson Lee

Producer | Seoul Searching

Benson Lee is a producer and director, known for Seoul Searching (2015), Miss Monday (1998) and Planet B-Boy (2007).

27. Chris Chan Lee

Director | Yellow

Chris Chan Lee is an editor and director, known for Yellow (1997), Undoing (2006) and Jasmine (2015).

28. Sandy Tung

Director | Alice Upside Down

Sandy Tung is an American independent film director, writer and producer. He was born on Staten Island, New York. He received an MFA in film making from New York University.

Tung was also the first director of Asian American descent to receive the prestigious Directors Guild of America Award for his...

29. Mira Nair

Director | Monsoon Wedding

Accomplished Film Director/Writer/Producer Mira Nair was born in India and educated at Delhi University and at Harvard. She began her film career as an actor and then turned to directing award-winning documentaries, including So Far From India and India Cabaret. Her debut feature film, Salaam ...

30. Desmond Nakano

Writer | American Pastime

Desmond Nakano was born in 1953. He is a writer and director, known for American Pastime (2007), Heartbreak Ridge (1986) and White Man's Burden (1995).

31. Albert Pyun

Director | Cyborg

Albert Pyun is an award-winning American filmmaker best known for his contributions to the science-fiction and action genres. He is credited with pioneering the cyborg sub-genre and is considered to be a maverick and renegade in independent genre cinema. With over 50 titles to his name, he has ...

32. Phillip Rhee

Actor | Best of the Best

Phillip Rhee is a master martial artist, actor and filmmaker best known for creating the "BEST of the BEST" film franchise with his producing partner and mentor Peter E. Strauss (Former Chairman of Lions Gate) and Frank Giustra, a Canadian Billionaire and founder of Lions Gate. The first "Best of ...

33. Ryan Shiraki

Writer | Poster Boy

Ryan Shiraki is known for his work on Poster Boy (2004), Get Him to the Greek (2010) and Spring Breakdown (2009).

34. 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).

35. Wayne Wang

Director | Smoke

Wayne Wang was born on January 12, 1949 in Hong Kong. He is a director and producer, known for Smoke (1995), Maid in Manhattan (2002) and Chan Is Missing (1982). He is married to Cora Miao.

36. Jessica Yu

Director | Fosse/Verdon

Jessica Yu was born in 1966 as Jessica Lingman Yu. She is a director and producer, known for Fosse/Verdon (2019), Billions (2016) and Maria Bamford: Old Baby (2017). She is married to Mark Salzman.

37. James Boss

Actor | Eternity

James Boss, eldest of two children, was born in Hollywood, California and raised in Hacienda Heights, California by Korean American parents Sun Kim, and Young W. Kim.

He began martial arts training at the age of 6. Upon graduating high school, he attended The Art Institute of Los Angeles studying ...

38. 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), Live Fast, Die Laughing and Powder Blue (2009).

39. 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 ...

41. Tanuj Chopra

Director | Grin

Enrolled in the prestigious Master of Fine Arts in Film degree program at the Columbia University School of the Arts in New York City (September 2001)

42. 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 ...

43. James Wong Howe

Cinematographer | Hud

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 ...

44. 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 ...

46. So Yong Kim

Director | Na-moo-eobs-neun san

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

47. Ernie Reyes Jr.

Actor | Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

Ernie Reyes Jr. was born on January 15, 1972 in San Jose, California, USA as Ernest E. Reyes. He is an actor and producer, known for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991), The Rundown (2003) and Red Sonja (1985). He has been married to Lisa Reyes since November 11, 2009.

48. 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.

49. 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).

50. Darion Basco

Actor | Cesar Chavez

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



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