Asian American Film Series Returns to Santa Barbara’s Alhecama Theater

Free Screenings Courtesy of Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

Credit: Courtesy

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s (SBTHP) 13th annual Asian American Film Series returns in person this month with two free screenings at the historic Alhecama Theater on July 22 and 29, both at 6 p.m. Each year the AAFS films are selected by SBTHP’s Asian American Affinity Group made up of local AAPI community members who volunteer their time to help SBTHP organize events that commemorate and celebrate Asian American cultures, history, and heritage.

Credit: Courtesy

SBTHP has presented the Asian American Film Series since 2010 in an effort to not just explore the history and cultures of the Asian communities that once thrived in and around the Santa Barbara Presidio neighborhood, but also to elevate films that speak to the experiences of Asian Americans in the western United States.

The first film of this year’s series, A Vanished Dream: Wartime Story of My Japanese Grandfather, follows photojournalist Regina Boone’s family history. Boone’s grandfather was a Japanese immigrant arrested on the day of the Pearl Harbor attack, never to be heard from again. The film follows her on her quest to uncover the mysteries behind his disappearance.

The second AAFS film selection, Director Isaac Halasima’s Waterman, highlights five-time Olympic medalist and Native Hawaiian Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, who shattered records and brought surfing to the world while overcoming a lifetime of personal challenges.

Regina Boone, Isaac Halasima, and Waterman Producer David Ulich will be present for Q&As following the screenings. 

Featuring smaller scale and at times more personal and even local films, last year’s selections included Sonzai: Japantown Santa Barbara by filmmakers Barre Fong and Koji Ozawa. Sonzai tells the story of Santa Barbara’s Nihonmachi, home to hundreds of people of Japanese descent prior to the second World War and Japanese internment. Inside the visitor’s center of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, is an exhibit celebrating the Japanese American community filled with personal family photos graciously donated by members from the Nihonmachi community.

For more information on the Asian American Film Series, visit

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