Asian Language & Heritage

Join these characters as they learn about their heritage and culture and make friends along the way. Packed with Festival winners, this series contains top notch films that explore Asian traditions from dance to martial arts.

All programs include theatrical screening and media education.

How to book?
Book a field trip or in-school session today.
Phone: 773.281.9075 ext. 3040

How much does it cost?
Field trips: Tickets are $6 per kid for groups of 25 or more and $7 for groups under 25. Chaperones attend free of charge based on an approximate 10:1 ratio of students to chaperones—there is a $10 fee for each additional chaperone. Refreshment packages are available.

In-School sessions: Session cost is determined by class size. We charge $8 per kid for groups of 50 or more, but there is a minimum fee of $400 for groups of 50 or less. There is an additional $100 fee for each additional 20 miles from Chicago.

Film still from  Light of the River

Light of the River

Grades Pre-K–K

Told through gorgeous Japanese animation, this feature film celebrates the splendor of untouched nature, the freedom of embracing new challenges, and the joy of discovering new neighbors.

In this two- time award winner for animation at the 2010 Chicago International Children's Film Festival, A unique family of rats sets out on a long journey to find a safe place to call home. Forced out of their peaceful riverbank by construction, the country rat family encounters many challenges, but also kindness from new city-animal friends.

90 mins with media education. In Japanese with English subtitles.


Film still from Chinese Language program

Chinese Language Films

Grades 5–8

Appreciate the unique countryside, languages, and cultures in this beautiful and compelling collection of short films.

2013 Festival award-winner, Tamiri's Summer is the story of immediate heartfelt cultural identification. Tamiri is drawn to the power and beauty of the Matouqin (pictured), when his uncle visits the family's grassland home. With dedication and love, Tamiri proves he can give voice to this beloved Mongolian instrument. In the next short, profound friendships develop between Chung, a 13 year-old exchange student from the Mainland and new friends on an Indonesian island, despite immediate differences.

In the last film, First Prize winner from the CICFF 2013 children's jury, the documentary short Breaking Ice takes a look at the journey from Taiwan to the furthest and coldest region of remote China, in Inner Mongolia. Tongtong has never seen snow, nor such beautiful, endless mountains. Along with external journeys and discoveries come internal revelations as Tongtong feels deeper connections among the generations in her family.

Themes: Rural and urban daily life, generations, traditional culture (music), geographic differences.

Films: Tamiri's Summer, Friends at 2,000 Miles Away, and Breaking Ice.,

90 mins with media education. In Mandarin, Mongolian, and Hakka with English subtitles.


Film still from The Azemichi Road

The Azemichi Road

Grades 6–8

In this compelling Japanese film, the characters explore the communicative power of artistic expression and the beauty of compassion. See why this film is an award winner of the 2009 Chicago International Children's Film Festival.

The students on the "Jump Girls" dance team have one thing on their mind—to win a spot in the upcoming national dance competition! But tensions arise among the girls when Rena, the team's charismatic and popular leader, encourages a hearing-impaired student named Yuuki to join the squad. Do the girls have what it takes to overcome their differences and reach the national championships?

105 mins with media education. In Japanese with English subtitles.


Film still from Dragon Girls

Dragon Girls


Grades 6–9

Director Inigo Westmeier gives his audience an exclusive look at a staple of Asian culture, martial arts, in this thoughtful ode to adolescence.

The insightful documentary feature film follows three brave young girls and their studies at the traditional Tagou Martial Arts School: Xin Chenxi, nine, specializes in the art of swords and hopes to make her father proud by winning first place at the national championships; Chen Xi, 15, concentrates on boxing while battling the pain of growing up without her parents; and Huang Luolan, 16, cannot decide whether to remain or to leave her life of kung fu and pursue her passion outside of the walls of Tagou. Each girl must examine what kung fu means to her while overcoming homesickness, pressures at school, and maturing into a young woman.

Themes: boarding school daily life: its structure and disciplines, overcoming homesickness; traditional culture (martial arts); gender empowerment (girls); coming-of-age; career aspirations.

110 mins with media education. In Mandarin with English subtitles.


  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation