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Streaming Video Guides

Use this guide to find streaming alternatives to Media Services DVDs.

Area Studies -- Central and East Asia

Titles Available as of July 2022

This is a selective list of streaming video holdings in the American University Library. Streaming guides are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the library catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. For complete up-to-date streaming holdings, please refer to our streaming catalog.


Ancient China

From the creation legend of Panku to the demise of the Han Dynasty, this program traces Chinese history and explores the roots of Chinese culture today. Visit the Great Wall of China as scholars discuss why it remains even today a symbol of oppression, exemplified in the legend of the weeping woman; the Imperial Palace and how it exemplifies Chinese beliefs in harmony; and the Beijing Opera, whose works are an elaborate retelling of traditional folktales. The influences of Buddhism, ancestor worship, and Taoism in China are also discussed, along with stunning footage of the Buddhist caves and the terra-cotta army. 

Bank of China, Hong Kong

Created in 1990 by world renowned architect IM Pei, the Bank of China in Hong Kong put Asia on the skyscraper map and stands like a diamond amongst the island's forest of towers. But behind the architecture lies a tall political tale-one of a global superpower marking its territory. China wanted the world to know that Hong Kong would soon be under its rule-and used this skyscraper to prove it. But with only a small budget to make a big statement, building this tower wasn't easy-especially when its fiercest rival had built the most expensive tower in the world literally next door. 

Balapan, the Wings of the Altai

In the Deloun valley of western Mongolia, men struggle to keep their sheep herd alive from hungry wolves. To fight back, they have decided to organize a massive wolves hunt with their tamed eagle. Khoda Bergen, is 14 years-old and dreams of participating in the hunt. Before that however, he will first have to capture and train a Balapan, a young eagle.

Bittersweet Joke

Examines the experiences of single mothers in South Korea, where there remains a strong social taboo against single parenthood.

China: Heritage of the Wild Dragon

The fine loess soil of the Yellow River basin quickly established that region as the home of China's earliest recorded dynasty. This program focuses primarily on Bronze Age China and the contributions of the Yin (or Shang) dynasty, with a tangential emphasis on the reign of the Qins. Commentary by Tang Jigen, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and other experts; archival film of the excavation of Yinxu; armor and artifacts from the tomb of Qin Shihuangdi; footage of loess being used to replicate intricate Yin-era bronzes; and incredible 3-D computer animation provide penetrating insights into the history of ancient China. 

China: The Rebirth of an Empire

Can China replace the U.S. as the world's preeminent power? And if it did, what type of power would it wield? In Pakistan and Afghanistan, China's investment in infrastructure along with a flow of low-cost goods has beat out U.S. foreign policy in winning the hearts of the people. Yet China's relations with India become strained over the issue of Tibet, and in Hong Kong brutal crackdowns on Falun Gong make a mockery of the slogan "one country, two systems." This program travels throughout Asia to study the relationships China has with its closest neighbors, and to examine the U.S.-China balance of power. Chalmers Johnson (The Blowback Trilogy) discusses American hegemony, Rebiya Kadeer addresses concerns of the Uyghur minority, and exiled dissident Wei Jingshen provides commentary throughout.

China 2000 BC

Between 2000 B.C. and 221 B.C., many civilizations developed in the area now known as China--and each had its own distinct language, culture and gods. This series unveils remarkable new archaeological discoveries that provide clues about how exactly these civilizations merged into one Chinese culture over the course of several centuries. This program explores how the idea of Zhong-hua (Sinocentrism) was forged in ancient China and finally utilized by the First Emperor of Qin to bind many people under one flag. 

Cinema Asia: China

With the abyss of the Cultural Revolution far behind it, cinema in the People's Republic of China is as vital and complex as any in the world. This program examines the so-called Fifth and Sixth generations of Chinese filmmakers, exploring their thematic and stylistic differences and their varying approaches to domestic and international markets. It also looks at underground auteurs who use "movie cafes" to reach viewers and evade censors. China on Screen coauthor Dr. Chris Berry, director Feng Xiaogang, and others provide commentary, while tours of Hengdian World Studios and the Beijing Film Studio offer additional glimpses inside the industry. The careers of Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou are discussed. Several film excerpts are included. 

The Collapse of the Aral Sea Ecosystem

The Aral Sea used to be one of the world's largest and most productive inland bodies of water until a Soviet plan to turn Central Asia into the greatest cotton-producer on Earth destroyed it. Now mostly a sterile lake amidst a desert poisoned by decades of fertilizer and pesticide runoff, the Aral Sea, itself ruined, is ruining the lives of all who still live near it. This program details the irreversible damage to the ecosystem and the resulting health problems being faced by the remaining inhabitants of the region. "The Aral Sea and the tragic plight of its people is not a freak, isolated event, but a crisis that is just slightly ahead of its time," says host David Suzuki. 

Essence of Being Japanese

Japan in the modern age: a people existing between the protection of the kami and the geological dangers of earthquake. This program covers the cataclysmic events of the 20th century-the devastating earthquake of 1923, the rise of militarism, the accession of Emperor Hirohito, the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, the Pacific War, Hiroshima, and the American occupation of Japan-but its primary focus is on what makes Japan Japanese: the Shinto rituals which are part of modern mercantile life; such societal traits as conformism and determination, attitudes toward violence and brutality, business ethics and the life of the salary man, the attitude toward ethics, and the role of the kami in modern Japan

Examining the "Economic Miracle" of East Asia

Walk into any bookstore these days and you’ll see at least half a dozen books on what American business executives can learn from Japanese managers. But there’s more to the lesson than just the techniques of management. In this program with Bill Moyers, Peter Berger discusses how studying the "economic miracle" of East Asia can also reveal some important truths about the state of our democracy, and about the character of individuals within the capitalist system. Berger—a professor at Boston University and director of the Institute for the Study of Economic Culture—analyzes the Japanese style of capitalism and argues that what works for one country may not necessarily work for another.

The Gate of Heavenly Peace, Tiananmen Square, June 4th, 1989

With startling immediacy, this short film captures the shock and horror the Chinese students experienced when government troops opened fire on them in Tiananmen Square. We hear students rallying for democracy just moments before they were to be gunned down. Skillfully compiled from still photographs smuggled out of China, eyewitness accounts, and news sound tracks, it recreates this tragic event in Chinese history. This unforgettable document will remind Americans that the dream of democracy does not come without sacrifice. From high school students studying world events to "Asia watchers" at universities, this film is a must. 

The Gods Come Home: China's Traditional Faiths Persevere

After decades of Communist oppression and neglect, Buddhist temples are now thriving across China. But are Buddhism and Taoism even relevant in a country that has thoroughly embraced materialism? How does government bureaucracy affect those religions? And can far older spiritual traditions survive in such a rapidly evolving society? This program addresses those questions as it visits monasteries and temples in Shanghai and in rural, economically disadvantaged areas. Following the daily practices of a frugal and soft-spoken monk, the film also features wealthy, high-profile Buddhist officials and interviews China's Minister of Religious Affairs, who encourages Buddhism but frowns on folk religions.  

Human Flow

Human Flow, an epic film journey led by the internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei, gives a powerful visual expression to this massive human migration. The documentary elucidates both the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact. Captured over the course of an eventful year in 23 countries, the film follows a chain of urgent human stories that stretches across the globe in countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, and Turkey. Human Flow is a witness to its subjects and their desperate search for safety, shelter and justice: from teeming refugee camps to perilous ocean crossings to barbed wire borders; from dislocation and disillusionment to courage, endurance and adaptation; from the haunting lure of lives left behind to the unknown potential of the future. 

Isang Yun Inbetween North and South Korea

This documentary, filmed in North and South Korea, explores whether music can overcome the boundaries of a divided country. There is one figure of the two Koreas, whose outstanding biography in itself forms a bridge between both worlds: The Korean composer Isang Yun, one of the very few people acknowledged on both sides. The film traces the course of a life that has been interpreted in different ways, examining the worlds of North and South Korean music and in this way taking the viewer on an exciting journey through two political systems that Isang Yun spent his life trying to reconcile. 

Islamic Art: Africa and Central Asia

Continuing his trek across the Muslim world, art scholar Waldemar Januszczak introduces viewers to masterworks in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia-from the gigantic and surreal mud mosques of Mali; to a rare, 10th-century Egyptian ewer carved out of a single piece of rock crystal; to the inspired urban planning of the ancient city of Isfahan in Iran; to the stunning architecture of Uzbekistan's Samarquand. Januszczak shares his knowledge of the Sunni-Shiite schism and its artistic implications, the Fatimid influence evident in Cairo's Al-Azhar mosque, and the vast debt which Gothic architecture owes to the arches and filigrees of medieval Islamic building design. 

The Korean War

In June 1950, North Korean troops invaded South Korea, igniting the Korean War. This documentary feature remarkable battlefield and combat footage of offensives at Pork Chop Hill, the Choisin Reservoir, Heartbreak Ridge and more. 


We continue our 8,000 kilometer journey across the old silk routes, traveling west from China, across remote deserts and snow-topped mountains, to explore the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan. Sumnima Udas begns her journey at the China-Kazakhstan border exploring the countryside on a train destined for Uzbekistan. Other topics include Astana's architectural progress, the Green Bazaar in Almaty, and whitewater rafting at Turgen Gorge.  

A Leaf Blown on the Winds of History: China's Last Emperor

Groomed for power by the Dowager Empress, three-year-old Aisin-Gioro Puyi ascended China's imperial throne in 1908. This program illustrates the early years of his sporadic reign, his education under Scottish tutor Reginald Johnston, and the shifting of his political fortunes at the mercy of international events. Puyi's eviction from the Forbidden City during his teenage years, his Westernized playboy lifestyle, and his manifold marriages and liaisons all come to life through rarely seen archival footage, eyewitness interviews, and Puyi's own writings. The episode concludes at the height of the Japanese occupation, during which Puyi lost all semblance of authority and became a puppet ruler. 

Mongolian Bling

Forget about nomads and monks! It's hip hop that's making Mongolia move in the 21st century. Mongolian Bling jumps into the thriving music scene in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and follows stars as they rap nationwide with their bitches, cars, and jewels. But beyond this bling lies a failed democracy, and a dying ancient culture that the elders mourn the loss of. While many artists still aspire to the West, a handful are using hip hop to try and salvage their country's flailing democracy, and bringing Mongolia's rich musical history into their modern beats and rhymes. 

The Opium Wars

In this program we trace the origins, course and outcomes of the Boxer Rebellion and its role in crippling China's last imperial dynasty. The transformation of China from a traditional empire into a republic is a fascinating tribute to 'people power', in even the most trying of circumstances. Students of history will find this an engaging and informative resource. 

Orkhon Valley, Mongolia 

The 471-square-mile Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape encompasses an extensive area of pastureland on both banks of the Orkhon River and includes numerous archaeological remains dating back to the 6th century. The site also includes Kharkhorum, the 13th- and 14th-century capital of Chingis (Genghis) Khan’s vast empire. Collectively the remains in the site reflect the symbiotic links between nomadic, pastoral societies and their administrative and religious centers while also reflecting the importance of the Orkhon Valley in the history of Central Asia. The grassland is still grazed by Mongolian nomadic pastoralists. 

Queer China, ‘Comrade’ China 

In this feature length documentary, we interviewed 30 prominent figures in the LGBT community, who have experienced the sea changes of views and lifes lifestyles regarding homosexuality in the past 30 years. By documenting and preserving a significant part of our history, we aim to investigate the present and explore the future.

The Raw and the Cooked

Taiwan is known around the world as having one of the most diverse cuisines in Asia, and food is the foremost passion of its 23 million inhabitants. "The Raw and the Cooked" is a sumptuous exploration of the island’s rich culinary traditions, and their relationship to Taiwan’s unique mix of cultures. We enter the world-renowned restaurant, Shin Yeh, atop the city's Taipei 101 skyscraper; are treated to a mathematically precise lesson on how to eat soup-filled xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung, Taiwan's most celebrated dumpling house; and visit Shitiping, where aboriginal chef, Ladibisse, makes a bouillabaisse inside a tree trunk, cooked by heated stones. The grand finale is set at Jindou Restaurant in Pulin, where fusion chef, Liu Heng-hong, offers spectacular edible objects such as roses, paper, bitter gourds, water bamboo, and ailanthus-like prickly ash, leaving the viewer hungry for more. 

The Real Dr. Evil

North Koreans call him "dear leader." President Bush calls him part of an "axis of evil." Kidnapper, terrorist, and likely nuclear tyrant also apply. This program uses extensive newsreel footage, archival materials, and exclusive interviews to create a biographical and psychological profile of Kim Jong Il in order to understand what motivates his sometimes bizarre and often tragic deeds. Interviews include former bodyguards, a former central committee member, a former North Korean spy, CIA profilers, Pentagon advisers, former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg, and Selig Harrison, author of Korean Endgame. 

Samarkand, Uzbekistan

The historic town of Samarkand is a crossroad and melting pot of the world’s cultures. Founded in the 7th century B.C. as ancient Afrasiab, Samarkand had its most significant development in the Timurid period from the 14th to the 15th centuries. The major monuments include the Registan Mosque and madrasas, Bibi-Khanum Mosque, the Shakhi-Zinda compound and the Gur-Emir ensemble, as well as Ulugh-Beg’s Observatory. 

Spirits of the State: Japan's Yasukuni Shrine

Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine honors and venerates the spirits of Japanese soldiers and officers-including convicted and executed war criminals. This program explores the history of the Shinto shrine, the complexity of its functions, and the controversies generated when political leaders appear there. Interviews with visitors, an inside look at the shrine's adjacent museum of war memorabilia, and a discussion of what has become known as "state Shinto" create a context in which reverence for the enshrined may be understood. A rare view of Japanese nationalism and the political use of religious traditions, Spirits of the State offers valuable insight into the continuing and contested legacies of World War II. 

Stone Dream

This film touches the sensitive issue of national and ethnic identity in Taiwan. Lui Pi-Chia is the main character from Director Chen Yao-Chi's 1965 film "Liu Pi-Chia"; once forced into the army in China, he came to Taiwan with President Chiang Kai-Shek. Several decades later, filmmaker Hu Tai-Li unexpectedly meets this familiar character, now living in a village on the banks of the Mukua River.

To the Light: Chinese Miners

The bright lights of China’s booming economy are powered by the hard labor of the miners, who work deep in perilous coal shafts around the country. When a miner dies, his family receives a death pension greater than the amount of money he would have made in his lifetime had he stayed alive. In rural China, where farming alone cannot sustain families, miners have no alternative but to risk their lives daily, descending hundreds of meters underground to dig out the black ore fueling China’s massive electrical grid. To the Light delves into the hopes and struggles of the mining families of Sichuan, in western China. 

Two-Way Traffic: China, the Hub of the East

China's Great Wall suggests a land that shut itself off from the world, yet travelers, ideas, inventions, and goods have flowed in and out of China since ancient times. Buddhism and Islam entered via its fabled silk roads, and innovations in the arts and industrial sciences were exported from its cosmopolitan seaports to the centers of the known world. Why, then, did the most powerful economy on Earth isolate itself from outside trade? In this program, archaeologists, scholars, and others shed light on the tides of China's cultural and economic fortunes, from ancient times to today, as the country once again opens its doors to the world. 

Under the Sun 

After years of negotiation the Russian director Vitaly Mansky was invited by the North Korean government to make a film about one girl and her family, in the year she prepares to join the Children's Union, on the 'Day of the Shining Star' (Kim Jong-Il's birthday). 'My father says that Korea is the most beautiful country...' says eight-year-old Zin-mi. And so it might seem as Mansky films her participating in joyous patriotic school pageants, in dance class, or with her parents, eating delicious food, in their lovely apartment. But the government handlers supervising the production did not realize that Mansky kept filming even after they had shouted 'Cut.' Under the Sun is the jaw-dropping result, a 'surreal and sinister... real-life version of The Truman Show' (The Hollywood Reporter). 

The Unfortunate Generation: Cultural Revolution and Beyond

Within two years of the Cultural Revolution, armed factions battled each other in Mao's name. To avoid civil war, Mao essentially banished his detractors to the countryside. This program chronicles the Cultural Revolution, its aftermath, and the role of Mao's wife, Jiang Qing. Scholars, diplomats, and survivors discuss the forced labor camps known as "Schools of May 7th"; the attacks on foreign consulates in Hong Kong and Beijing; China's support of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge; and the trial of the "Gang of Four." The program concludes with Deng Xiaoping opening China to the West. 

The Unwinking Gaze: Inside Story of Dalai Lama's Struggle for Tibet

Filmed over the course of three years, this documentary offers viewers unprecedented access to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his inner circle as they work together to convince the Chinese government of the need for a negotiated settlement on the future of Tibet. The result is a truly unique portrait of a widely revered world leader as he struggles to strike a balance between his spiritual beliefs and the realpolitik required to draw an extremely reluctant China into discussion.

The War of Growing Up

This series on contemporary China is filmed from an insiders point of view. It portrays the daily lives of ordinary people living in one of its busiest and most iconic cities. The three episodes provide a window into China today, an opportunity to assess the similarities and learn from the differences between our cultures.It is the first day of school in Grade 4 of the Shanghai Experimental Primary School. The film follows the chlldren through the whole semester as they learn, misbehave, flirt, play and take exams. Their teachers observe their behavior and progress and share insights with each other.The focus is on three children, including Gu, a smart boy but a show off, who is often in trouble for fighting and is teased by his classmates for crying when he is ignored.One of the remarkable features of this film is the naturalness of the pupils who seem oblivious to being filmed. The documentary allows the viewer to see the educational system in China at work. When some children do poorly on a math test the whole class loses points. But much attention is paid to each individual child and the teachers strive to maintain discipline and academic success. In this spontaneous film we see the formation of new generation of Chinese children. 

Warming Up in Mongolia

Ulaan Baatar is the coldest capital city in the world, with winter lasting for seven months of the year. Following the collapse of communist rule in 1991, increasing numbers of Mongolians are moving into the city, where they mostly live in sprawling, polluted and unplanned slums. Today the Mongolian Government is working with international development agencies in an attempt to ensure a sustainable transition into the modern world. This Life film looks at how Mongolia is powering itself. All electricity produced in Mongolia comes from fossil fuels. What can be done to repair environmental damage and introduce sustainable alternatives? Life examines the long-term environmental implications of exhausting Mongolia's natural resources--global warming, environmental degradation, desertification--and asks, what clean technological solutions are there to Mongolia's problems?


Arrows of the Thunder Dragon

Set in the 1970s in the ancient Himalayan Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, this film follows the drama of a brother and sister who live in a remote village. They tradtional archery from their old warrior grandfather. Featuring a cast entirely made up of local actors, the film offers a window into the traditional medieval life of this tiny, isolated country. 

The Bodyguard

Sanjuro, a wandering samurai enters a rural town in nineteenth century Japan. After learning from the innkeeper that the town is divided between two gangsters, he plays one side off against the other. His efforts are complicated by the arrival of the wily Unosuke, the son of one of the gangsters, who owns a revolver. Unosuke has Sanjuro beaten after he reunites an abducted woman with her husband and son, then massacres his father's opponents. During the slaughter, the samurai escapes with the help of the innkeeper; but while recuperating at a nearby temple, he learns of innkeeper's abduction by Unosuke, and returns to the town to confront him. 

11 Flowers 

One of China's foremost directors, Wang Xiaoshuai (Beijing Bicycle) has created a moving coming-of-age tale set in the final days of China's Cultural Revolution. 11-year-old Wang lives with his family in a remote village in Guizhou province. Life is tough, but they make the most of what little they have. When Wang is selected to lead his school in their daily gymnastics, his teacher recommends that he wear a clean, new shirt, which forces his family to make a great sacrifice. Soon after, Wang has a strange encounter with a wounded, desperate man - a man on the run.

Farewell My Concubine

Farewell, My Concubine is a movie with two parallel, intertwined stories. It is the story of two performers in the Beijing Opera, stage brothers, and the woman who comes between them. At the same time, it attempts to do no less than squeeze the entire political history of China in the twentieth century into a three-hour time-frame. 

The Fate of Lee Khan

Set during the Yuan Dynasty in China, the people organize and wage a great uprising against their Mongolian oppressors.  

In the Mood for Love 

Hong Kong, 1962: Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) and Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung Man-yuk) move into neighboring apartments on the same day. Their encounters are formal and polite-until a discovery about their spouses creates an intimate bond between them. At once delicately mannered and visually extravagant, Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love is a masterful evocation of romantic longing and fleeting moments.. With its aching musical soundtrack and exquisitely abstract cinematography by Christopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping-bin, this film has been a major stylistic influence on the past decade of cinema, and is a milestone in Wong's redoubtable career.. 


A clan chief dies, and his place is taken by a look-alike who had previously overlooked battlefields while the chief was somewhere else. Nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Film. 

Princess Yang Kwei Fei 

In eighth century China, the Emperor is grieving over the death of his wife. The Yang family wants to provide the Emperor with a consort so that they may consolidate their influence over the court. General An Lushan finds a distant relative working in their kitchen whom they groom to present to the Emperor. The Emperor falls in love with her and she becomes the Princess Yang Kwei-fei. The Yangs are then appointed important ministers, though An Lushan is not given the court position he covets. The ministers misuse their power so much that there is a popular revolt against all the Yangs, fueled by An Lushan. 

Raise the Red Lantern

A young woman becomes the fourth wife of a wealthy lord, and must learn to live with the strict rules and tensions within the household. 

The Story of Qiu Ju 

A pregnant peasant woman seeks redress from the Chinese bureaucracy after the village chief kicks her husband in the groin in this comedy of justice. As she is frustrated by each level of the hierarchy and travels farther and farther away from the countryside the viewer is also provided with a look at the changing Chinese society through the verite camera used in most scenes.