Renee Tajima-Peña


3336 Rolfe Hall
Box 957225
Los Angeles, CA 90095


Class Websites


B.A., Cum Laude in East Asian Studies and Sociology, Harvard-Radcliffe College, 1980

Areas of Interest

Social documentary film, video and transmedia production, focusing on Asian American and immigrant communities, race, gender, and social change.


Professor Renee Tajima-Peña is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker whose credits include the documentaries, Calavera HighwaySkate ManzanarLabor WomenMy America...or Honk if You Love Buddha and Who Killed Vincent Chin? Her films have premiered at the Cannes, Locarno, New Directors/New Films, San Francisco, Sundance and Toronto film festivals and the Whitney Biennial.

Her current works are the documentary and transmedia project, No Más Bebés Por Vida (No More Babies For Life) about the sterilization of Mexican-origin women at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the 1960s and 70s, and an interactive history documentary and video game-based learning project on the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans, Building History 3.0.

Tajima-Peña has been deeply involved in the Asian American independent film community as an activist, writer and filmmaker.  She was the director at Asian Cine-Vision in New York and a founding member of the Center for Asian American Media (formerly National Asian American Telecommunications Association.  As a writer, she was a film critic for The Village Voice, a cultural commentator for National Public Radio and editor of Bridge: Asian American Perspectives.


  • “Toward a Third Wave: Why Media Matters in Asian American Studies,” Journal of Asian American Studies, John Hopkins University Press, 17:1, February 2014.
  • “Fast Forward to History,” guest editors Henry Yu and Mae M. Ngai, Amerasia Journal: The Politics of Remembering, UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 2002.
  • Co-Producer, God Willing, PBS, 2010.
  • Co-Executive Producer, Whatever It Takes.  National broadcast: PBS “Independent Lens Series,” 2009.
  • Producer/director/co-writer, Calavera Highway. National broadcast: PBS's "P.O.V." series, 2008.
  • Director, Mexico Story of The New Americans series. National broadcast: PBS's "Independent Lens," BBC4, SBS Australia, VPRO Netherlands, DR Denmark, NOGA Israel, CBC Canada, 2004.
  • Senior Producer/Segment Director, My Journey Home. National broadcast: presented by WETA on PBS, 2004.
  • Producer/director, Labor Women. Broadcast on selected PBS stations, 2002.
  • Producer/director, Skate Manzanar.  Roger Shimomura's for the multi-media performance piece, "Amnesia," premiered at the Bellevue Art Museum, Seattle, 2001.
  • "No Mo Po Mo and Other Tales of the Road," Darrell Hamamoto and Sandra Liu, editors, Countervisions: Asian American Film Criticism, Temple University Press, 2001
  • Producer/director/writer, The Last Beat Movie. National broadcast: Sundance Channel, 1998.
  • Producer/director/writer, My America... or Honk if You Love Buddha. National broadcast: PBS, Oxygen TV Network, cablecast France and Europe, 1997.
  • "Site-Seeing Through Asian America," Avery F. Gordon and Christopher Newfield, editors, Mapping Multiculturalism, Minneapolis, The University of Minnesota Press, 1996
  • Audio artist, 1-800-Desire, created audio installation piece performed by Jessica Hagedorn and Robbie McCauley for Those Fluttering Objects of Desire collective project conceived by Shu Lea Cheang, premiered at the 1993 Whitney Biennial.
  • Senior Producer, Declarations: All Men Are Created Equal? and Segment Director, The Ballad of Demetrio Rodriguez.  National broadcast: PBS, 1993.
  • Director/writer, Jennifer’s in Jail.  National broadcast: Lifetime Television, 1992.
  • "Moving the Image," Russell Leong, editor, Moving the Image: Asian American Independent Cinema, Los Angeles, UCLA Asian American Studies Center and Visual Studies, Southern California Asian American Studies Center, Inc, 1991,
  • Co-director/writer, The Best Hotel on Skid Row. National Broadcast: Home Box Office, 1990.
  • Producer/director/writer, What the Americans Really Think of the Japanese.  National broadcast: Fujisankei, 1990.
  • Executive producer/co-director, Yellow Tale Blues, 1990.
  • "Lotus Blossoms Don't Bleed: Images of Asian Women," Making Waves: An Anthology of Writing By and About Asian American Women, Boston, Beacon Press, 1989.
  • Producer/co-director, Who Killed Vincent Chin?  Named as one of the ND/NF Classics: Ten Documentaries from Twenty Years of New Directors/New Films, Museum of Modern Art and Film Society of Lincoln Center 20th Anniversary Retrospective. National broadcast: PBS's "P.O.V." series, Tokyo Broadcasting System, 1988.
  • Co-producer, Haitian Corner, premiered at Berlin International Film Festival, broadcast ZDF Television, 1987.


  • Guggenheim Fellowship, Creative Arts – Film and Video
  • United States Artists Broad Fellowship in Media
  • Alpert Award in the Arts, Film/Video
  • Rockefeller Foundation Intercultural Film/Video Fellowship
  • New York Foundation on the Arts Fellow in Film
  • International Documentary Association Distinguished Achievement Award
  • Dupont-Columbia University Award
  • Peabody Award
  • Retrospective, Virginia Film Festival and Featured Artist, Flaherty International Film Seminar