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 (No More Babies) 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.


  • “35 Years After Vincent Chin's Murder, How Has America Changed?” Asia Society Blog, July, 2017
  • “#DocsSoWhite: A Personal Reflection,” Documentary Magazine, August, 2016
  • “Tom Joslin and Mark Massi's 'Silverlake Life: The View from Here',” Documentary Magazine, May 2016.
  • “Toward a Third Wave: Why Media Matters in Asian American Studies,” Journal of Asian American Studies, John Hopkins University Press, 17:1, February 2014.
  • "Yuri Kochiyama and the Politics of Love." Amerasia Journal 40.3 (2014): 21-27.
  • The Scholar & Feminist Online, “Más Bebés?”: An Investigation of the Sterilization of Mexican-American Women at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the 1960s and 70s, “ Life (Un)Ltd: Feminism, Biosciences, Race, Barnard College, 2013
  • “EthnoCommunications.” Co-author, Gena Hamamoto, in M. Danico (Ed.), Asian American society: An encyclopedia. (Vol. 5, pp. 328-330). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.2014
  • "Chin, Vincent." Asian American Society: An Encyclopedia. Ed. Mary Yu Danico. Vol. 3 Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2014
  • "Yuri Kochiyama," Encyclopedia of American Studies, The John Hopkins University Press, 2010
  • "Yellow Peril Smackdown: A Night at the Chinese American Museum" exhibition catalogue monograph for the exhibit, "Hollywood Chinese" at the Los Angeles Chinese American Museum , 2009
  • "East Meets Wax: The Cover Art of the Flower Drum Song Album," essay in catalogue, Chop Suey on Wax: The Flower Drum Song Album, pp. 5-6 exhibition, Chinese Historical Society of America, 2006
  • “Fast Forward to History,” guest editors Henry Yu and Mae M. Ngai, Amerasia Journal: The Politics of Remembering, UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 2002."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.
  • "Site-Seeing Through Asian America," Avery F. Gordon and Christopher Newfield, editors, Mapping Multiculturalism, Minneapolis, The University of Minnesota Press, 1996
  • "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,
  • "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.


  • Co-Producer, Nikkei Democracy Project: The American Concentration Camp You May Not Know; Happy Birthday Yuri Kochiyama; This is Who the FBI Came For After Pearl Harbor; A Vigilant Love; Leah’s Story, 2017
  • Director/Co-Producer, No Más Bebés. National broadcast PBS “Independent Lens Series.”
  • Co-Producer/Director/Videographer, Gabriel’s Heart Mountain, 2013
  • 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.
  • Producer/director/writer, My America... or Honk if You Love Buddha. National broadcast: PBS, Oxygen TV Network, cablecast France and Europe, 1997.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, directed by Raoul Peck, premiered at Berlin International Film Festival, broadcast ZDF Television, 1987.


  • Visual Communications Past/Forward Award
  • Chinese Historical Society of Southern California Golden Spike Award
  • American Historical Association John E. O’Connor Film Award
  • Organization of American Historians Erik Barnouw Award
  • Chancellors Achievement Award for Diversity, UC Santa Cruz
  • Don T. Nakanishi Award for Outstanding Engaged Scholarship
  • Yvonne B. Burke Courage Award, 2016 John Anson Ford Human Relations Award, County of Los Angeles
  • Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice “Justice Award”
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, Creative Arts – Film and Video
  • United States Artists Broad Fellowship in Media
  • Gaea Foundation Sea Change Residency
  • Alpert Award in the Arts, Film/Video
  • Rockefeller Foundation Intercultural Film/Video Fellowship
  • New York Foundation on the Arts Fellow in Film
  • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Award
  • International Documentary Association Distinguished Achievement Award
  • Dupont-Columbia University Award
  • Peabody Award
  • Cine Golden Eagle
  • Retrospective, Virginia Film Festival
  • Featured Artist, Flaherty International Film Seminar