Filmmaker Manx Taiki Magyar has long had a passion for film.

Documentary to Explore What it Means to be Asian in America

What does it mean to be Asian in America?

It’s a question that Manx Taiki Magyar of Hyannis, has wrestled with his entire life. “Growing up half-Japanese in Sandwich in the 2000s, I was one of the only people of color in my school and broader community,” he said.

Thanks to an $8,270 grant from the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Magyar will explore the topic as part of a short documentary, “Unerased: A Film About Asian Voices on Cape Cod”, that he is making with Erica Tso Haidas of Brewster, owner of Belonging Books.

The project is personal to both Magyar and Haidas, who is first generation Chinese-Canadian. “Erica brought the idea to me about interviewing Asian people on Cape Cod,” Magyar said. “Izzy [Isabelle Caplan, the film’s producer] has also been very involved. The three of us came together and it started out as a very small project, but this grant is huge for us.

“Instead of a small personal project, this allows it to be bigger and not only about being Asian on Cape Cod, but being Asian in white-centric towns in America,” he continued. “We’re looking at it now as being Asian in America, in general.”

Magyar, who graduated from Sandwich High School in 2009 and earned his bachelor’s degree in cinema studies from Northeastern University in 2014, has long had a passion for filmmaking.

Manx Taiki Magyar

He served as the Creative Director at Sandwich Community Television for over six years, and currently runs his own production company, Big Tree, which has done commercial work for a slew of local businesses and nonprofits, including the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra, CapeSpace, EforAll Cape Cod, Amplify POC, Duffy Health Center, Cape Cod Healthcare, Red Jacket Resort, and Love Live Local, among others.

As one who makes his living producing and directing corporate videos, this grant is allowing Magyar to work on a film “that resonates with me personally,” he said.

Earlier this year, Magyar visited Japan, where he was born and where his mother’s family still lives. “I’ve been there 10 times in my life so I’ve been able to create a connection to it,” he said. “It’s always interesting when I go there, it highlights how much I am a Cape Codder. …What the documentary will explore is being a Cape Codder, but not being a traditional looking Cape Codder.”

It will also tackle how “many members of our community feel alone and lack community,” Magyar said.

One of the goals of the documentary is to strengthen that community by giving a platform for Asians on Cape Cod to share their experiences. “It is interesting, there’s a small margin of Asians who make up the population on Cape Cod and we haven’t really had a voice,” Magyar said. “After doing some work on this documentary, it’s not just an issue for Cape Cod, but an issue of being Asian in America. It stems from the racial divides in our country and opens up a bigger world and bigger conversation of what it means to be Asian-American.”

In his proposal, Magyar referenced a quote from the novel “Nightcrawling” by Leila Mottley that summed up what he, Haidas, and Caplan are trying to accomplish with this film – “Art is the way we imprint ourselves onto the world so there is no way to erase us.”

To learn more about Magyar and his work, visit Big Tree’s website here. “Unerased: A Film About Asian Voices on Cape Cod” is scheduled to be completed by the fall, and will be screened locally and submitted to various film festivals in 2025.


Learn more about the Cape Cod artists who received grant funding from the Arts Foundation and NEA here