In “Searching,” which stars John Cho as a distraught father, the action unfolds on a computer screen.

David Kim’s daughter is missing. He can’t find out where she is until he finds out who she is.

Screen Gems’ “Searching,” the first Hollywood mainstream thriller headlined by an Asian American actor, is now playing at selected theaters and will go into wide release on Aug. 31. It is rated PG-13.

After David Kim (John Cho)’s 16-year-old daughter Margot (Michelle La) goes missing, a local investigation is opened and Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) is assigned to the case. But 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet, where all secrets are kept today: his daughter’s laptop.

In a hyper-modern thriller told via the technology devices we use every day to communicate, David must trace his daughter’s digital footprints before she disappears forever.

Directed by Aneesh Chaganty and co-written by Chaganty and Sev Ohanian, the film also stars Sara Sohn as Pamela, David’s wife and Margot’s mother; Alex Jayne Go as 5-year-old Margot; Megan Liu as 7-year-old Margot; and Kya Dawn Lau as 9-year-old Margot.

“Searching” premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize. It was also nominated for the Variety Piazza Grande Award at the Locarno International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Sydney Film Festival.

John Cho and Michelle La play father and daughter in “Searching.”

Cho, who was born in Seoul and raised in Los Angeles, is a graduate of UC Berkeley and an alumnus of East West Players in Los Angeles. He is a familiar face to both moviegoers and TV viewers.

On the big screen, he has played Harold Lee in the “Harold and Kumar” films; John in the “American Pie” films; and Sulu in the last three “Star Trek” films. He also starred with other Asian American actors in “Shopping for Fangs” (1997), “Yellow” (1998) and “Better Luck Tomorrow” (2002). Last year he played the lead role in an indie drama, “Columbus.”

On television, Cho played FBI agent Demetri Noh in the science fiction drama “FlashForward”; Chau Presley in the sitom “Off Centre”; Andy Brooks in the horror drama “Sleepy Hollow”; Andrew Kim in “The Exorcist”; Teddy Wong in the sitcom “Kitchen Confidential”; and Henry Higgs in the sitcom “Selfie,” in which he was the romantic lead opposite Karen Gillan.

In 2016, he was the subject of a viral social media movement with the hashtag #Starring.JohnCho, which advocated against “whitewashing” of Asian parts in Hollywood and promoted the casting of Asian Americans in leading roles. The campaign reimagined hit action films and romantic comedies by inserting Cho into various movie posters. Cho was not affiliated with the campaign.

Coming on the heels of the hit rom-com “Crazy Rich Asians,” a Hollywood movie with an all-Asian cast, “Searching” marks another milestone for the Asian American community, which in most cases has either been invisible or portrayed stereotypically.

“I accept that it’s a big deal. I’m excited,” Cho told Vanity Fair during the Asian American International Film Festival in New York.

“I haven’t thought of that, but what is meaningful to me is seeing the image of a whole, loving Asian American family than anything else,” he said. “It’s very rare in movies. The image of that is much more startling than it should be. It was surprising to me how powerful it was. I want the future to be where it’s completely normal to see an Asian American family on-screen.”

Cho and his wife, actress Kerri Higuchi, have a son and a daughter.

“For so long, identity has to be justified in a narrative,” said Chaganty. “You always have to explain why, especially when you’re casting anybody who isn’t white in a movie. There has to be this element explaining what the Asian American hook is. In our movie, there’s no justifying it. We are trying to not make it an issue. That’s the victory to us.”

Visit the movie’s official site at:

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