CAAMFest FORWARD Presents Drive-Ins and Virtual Experiences, October 10-14

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is pleased to announce CAAMFest FORWARD, a newly reimagined and mostly virtual festival experience. On October 14-18, 2020, the upcoming festival will take CAAMFest to new heights with two unique drive-in experiences, over a dozen live virtual programs, and over 40 films available to watch on our on-demand channel. Tickets for the drive-in programs are on sale now.

The Asian American community continues being uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the response from the community has been urgent and inspiring — whether working on the front lines, raising awareness about anti-Asian discrimination, or finding solutions to the social issues across the nation.

Since May, CAAM has produced over 30 unique virtual programs that amplify the diverse voices and experiences of the Asian American community. Beginning with CAAMFest Online: Heritage at Home, one of the first film festivals to pivot to an online format, CAAM successfully brought together over 100 filmmakers and over 10,000 attendees from all around the globe. A few highlights include co-presenting the Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) Presidential Town Hall (attended by Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and former Gov. of Guam Eddie Baza Calvo, representing the Trump campaign), as well as producing two live filmmaker conversations with Gurinder Chadha (Beecham House) and Deann Borshay Liem (Geographies of Kinship).

CAAMFest FORWARD is the next evolution of the festival. The slate of films includes eight World Premieres. CAAM is happy to announce that 65% of featured filmmakers identify as female, and the slate of films reflects themes and partnerships with other BIPOC creative communities. As Festival Director Masashi Niwano explains,

When programming, it was important for us to meet the moment and create a festival with broad cultural reach to build bridges and platforms for historically underrepresented filmmakers. Our festival is called CAAMFest FORWARD, so our programming is a snapshot of the filmmakers moving us forward.

Key CAAMFest FORWARD Programming includes:

Two Days of Drive-In Experiences at Fort Mason Center, Oct 14 and 15

CAAM is thrilled to present our first slate of in-person experience since the pandemic started. Working closely with Fort Mason Center and following the City of San Francisco’s health guidelines, public programs will be exciting and safe for the community. The drive-in experiences will also include food available for purchase from Off the Grid.

Drive-In Day One: A Celebration of Filipina Musical Talent, Oct 14

In celebration of Filipino American History Month, CAAM will showcase two world premiere projects that celebrate a music icon and a rising star:

Lea Salonga in Concert with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra CAAM-funded live concert features internationally famed for her powerhouse voice and perfect pitch Lea Salonga, who burst onto the Broadway musical scene with her 1991 Tony Award-winning performance as Kim in Miss Saigon. This new Great Performances program presents Salonga in peak performance at the Sydney Opera House, singing a selection of songs from her Broadway career as well as her hits from the animated movie blockbusters Aladdin and Mulan.

7000 Miles: Homecoming is a new music documentary directed by Evelyn Obamos that chronicles the Bay Area’s own hip hop star Ruby Ibarra and her band the Balikbayans as they take a trip back to the Philippines. Ruby Ibarra is a Filipino American rapper, music producer, and spoken word artist from San Lorenzo, California. She raps in Tagalog, Waray, and English.

Drive-In Day Two: A Celebration of Hong Kong Cinema, Oct 15

In partnership with Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO), CAAMFest will be featuring five feature films (four new films and one classic) from Hong Kong filmmakers during CAAMFest FORWARD. Two of the films will be showcased during our second night at Fort Mason Center – A Simple Life (Dir. Ann Hui) and My Prince Edward (Dir. Norris Wong).

On the cusp of its 10th anniversary, the festival presents A Simple Life. This award-winning film starring Deannie Ip and Andy Lau. In September 2020, auteur Ann Hui was recognized with the Golden Lion (Lifetime Achievement award) at the prestigious Venice Film Festival.

My Prince Edward

My Prince Edward stars Stephy Tang and Chu Pak-hong, who portray a pair of lovers preparing for their perfect wedding. But will a shocking secret ruin their big day?

Opening Night Film: Coming Home Again, Dir. Wayne Wang, Oct 16

Based on a personal essay by Chang-rae Lee that was published in The New Yorker, Coming Home Again is an intimate family drama about a mother, a son, and the burden of family expectations.

Coming Home Again

Chang-rae, a first generation Korean American, has returned to his family home in San Francisco to care for his ailing mother. Wanting nothing more than to fulfill his role as the supportive son, Chang-rae must come to terms with his own conflicted emotions towards his mother. This is a CAAM Production and U.S. Premiere.

Centerpiece Film: Definition Please, Dir. Sujata Day, Oct 17

CAAMFest alum Sujata Day is back with her directorial debut. Sujata plays Monica, a former Scripps Spelling Bee champion, who lives at home with her ailing mother, must reconcile with her estranged brother in order to take the first steps in realizing her dreams and moving on with her life.

Definition Please

This knock-out Asian American dramedy includes a cast of rising talent: Jake Choi, Anna Khaja, and Ritesh Rajan.

Closing Night Film: 76 Days, Dirs. Hao Wu, Weixi Chen, and Anonymous, Oct 18

CAAMFest Alum Hao Wu (The Road to Fame) is back with a powerful new documentary that captures the struggles of patients and frontline medical professionals battling the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China.

76 Days

Showcased just weeks after its successful Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) premiere, 76 Days will become a lasting work due to its exploration of the global impact of the pandemic.

CAAMFest On-Demand, October 14-18

CAAMFest On-Demand will feature 40+ films available for people to watch at their own convenience between the festival dates. Most of the films will include pre-recorded Q&As, and shorts will be curated into eight programs. All films will be available to watch at

FORWARD Symposium, October 15

CAAM’s FORWARD Symposium is a two-session program examining Asian American storytelling and the impact CAAM has had on the field and community over the past 40 years. The symposium’s panels will feature recognized documentary filmmakers, mediamakers, experts, thought leaders, and Asian American Studies scholars. This is a moment for CAAM to gather key members of the Asian American mediamaking community and celebrate them, their contributions to American film and media arts, and the social impact of their work. This program is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional Programming includes:

Focus on Filipino American Cinema

October is national Filipino American History Month, and CAAMFest FORWARD is proud to celebrate eight films by and about the Filipino American community.

The Celine Archive

Highlights include day one of the festival’s drive-in at Fort Mason, Bay Area Filmmaker Celine Shimizu’s The Celine Archive, and new feature musical The Girl Who Left Home (Dir. Mallorie Ortega). Also thanks to our partners at Comcast NBCUniversal, we are hosting a special conversation with Superstore’s Nico Santos.

First Looks

CAAMFest has a legacy of being a festival where the next generation of filmmakers and stories are discovered. CAAMFest FORWARD will present three upcoming films and one museum exhibition that are on the cusp of launching. Be the first to learn about these films through our filmmaker conversations. Films include Try Harder (working title, Dir. Debbie Lum), Hummingbird (Dir. Tanuj Chopra), and Kapwa (Dir. PJ Raval). There will also be a sneak preview of the Asian Art Museum’s newest exhibition: After Hope.

Focus on Social Justice, Civic Engagement, and Activism

From start to end, CAAMFest showcases a tapestry of narratives and documentaries that celebrate unsung heroes fighting for a more just future and explore communities struggling for justice.

Fighting For Family

Highlighted films include Hamtramck, USA (Co-Dirs. Justin Feltman and Razi Jafri), COVER/AGE (Dir. Set Hernandez Rongkilyo), and Fighting For Family (Dir. Lan Nguyen).

Focus on Episodic Projects

All of the projects in our Episodic section include bold, new representations of Asian America and are created by local filmmakers. Projects include You Are Here (Dir. James Q. Chan, world premiere), Chosen Fam (Dir. Natalie Tsui), and Bulge Bracket (Dir. Chris Au).

Ticket Sales

Tickets for the drive-in experiences are on sale now. Tickets for the live streaming and CAAMFest On-Demand screenings will go on sale Monday, October 5, 2020. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to the festival website.