Preview – CAAMFest Online: Heritage at Home, May 13-22

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is pleased to announce a reimagined festival experience. From May 13-22, CAAMFest Online: Heritage at Home will be providing an online alternative in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage month. With the theme of Heritage at Home, this event will provide the community and engagement that CAAMFest is known for, while maintaining social distance. CAAMFest Online: Heritage at Home features over 20 digital events, ranging from online film screenings to interactive panels, watch parties and house parties featuring live performances, all free of charge.

The Asian American community has been uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the response from the community has been urgent and inspiring – whether it is working on the front lines, raising awareness about anti-Asian discrimination, or bringing creative solutions to the breakdown in social services across the country. It is more important than ever that CAAM takes this moment to listen to and amplify the diverse voices and experiences of the Asian American community. CAAM is proud to continue its 40-year tradition of cultivating community through storytelling, particularly during these uncertain times.

As festival director Masashi Niwano explains,

While we’re disappointed that we can’t gather in person this May, CAAM is hoping to nurture the same sense of community and connection, bringing together viewers, media makers, and advocates together through our slate of virtual programs.

Programming includes:

Opening Night Film (May 13): I Will Make You Mine is the long-awaited third part of the ‘Surrogate Valentine trilogy’ by writer/director Lynn Chen in which three women wrestle with life’s difficulties while confronting their past relationships with the same man. The screening will be followed by a House Party featuring a live performance by Bay Area born and raised musician Goh Nakamura.

I Will Make You Mine

Closing Night Film (May 22): CAAMFest Online closes with a 10th anniversary screening of H.P. Mendoza’s Fruit Fly, a musical exploration of what it means to be Gay and Asian in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. The screening will be followed by a House Party with a special reunion and live performance by the film’s cast. This will be an interactive Sing-A-Long (From-Your-Couch) version of the film.

Spotlight (May 19): Ruby Ibarra is a Filipina American rapper, music producer, and spoken word artist from San Lorenzo, California. She raps in Tagalog, Waray, and English and her raps concern her cultural heritage and her experiences as an immigrant to the United States from the Philippines. CAAMFest Online will be sitting down with Ibarra to explore her music career so far and what’s coming next.

The Half of It

Spotlight (May 20): Award winning filmmaker Alice Wu, whose Saving Face was the CAAMFest 2005 Opening Night Film, is about to release her new Asian American narrative feature The Half of It on Netflix. Masashi Niwano will talk to Wu about her career and learn more about her new feature. Afterwards, CAAMFest will be hosting a watch party in partnership with Netflix.

Filmmaker Summit: Work from Home Edition (May 14-15): CAAM’s annual convening of mediamakers goes online, with Asian American filmmakers, CAAM 2020 mentors and fellows leading panel discussions, networking happy hours and workshops on filmmaking during these unique times. Topics include Filmmaking in the Time of COVID-19, Personal Narratives in Documentary and a Grant Writing workshop. 

Focus on Bay Area Stories and Storytellers: Although we are sheltering in place, it’s still important to remember and celebrate our local communities of filmmakers, artists, restaurateurs, store owners, etc. Local showcases include aforementioned filmmakers Alice Wu and H.P. Mendoza, plus James Q. Chan (You Are Here), Manjula Varghese (The Food Historian), Royce Akifumi Wilmot (Takahashi Market: Since 1906), Lisa Yadao, Irene Yadao and Michelle Sampior (Roots and Wings: Yana Gilbuena). Also, musicians Ruby Ibarra (Spotlight Honoree), Goh Nakamura and Yea-Ming Chen (I Will Make You Mine). There will also be a focus on food entrepreneurs, such as Yana Gilbuena, founder of SALO, a moveable Filipino pop-up dinner series.

Ruby Ibarra

Focus on Asian Americans (and POC Communities) in Politics: 2020 is a presidential election year and Asian Americans and communities of color are rising up and taking a stand. We explore the complexities of politics and activism through two outstanding documentaries And She Could Be Next, directed by CAAMFest Spotlight Honoree Alum Grace Lee, and First Vote, directed by Yi Chen.

First Vote

Live Performances: Through the decades, CAAMFest has been a platform for iconic and emerging music acts. From Awkwafina to Jake Shimabukuro to Thao Nguyen, we are thrilled to continue this legacy by delivering some powerful performances during CAAMFest. We also celebrate culinary artists, who use food for social and cultural change. This May, our live acts includes: Goh Nakamura and Yea-Ming Chen, Ruby Ibarra, Jasmine Cho, and H.P. Mendoza.

CAAMunity Screenings: CAAMFest is a safe space to explore vital community topics and will continue this opportunity online. Directed by Drama Del Rosario, I’m Okay (And Neither Are You) is a personal documentary that delves into sexual assaults within the LGBTQ community, while the ‘With My Mother’ shorts program includes films about two struggling mothers, who need help from their children. Shorts include Leena Pendharkar’s Awaken and Eris Qian’s Mother Tongue. Lastly, there is a first look at James Q. Chan’s new documentary, You Are Here, a celebration of San Francisco’s Chinatown and its residents. This thoughtful and exuberant documentary will give audiences a new look at this historic neighborhood.  All programs will include an extended community conversation to discuss related topics.

CAAM is actively monitoring health and safety recommendations around COVID-19 and hoping to produce an in-person CAAMFest this October. If that isn’t possible, our Fall festival will continue to be online.

For updates and the full schedule for CAAMFest Online: Heritage at Home, please visit the festival website.