The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) Announces Programming for the 37th Annual CAAMFest, May 9-19, 2019

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is pleased to announce its program for the 37th annual CAAMFest taking place from May 9-19, 2019 in the Bay Area. 

This year’s edition of CAAMFest continues to celebrate the diversity and richness of Asian American cinema during the heart of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The 11-day festival encompasses more than 120 film screenings and events that amplify and celebrate the vital stories from Asian American communities around the world. “This upcoming festival is brimming with lots of amazing films and events” says CAAM Festival & Exhibitions Director Masashi Niwano. “Key themes that will tie together the diverse programming include Asian Americans in community building and leadership, a celebration of bold and new storytellers and exploring the complexities and diversity of the Asian American experience.” The robust lineup includes the Opening Night Film CHINATOWN RISING, a local documentary about activism and civic engagement; celebration of local filmmakers with Spotlights on Deann Borshay Liem and Valerie Soe; and YELLOW ROSE brings musicals back to center stage as the Narrative Centerpiece film. Other rich and unique voices round out the program at over 15 venues throughout San Francisco and Oakland. 

OPENING NIGHT

CHINATOWN RISING

World Premiere

Director Harry and Josh Chuck (Bay Area natives)

Thursday, May 9 – Castro Theatre, 6:30pm

  • Weaving together never-been-seen photographs and archival footage, this vibrant documentary chronicles key San Francisco Chinatown community leaders who started an activist movement in the 1960s. 
  • Co-Director Harry Chuck was the catalyst for several Housing and Parks and Recreation committees that benefit San Francisco’s Chinatown community to this day.
  • Chuck’s son and co-director, Joshua Chuck, has been working in the community for 16 years.

Followed by the OPENING NIGHT GALA

Thursday, May 9 – Asian Art Museum, 9:30pm

  • Celebrate the kick-off of CAAMFest37 with fellow revelers after watching CHINATOWN RISING at our Opening Night Gala at the Asian Art Museum! Dine, drink, dance and discuss as you indulge in what CAAM does best — art, music and food. Experience delectable culinary creations from Bay Area favorites, including Boba Guys, Dumpling Time, Magnolia Ice Cream, Reem’s, and Socola Chocolatier. Sway to sweet, upbeat sounds from local DJs and soak in the visual riches of the museum’s exhibitions on view. 

CLOSING NIGHT

GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP

World Premiere

Directed by Deann Borshay Liem

Thursday, May 19 – Roxie Theater, 7:20pm

  • Exploring issues around identity, family, and nationality, GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP reveals the history of international adoption and its repercussions, grounded in the powerful stories of Korean adoptees.
  • Deann Borshay Liem has a successful career working in the development, production, and distribution of independent documentaries, and is a former Executive Director of CAAM. 

CENTERPIECE PRESENTATION, NARRATIVE

YELLOW ROSE

San Francisco Premiere

Director Diane Paragas

Starring Lea Salonga, Eva Noblezada

Saturday, May 11 – AMC Kabuki 8, 6:00pm

Thursday, May 16 – Piedmont Theatre, 9:00pm

  • A Filipina American musical like no other, YELLOW ROSE features Tony Award nominee Eva Noblezada as Rose Garcia, an aspiring country singer living in the heart of Texas.

CENTERPIECE PRESENTATION, DOCUMENTARY

WHEN WE WALK

San Francisco Premiere

Director Jason DaSilva 

Sunday, May 12 – AMC Kabuki 8, 6:45pm

Saturday, May 18 – Roxie Theater, 12:10pm

  • Following the success of WHEN I WALK, Emmy Award-winning director Jason DaSilva continues his documentation of his diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, and also delving into divorce and caregiving.

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

SPOTLIGHT ON DEANN BORSHAY LIEMEqually respected as an award-winning filmmaker as well as a pioneer storyteller for Korean adoptees worldwide, Liem has made an indelible mark in the documentary landscape. CAAMFest37 is delighted to present the World Premiere of her newest film, GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP as our Closing Night Presentation, as well as the 20th anniversary look back at FIRST PERSON PLURAL. 

FIRST PERSON PLURAL (1999)

Director Deann Borshay Liem 

Saturday, May 18 – SFPL, 2:00pm

  • 20th anniversary look back at the Emmy Award-nominated documentary and personal exploration of Deann Borshay Liem’s transnational adoption, exploring themes of race, identity, and assimilation.

SPOTLIGHT ON VALERIE SOE

From the 80’s to now, Valerie Soe’s films and video installations have been a benchmark for Asian American feminist activism and experimental storytelling. She’s a filmmaker, professor and cultural guru. 

LOVE BOAT: TAIWAN

San Francisco Premiere

Director Valerie Soe 

Friday, May 17 – Roxie, 8:30pm

  • LOVE BOAT: TAIWAN looks into of one of the longest running summer programs in the world. This feature-length documentary revisits the program’s participants and explores the history and popularity of this well-known program, sponsored by the Taiwanese government, which takes place every summer in Taiwan.

AAM: VALERIE SOE & KRISTINA WONG

Director Valerie Soe 

Thursday, May 16 – AAM, 7:00pm

  • A mélange of Valerie Soe’s groundbreaking feminist short films, along with special guest, comedian, and performance artist, Kristina Wong.

DETOURNING ASIA / AMERICA WITH VALERIE SOE

World Premiere

Director Mila Zuo

  • A visual discussion between filmmakers Valerie Soe and Mila Zuo, exploring contemporary topics related to race, feminism, art, culture, and media. Created in collaboration with The Feminist Media Histories Journal.

RETROSPECTIVE: THE JOY LUCK CLUB (1993)

Director Wayne Wang

Starring Kieu Chinh, Tsai Chin, France Nuyen, Lisa Lu, Ming-Na Wen, Tamlyn Tomita, Lauren Tom, Rosalind Chao

Saturday, May 18 – Waverly, 8:00pm

  • Celebrating the 25th anniversary screening of one of the most decorated Asian American films in cinematic history, THE JOY LUCK CLUB, is presented as a free, outdoor screening in the heart of Chinatown. A once-in-a-lifetime experience with special guests in attendance. 

RETROSPECTIVE: THE DRAGON PAINTER (1919)

Director William Worthington

Saturday, May 11 – New People, 2:30pm

Starring Sessue Hayakawa, Tsuru Aoki

  • The 100th anniversary screening of the surreal romance that broke new ground in Hollywood will be presented with a live score by Japanese American singer-songwriter Goh Nakamura.

PACIFIC SHOWCASE

LEITIS IN WAITING

Director Dean Hamer

Sunday, May 17 – OMCA, 7:00pm

  • Join us as we celebrate the Oakland premiere of LEITIS IN WAITING, an award-winning documentary that tells the story of Tonga’s evolving approach to gender fluidity through a character-driven portrait of the most prominent leiti in the Kingdom, Joey Joleen Mataele, a devout Catholic of royal descent.  

EATING UP EASTER

San Francisco Premiere

Director Sergio M. Rapu

Friday, May 10 – New People, 5:20pm

  • Director Sergio Rapu follows stalwart, outspoken indigenous defenders of Easter Island’s environment and culture. 

HONG KONG SHOWCASE

STILL HUMAN

West Coast Premiere

Director Oliver Siu Kuen Chan

Wednesday, May 15 – AMC Kabuki 8, 6:50pm

  • Offering a glimpse of the challenges facing overseas domestic workers in Hong Kong’s projects, Oliver Siu Kuen Chan’s directorial debut dramedy weaves together a tale of social constructs and physical disabilities, as two people from seemingly opposite backgrounds find humanity in each other and themselves as they chase their dreams. 

THE LAST STITCH

World Premiere

Director Alfred Sung

Tuesday, May 14 – AMC Kabuki 8, 6:20pm

  • A look at Hong Kong immigrants who move their tailoring business to Toronto and how their work has evolved with the political changes of the last century. 

I AM YOUR… A JOURNEY THROUGH A FADING PAST

Precedes THE LAST STITCH

Director Bryan Fong, Veronica Chung

  • A travel film dedicated to preserving and capturing a granddaughter and 

grandmother’s relationship. 

A TRIBUTE TO JEFF ADACHI (1959-2019)

Director Chihiro Wimbush, Corey Tong

Sunday, May 12 – AMC Kabuki 8, 2:40pm

  • An event celebrating and honoring the life of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi and his work as a filmmaker, community activist, and advocate for social justice. 
  • The tribute will include clips from his films THE SLANTED SCREEN, YOU DON’T KNOW JACK SOO, THE RIDE, and DEFENDER, as well as a preview of Adachi’s last film, RICOCHET.

NARRATIVE FILMS

BABYSPLITTERS

San Francisco Premiere

Director Sam Friedlander

Starring Danny Pudi, Emily Chang

Saturday, May 11 – AMC Kabuki 8, 9:00pm

Wednesday, May 15 – Piedmont, 9:00pm

  • Can you crowdsource a baby? Danny Pudi and Emily Chang undergo hilarious modern family tribulations with their best friends in an attempt to spread the misery and share the love. 

DEMOLITION GIRL

West Coast Premiere

Director Genta Matsugami

Starring Aya Kitai, Hiroki Ino, Haruka Imo, Yura Komuro, Ko Maehara, Ryohei Abe, Yota Kawase

Friday, May 10 – New People, 10:00pm

Saturday, May 18 – Roxie, 9:20pm

  • A high school girl supports her unemployed family as a performer in fetish videos featuring her crushing objects with her feet. She looks towards the future as a college student, but the destruction moves off camera.

EMPTY BY DESIGN

San Francisco Premiere

Director Andrea A. Walter

Starring Conan Stevens, Dante Basco, Desmond Chiam, Chris Pang 

Sunday, May 12 – New People, 6:40pm

Tuesday, May 14 – AMC Kabuki 8, 9:00pm

  • Two strangers rediscover the Philippines after life abroad, finding both familiarity and detachment in their journeys. 

GO BACK TO CHINA

San Francisco Premiere

Director Emily Ting

Starring Anna Akana, Richard Ng, Lynn Chen

Saturday, May 11 – AMC Kabuki 8, 5:05pm

Monday, May 13 – AMC Kabuki 8, 6:20pm

  • Trust fund princess Sasha lives on daddy’s bankroll, but when she finds herself at the end of her financial rope she acquiesces to dad’s beckoning to work at the toy shop in China that made her family’s fortune.

HAPPY CLEANERS

World Premiere

Director Julian Kim, Peter S. Lee

Starring Dax Richardson, Yeena Sung, Donald Chung, Jaeki Cho, Hyang-hwa Lim

Saturday, May 11 – AMC Kabuki 8, 2:40pm

Monday, May 13 – AMC Kabuki 8, 9:10pm

  • A Korean American family works to achieve success and happiness while struggling to overcome unattainable ideals and expectations for one another. 

IN THE LIFE OF MUSIC

San Francisco Premiere

Director Caylee Sol, Sok Visal

Starring Daniel Chea, Socheat Chea, Sreynan Chea

Sunday, May 12 – New People, 2:00pm

Sunday, May 19 – Roxie, 3:00pm

  • An alluring musical that tells the story of how one song (King of Khmer Music Sinn Sisamuth’s ‘Champa Battambang’) plays a role in the lives of three generations. 

LAST SUNRISE

San Francisco Premiere

Director Wen Ren

Starring Zhang Jue, Zhang Yue

Friday, May 10 – AMC Kabuki 8, 9:45pm

Saturday, May 11 – AMC Kabuki 8, 12:00pm

  • A reclusive astronomer, unwillingly paired with his cheery neighbor, set out on a journey to figure out what happens when the sun goes dark in their solar energy dependent world. 

MS. PURPLE

San Francisco Premiere

Director Justin Chon

Starring Tiffany Chu, Teddy Lee, Octavio Pizano, James Kang

Friday, May 10 – AMC Kabuki 8, 7:30pm

  • On the heels of the Sundance 2019 premiere, writer/director Justin Chon brings his visionary storytelling to the next level with this emotional love letter to Los Angeles – and the people who fight every day to survive. 

TEN YEARS THAILAND

San Francisco Premiere

Directors Aditya Assarat, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Chulayarnon Siriphol, Wisit Sasanatieng 

Saturday, May 11 – AMC Kabuki 8, 9:45pm

  • Based on the 2015 Hong Kong film TEN YEARS, this Cannes Film Festival-selected film showcases four master Thai filmmakers visions on a dystopian Thailand in 2028. Visually stunning and ultra artistic, this is one film not to be missed. 

TIGER

San Francisco Premiere

Director Alister Grierson

Starring Prem Singh, Janel Parrish, Marshall Manesh, Mickey Rourke

Friday, May 10 – AMC Kabuki 8, 7:20pm

Tuesday, May 14 – AMC Kabuki 8, 6:30pm

  • Based on a true story, TIGER is a powerful film about a Sikh American boxer who is banned from the boxing commission for practicing his religious beliefs. 

THE WIDOWED WITCH

San Francisco Premiere

Director Cai Chengjie

Starring Tian Tian, Wen Xinyu, Wang Qilin, Wang Fuyou, Gao Pengcheng

Wednesday, May 15 – AMC Kabuki 8, 9:10pm

  • Winner of the top prize at the Rotterdam Film Festival, director Cai Chengjie’s debut feature—which was shot in 11 days on borrowed equipment—is, like its titular protagonist, unexpectedly powerful and fiercely unpredictable.

DOCUMENTARY FILMS

A WOMAN’S WORK

San Francisco Premiere 

Director Yu Gu

Saturday, May 11 – New People, 6:30pm

Sunday, May 12 – AMC Kabuki 8, 12:10pm

  • A WOMAN’S WORK follows two former cheerleaders who challenge the multi-billion-dollar National Football League by suing for fair wages. 

WINNER OF PEACE

West Coast Premiere

Precedes A WOMAN’S WORK

Director Marisa Kelly

  • A young Sikh poet toes the line between her community and personal beliefs, but finds solace in spoken word.

ALTERNATIVE FACTS: THE LIES OF EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066

Director Jon Osaki

Saturday, May 18 – Roxie, 4:40pm

  • ALTERNATIVE FACTS highlights the racism and political maneuvering behind Executive Order 9066 that led to the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans, and it traces the tenacity of the decades-long redress movement. 

MINIDOKA

World Premiere

Precedes ALTERNATIVE FACTS

Director Megumi Nishikura

  • A young Seattle activist traces back his family history of incarceration during World War II and applies lessons learn to the politics of today.

BEI BEI

West Coast Premiere

Director Marion Lipschutz, Rose Rosenblatt

Friday, May 10 – New People, 7:40pm

Tuesday, May 14 – AMC Kabuki 8, 9:10pm

  • The national debate over reproductive rights are contextualized by the criminal defense of Bei Bei Shuai, an Indiana resident charged with murder after attempting suicide while pregnant. 

PERIOD GIRL

World Premiere

Precedes BEI BEI

Director Jalena Keane-Lee

  • PERIOD GIRL follows Nadya Okamoto, a 20-year-old Harvard sophomore who started the non-profit PERIOD Org, which distributes free menstrual supplies to homeless people across the country, as she opens up about some of the personal trauma that helps fuel her work. 

THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED

San Francisco Premiere

Director Assia Boundaoui

Sunday, May 12 – AMC Kabuki 8, 7:40pm

  • Director Assia Boundaoui explores how it feels to be surveilled by the state and discovers the frightening extent to which the FBI casts a net of suspicion and intimidation on the Muslim community.

FINDING THE VIRGO

San Francisco Premiere

Director Barre Fong

Saturday, May 18 – Roxie, 7:00pm

  • Nearly 40 years ago, Lauren Vuong and her family were rescued from the South China Sea by a fuel tanker LNG Virgo. Vuong seeks to reunite her family with the ship’s crew, who rescued many other migrants during the second wave of South Vietnamese refugee migration.

COMING HOME: THE 990 PACIFIC RELOCATION STORY

San Francisco Premiere

Director Emma Marie Chiang

  • COMING HOME: The 990 Pacific Relocation Story shares how one nonprofit, Chinatown Community Development Center, transitioned a building from government to community control, saving the homes of 100 seniors and adults with disabilities in San Francisco Chinatown. These are their stories.

FLO’S BUS

San Francisco Premiere

Precedes FINDING THE VIRGO

Director Dean Ishida

  • For over 15 years, 77-year-old Flo Matsuda has organized quarterly bus trips from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for her large group of Hawaii-born, Japanese-American, gambling buddies. But it’s not just any old bus ride. Once they hit the highway, these seniors sing and play Hawaiian music, dance hula, share food they’ve prepared, and more. These excursions have bonded them like a family as Flo’s Bus has become a cherished ritual. What they don’t realize is that this particular outing may be Flo’s last.

JADDOLAND

San Francisco Premiere

Director Nadia Shihab

Friday, May 17 – Roxie, 6:00pm

  • On a trip to visit her Iraqi mother in West Texas, filmmaker Nadia Shihab paints an intimate portrait of place, family history, culture and identity. 
  • LAHIB JADDO: EVERY WOMAN KNOWS HER OWN TREE (Friday, May 17 – Sunday May 19, 518 Valencia) is the complementary New Directions exhibit featuring Nadia Shihab’s mother, Lahib Jaddo’s work. 

LAST NIGHT I SAW YOU SMILING

San Francisco Premiere

Director Kavich Neang

Sunday, May 12 – New People, 4:15pm

Monday, May 13 – AMC Kabuki 8, 9:00pm

  • On the eve of Cambodia’s iconic White Building’s planned demolition, nearly 500 families living in the 54-year-old remnant of New Khmer Architecture reflect on their memories there.

M FOR MALAYSIA

World Premiere

Director Ineza Rousille, Dian Lee

Wednesday, May 15 – AMC Kabuki 8, 9:40pm

  • On the eve of the 2018 Malaysian elections, a racially divided country places its hopes of overcoming a corrupt government on an unexpected candidate: A 92-year-old former prime minister seeking to undo his political wrongs.

OUR TIME MACHINE

Director Yang Sun, S. Leo Chiang

Saturday, May 11 – AMC Kabuki 8, 7:30pm

Wednesday, May 15 – Piedmont, 6:30pm

  • Artist Ma Liang is producing an autobiographical play to honor his father, who’s losing his memories to Alzheimer’s. OUR TIME MACHINE depicts their relationship with life-size puppets that travel through time to revisit their memories. 

THE PEOPLE’S MAYOR: ED LEE

Director Rick Quan

Thursday, May 16 – Piedmont, 6:30pm

Sunday, May 19 – Roxie, 5:25pm

  • Director Rick Quan chronicles the life of the first Asian American mayor of a major city, offering an inspirational look at the impact he had on the Asian American community. 

SEADRIFT

San Francisco Premiere

Director Tim Tsai

Friday, May 10 – AMC Kabuki 8, 5:10pm

Sunday, May 12 – AMC Kabuki 8, 12:30pm

  • SEADRIFT examines the racial tensions in a small Gulf Coast fishing town when Vietnamese refugees move there in 1979.