CAAM Community Share Memories from Festivals of Yesteryears!

Linsanity poster. Photo by Michael Jeong.
Linsanity poster. Photo by Michael Jeong.

Thanks to everyone who shared a memory or message to CAAM! As many of you know, this year’s CAAMFest is our 35-year anniversary. We are so proud to have all of you as part of our CAAMily. We would not be here without our community.

Konrad Ng congratulates CAAM:

“Happy 35! I celebrate the many incredible achievements you have made on behalf of Asian America. It has been a long journey sustained by vision, dedication, generosity, humor and an indefatigable sense of hope. You show how the Asian American experience may be defined by creativity and perseverance. Thank you and thank you and thank you.” -Konrad Ng, former CAAM Board Member / currently Executive Director of Shangri La: A Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design

Geraldine Ah-Sue on when screening committee still watched films all together:

“I used to be on the short films programming committee, and back then, movies mostly came as DVDs. That meant that we usually only had one or two copies of any given film. So, the only way to ensure that everyone had a chance to evaluate them in a time efficient manner was to watch them all together. Every week, over the span of several months, members of the committee would trek to the CAAM office, after our regular work hours, for a night of communal screening. We’d squeeze on the couch, sprawl on the floor, fight for the comfy chairs, and spend hours watching the short films. We’d order food, be happy, be grumpy, be goofy, and then afterwards, we’d talk about the films. We’d get excited about what we liked, challenge each other on what we disagreed on, and fight for our favorite underdog films to get programmed. It was grueling, it was fun, and it was magical. To this day, one my favorite parts of watching a movie is talking about it with someone afterwards.” -Geraldine Ah-Sue, former festival intern, shorts program curator, and documentary juror / currently producer for SFMOMA’s podcast, Raw Material

When Jeremy Lin Lit up the big screen at Castro Theatre and tears ensued:

“I’ll never forget sitting in the Castro Theatre balcony, crying Lion King-sized tears as Jeremy Lin lit up New York, my heart, and my faith in Asian American cinema to show that ordinary families like my own are only a drop step away from the extraordinary. Like everyone else in the packed house that opening night, I already knew how Linsanity would end, but the collective experience of laughing with an immigrant family and groaning at the media’s micro-aggressive tactics was a stirring reminder of why film festivals matter. And that’s something to cheer about.” – Brian Hu, 2013 CAAMFest Documentary Juror / currently Artistic Director at Pacific Arts Movement

When Jon Moritsugu’s film upended the Model Minority Myth

“As a UC Berkeley undergrad watching Jon Moritsugu’s Mod Fuck Explosion at the PFA in 1994 blew open the realm of possibility as to what it could mean to be Asian American. Screw the model minority myth, we can outcraze the best of them!” – Brent Hall, 2002 SFIAAFF staff and current CAAM Board Member

When your girlfriend loves CAAMFest as much as you do: a match made in the theater

“Three months into our dating, I wanted to share some of my favorite events with my girlfriend Angel. We went to CAAMFest 2015 to watch Seoul Searching and she got hooked! It’s 2017 and Angel (now my wife) is prepping for our third fun CAAM festival together!” -Eric Ignacio, 1998 NAATA intern / currently a Video Producer at VIZ Media

When Kyle Chu (aka Panda Dulce) got to meet Helen Zia

My favorite CAAMFest moment was on Opening Night Gala 2013 at SF’s Asian Art Museum. I was enjoying some champagne, when, out of nowhere, celebrated Queer Chinese American journalist, Helen Zia, approaches the table and casually grabs a glass. I remember sputtering over my words like a preteen fangirl as I introduced myself, as her work, especially Asian-American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, has had such an impact on me as a college student. For me, CAAMFest is about coming together to celebrate a diversity of Asian American experiences. Just like Zia’s work, CAAMfest has proudly celebrated that ethos, year after year. That’s why CAAM is so important to me, and to our many communities.” -Kyle Chu, former CAAM intern, represented CAAM at Mr. Hyphen 2010, shorts and feature program curator, director of Leave a Light in this year’s Out/Here queer shorts program / currently Correspondent for VICE LGBT and Counselor at California College of the Arts

 From youth filmmaker to Festival Programmer

“I’ve been attending the festival for over 20 years, as filmmaker, a festival programmer, and fan but the festival that sticks out most was when I attended for the first time as a filmmaker in 1997. I was 17 years old and attending with a film I made in Spencer Nakasako’s youth video program at the Vietnamese Youth Development Center. So many things blew me away – meeting Christine Choy, the firebrand doc director, who made a lasting impression on me while I cowered in her presence. I drifted in and out of consciousness to the brilliant Iranian hybrid doc/drama A True Story. And I was thrilled by Rea Tajiri’s enigmatic Strawberry Fields. I’ll always be grateful to the festival and Christine Kwon who supported my strange Suite Suite Chinatown omnibus film + live music project in 2011 by embracing our roadshow/barnstorming model of collaborating and performing with local musicians, which set the template for later shows we would do across the US, Canada, and China. Ultimately, I’m grateful to all the filmmakers, audiences, and people like Christine, Chi-hui Yang, Taro Goto, Stephen Gong, Kar Yin Tham, Debbie Ng, Don Young, Masashi Niwano, and all the festival staff and volunteer ghosts past and present that have made the festival such an important institution for Asian American filmmakers and the community.” -Aram Collier, past festival filmmaker and former Director of Programming at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival