CAAM Funded Projects

CAAM FUNDED

2015

A GUANGZHOU LOVE STORY 

By Kathy Huang (director) and Debbie Lum (producer)
In China, an unprecedented surge in African migration has led to a rise in marriages between Chinese women and African men. A Guangzhou Love Story captures the love, heartache, and real life challenges of Afro-Chinese couples attempting to forge a future together in the face of racism and xenophobic policies.

FRANK WONG’S CHINATOWN (working title) 

By James Q. Chan (director/producer) and Corey Tong (producer)
A story of 81-year-old San Francisco artist Frank Wong who has spent the past four decades recreating his fading memories by building romantic, extraordinarily detailed miniature models of the Chinatown neighborhood shops, streets, and intimate family rooms of his youth. This film takes the journey of one individual and maps it to a rapidly changing neighborhood, San Francisco Chinatown, beginning in the 1940s to the present. A meditation on history, community, memory and preserving one’s own legacy, Frank Wong’s art—his seven, three-dimensional miniature dioramas—serve as portals to the past and becomes an ‘insider’s guide’ through a community intimately interwoven with the history of the city.

RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE

By Konrad Aderer (director and producer) and Michelle Chen (co-producer)
Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War Two have often been mythologized as a “model minority” who passively submitted to mass confinement in concentration camps. This new documentary brings to life the story of Tule Lake Segregation Center, which destroys that myth. In this highly militarized camp created for 12,000 individuals the government branded as “disloyals” and “troublemakers,” Japanese Americans openly defied the racist incarceration regime, asserting their democratic rights in the face of escalating state violence and repression.

WHO IS ARTHUR CHU?

By Yu Gu (director and producer) and Scott Drucker (director and producer)
Who is Arthur Chu? is a feature-length documentary following the controversial 11-time Jeopardy! winner, Arthur Chu, as he attempts to leverage his online notoriety to take on social justice issues. While tackling racism and misogyny in nerd culture across the far reaches of the internet, Arthur also works toward a personal journey of redemption.

2014

#NAILEDIT: VIETNAMESE & THE NAIL INDUSTRY

By Adele Pham
A fortuitous encounter with 20 Vietnamese refugee women and The Birds actress Tippi Hedren spurs a monopoly of Vietnamese nail salons in 1975. The legacy continues with “Mantrap” in 1981, the first nail salon chain to cater to black women in the hood. To today’s incredible 8 billion dollar nail industry, #NailedIt: Vietnamese & The Nail Industry charts the rise, struggle, stereotypes, and steady hold Vietnamese Americans have on nails.

GIAP’S LAST DAY AT THE IRONING BOARD FACTORY

By Tony Nguyen
In 1975, a seven-months pregnant Vietnamese refugee, Giap, escapes Saigon in a boat and, within weeks, finds herself working on an assembly line in Seymour, Indiana. Thirty-five years later, her aspiring filmmaker son, Tony, decides to document her final day of work at the last ironing board factory in America. It turns into a painful, but loving, journey. This half hour documentary explores the refugee experience, the communication gulf between parent and child, and how racism shapes the Asian American experience.

TASHI’S TURBINE

By Amitabh Joshi
Tashi Bista dreams to install a makeshift wind turbine in Namdok, a remote village nestled high amongst the Himalayas of Nepal. Namdok, battered by wind and cold, has been in darkness for centuries. With very limited resources, he is determined to bring lights to Namdok in an effort to prove himself to the skeptical village community. Tashi’s Turbine is a character driven film that shows the impact of one man’s dream for light, in a village waiting for development.

TYRUS (formerly titled Tyrus Wong: Brushstrokes in Hollywood)

By Pamela Tom
In 1919, nine-year old Tyrus Wong arrived at San Francisco’s Angel Island accompanied only by his father and a passion for drawing. This passion would lead him on an artistic journey through the 20th century where he became a WPA artist, pioneering modernist painter, Hollywood illustrator, and “Disney Legend” for his groundbreaking work on Bambi. At 103, Tyrus Wong is considered a living legend. TYRUS captures the remarkable story of how this young boy from Guangzhou, China overcame a life of poverty, racism, and discrimination to become a highly accomplished artist and his enduring impact on animation and American culture today.

 

2013

TOUGH LOVE

By Stephanie Wang Breal
Offering a rare look at the inner workings of the American child welfare system, “Tough Love” chronicles the lives of two parents—one in Seattle and one in New York City—as each fights to be reunited with their children. Through intimate, verité footage of both families, we witness first-hand the complexities within America’s child welfare system. Moreover, we come to understand the powerful role poverty and prejudice play in keeping families apart.

9-MAN

By Ursula Shih Liang
Since the 1930’s, young Chinese men have played nine-man, a gritty, competitive streetball game, in the alleys and parking lots of Chinatown. When the community was a Bachelor Society (men outnumbered women by huge percentages) at a time when anti-Chinese sentiment and laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act forced Chinese restaurant workers and laundrymen to socialize exclusively amongst themselves, nine-man offered both escape and fraternity for men who were separated from their families in China and facing extreme discrimination and distrust. Today, some 80 years later, nine-man is a lasting connection to Chinatown for a community of men who know a different, more integrated America and it’s a game that has grown exponentially in athleticism. But it’s still played in isolation. Nine-man punctuates each summer with a vibrant, aggressive, exhausting bragging-rights tournament that unites thousands of Chinese-Americans and maintains traditional rules and customs. Pivoting between oil-spotted Chinatown parking lots and jellyfish-filled banquet scenes, the film captures the spirit of nine-man as players not only battle for a championship but fight to preserve a sport that holds so much history.

THE ROAD TO FAME

By Hao Wu
The Road to Fame tells a unique story of coming-of-age with Chinese characteristics. The film chronicles the staging of the American musical Fame—China’s first official collaboration with Broadway—by the senior class at China’s top drama academy as their graduation showcase. During the eight-month process, five students compete for roles, struggle with pressure from family and authority, and prepare to graduate into a cutthroat and corrupt show business. Part of China’s Single-Child generation, they were spoiled growing up but are now obliged to carry on the failed dreams of their parents. They must confront complex social realities and their own anxieties, and, in the process of staging Fame, negotiate their own definitions of and paths to success in today’s China.

STATELESS

By Duc Nguyen
In 2005, a spark of hope came when the U.S. immigration officials returned to Manila to review the cases of over 2000 Vietnamese refugees who spent over 17 years in the Philippines waiting for resettlement. They have been living in the Philippines without legal status, ownership nor employment rights. While nervously waiting for a judgment day, the STATELESS Vietnamese hung on the hope of finding a permanent home.

 

2012

CHINAFORNIA

By Ellie Lee
Film Festival 2012 (READY, SET, PITCH! Panel Participant), Funded 2012
America, 2018 – Unable to pay the $10 trillion it owes to China, the U.S. comes up with a plan to erase the debt: It gives China the state of California. “Chinafornia” is born, and Chinese Vice Premier Jidong Chen is placed in charge. It will be up to Chen—who has studied California through meticulous viewings of Baywatch—to manage the takeover and the chaos that follows. And it will be up to reporter Jasper Davenport, “America’s Most Watched & Most Sexy Newsman,” to force Mr. Chen to answer to the people of Chinafornia. Can Chinese determination and American creativity combine to build a better world? Or will Chinese stubbornness and American bone-headedness form the perfect cocktail for a state even more screwed up than California already is?

EMPLOYED IDENTITY

By Bao Nguyen
EMPLOYED IDENTITY explores the phenomenon of Vietnamese abroad returning to Vietnam, the country of their parents’ birth, to find both themselves and successful careers. Today, many of these Vietnamese abroad, or “Viet Kieu,” are leaving the recessive economies of their adopted homelands to seek new opportunities in the growing economy of Vietnam. This move allows them to reconnect with their “homeland” while connecting them to relatives that never immigrated to America. The series touches upon a range of topics such as identity, unemployment, minority portrayal in entertainment, familial relationships, and the emerging art and film scene in Vietnam.

VERSES IN EXILE

By Anida Ali and Masahiro Sugano
VERSES IN EXILE paints a portrait of an uncompromised man who spent his entire life locked away in the American prison complex, only to find freedom physically and creatively in Cambodia—ironically, where he was forced into exile. Kosal Khiev is one of 397,000 people deported from America in 2011. VERSES IN EXILE traces his journey from prisoner in America to world-class poet in Cambodia. This creative web series captures Kosal’s indelible struggle to answer the question, “How do you survive when you belong nowhere?” Exiled to a country his family fled, Kosal stands alone as he steps into freedom.

 

2011

AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY: THE EVOLUTION OF GRACE LEE BOGGS

By Grace Lee
AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY: THE EVOLUTION OF GRACE LEE BOGGS is a documentary about a 96-year-old Chinese-American philosopher in Detroit who has devoted her life to the next American revolution and is a lightning rod for scholars, activists, artists and youth inspired to probe these questions as well. The film tracks her political and private evolution and shows how she emerged with a radically simple philosophy: revolution is not an act of aggression, but a series of living conversations. As the story unfolds, we see Grace’s ideas materialize and how, through grassroots leadership, Detroit becomes a laboratory for national change.

BREATHIN’: THE EDDY ZHENG STORY

By Ben Wang (James T. Yee Fellowship Project)
After serving over 20 years behind bars for a robbery he committed at age 16, Chinese American community leader Eddy Zheng now faces deportation to China. Released from prison in 2007, Eddy has dedicated his life to preventing youth violence and delinquency through his work at many San Francisco Bay Area programs and organizations. BREATHIN’: THE EDDY ZHENG STORY is a documentary about one of the most visible Asian American leaders to emerge from the prison system. Providing a complex and honest portrayal of its subject, the film highlights a critical human rights issue facing the U.S. today: the alarming increase of Asian immigrants and refugees being incarcerated and deported.

HAFU: A FILM ABOUT THE EXPERIENCES OF MIXED-RACE JAPANESE LIVING IN JAPAN

By Megumi Nishikura
With an ever-increasing movement of people between places in this transnational age, there is a mounting number of mixed-race people in Japan—some visible, others not. HAFU is the unfolding journey of discovery into the intricacies of mixed-race Japanese and their multicultural experience in modern-day Japan. The film follows five “hafus”—the Japanese term for people who are half-Japanese—who by default of living in Japan are forced to explore what it means to be multiracial and multicultural in a nation that proudly proclaims itself as mono-ethnic. For some hafus, Japan is the only home they know. For others, living in Japan is an entirely new experience, and yet others are caught somewhere between two worlds. Ultimately, this film is the universal story of individuals longing to be accepted for who they are.

JEEPNEY

By Esy Casey (James T. Yee Fellowship Project)
JEEPNEY visualizes the richly diverse cultural and social climate of the Philippines through its most popular form of mass transportation: vividly decorated ex-WWII military jeeps. Unlike mass transportation in many parts of the world, jeepneys are not a government service but are individually operated by the drivers, who manifest their identity, values and dreams in its painting and decoration. The stories of a jeepney driver, artist and passenger take place amidst nationwide protest against oil price hikes that pressure drivers to work overseas to earn a living. Lavishly shot and cut to the rhythm of the streets, JEEPNEY provides an enticing vehicle through which the rippling effects of globalization can be felt.

MRS. JUDO: BE STRONG, BE GENTLE, BE BEAUTIFUL

By Yuriko Romer
Film Festival 2012, Funded 2011
Using rare archival footage, intimate interviews and plenty of on-the-mat action, director Yuriko Gamo Romer eloquently brings to life the inspiring story of a remarkable woman and judo master. At a time when women went from childhood home to wife and homemaker, Keiko Fukuda made an unpopular choice and took a different path, saying, “This [Judo] was my marriage…this is when my life destiny was set.” MRS. JUDO: BE STRONG, BE GENTLE, BE BEAUTIFUL beautifully showcases the life of Sensei Fukuda, presenting her as not only a pioneer for women but as an inspiration to us all.

OUTLAWED IN PAKISTAN

By Habiba Nosheen
In parts of Pakistan today, women are perceived as men’s property and are believed to embody the honor of their families. Local tribal assemblies often declare a woman kari, meaning “black female” or “tainted woman,” when she marries someone of her own will or rumors have spread of a woman acting “dishonorably.” To restore the family’s honor, the family or tribe must kill these women. OUTLAWED IN PAKISTAN is a documentary about the deeply entrenched tradition of honor killings in Pakistan. The film follows two strong women who narrowly escaped death at the hands of their families and are now struggling to find justice and begin new lives.

AMONG THE BELIEVERS (former working title: Two Children of the Red Mosque)

Directed by Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi | Produced by Jonathan Goodman Levitt and Hemal Trivedi | Written by Jonathan Goodman Levitt
Amid suicide bombings and U.S. drone attacks in northwestern Pakistan, 12-year-olds Zarina and Talha are pursuing different dreams. After attending madrassahs of the Red Mosque, they make different choices that promise to define their adult lives. Zarina recently escaped the madrassah, and her struggle to attend secular school and avoid marriage stands opposed to Talha’s journey over the next two years. Their stories personalize the hard choices facing modern Pakistanis living in rural areas, where ongoing ideological battles between fundamentalist and moderate Muslims are shaping Pakistan’s future.

2010

AMERICA BY THE NUMBERS WITH MARIA HINOJOSA: CLARKSTON, GEORGIA

By Maria Hinojosa and Martha Spanninger
Broadcast 2012, Funded 2010
Produced and hosted by award-winning investigative journalist Maria Hinojosa, AMERICA BY THE NUMBERS visits one of the country’s most surprisingly diverse communities. A small town of 7,500 people that was 90 percent white in the 1980s, Clarkston is now home to residents from more than 40 countries who speak more than 60 languages and dialects; the white population today is less than 14 percent. This special explores lessons about democracy and coexistence that a divided nation can learn from its newest citizens.

I AM

By Sonali Gulati
What would you do if you found out that your child is gay? Having lost the opportunity to come out to her own mother, an Indian lesbian filmmaker, now living in the US, travels across India to meet with parents of other gay and lesbian South Asians. I AM is a personal and revealing film that journeys to a country where being gay was until very recently a criminal and punishable offence. With daring determination and humor, parents in India share untold stories of their gay and lesbian children that have thus far remained in the realm of secrecy and silence.  I AM is an innovative film that takes more than simply creative risks. The story and characters might be local, but it reflects a challenge that is facing a global community. It is a film about a contemporary and relevant social justice issue that questions assumptions and brings new international dialogue around sexuality and human rights.

THE SPACE IN BACK OF YOU

By Hisami Kuroiwa
This documentary examines the life of Suzushi Hanayagi, a remarkable dancer and creative partner to one of the greatest minds in the performing arts, director Robert Wilson who has called Suzushi ‚Äúmy teacher.‚Äù  Confined now to a retirement home in Osaka, spending most of her time in a wheelchair, Ms. Hanayagi has begun to lose all memory of her long career as an acclaimed classical and modern dancer.  Even in stillness she is dancing, as she said during a recent visit, ‚Äúdancing in my mind.‚ÄùHanayagi‚Äôs influence on Wilson cannot be underestimated.  His trademark vocabulary of stage movement, including gestures and carefully choreographed movements became fully realized through Suzushi‚Äôs collaboration.  In many ways, their language was the same despite tremendously different backgrounds and personal styles.  Each artist emerged from the theater movements of the 1960‚Äôs to create dynamic new works in their own style.  Wilson especially became an international theater sensation with epic works like Einstein on the Beach, the CIVIL wars, and Death, Destruction and Detroit.  But like many great talents, Suzushi remained more in the background, her influence, however great, has yet to be fully recognized.

TALES OF THE WARIA

By Kathy Huang
At a time when transgender communities around the world are largely ignored or misrepresented in the media, the 60-minute documentary video TALES OF THE WARIA intimately explores how the members of one such community confront issues of love, family, and faith. Traveling to Indonesia, the world‚Äôs most populous Muslim country, the film focuses on the waria, biological men who identify as women. Though Indonesia‚Äôs tolerant form of Islam permits the waria to live openly and without fear of physical harm, they remain a marginalized community whose life choices are often constrained in significant and sometimes tragic ways. TALES OF THE WARIA interweaves the stories of several waria who encounter unique obstacles on their search for love. Suharni‚Äôs seemingly perfect relationship with her boyfriend is tested when she leaves town to find work. Mami Ria, leader of the waria, struggles to revive her 18-year relationship with a police officer. ‚ÄúEx-waria‚Äù Ari leads a quiet life with his wife and two kids, but still dreams of the past when he had long hair and danced with men. Guiding us through these stories is Tiara, a glamorous and entertaining waria who secretly harbors her own heartache.  Shot over several years with waria serving as advisors and film crew members, the film provides unprecedented access to a community that dares to live differently from the norm, despite what consequences may await them. Through their emotional journeys, our notions of love, gender, and Islam are forever changed.

OPERATION POPCORN

By David Grabias
A group of suburban senior citizens, led by a young entrepreneur with no prior military experience, seeks to amass an arsenal of AK-47s and Stinger missiles, hire mercenaries, and take over a foreign country. This may sound like a Hollywood thriller, but its true. Together with nine other Hmong-Americans, 35-year-old Lo Cha Thao dreamt of launching a coup in Laos to save relatives still being hunted by the Communist regime, long after the end of the Vietnam War. He called the plan Operation Popcorn, but his vision of being a hero fell apart before it ever began, as Lo and his co-conspirators were arrested as part of an FBI undercover sting. Now branded terrorists, they face a life sentence in prison.  OPERATION POPCORN tells Los story as the trial unfolds and the community comes to grips with what it means. The film interweaves Los personal saga with an account of the plot, its historical context, and its present-day impact on the Hmong both here in America and in Laos. A potent mixture of in-the-moment drama, archival sequences, and animation, the film is an eye-opening tale of idealism gone awryand how the ghosts of one refugee community continue to haunt it. OPERATION POPCORN is a compelling, dramatic and sometimes painful look at a man trying to be worthy of elders who are war survivors and heroes.  Through Lo, the film explores the price many refugees pay for living the American dreamunspeakable guilt, knowing the tragedy continues for those remaining in the home country.

SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE

By Debbie Lum
Every year thousands of American men go to China to find a bride. Seeking Asian Female is a one-hour documentary that explores this contemporary social phenomenon through an unusual personal story. As a Chinese American woman who was raised believing true love is colorblind, I set out to explore why so many Western men desire Asian women. I follow Steven, an older white man from California obsessed with finding a young Chinese wife. Over the Internet, Steven meets Sandy a young woman from Anhui, China, who agrees to move to the US to be his fiancé. The minute she steps foot on American soil, fantasy and reality collide, as all three of us – Steven, Sandy and myself ‚Äì are forced to confront the assumptions and judgments we hold of one another.  As I watch whether this improbable union will succeed ‚Äì becoming their reluctant translator and marriage counselor behind the lens ‚Äì I try to determine, could it possibly be love? Seeking Asian Female is an unusual modern love story that examines how stereotype and expectation impact romance and relationship. It offers a rare glimpse into the Asian immigrant experience upon first arrival in America and an up-close view of a new marriage developing in the face of daunting cultural barriers. In a world where online communications are eroding geographic boundaries, the story reflects the changing relationship between China and America, and offers a new definition of what it means to be American, Chinese, and Chinese American today.

SEEKING HAVEN

By Hein S. Seok
There are countless North Korean defectors living in China, most of them in secret. If caught by the Chinese police, they are deported to North Korea where they are politically persecuted. This makes it difficult to determine the exact number of North Korean defectors. According to some experts it may be anywhere from 200 thousand to 1 million.  Some defectors manage to escape to Southeast Asian countries where they find refuge at South Korean embassies. The South Korean government grants them citizenship and offers settlement aid. As of early 2010, 20 thousand North Korean defectors have officially entered South Korea.  Young-soon Kim escaped North Korea in 2002 when she was 17 years old. She lived in hiding in China and entered South Korea in 2007 after receiving citizenship. The film crew started following her in June 2007, right before her dangerous attempt to leave China, until the present.  Young-soon managed to reach to South Korea. But her older sister, Eun-ja, was discovered by the Chinese police and deported to North Korea. Young-soon tried desperately to smuggle her sister out of the country again. But then came the news that Eunja had been taken away to a prison for political criminals. It was impossible to tell whether she was dead or alive. Young-soon is currently trying to at least save her sister’s daughter.

THE MOSUO SISTERS

By Mario Poras
Two spirited daughters from China’s last remaining matriarchal ethnic minority are thrust into the worldwide economic downturn when they lose the only jobs they’ve ever known. Left with few options, Jua Ma and La Tsuo leave Beijing for home, a remote village in the foothills of the Himalayas. But home is no longer what it was, as growing exposure to the modern world irreparably changes the provocative traditions the Mosuo have built around their belief that marriage is an attack on the family. Determined to keep their mother and siblings out of poverty, one sister sacrifices her dream of an education and stays home to farm, while the other leaves to try her luck in the city. From Lijiang to Chengdu, Jua Ma’s interactions with rich Chinese businessmen, Tibetan gangsters and fledgling pop stars lead her on a precarious path that pits her hopes against bitter realities.  An intimate portrait that intertwines the two sisters stories during a pivotal a year and a half in their lives, the film will explore how the particulars of the sisters journeys can highlight larger issues and truths.  In the process, the film will serve as a rare window into a story that is at once a telling tale of the human cost of the global financial crisis and a timely snapshot of a minority culture whose singular customs are being threatened by the very forces that are lifting its people out of poverty.

GIVE UP TOMORROW

By Marty Syjuco & Michael Collins
Give Up Tomorrow is a documentary feature film that tells the story of a high-profile miscarriage of justice and its unfolding international repercussions.  Simultaneously a murder-mystery and an exposé of endemic corruption in the Philippines today, Give Up Tomorrow looks intimately at the case of Paco Larrañaga, a young student wrongfully convicted of killing two sisters on the provincial Filipino island of Cebu.  Capturing the rapacious media circus surrounding the trial, Give Up Tomorrow reveals the extraordinary judicial violations that resulted in Paco’s death sentence and spiraling human rights abuses in the post Marcos era.  Secret filming by Paco from his cell in Bilibid Prison, Manila, exposes the appalling conditions of a prison system stretched to breaking point.  Spanning over a decade, Give Up Tomorrow charts how Paco’s family and friends’ tireless campaigning culminated in timely intervention by the international human-rights community, saving not only Paco’s life, but hundreds of others as the death penalty in the Philippines was abolished.  Introducing American and world audiences to the fragile democracy of a former US colony, Give Up Tomorrow points to a huge crisis in the Philippine criminal justice system, a state of affairs that puts everyone who lives there at constant risk.

THE LEARNING

By Ramona Diaz

One hundred years ago, American teachers established the English-speaking public school system of the Philippines. Now, in a striking turnabout, American schools are recruiting Filipino teachers. The Learning is the story of four Filipina women who reluctantly leave their families and schools to teach in Baltimore. With their increased salaries, they hope to transform their families’ lives back in their impoverished country. But the women also bring idealistic visions of the teacher’s craft and of life in America, which soon collide with Baltimore’s tough realities.

SOMEONE ELSE’S WAR

By Lee Wang
The forces of globalization have sent Asian workers all over the world in search of a better life. Asian migrants cross continents and oceans for the chance at a new life, but now, they’ve crossed a new frontier, into the war in Iraq. Several years into the war, few Americans realize that most of the menial labor on military bases in Iraq isn’t being done by Americans, and it’s not being done by Iraqis either. Instead, the work has been outsourced to an army of 35,000 low-wage workers from the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. The company behind the outsourcing is Halliburton. Someone Else’s War is the first documentary to examine this new underclass of American warfare. Focusing on Filipino workers who ended up in Iraq, the film provides an intimate look into the forces of poverty and desperation that persuade workers to risk their lives for the chance at a better life.

 

2009

DELANO MANONGS

By Marissa Aroy
Delano Manongs tells the unknown story of a group of Filipino farm workers who toiled under the yoke of racism for decades, then rose up as old men to fight for fair wages and humane work conditions. The Manongs instigated one of the finest hours of the American labor movement, the Great Grape Strike of 1965, which led to the formation of the internationally recognized United Farm Workers Union and made Cesar Chavez a household name.

HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE

By Stephen Maing
Inspired by a search for truth and the potential for fame, a young blogger from Hunan province challenges the boundaries of free speech by reporting on censored news stories in various cities throughout China while an older blogger from Beijing rides his bicycle throughout the mainland documenting the struggles
of villagers deep within China’s countryside. High Tech, Low Life captures the untold story of two of China’s first citizen reporters and the achievements of a fearless new digital generation.

MADE IN INDIA

By Rebecca Haimowitz & Vaishali Sinai
Made In India is about the human experiences behind the phenomena of “outsourcing” surrogate mothers to India. The film looks at couples across the US whose struggle with infertility has led them to seek a surrogate mother to carry their child and the surrogates who choose to carry their fetuses for a fee. What unfolds is a complicated clash of families in crisis, reproductive technology and outsourcing played out across cultures and countries.

NINOY AQUINO & THE RISE OF PEOPLE POWER

By Tom Coffman
The Philippines’ Benigno Aquino, from a stance of defending constitutional government against martial law, was subjected to eight years in prison. In the process he evolved from a “Boy Wonder” politico into a deeply thoughtful and effective practitioner of nonviolent resistance. At a time when the vast majority of people everywhere were saddled with dictatorships, he became the archetype for using nonviolence as the method for driving out national dictators and strengthening the cause of constitutional government.

OAK PARK STORY

By Valerie Soe
Oak Park Story recounts the journeys of three families who come to live at a low-income apartment complex in Oakland, California, encountering daily life in America’s underclass. Parents raised their children amidst drug dealing, gang violence and prostitution. Yet their worst problem was their landlord, who raised rents even when El Nino rains flooded their units. They join forces to sue their landlord and the film follows their struggle for justice.

ONE IN A BILLION

By Geeta Patel
One in a Billion humanizes the common and quiet struggle of millions of first-generation Americans who struggle with the idea of not marrying within one’s traditional religion and culture. The film takes us inside the world of the Indian-American semi-arranged marriage industry and addresses questions at the heart of the American immigrant experience: is ‘cultural sameness’ a prerequisite to a good marriage, cultural preservation, and true love?

SOMA GIRLS

By Nandini Sikand
Soma Girls is a half-hour documentary short which explores the lives of several girls (ages 6 to 17) who live in a home in Kolkata, India. Their mothers live and work in Kalighat, one of the largest red light districts in the city. Each girl is painfully aware of their individual circumstances but yet they play, dance and study and speak of wanting to grow up, to become independent and find a way to get their mothers out of the trade.

WO AI NI (I LOVE YOU) MOMMY (previously White Stork Hotel)

By Stephanie Wang-Breal
For the past eight years, China has been the leading country for U.S. international adoptions. Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy is a 60-minute documentary about Chinese adopted girls, their American adoptive families and the Chinese political and cultural pressures that led to their abandonment. The characters and events in this story challenge our traditional notions of family, culture and race.

XMAS WITHOUT CHINA

By Tom Xia
News reports slamming China drove proud immigrant Tom Xia to challenge his American neighbors to do Christmas without Chinese goods. The Joneses down the street accept eagerly. What follows is a humorous and surprising intercultural exchange that reveals the misunderstandings, bravado and yearnings of Americans in a world of great change and shifting identities.

2008

CHINESE COUPLETS

By Felicia Lowe
CHINESE COUPLET is part memoir, part history, part investigation as the filmmaker and former journalist explores the meaning of identity by uncovering her mother’s secrets and dissecting the lies that upheld the secrets. The journey reveals the powerful effect on ones’ sense of place and belonging; within families, communities, even countries. It is a story that is both old and new, a cautionary tale of an unwanted immigrant who realizes the American Dream.

CAMBODIAN BASEBALL

By Mike Siv
Cambodia is known for its Killing Fields and for the most part the country has been viewed through the prism of Pol Pot’s genocide. But if Joeurt Puk, a.k.a. Joe Cook, a Cambodian American teppanjaki cook from Alabama has his way, all that will change. Hailed as the “father of Cambodian baseball”, Joe returned to his native Cambodia five years ago with a quintessentially American dream: to introduce baseball to Cambodia by establishing Cambodia’s first National Baseball Team. He turns to an American high school baseball coach, Tom Dill, whose team made history by winning the California State Championships on Dodgers Field. Playing baseball in the Asian games not only provides an international language that connects America and Cambodia to the rest of Asia, but also serves as a lens to explore the lives, dreams and struggles of young Cambodian villagers whose courage and resilience could redefine the face and future of Cambodia.

CAMPAIGN (Funded as part of the 2008 POV Series)

By Kazuhiro Soda
This is democracy — Japanese style. “Campaign” provides a startling insider’s view of Japanese electoral politics in this portrait of a man plucked from obscurity by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to run for a critical seat on a suburban city council. Kazuhiko “Yama-san” Yamauchi’s LDP handlers are unconcerned that he has zero political experience, no charisma, no supporters and no time to prepare. What he does have is the institutional power of Japan’s modern version of Tammany Hall pushing him forward. Yama-san allows his life to be turned upside down as he pursues the rituals of Japanese electioneering — with both tragic and comic results.

PATSY MINK: AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY

By Kimberlee Bassford
AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY is an hour-long documentary about the life and times of the late Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first Asian American woman and woman of color in the U.S. Congress and the co-author of Title IX, the landmark legislation that expanded equal educational opportunities for women with a profound impact on women’s athletics.

A SONG FOR OURSELVES

By Tadashi Nakamura
During the 1970s when Asians in America were invisible to the country, the late Chris Iijima’s music provided the voice and identity an entire generation had been in search of. Through animated photographs, intimate home movies, archival footage and Chris’ own songs, this documentary shows how Iijima’s music unleashed the contagious energy of the Asian American Movement with an unrelenting passion for social justice and a life well lived.

SUMMER PASTURE

By Lynn True and Nelson Walker
“A Nomad’s Life” is a feature-length documentary shot in the high grasslands of the Tibetan plateau. Through rare access to this remote area, a small team of American and Tibetan filmmakers spent three months living with a young nomadic family — Locho, Yama and their infant daughter — filming their everyday lives as questions arise over their ability to survive as nomads in modern Tibet.

UPAJ

By Hoku Uchiyama
UPAJ follows the relationship between Kathak master, Pandit Chitresh Das and tap star, Jason Samuels Smith as their phenomenal cross cultural collaboration, India Jazz Suites (IJS), tours the nation and India.

UP THE YANGTZE (Funded as part of the 2008 POV Series)

By Yung Chang
Nearing completion, China’s massive Three Gorges Dam is altering the landscape and the lives of people living along the fabled Yangtze River. Countless ancient villages and historic locales will be submerged, and 2 million people will lose their homes and livelihoods. The Yu family desperately seeks a reprieve by sending their 16-year-old daughter to work in the cruise ship industry that has sprung up to give tourists a last glimpse of the legendary river valley. With cinematic sweep, UP THE YANGTZE explores lives transformed by the biggest hydroelectric dam in history, a hotly contested symbol of the Chinese economic miracle.

A VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES

By Leo S. Chiang
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Vietnamese community from New Orleans East impressively rises to the challenges by returning and rebuilding before any other neighborhood in the city, only to have their homes threatened by a new government-imposed toxic landfill just two miles away. A VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES recounts how this group of people, who has already suffered so much in their lifetime, turns a devastating disaster into a catalyst for change and a chance for a better future.

WHATEVER IT TAKES

By Christopher Wong
Whatever it Takes chronicles the triumphs and struggles of the inaugural year of an innovative small high school set in NYC’s notorious South Bronx. This deeply emotional, cinema verité documentary follows the lives of two characters: Edward Tom, a brash Asian American, rookie principal, and Sharifea Baskerville, a ninth-grade girl with big dreams but even bigger obstacles. A dramatic uplifting story with uncommon personal access, Whatever it Takes reveals a community born into hardship but rising to excellence.

WHEN I WALK

By Jason DaSilva
After working as a filmmaker for ten years, I put my experience with multiple sclerosis to the screen with When I Walk. The film uses my personal narrative as an anchor point to weave in and out of interviews, explanations, and findings on MS. The film builds a narrative journey that is as informative as it is entertaining. The film carries the unique perspective of a young South Asian film director going through a life change.

 

2007

THE BONESETTER’S DAUGHTER

By Fawn Ring
This documentary will focus on bestselling novelist Amy Tan and composer Stewart Wallace (Harvey Milk, Hopper’s Wife) as they create an opera based on The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Tan’s most personal novel published in 2001 soon after her mother’s death from Alzheimer’s disease. The opera will premiere in September 2008 at SF Opera.

CALAVERA HIGHWAY

By Renee Tajima-Peña
When Armando and Carlos Peña set off to carry their mother’s ashes back to the Texas borderlands and reunite with their brothers, the road reveals more than they bargained for.

CITY OF BORDERS

By Yun Suh
The only gay bar in Jerusalem brings together Israeli and Palestinians who risk their lives by challenging society’s greatest taboos. Their collective experience of persecution over identity forges a common bond between people typically viewed as each other’s “enemy.” In so doing, the community at this underground sanctuary represents a needed model of tolerance in an otherwise divisive and explosive region.

IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG JEE

By Deann Borshay Liem
In the Matter of Cha Jung Jee follows acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem as she returns to her native Korea to find her “double,” the mysterious girl whose place she took in America 40 years ago. Traversing the landscapes of memory, amnesia and identity, while also uncovering layers of deception in her adoption, this moving and provocative film probes the ethics of international adoptions and reveals the cost of living a lie. Part mystery, part personal odyssey, it raises fundamental questions about who we are…and who we could be but for the hands of fate.

THE LEARNING

By Ramona Diaz
The Learning follows several Filipino teachers in Baltimore City across a school year, chronicling the sacrifices they make as they try to maintain a long-distance relationship with their children and families, and begin a new one with the mostly African-American students whose schooling is now entrusted to them.

LITTLE MANILA: FILIPINOS IN CALIFORNIA’S HEARTLAND

By Marissa Aroy & KVIE
Filled with chop-suey houses, gambling dens, and dance halls, Little Manila was once a bustling area in downtown Stockton and home to the largest number of Filipino immigrants outside of the United States. As farm laborers, Filipinos faced backbreaking work, low wages, and at times extreme racism, yet they still referred to Stockton as the “City of Gold,” and looked to the United States to fulfill their dreams. Little Manila: Filipinos in California’s Heartland, tells the immigrant story as Filipinos experienced it and the efforts to preserve that history.

THE MOSQUE IN MORGANTOWN

By Brittany Huckabee
An Indian-American woman’s campaign against extremism in her West Virginia mosque unexpectedly pits her against its other moderates, exposing a critical divide in American Islam. The Mosque in Morgantown will tell a story about the struggle for women’s participation in the mosque, of the potential clash between traditional Islamic practices and core American values, and of competing paths to social change. Through it all, it will offer a meditation on the nature of American identity and of religion itself.

PROJECT KASHMIR

By Geeta Patel and Senain Kheshgi
Two friends travel to Kashmir’s war zone and confront their own personal identities and explore key issues of religious and cultural conflict, human rights, freedom of expression, revealing the roots of a divided South Asian immigrant community in the U.S.

THE SLANTED SCREEN

By Jeff Adachi
From silent film star Sessue Hayakawa to Harold & Kumar Go to Whitecastle, The Slanted Screen explores the portrayals of Asian men in American cinema, chronicling the experiences of actors who have had to struggle against ethnic stereotyping and limiting roles. The film presents a critical examination of Hollywood’s image-making machine, through a fascinating parade of 50 film clips spanning a century. It includes interviews with actors Mako, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, James Shigeta, Dustin Nguyen, Phillip Rhee, Will Yun Lee, Tzi Ma, Jason Scott Lee, comedian Bobby Lee, producer Terence Chang, writer Frank Chin, and directors Gene Cajayon, Eric Byler, and Justin Lin.

SPEAKING IN TONGUES

By Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider
Speaking in Tongues follows a community considering a radical proposal to make bilingualism a goal for every public school student. As they grapple with the implications of this radical idea, we see how this potentially revolutionary approach impacts the families of four students already involved in this educational experiment. Through this complex prism, this film humanizes issues too often lost among rote debates about immigration, assimilation, globalization, and the definition of “real” Americans.

WHATEVER IT TAKES

By Christopher Wong
Whatever it Takes chronicles the triumphs and struggles of the inaugural year of an innovative small high school set in NYC’s notorious South Bronx. This deeply emotional, cinema verité documentary follows the lives of two characters: Edward Tom, a brash Asian American, rookie principal, and Sharifea Baskerville, a ninth-grade girl with big dreams but even bigger obstacles. A dramatic uplifting story with uncommon personal access, Whatever it Takes reveals a community born into hardship but rising to excellence.

2006

AND THEREAFTER II

By Hosup Lee and Hyun-Ock Im
This is an hour-long documentary about a Korean woman, Ajuma, married to an American soldier, living in the U.S. Ajuma gives us recollections of life in Korea as a prostitute and stories of her isolated but unique life in the U.S. Most former prostitutes have difficulty “coming out” with revelations about their former occupation, and Ajuma is no exception. Despite her initial agreement, director Hosup Lee sees that telling Ajuma’s story is not the straightforward project is appeared to be. What results is a story that is told in new and unexpected ways.

BOLINAO 52

By Duc Nguyen
The film follows Duc Nguyen as he investigates a Vietnamese refugee boat escape in 1988 in which more than half of the passengers died from thirst and starvation. In desperation, the 52 survivors resorted to cannibalism after they were left behind by a U.S. Navy ship. After 37 long days at sea, they were finally rescued by a group of Filipino fishermen from the village of Bolinao.

THE FIRST BATTLE

By Tom Coffman
This a one-hour documentary that reveals the behind-the-scenes battle waged by Japanese Americans in Hawai’i in their successful efforts to not be interned. This powerful documentary details how 160,000 people of Japanese ancestry in Hawai’i were able to freely go about their lives during World War II, while 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry on the Mainland were wrongly interned.

HOLLYWOOD CHINESE

By Arthur Dong
Hollywood Chinese is a captivating revelation on a little-known chapter of cinema: the Chinese in American feature films. From the first Chinese American film produced in 1916, to Ang Lee’s triumphant Brokeback Mountain almost a century later, Hollywood Chinese brings together a fascinating portrait of actors, directors, writers, and iconic images to show how the Chinese have been imagined in movies, and how filmmakers have and continue to navigate an industry that was often ignorant about race, but at times paradoxically receptive.

THE LEARNING

By Ramona Diaz
The Learning follows several Filipino teachers in Baltimore City across a school year, chronicling the sacrifices they make as they try to maintain a long-distance relationship with their children and families, and begin a new one with the mostly African-American students whose schooling is now entrusted to them.

MOST HONORABLE SON

By Bill Kubota
After the Pearl Harbor attack, Nebraska farmer Ben Kuroki volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Corps. He would become the first Japanese American war hero, surviving 58 missions as an aerial gunner over Europe, North Africa and Japan. Between tours of duty he found himself at the center of controversy – a lone spokesman against the racism faced by the thousands of Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps. Through interviews and rare, never-before-seen film, Most Honorable Son recounts one man’s remarkable journey through World War II, providing context to two seemingly disparate histories – the U.S. air war and the Japanese American experience.

NEW YEAR BABY

By Socheata Poeuv
This film traces the family history of filmmaker Socheata Poeuv who was born on Cambodian New Year in a refugee camp in Thailand. Her family was among thousands of refugees who fled their homeland after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. New Year Baby is a personal documentary – a search for truth about who her family is and how they survived the Khmer Rouge genocide when so many Cambodians died.

OH, SAIGON

By Doan Hoang
In 1975, a South Vietnamese girl and her family are airlifted out of Saigon on one of the last helicopters to leave in the final hours of the Vietnam War. Twenty-five years later, she returns to Vietnam to discover two uncles who had been kept hidden from her. While her father was a South Vietnamese pilot, his younger brother deserted the Southern army and their older brother, a Communist, fought on the opposing side. In an attempt to heal political differences and the wounds of war, the young woman brings her father home to Vietnam for the first time since their escape to reunite him with his brothers.

PILGRIMAGE

By Tad Nakamura
This innovative documentary tells the inspiring story of how a small group of Japanese Americans in the late 1960s uncovered their lost history and created the Manzanar Pilgrimage. Their effort transformed the abandoned WWII American concentration camp into a symbol of retrospection and solidarity for people of all ages, nationalities and races in our post-9/11 world.

PROJECT KASHMIR

By Geeta Patel and Senain Kheshgi
Two friends travel to Kashmir’s war zone and confront their own personal identities and explore key issues of religious and cultural conflict, human rights, freedom of expression, revealing the roots of a divided South Asian immigrant community in the U.S.

SOMEONE ELSE’S WAR

By Lee Wang
This is the first documentary to examine a new underclass of American warfare. Focusing on Filipino workers who ended up in Iraq, the film provides an intimate look into the forces of poverty and desperation that persuade workers to risk their lives for the chance at a better life.

A VIEW FROM A GRAIN OF SAND

By Meena Nanji
Told through the eyes of three Afghan women – a doctor, teacher and women’s rights activist – this documentary tells the story of how war, international interference and the rise of religious fundamentalism has stripped Afghan women of rights and freedom. Together with rarely seen archival footage, their powerful stories provide illuminating context for Afghanistan’s current situation and the ongoing battle women face to gain even basic human rights.

WINGS OF DEFEAT

By Risa Morimoto and Linda Hoaglund
What were Japanese Kamikazes thinking just before crashing into their targets? When Risa Morimoto discovered that her beloved uncle trained as a Kamikaze pilot in his youth, she wondered the same thing. Through rare interviews with surviving Kamikaze pilots, Morimoto retraces their journeys from teenagers to doomed pilots and reveals a complex history of brutal training and ambivalent sacrifice.

 

2005

FROM A SILK COCOON

By Satsuki Ina
This documentary is a true story based on letters exchanged between a young Japanese American couple, Itaru and Shizuko Ina, while imprisoned in two separate American prison camps during World War II. Labeled as “disloyal” and deemed “enemy aliens dangerous to the public peace and safety of the United States,” they struggle to prove their innocence and fight deportation.

HOLLYWOOD CHINESE

By Arthur Dong
Hollywood Chinese is a captivating revelation on a little-known chapter of cinema: the Chinese in American feature films. From the first Chinese American film produced in 1916, to Ang Lee’s triumphant Brokeback Mountain almost a century later, Hollywood Chinese brings together a fascinating portrait of actors, directors, writers, and iconic images to show how the Chinese have been imagined in movies, and how filmmakers have and continue to navigate an industry that was often ignorant about race, but at times paradoxically receptive.

THE LAST GHOST OF WAR

By Pham Quoc Thai and Janet Gardner
Thirty years after the end of the Vietnam War, four Vietnamese families are among the several million victims of Agent Orange filing a class action suit against 32 multi-national chemical companies. From Vietnam, they tell their stories, while lawyers battle it out in court over evidence. The question is who should be held accountable in the wake of the largest chemical warfare operation in history.

NEW MUSLIM COOL

By Jennifer Maytorena Taylor
Puerto Rican-American rapper Hamza Pérez pulled himself out of drug dealing and street life and became a Muslim. He moved to Pittsburgh’s tough North Side to start a new religious community, rebuild his shattered family and take his message of faith to other young people through hard-hitting hip-hop music. New Muslim Cool takes viewers on Hamza’s ride through streets, slums and jail cells — following his spiritual journey to some surprising places in an America that never stops changing.

OPEN SEASON

By Mark Tang
OPEN explores the parallel stories of two communities impacted by the same tragic act that resulted in the death of six Caucasians during the 2004 deer hunting season in the Wisconsin/Minnesota area. A riveting story about fear, prejudice, courage, and the love of the land, OPEN SEASON offers a revelatory account of the causes and aftermath of the deadliest confrontation in America’s hunting story.

OUT OF THE POISON TREE

By Beth Pielert
On the eve of the long-awaited Khmer Rouge trial, a Cambodian American survivor of the genocide returns to Cambodia hoping to unlock the mystery of her father’s disappearance in 1975. Thida Buth Mam’s quest intersects with many silent voices: widows, survivors from remote villages, monks and even former perpetrators.

TO YOU SWEETHEART, ALOHA

By S. Leo Chiang
To You Sweetheart, Aloha follows the 94th year in the life of the colorful Honolulu-born ‘ukulele master Bill Tapia. Mourning the recent death of his wife and only daughter, Bill finds his muse in 26-year-old Alyssa Archambault, his manager and friend who helps Bill reconnect to his past and resurrect a future in music.

PAPER WORDS

By Joyce Lee
Mai is a bright, active 5-year-old girl, recently arrived from China to a small town in middle America. Hindered by language barriers and culture shock, Mai prefers to stand silent in a corner rather than play games with her classmates at school. Mai’s mother soon learns that she is perceived as developmentally delayed by her new kindergarten teacher. With virtually no resources to aid her, Mai’s mother must conceive of a brilliant idea to save her daughter’s future. PAPER WORDS is a half-hour animated film that is based on a true story.

PROJECT KASHMIR

By Geeta Patel and Senain Kheshgi
Two friends travel to Kashmir’s war zone and confront their own personal identities and explore key issues of religious and cultural conflict, human rights, freedom of expression, revealing the roots of a divided South Asian immigrant community in the U.S.

THE STORY OF SPIRITS

By Tien Nguyen
During the Vietnam War, a husband and wife make life-altering decisions which now haunt them in life and in death. By telling the story of her mother, filmmaker Tien Nguyen commemorates her mother’s life through the celebration of Vu Lan in Vietnam to put her mother’s spirit to rest. The filmmaker explores the events that surrounded her family’s escape from Vietnam in 1975 and the blur between history and legend.

WHOSE CHILDREN ARE THESE?

By Theresa Thanjan
The lives of three Muslim teenagers are impacted by post 9/11 domestic anti-terrorism security measures. Navila fights to release her father from detention; Sarfaraz, a popular basketball player, confronts pending deportation; and Hager, a young woman who faces bias, is spurred into activism.

 

2004

A DREAM IN DOUBT

By Tami Yeager
This is a one-hour documentary about post 9/11 hate crimes against Sikhs in Phoenix. Balbir Singh Sodhi was the first American killed in the backlash against “Arab looking” Americans after 9/11. The program tells the story of his murder and other recent hate crimes.

NEW YEAR BABY

By Socheata Poeuv
This film traces the family history of filmmaker Socheata Poeuv who was born on Cambodian New Year in a refugee camp in Thailand. Her family was among thousands of refugees who fled their homeland after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. New Year Baby is a personal documentary – a search for truth about who her family is and how they survived the Khmer Rouge genocide when so many Cambodians died.

SENTENCED HOME

By David Grabias and Nicole Newnham
Raised as Americans in inner city projects near Seattle, three young Cambodian refugees each made a rash decision as a teenager that irrevocably shaped their destiny. Years later, facing deportation back to Cambodia, they find themselves caught between a tragic past and an uncertain future by a system that doesn’t offer any second chances.

A VIEW FROM A GRAIN OF SAND

Told through the eyes of three Afghan women – a doctor, teacher and women’s rights activist – this documentary tells the story of how war, international interference and the rise of religious fundamentalism has stripped Afghan women of rights and freedom. Together with rarely seen archival footage, their powerful stories provide illuminating context for Afghanistan’s current situation and the ongoing battle women face to gain even basic human rights.

 

 

2003

THE CATS OF MIRIKITANI

by Linda Hattendorf and Masahiro Yoshikawa
Eighty-year-old Jimmy Mirikitani survived the trauma of internment camps, Hiroshima and homelessness by creating art. But when 9/11 threatens his life on the New York City streets and a local filmmaker brings him to her home, the two embark on a journey to confront Jimmy’s painful past. The Cats of Mirikitani is an intimate exploration of the lingering wounds of war and the healing powers of friendship and art.

CHINA BLUE

By Micha Peled
China Blue looks at one aspect of China’s transformation into a major global economy – the sweatshop factories that make clothes, shoes and toys Americans buy daily. Shot clandestinely inside a jeans factory, it follows the lives of two workers and their factory owner.

A DREAM IN DOUBT

By Tami Yeager
This is a one-hour documentary about post 9/11 hate crimes against Sikhs in Phoenix. Balbir Singh Sodhi was the first American killed in the backlash against “Arab looking” Americans after 9/11. The program tells the story of his murder and other recent hate crimes.

A MOMENT IN TIME

By Ruby Yang
In the distant past, there was a moment in time when six movie theaters in San Francisco’s Chinatown crystallized the memories, beliefs, sorrows, aspirations, and experience of Chinese immigrant families through the films they loved — from Cantonese opera to Westerns. These Chinese movies reduced elders to tears, challenged the young to find out how they could be American and Chinese at the same time, and helped to bridge the gap between generations.

SENTENCED HOME

By David Grabias and Nicole Newnham
Raised as Americans in inner city projects near Seattle, three young Cambodian refugees each made a rash decision as a teenager that irrevocably shaped their destiny. Years later, facing deportation back to Cambodia, they find themselves caught between a tragic past and an uncertain future by a system that doesn’t offer any second chances.

YOURS TRULY, MISS CHINATOWN

By Daisy Lin Shapiro
Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown goes behind the scenes of the 2003 Los Angeles Miss Chinatown pageant, delving into the lives of two pageant contestants during the pageant and the aftermath. Added to the mix is the anti-heroine, a Miss Chinatown imposter who dares to take on the myth, and playfully molds the symbol to reflect her own coming of age experiences.

 

2002

COSMOPOLITAN (narrative)

By Nisha Ganatra
Cosmopolitan is based on the short story by acclaimed author Akhil Sharma. Gopal is a first generation Indian-American who is left stranded in the suburbs after his wife and daughter abandon him. In an attempt to seduce his divorcee neighbor, Gopal reinvents himself as a modern American man with the guidance of the women’s magazine (his wife’s) that offers advice on how to be a good lover.

DAY OF INDEPENDENCE (narrative)

By Chris Tashima
Day of Independence takes place in 1943 after President Roosevelt has signed Executive Order 9066. Inspired by actual events, this film tells the story of an American family and a decision that challenges a son to find strength. It shows that heroes are not necessarily found only on a battlefield, or even a baseball diamond. Heroes can be our own parents.

FISHBOWL (narrative)

By Kayo Hatta
Based on excerpts from Japanese Hawaiian writer Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s acclaimed Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers, A Fishbowl, introduces Lovey Nariyoshi, one of the most original and spunkiest American characters to hit the literary scene since Huckleberry Finn or Holden Caufield. Eleven-year-old Japanese Hawaiian Lovey is the descendant of poor sugar cane workers and the daughter of a Hilo taxidermist. Her struggle for self-affirmation leads her into a series of humourous and often poignant misadventures culminating in a clash with children of the platnation elite one memorable Halloween night.

THE GRACE LEE PROJECT

By Grace Lee
The Grace Lee Project is a humorous, yet critical exploration of what it means to be a contemporary Asian female in America. “Grace Lee” is the quintessential Asian American woman’s name, the Asian American “Jane Smith.” By looking at the stories of five women named Grace Lee, the film pursues the moving target of Asian American female identity, revealing the complexity and diversity of Asian American women’s experience.

SPOTLIGHTING: ASIAN AMERICAN LOUNGE LIZARDS

By Justin Lin
Spotlighting follows Asian American musicians in the Las Vegas lounge scene and their passion to pursue a dream. With absolutely no inetnion to stay confined in their typical nine-to-five jobs these performers transcend boundaries of race and class and the optimism, sheer will and brightness of the creative soul in all of us.

THE TIME IS RIGHT FOR MEE

By Foung Heu
In January of 2002, Mee Moua became the first Hmong American to be elected to a statewide political office for the first time in United States history. This documentary details Moua’s historic and whirlwind campaign to become Minnesota State Senator as she navigates a competitive political field, mobilizes her immigrant Hmong community to become registered voters, all the while involving everyone in the great American political process.