Funded Projects Archive

CAAM FUNDED
1994

THE BETRAYAL (Nerakhoon)

By Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
On P.O.V., July 21, 2009 at 10 PM
Filmed over 23 years, The Betrayal is the Academy Award®-nominated directorial debut of renowned cinematographer Ellen Kuras in a unique collaboration with the film’s subject and co-director, Thavisouk (“Thavi”) Phrasavath. After the U.S. government waged a secret war in Laos during the Vietnam War, Thavi’s father and thousands of other Laotians who had fought alongside American forces were abandoned and left to face imprisonment or execution. Hoping to find safety, Thavi’s family made a harrowing escape to America, where they discovered a different kind of war.

CAAM FUNDED
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.

CAAM FUNDED
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.

CAAM FUNDED
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.

CAAM FUNDED
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.

CAAM FUNDED
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.

CAAM FUNDED
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.

CAAM FUNDED
2008

CHINESE COUPLET

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.

CAAM Funded
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
High Tech, Low Life follows the evolution of a young vegetable seller into one of China’s first citizen reporters as he challenges the boundaries of free speech by reporting on China’s censored news stories. At 26, Zhou Shuguang – known to his internet community as Zola – helped mobilize thousands of supporters throughout China, marking the beginning of his new life as a roving citizen reporter.

MADE IN INDIA

By Rebecca Haimowitz & Vaishali Sinha
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.