2024 CAAM Fellows

CAAM is thrilled to announce our 2024 Fellows: Rafael Bitanga, Colette Ghunim and Linghua (Lily) Qi. They will each be paired with one of our accomplished 2024 Fellowship Mentors: Tadashi Nakamura, Bhawin Suchak, and Diane Quon.

Launched in 2011, the CAAM Fellowship was revamped in 2019 to continue to nurture next generation Asian American documentary filmmakers — pairing them with a mentor who helps them develop their projects and introducing them to industry professionals from whom they gain invaluable insight on how to sustain and thrive in their careers.

Rafael Bitanga

At age six, Rafael’s creative journey started when he used his mom’s film camera to capture his older sister during a dance performance in the Philippines. Early exposure to the arts sparked his creativity, which came into focus years later. As a 7th grader in Kodiak Island, Alaska, he documented the life of a retired Filipina nurse and teacher. Since then, he has been committed to filming unscripted documentaries centered on overlooked stories, (particularly Filipina/o Americans in Alaska). In 2016, Rafael represented the Kodiak History Museum at the National Arts and Humanities Youth Programs Award, where Michelle Obama highlighted his contributions to photography and filmmaking. Rafael’s work has garnered support from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alaska Humanities Forum. Beyond film projects, he teaches filmmaking to youth and educators across Alaska through the nonprofit, See Stories. The power of film and service fuels him to uplift others with dignity. Rafael is a Coca-Cola, Horatio Alger, and Live Más Scholar, who holds a B.S. in Hotel Administration from Cornell University. Rafael will be working with Mentor Tadashi Nakamura.

Project: Magsayawan Ketchikan 

Alma Manabat Parker leads a cultural revival amongst Filipina/o-Americans in Ketchikan, Alaska through Philippine folk dance and gatherings. Reconnecting with her Philippine heritage as an immigrant empowers her and the community to heal from the lasting impacts of intergenerational colonial trauma.

Colette Ghunim

As a documentary filmmaker and nonprofit co-founder, Colette Ghunim’s soul purpose is to use the power of film and storytelling for those oppressed around the world to be seen, to be heard, and to heal. Her first documentary, The People’s Girls (2016), received over 2 million views and won Best Short Documentary at the Arab Film Festival for its bold spotlight on street harassment in Egypt. In co-production with Kartemquin Films and funded by Latino Public Broadcasting, she is directing Traces of Home, her first feature-length film documenting her inner quest to find home through unearthing her parent’s forced migrations from Mexico and Palestine. Colette is also the co-founder of Mezcla Media Collective, a nonprofit organization aimed to cultivate a thriving landscape for over 700 women and non-binary filmmakers of color in Chicago. Her work has been highlighted on international outlets such as the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, Univision, and TEDx. Colette was selected as a 2023 Obama Foundation USA Leader, 2024 Sundance Institute Artist Accelerator Fellow, and was featured on Arab America’s “30 Under 30” list. Colette will be working with Mentor Bhawin Suchak.

Project: Traces of Home

Filmmaker Colette Ghunim embarks on journeys with her parents to find the ancestral houses they were forced to flee as children in Mexico and Palestine. Colette’s initial desire to heal her disconnect from her cultures and her parents reveals an internal quest to discover home within herself. 

Linghua (Lily) Qi

Linghua (Lily) Qi is a Chicago-based filmmaker and producer with a passion for visual storytelling that reflects human interests and social issues. She has assisted projects for BBC, CNBC, Belt Magazine, Global Citizen, and AARP-Chicago, including Emmy-nominated, award-winning docuseries co-produced by WORLD Channel and the Asian American Documentary Network (A-Doc). At A-Doc, she works on several initiatives that support community-building among AAPI documentary professionals. As a journalist, her writings have appeared in various publications including Google/Pop-Up Magazine, Civil Eats and Nikkei Asia. Her Civil Eats story on food colonialism was selected as “The Five Best Ideas of the Day” by the Aspen Institute. Her short documentary, Whispers In the Dark, is an official selection for the 2020 American Documentary and Animation Film Festival. Lily is a former fellow at Free Spirit Media and City Bureau, a grantee of Prism Photo Workshop, and a semi-finalist for the 2022 Sundance Humanities Sustainability Fellowship. Lily will be working with Mentor Diane Quon.

Project: Untitled Religion in School

Students from different faith backgrounds come together for an epic World Religions class in a public high school. With the help of their teacher, the mild-mannered suburbanites confront the preconceived notions of their peers’ faiths.