by Ashlyn Perri and Conor Rabinovitz
As we mark a transition from our traditional festival to CAAMFest 2013 (we were previously the SF Int. Asian American Film Festival), we also present an exciting new way to navigate our films and events. An alternative to typical festival sections, CAAM Tides highlight some of the key themes that are threaded throughout the program, enabling the festival-goer to experience the new waves of culture that are hitting shores both in the Bay and beyond.
In Economies of Power: Examining Present Day China, few topics spark more interest and inquiry as the rising economic power of China. In this intriguing selection, filmmakers provide a human face and layered narratives to the story of Chinese, Americans and Chinese Americans. Experience CAAMFest in a new and thought provoking way through these carefully selected films.
Today, it is hard to find affordable products that were not manufactured in an Asian country,especially from China.
Do you know how many of the products you use were made in China? Do you wonder what it would take to live without Chinese products at Christmas?
In the documentary Xmas Without China, Chinese immigrant Tom Xia challenges his American neighbors, the Joneses, to go without using any Chinese-made products for the Christmas season in December. Done in the wake of massive recalls of Chinese food and toy products, the Jones family accepts the challenge. As the month progresses, we see just how many Chinese products the Jones family uses every day and at Christmas.
This film is an excellent reflection on the prejudice towards Chinese manufacturing and the sheer prominence of products “Made in China.” The audience also sees the story of the modern Chinese immigrant in the director Tom, who tells his story of coming to America from his birthplace in China, and his inner struggle of his national identification.
In this modern love story, Steve, an aging white man with “yellow fever” falls for a young Chinese girl named Sandy, who he has met on the Internet and who eventually becomes his wife. The couple soon discovers that their dreams of a perfect love life greatly contrast from their bitter reality. Debbie Lum, the Chinese American filmmaker, intimately documents their life with humor and honesty from their courtship to their post-marital life, juggling the roles of translator, marriage counselor, and filmmaker.
As the film progresses, however, we watch how their relationship transforms, shifting from a man’s fixation with Asian women to a couple we can relate to in their quest for stability and love. Through Lum’s examination of the precarious relationship between Steve and Sandy, we can interpret their relationship as not just a clash of east meets west, but as the Wall Street Journal puts it “a reflection of the larger picture of Sino-American relations.”
Ultimately, this film, at it’s core, is about relationships. The relationship between husband and wife, East and West, and, to a greater extent, China and America. An intimate and quirky documentary, Seeking Asian Female tells the story of culture, migration and the tumultuous bond of relationships.
High Tech Low Life introduces us to two of China’s first citizen reporters, the seasoned and humble Tiger Temple and the young, brash Zola. Armed with laptops, cell phones, and cameras, both Tiger Temple and Zola must navigate through China’s ever-evolving censorship regulations and pierce through China’s “Great Fire Wall”, by giving voice to those who do not have one. Although their personalities as well as their age differ greatly, the two journalists share a common desire to report on underrepresented people, events, and social issues in China. The juxtaposition of Zola’s youthful and playful reporting style with Tiger Temple’s experienced and shrewd approach not only highlight reporting in the 21st century but also an important shift in China’s digital divide.
Want to view a film the New Yorker claims “China doesn’t want you to see.”? How about one that examines one of the last matriarchal societies? Click here for a full list of films for Economies of Power: Examining Present Day China!