During the month of May, Comcast On Demand subscribers will have access to a wide selection of media, film, and narratives to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Calcutta Calling – Sasha Khokha, 30 minutes
Calcutta Calling tells the story of three Indian girls growing up in the rural Midwest. Adopted from Kolkata, India by Swedish-Lutheran families, the girls and their adoptive families are given the opportunity to visit India for the first time. Director Sasha Kokha provides a delicate perspective on the dislocations in home, contrasts of poverty, and familial ties. The film’s gaze is neither that of a foreigner nor an insider, but instead straddles a tender in-between.
Daughters of the Everest – Sapana Sakya, Ramyata Limbu, 60 minutes
Within knowledge indigenous to the Sherpa people of Nepal, Mount Everest is sacred, known as “Chomolongma,” Mother Goddess of the Universe. Daughters of the Everest gives voice to the captivating first-ever expedition of Sherpa women to climb Mount Everest in 2000. The film brings forward the spirit of the five women set to make the unmatched climb, while giving a vibrant portrait of the Sherpa community.
Days of Waiting – Steven Okazaki, 30 minutes
The Academy Award-winning Days of Waiting tells the story of Estelle Ishigo, a Caucasian woman who was interned during World War II after resisting separation from her Japanese American husband. As an artist, Ishigo documented her four years of internment at the haunting Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming by giving testimony to the struggles of camp life, and watercolor paintings depicting the experiences of internees.
Filmmaker on a Voyage – Mona Lisa Yuchengco, 90 minutes
The late Marilou Diaz Abaya was one of the most influential visionaries for contemporary Filipino cinema and television production. Her work fashioned multiple critically acclaimed and commercially successful films from the eighties to her untimely death in 2012. This biographic tribute to Marilou Diaz-Abaya shows her legacy on storytelling and the human experience of cinema making, while also paying respect to Diaz-Abaya’s brave presentations of social justice and the Filipino underclass.
Open Season – Mark Tang and Lu Lippold, 60 minutes
In 2004, Chai Soya Vang, a Hmong immigrant from Laos, was tried and acquitted for shooting six white hunters during deer hunting season in northwestern Wisconsin. This unsettling case is brought to light in the documentary Open Season, as directors Mark Tang and Lu Lippold pose questions about the criminal justice system, property, and immigration within the deep, convoluted context of race in the United States. The film is an in-depth look at Vang’s life, the violent confrontation, the controversial trial and public reaction, and perspectives from the Hmong community.
Sentenced Home – Nicole Newnham and David Grabias, 60 minutes
Sentenced Home weaves the stories of three young Cambodian American men as they face contemporary immigration policy and deportation. This film is an unflinching look at the interwoven lives of these young men raised in inner-city Seattle, whose futures are shaped by the circumstances of their boyhood, their immigration status as refugees, and the current legal justice system.
Wet Sand: Voices from L.A. – Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, 60 minutes
Wet Sand: Voices from L.A. is a return to a pivotal moment of Los Angeles history. Testimonies from different ethnic communities speak in retrospect on racial and economic issues during the 1992 L.A. civil riots. Wet Sand is a follow-up to Dai Sil Kim-Gibson’s Sa-I-Gu, which depicted personal stories of Korean American women who lived through the 1992 riots.
Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown – Daisy Lin, 30 minutes
Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown is an inside look into the world of ethnic beauty pageants, as three young women complete for the renowned Miss Los Angeles Chinatown crown. The film contrasts the glamorous world on stage with the daily life for the contestants, as they struggle to balance family, life, culture, and ideals of beauty. Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown also features the distinguished comedian Kristina Wong, who stars as a bold cigar-smoking imposter Miss Chinatown.
CAAMFest Sound Bites – 4 episodes, 20 minutes total
CAAMFest’s Directions in Sound program is the musical highlight of CAAMFest experience. Watch interviews, exclusive live performances, and special features on emerging powerhouse performers and artists. This special look includes treats from folksy singer-songwriter Cynthia Lin, fierce Bay Area hip hop artist Rocky Rivera, standout electro-dance band Glenn Check, and the passionate synth-pop soul of Love X Stereo.
Employed Identity (Kathy Uyen) – Bao Minh Nguyen, 5 minutes
Director Bao Minh Nguyen brings us a new web series narrating the experiences of the Vietnamese diaspora and “Viet Kieu” – Vietnamese abroad – returning to their country of origin, seeking reconnection and new opportunities. In this portrait-style web series, Nguyen gives light to themes of identity, unemployment, kinship, and the emerging film and art scene in Vietnam, with the first in the series highlighting actor Kathy Uyen. Employed Identity captures the emerging opportunities of moving back “home,” as well as the challenges of emigration and displacement.
Hungry Monster – Karen Lin, 3 Episodes, ~5 minutes each
Karen Lin’s Hungry Monster is a playful, education web series on the delights of ethnic food. Season 1 explores Taiwanese street voice – stinky tofu, Batsung, and boba tea. Great for children, families and foodies, Hungry Monster gives a creative and fun experience on food culture: their origins, fan base, and creation.
What Are You Anyways? – Jeff Chiba Stearns, 11 minutes
Jeff Chiba Stearns explores his mixed roots background in the animation What Are You Anyways?, as he tells his story growing up mixed in the small Canadian city Kelowna. The piece uses small vignettes and memories to piece together a story of finding identity and coming of age. Humorous and light-hearted, Stearns’ storytelling tells a story of love, struggle, and childhood.
Yellow Sticky Notes – Jeff Chiba Stearns, 7 minutes
Animator Jeff Chiba Stearns reflects on years of to-do lists and yellow sticky notes to create time capsule of his filmmaking journey and adulthood. Tracing back on his notes, Stearns takes a retrospective look at his animation career, contextualizing his life with major events in global history. The film is classically animated, using a black ink pen and over 2,300 yellow sticky notes.
– Hardeep Jandu
Main image: Jeff Chiba Stearns’ short film, Yellow Sticky Notes.