From documentary cinema to horror films, the CAAM Fam is full of film lovers of many genres. We asked our staff for their documentary recommendations from CAAM’s Educational Media resources, just in time for the new school year. All their picks, along with over 250 other other Asian American films, are listed online and available for educational use. Enjoy!
The Slanted Screen, Jeff Adachi (2006)
“With the recent loss of cinematic icon, James Shigeta, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the history of Asian American male representations and celebrate the media pioneers who paved the way for the current generation of actors. The Slanted Screen, directed by Jeff Adachi, is a fascinating and essential documentary that explores the history of Asian stereotypes in cinema through the eyes of actors such as Shigeta, Dustin Nguyen, Bobby Lee and many more.” -Masashi Niwano, Festival Director
The Gate of Heavenly Peace, David Carnochan (1995)
“The protest at Tiananmen in 1989 may very well be the most memorable and widely felt protest in recent Chinese history. It’s a wonder how, although we hear accounts of the government and journalists on the protest, we have next no recounts from the protesters themselves. The Gate of Heavenly Peace gives us a first hand look on the experiences of the protesters, many of which were students, as the lived through the struggle.” -Derrick Leung, Program Intern
Kelly Loves Tony, Spencer Nakasako (1998)
“I watched this film when I was in college when it came out. I recently re-watched it, and am astounded at how raw, emotional and relevant it still is today. It’s an intimate look at a teen couple and their growing family, along with all the struggles of being young parents. Kelly and Tony really shared a lot of their personal lives to a very public audience. It’s rare to see a story like this about Asian Americans, much less Southeast Asian Americans, told from their perspective.” -Momo Chang, Content Manager
Sentenced Home, David Grabais and Nicole Newnham (2005)
“Sentenced Home is the first documentary I ever watched that brought a human face to the United States’ policies on immigration and deportation. The subjects in the film reminded me of a lot of the youth from my neighborhood growing up and so that resonated with me. Not only was I moved by the film but Nancy Newnham (director) and Many Uch (subject) were there for a very touching and emotional Q&A that I’ll never forget.” -Davin Agatep, Program Manager
Calcutta Calling, Sasha Khokha (2004)
” I watched Calcutta Calling earlier this year, when I was first going through CAAM’s educational media resources. The perspective of the three young girls, adoptees from Calcutta, India to rural Minnesota made me rethink my own ideas about identity and belonging. Their interaction and return to their country of birth for the first time was full of vulnerability and bright-eyed wonder. I was struck by their search for reflections of themselves in the worlds around them.” -Hardeep Jandu, Digital Media Intern
Roots in the Sand, Jayasri Majumdar Hart (1998)
“It’s probably the first film I watched about South Asian migrants in California, it was touching and intimate, you could feel the bitterness that these pioneering Punjabi men’s years of hardship and invisibility had borne. But what has stayed with me is the mixing of Punjabi and Mexican cultures when these men married Mexican women since Indian women were not allowed to immigrate to California. I still remember the unique Indian-Mexican food they ended up creating!” -Sapana Sakya, Public Media Director
– Compiled by Hardeep Jandu
Main image: CAAM Staff and Board Members at the 2014 retreat.