2015 CAAM Fellow Vera Brunner-Sung reflects on attending CAAMFest 2015. Travel to and from CAAMFest 2015 for CAAM Fellows was generously provided by Southwest Airlines.
Between creating new work, taking care of old projects, and attending to day-to-day life, it’s increasingly difficult to step back and assess the big picture. This is one of the reasons I’m so grateful for the CAAM Fellowship. It’s made space for reflection and strategizing with guidance from exceptional mentors and role models.
Needless to say, I was excited for our first meeting in San Francisco, during CAAM’s annual film festival, CAAMFest. I flew in from my home in Missoula, Montana, and soon met program director Karin Chien, Sapana Sakya, and my fellow Fellows Franklin and Talal. It didn’t take long to feel at ease with everyone–it was like being welcomed in to a new family.
After a delicious meal of South Indian cuisine (no Indian restaurants in Missoula!) we had a workshop with Angela Cheng Caplan, a literary/talent agent based in Los Angeles. Angela invited us to, together, frankly assess our goals and obstacles for the short and long term. It’s no surprise that our discussion got personal and profound pretty quickly. This was the most intense part of the weekend, laying the groundwork for continued discussion over the duration of the fellowship. (And, in all likelihood, the rest of our lives!)
Thinking back on the weekend, it’s these conversations that stand out the most–at night in the hotel lobby with a fellow; with Karin in the car on the way to an event; at an impromptu dinner with Vanessa and Ted Hope (at the festival for the premiere of their new documentary); with fellowship alumni after the panel presentation and brunch. The panel itself was another highlight, giving us the details on the fellowship’s history, and its impressive past recipients. I felt honored all over again to be joining their ranks.
Finally, before getting on the plane back to Montana, I caught an inspiring program of experimental films curated by Chi-hui Yang. Several filmmakers were in attendance, and there was a great discussion that followed.
Arriving back home, I felt reinvigorated with a sense of professional and creative possibility. I also brought back a feeling of kinship with all those I met, one that has already transcended geographic distance. And indeed, I’ve been continuing the conversations we began with my mentor, So Yong Kim. She’s been providing me with invaluable feedback on my new script, as well. I’m so thankful to Karin, Sapana and CAAM for this opportunity. It’s already made a strong and positive impact on my work and vision.
About Vera Brunner-Sung
Vera Brunner-Sung is an award-winning filmmaker whose experimental and documentary short films have been presented at festivals, museums, and galleries in the U.S. and abroad, including the Torino Film Festival, CPH:DOX, Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, MoMA PS1, San Francisco International Film Festival, and Images Festival. Her first feature, Bella Vista, had its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2014. Vera’s writing on film has appeared in Sight & Sound, Moving Image Source, Cinema Scope, and Senses of Cinema. A graduate of the California Institute of the Arts M.F.A. Program in Film and Video, Vera has taught at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Montana. She lives in Missoula, Montana.
Since 2012, what used to be a stand alone James T. Yee Fellowship for documentary makers is now a part of our CAAM Fellowship Program. The CAAM Fellowship Program caters to both fiction and non-fiction talent. Our goal remains to nurture a community of makers and professional mentors from within the Asian American media microcosm.
Furthering CAAM’s work to nurture Asian American media professionals and advance the field of Asian American media, the 2015 CAAM Fellowship Program will connect talented and dedicated individuals with leading professionals in the field. The CAAM Fellowship Program is unique in its field-wide approach seeking to develop the talents and skills of a range of media professions including filmmakers, actors, programmers, and executives.
Participating fellows will have access to the leading Asian American talent in film, television and digital media. Each fellowship will be individually tailored to best fit the needs of the fellows and advisors. Fellowships will range from fully integrated collaborations to regular feedback on current projects to an ongoing dialogue about professional development. Furthermore, fellows will have the opportunity to connect with the larger community of Asian American media professionals at CAAM’s annual film festival CAAMFest and a CAAM Fellowship Program retreat hosted by CAAM for all participating advisors and fellows.
The CAAM Fellowship Program is made possible with special support provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the Comcast Foundation. Travel support provided by Southwest Airlines.