Wanted: Central Valley Asian American Home Movies

A Sacramento Valley rice farm, c. 1939.
CAAM launches a special Memories to Light: Asian American Home Movies initiative focusing on California's Central Valley.

We are excited to announce that CAAM has received a prestigious California Stories grant from California Humanities to bring Memories to Light: Asian American Home Movies workshops to the Central Valley in the upcoming year—and we want YOU to be involved!

Memories to Light: Asian American Home Movies From the Central Valley is a story-centered public engagement and preservation project exploring the historical and cultural richness of home movies as created by Asian American families in the Central Valley from the 1930s to the 1970s, demonstrating the importance of collective storytelling, promoting a greater sense of cultural connection and fostering a greater understanding of Asian American experiences in the fields, orchards, and rural communities of the Central Valley.

“Home movies hold a unique place in the visual history of a community, precisely because they come from family members themselves,” says CAAM Executive Director Stephen Gong. “By preserving and restoring home movie reels from Asian American families, we are reframing the historically stereotypical images of Asian Americans in Hollywood films, and bringing to light authentic footage of Asian Americans.”

“California’s population has such a rich and varied story to tell—and we can all benefit from knowing more about each other,” noted Margaret Shelleda, chair of the board of California Humanities. “We are proud to award grants to those who find creative and effective ways of sharing our stories with new audiences and help connect Californians whose histories and experiences deserve greater and deeper appreciation.”

Are you from Fresno, Sacramento, Visalia, Delano, Stockton, Locke, Bakersfield, Shasta, Yolo, Yuba, Merced or Hanford—or have roots there? Do you want to add authentic moving images of Asian Americans that reflect the true history of our lives rather than the stereotyped mainstream images during this period? We’d love to add your Central Valley home movies to the archival collection!

Families who send their home movies to us to digitize will receive a digital copy of their home movies as well as two Memories to Light t-shirts and 6 Memories to Light buttons.

As part of the Central Valley project, CAAM will hold workshops in the Central Valley, work with local families to digitize and tell the stories behind their home movies, and screen and stream the films through 2016. In addition, the collections will be archived by the California Audiovisual Preservation Project (CAVPP) with collection access provided by the Internet Archive. CAAM digitizes film footage in 8mm, Super-8, and 16mm formats. Find out more about Memories to Light here.

Check out footage we have from the Central Valley below.