CAAM is Supporting 11 New Documentary Films in 2020

Light of the Setting Sun
Filmmaker Vicky Du behind-the-scenes of Light of the Setting Sun. Image Credit: Jih-E Peng

As part of our mission to uplift authentic Asian American stories, CAAM awards funds to outstanding programs each year. This year, CAAM is supporting three documentaries through our Media Fund, which in conjunction with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting gives projects up to $50,000 in funds for documentaries and projects made by or about Asian Americans that are intended for public media. Through the Documentaries for Social Change Fund, CAAM and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation are supporting nine films that illuminate social issues impacting the Asian American community. This year, Light of the Setting Sun, is a recipient of both funds. Director, Vicky Du, a 2019 CAAM Fellow, won the Ready, Set Pitch! at the Filmmaker Summit during CAAMFest 2019 which is part of our Documentaries for Social Change Fund.

Please visit our website for more information about our funding opportunities.

MEDIA FUND

Natours Grocery directed by Nadine Natour and produced by Julie Cohen

Natours Grocery
Left: Still from “Natours Grocery”, Right: Nadine Natour

Natours Grocery (WT) is a comedic and affectionate portrait of Arab Muslim immigrants Gehad and Sabah Natour as the success of their popular grocery store defies xenophobia in the conservative rural town where the Civil War ended.

Unruly Chinese Women directed/produced by Crystal Kwok

Unruly Chinese Women
Left: Still from “Unruly Chinese Women”, Right: Crystal Kwok

Unruly Chinese Women centers around filmmaker, Crystal Kwok’s grandmother’s family who moved from San Francisco to Augusta, Georgia in the 1930s where they ran a grocery store in the black neighborhood. As she unravels their intimate histories, a deeper truth unfolds about how the Chinese immigration experience connects with African American history. By interrogating the past, this film reframes history and draws attention to America’s problematic racial structure.

Light of the Setting Sun directed/produced by Vicky Du and produced by Danielle Varga 

Light of the Setting Sun
Top: Still from “Light of the Setting Sun”, Bottom Left: Vicky Du, Bottom Right: Danielle Varga

A Taiwanese-American filmmaker confronts her family’s silence around the cycles of violence that have persisted since the Chinese Communist Revolution of 1949. Light of the Setting Sun is a poetic family portrait of enduring resilience, and the courage it takes to create one’s self. (Also a recipient of the Documentaries for Social Change Fund.)

CAAM DOCUMENTARIES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE AWARDEES

Alive In Detroit directed/produced by Shiraz Ahmed 

Alive in Detroit
Left: Still from “Alive in Detroit”, Right: Shiraz Ahmed

A young journalist’s belief in the Affordable Care Act is tested when his mother becomes a victim of the ‘Medicaid Gap,’ an income trap that leaves millions without access to health insurance. After her emergency heart surgery threatens to destabilize the family, their looming medical debt is forgiven through a public charity care program — an act of grace that sparks a journey for solutions from a patient, a doctor and a pastor struggling to find a measure of peace amidst an ongoing public health crisis in Detroit.

Dreams Uprooted directed/produced by Meghna Damani

Dreams Uprooted
Top: Still from “Dreams Uprooted”, Bottom: Meghna Damani

Dreams Uprooted is the urgent story of the inhuman treatment of legal immigrant spouses, mostly South Asian women, who leave behind thriving careers to support their husbands’ “specialty occupation” careers in America. Once in the US, they have their right to work denied on arrival, and they are stripped of their independence by archaic laws requiring them to depend on their spouses for basic rights such as obtaining a drivers’ license, SSN cards, bank accounts and more. Revolutionizing themselves from being “dependent spouses” to advocates, they participate in a historic South Asian women’s rights movement that brings work authorization to 100,000 dependent spouses and lands many their dream jobs. Now, however, they must fight once again to keep their American Dream alive as Trump threatens to revoke their work authorization.

Raised by Restaurants directed/produced by Saleem Reshamwala

Raised by Restaurants
Top: Saleem Reshamwala, Bottom Left: Victoria Bouloubasis, Bottom Right: Mandy Padgett

Behind generic strip mall storefronts, stories from immigrant families whose children grew up Southern. Cities all over the South have immigrant-run restaurants, often hidden in plain sight in strip malls. For years, they served mostly Westernized versions of their countries’ food. Behind that facade were families and stories of immigration. Each episode of Raised by Restaurants will show the adult children of immigrant restaurant owners interviewing their own parents about their experience coming to the US and starting businesses here. With first episodes based in North Carolina, the web-series will tell the stories of immigrant-run restaurants in the South across two-generations, and will explore what happens when second generation immigrants ask their parents to dive deep into their own stories.

Spirited (working title) directed/produced by Joua Lee Grande

Spirited
Left: Still from “Spirited”, Right: Joua Lee Grande

Spirited follows Joua’s journey navigating the call to become a healer as an agnostic Hmong-American. It focuses on the experiences of young Hmong American spiritual healers (shamans) and highlights the cross-cultural challenges experienced by this generation: the changing practice of Hmong spirituality, how shifting gender dynamics and roles affect this experience, and Americanization. As Joua searches for a guide to teach her what is required to become a healer, she debates whether or not this is a path she wants to continue on.

Kapwa directed by PJ Raval and produced by Cecilia R. Mejia

Kapwa
Left: Cecilia R. Mejia, Right: PJ Raval

Kapwa means togetherness in the Filipino Community. Real change begins at home, with our families, however, we choose to define that. This digital series aims to bring families throughout the Filipino Diaspora together around the dinner table to have a constructive conversation without leaning towards one side, so that we can begin to understand varying viewpoints and work towards positive change within the fastest growing (yet oddly invisible) ethnicity in the US.

America (Re)mixed directed/produced by Pulkit Datta

America (Re)Mixed
Top: Stills from “America (Re)Mixed”, Bottom: Pulkit Datta

America (Re)mixed is an innovative non-fiction series that travels across the U.S. to tell the fascinating stories of immigrant communities, through the unique music and performances they create. The episodes, led by local artists or community leaders, use the music and performance traditions of those communities, to learn their stories, the challenges they face, and the role they play in America today. The series uses empowering messages of these American communities, to remind us of who we truly are as a country. America (Re)mixed is our story.

Christine Ha Documentary directed by Huay Bing Law and produced by Andrew Lee & Patty Zagarella

Andrew Lee, Huay Bing Law, Patty Zagarella
Left: Andrew Lee, Top Right: Huay Bing Law, Bottom Right: Patty Zagarella

A daughter of Vietnamese refugees, Christine Ha pushes past late life visual impairment and mental health struggles to become a renowned blind celebrity cook. With exclusive access, the feature documentary digs deep into Christine’s cultural heritage, devastating life circumstances, and inspirational creativity and tenacity in her bid to opening a successful restaurant. Life hasn’t been easy on Christine, but Christine hasn’t let that stop her.

PQ Village directed by Camaya Maricar and produced by Emma Francisco & Benito Bautista

PQ Village
Left: Still from “PQ Village”, Top Right : Camaya Maricar, Middle Right: Emma Francisco, Bottom Right: Benito Bautista

In San Diego, residents, church members and volunteers work together to save Peñasquitos Village (a.k.a. PQ Village), the only affordable housing complex left in the neighborhood’s affluent suburb of Rancho Peñasquitos despite the city’s growing housing crisis. While local politicians and supporters of redevelopment are concerned with creating more middle-class housing in the area, what happens to residents who already live there, when they are forced to move? With less than a few months before the local city council votes to demolish PQ Village for a new development plan, Felicidad, Nieves and Gemma, long-time residents of PQ Village, share their challenges in leaving home and point to the forces that are separating their beloved community.

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