CAAMFest 2020 Award Winners!

CAAMFest 2020 award winners
Congratulations to the 2020 CAAMFest Award Winners, including films from both our spring festival CAAMFest Online: Heritage at Home and and our fall event CAAMFest FORWARD.

Narrative Award

Winner: Definition Please, Dir. Sujata Day

Jury Members: Hanna Huang (Executive Director, Austin Asian American Film Festival), Melanie Elvena (Artistic Director, API Cultural Center), Valerie Soe (Director, Producer and Professor)

Jury Statement: Sujata Day’s Definition Please is a captivating story of family, friendship, vocabulary, expectations, and not allowing oneself to be defined by a singular moment. With standout performances by Day, Lalaine, Ritesh Rajan, Anna Khaja, and Maya Kapoor, each brings depth and humor to their well-written, fully unfolding characters.

Jury Mention: Chosen Fam, Dirs. Natalie Tsui and Lindsay Sunada

Jury Statement: Lindsay Sunada Natalie Tsui’s web series Chosen Fam is a kicky, on-point snapshot of the QTPOC community in San Francisco. The show’s fun aesthetic includes a quirky multi-culti cast as well as bright, saturated art direction. 

Documentary Award

Jury Members: Abby Sun (Curator, the DocYard, Film Programmer, Writer and Researcher, MIT Open Documentary Lab), Maikiko James (Director of Programs, Women in Film), Sophoan Sorn (Director, Berlin & Beyond Film Festival)

Winner: And She Could Be Next,  Dirs. Grace Lee and Marjan Safinia

Jury Statement: The Documentary Features jury was deeply impressed by all the films in competition, especially the breadth of Asian American experiences on display. And She Could Be Next,  the impressively crafted, intimately filmed portrait of five women of color running for political office is the 2020 CAAMFest Forward Documentary Competition Winner. Co-directed by Grace Lee and Marjan Safinia, with many other women of color both above and below the line, the production of this film generously and structurally mirrors the inspiring, collective stories that it depicts.

Jury Mention: 76 Days, Dir. Hao Wu, Weixi Chen, and Anonymous

Jury Statement: Our 2020 CAAMFest Forward Documentary Competition Honorable Mention goes to 76 Days, directed by New York-based, Chinese American filmmaker Hao Wu and China-based journalists, Weixi Chen, and Anonymous. This gripping and humanistic, observational documentary thrusts us into the deeply personal spaces of frontline medical workers, patients, and family members during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan. Amidst the heartbreak and horror, we also find moments of shared humanity, glimmers of hope, and healing. 76 Days is an exclusive and invaluable documentation of first-hand experiences with a global enemy that we are all still fighting against today.

Loni Ding Award for Social Issue Documentary

Jury Members: Deann Borshay Liem (Filmmaker), Stephen Gong (CAAM’s Executive Director), Don Young (CAAM’s Director of Programs) and Masashi Niwano (CAAM’s Festival and Exhibitions Director)

Winner: Fighting For Family, Dir. Lan Nguyen

Jury Statement: We are pleased to announce the recipient of the 2020 Loni Ding Award for Social Issue Documentary to Lan Nguyen for Fighting For FamilyFighting For Family depicts the story of a family from the indigenous tribes of Vietnam that is separated by ICE policies. The jury was deeply moved by the centering of this story of anti-immigrant policies within the simple and wrenching story of family separation and the context of the continuing legacy of the Vietnam Era.

Jury Mention: Standing Above the Clouds, Dir. Jalena Keane-Lee

Jury Statement: a Special Jury Mention for Standing Above the Clouds for excellence in documentary craft and for amplifying the voices of Native Hawaiian women activists at the forefront of a movement to defend their sacred land. A beautiful film that carries a message of tenacity and hope across generations.

Audience Awards

The CAAMFest Audience Awards give valued members of our audience the honor of selecting their favorite films of the Festival.

Narrative Audience Award: The Girl Who Left Home, Dir. Mallorie Ortega

Documentary Audience Award: Far East Deep South, Dir. Larissa Lam


Read more reflections on CAAMFest FORWARD here