2020 Year in Review: Reflecting on CAAMForward and Announcing Storytellers 2021

CAAM40 Storytellers

What a year it has been! Twelve months ago here at CAAM, we were simply looking at 2020 as a year to commemorate our 40th anniversary and to set our sights on what Asian American storytelling will look like in the future.

In January, we met with some of our most dedicated supporters for the Getting Real With Ali Wong event, kicking off our 40th anniversary year. Wong—a comedian, actress, author, and San Francisco-native— was also our first CAAM40 Storyteller.

The 14 profile articles in our Storytellers series are part of our year-long CAAMForward campaign, acknowledging our roots in the nascent days of the Asian American movement as well as shining a light on the emerging creativity and energy in our community. Collectively, this group of creatives—ranging from pillars of our community to emerging talents—was chosen by the CAAM leadership for the ways they demonstrate the breadth of skill, as well as the richness and diversity of backgrounds within Asian America.

To set the tone for CAAMForward, we enlisted the talents of the San Francisco-based (and Asian American women-owned) creative strategy firm otherwise to shape a fresh and optimistic feel for the project, which included not only the profiles of the 14 storytellers on the CAAM blog, but also the CAAMForward.com microsite with a timeline of the key milestones of our four decades in producing, nurturing, and advocating for Asian American independent filmmaking. Our freelance writers—Momo Chang, Gil Asakawa, Sarah Kim, Pooja Makhijani, and Rashda Khan, plus CAAM’s own Lauren Lola and Grace Hwang Lynch—told us the stories behind the Storytellers, giving us peeks inside the minds of these inspiring filmmakers, musicians, chefs, and leaders. Indonesia-based artist Resi Bhaskoro illustrated the whimsical portraits of our Storytellers, as well as the artwork for our CAAMFest 2020 events Heritage at Home in May and FORWARD in October.

We are proud that our final event of the year, our 40th anniversary Celebration of Asian American Storytelling, drew hundreds of virtual guests and more than met our goal of raising $125,000 to sustain CAAM’s critical work.

As 2020 draws to a close, the pandemic is still ravaging our nation, and the racial reckoning started last summer leaves us with more questions than answers. We are hopeful that as we continue to engage these topics, our world will become a little more empathetic. But we also know what a complicated and divided world we have inherited. In that spirit, we plan to continue to shine the spotlight on Asian Americans who are elevating our narratives, to develop the next generation of storytellers, and to amplify voices shaping a more just and inclusive nation. Stay turned in the next year for Storytellers 2021, as we expand our focus to the visionaries and do-ers who are moving the Asian American experience forward.


Stephen GongStephen Gong

CAAM Executive Director



Your support of and participation in our programs and campaigns made this impact possible. People like you who believe that Asian American stories and voices are critical to an authentic understanding of the American experience. We could not have achieved this without you. If you would like to contribute to CAAM’s work, please donate online.


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