CAAM is thrilled to be funding Asian American filmmakers and programs that showcase the breadth and diversity of experiences in our community. This year, the Documentary Fund and the Documentaries for Social Change Fund, are funding three projects in production and development and eight projects in development.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) continues to support CAAM in supporting projects destined for public media while the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports our efforts to seed projects through research and development on significant social issues impacting our communities.
Spirited directed/produced by Joua Lee Grande
Spirited follows filmmaker Joua’s journey as she navigates the news that she has been chosen by the spiritual world to become a shaman. As an agnostic Hmong-American in an interracial and interreligious family, she battles the question of whether or not she wants to pursue this path and explores the tensions and challenges of Hmong shamans in this generation in America. She meets several healers along the way, observing how they balance spiritual responsibilities to the community with their everyday life.
To Be (working title) directed/produced by Tony Nguyen
In 1975, a young woman, unaware she’s pregnant, escapes Vietnam during the Fall of Saigon, lands in a small town in Indiana, and, seven months later, gives birth. As her son grows from child to adult, she adamantly refuses to tell him anything about his father, who and where he is, if he’s even alive. To Be (working title) follows filmmaker Tony Nguyen on his quest to solve the mystery of his father and heal a part of himself.
Birth of An American Museum directed/produced by Kenneth Eng
After years of struggling to remain open, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) embarks on a quest to purchase their building in order to secure financial stability and a permanent home. With MOCA’s lease running out at the end of 2021, president Nancy Yao Maasbach races against the clock while encountering unexpected, additional hurdles: a five-alarm fire that engulfs their archives, Covid-19-related anti-Asian sentiment, and community tensions from the Mayor’s new jail plan for Chinatown. Will they succeed in buying their building, and if they do, will they have community support or alienate the very people they aim to serve?
CAAM DOCUMENTARIES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE FUND AWARDEES
The Americans directed by Hyunsoo Moon and produced by Brian Tessier
A vision of America’s future can be glimpsed in Storm Lake, Iowa, where the migrant population has made the white population a minority at 39%. Immigrants come to work at Tyson meatpacking plants, where one can earn more than minimum wage without English proficiency or a high school diploma. As the city lives through the tumultuous time of the Trump & COVID era, what the community goes through reveals a lot to us about race, class, civic duty, and what it means to be American.
Cosmic Egg directed by Anula Shetty
Cosmic Egg is a story about the desire for procreation, and the long-term physical and emotional impact of reproductive technologies in a global marketplace. Set in Mumbai, the film will explore the filmmaker’s personal struggle with infertility and the characters she meets in her journey through the surreal landscape of fertility mythology, egg harvesting, embryo transfers and surrogate motherhood. Cosmic Egg will be a provocative and poignant reflection on the interplay of humanity, society, capitalism, and technology.
K For Kashmir directed by Reaa Puri
Filmmaker Reaa Puri travels to her homeland of Kashmir to reconnect with her 90-year-old great-grandmother, when a series of events in the region spark a quest for answers about this contested land and her place in it. As she gets closer with other women in Kashmir, deep connections and deep chasms become magnified, and her questions take on bigger and bigger truths. K For Kashmir is a poetic investigation of what it means to feel belonging, community, and safety in a climate of unprecedented oppression, state-violence, and polarization.
The Last Resort directed by Sarita Khurana
The Last Resort is a documentary film about the first South Asian senior retirement community in the United States. Built with the vision of creating “a piece of India in Florida,” its success is part of a new wave of retirement communities designed for immigrant seniors. Following the daily lives of the residents, The Last Resort, explores the shifting cultural and familial dynamics of aging; how South Asian seniors are negotiating ideas of home, belonging, death and dying; and of creating new ‘imagined’ communities during the final era of their lives.
Paramita directed by Kirthi Nath
Paramita is a poetic documentary bearing testament to the story of Prajna Paramita, a South Asian queer woman, as she comes out to her family, steps onto a Buddhist spiritual path and takes her place as an activist and healer. Tactile and dreamlike, Paramita reclaims South Asian traditions of Buddhism, ayurveda and earth-based mysticism. Prajna Paramita’s story mirrors the living questions: How do we honor and find bridges to our cultural traditions when our families reject us in our romantic (queer) love and livelihood choices; How can we embody resistance and take our place in a white-centering American system that teaches us to hate our bodies and experience our own ancestral wisdom through a colonized lens? We walk with Prajna Paramita as she reclaims her queer brown body and experiences, finding her way towards collective healing.
Southness directed by Hanul Bahm
Southness is a multimedia story project and visual novel in the spirit of Zora Neale Hurston and William Faulkner, whose fiction explored the crux of Southern existence. In Southness, diverse Southerners play themselves: staging the past, documenting their present, and expressing hopes for the future. The project captures the essence and complexities of inhabiting the American South, whether as “minor” or “major” characters. Foregrounding subjectivity, those featured will co-create media, contributing descriptions of what’s endearing and defining of their lives here. Featuring: Emilia Brocq-Ramirez, Aryon Manson, Zaferhan Yurmu, Joshua Young, and Hanul Bahm.
unseen directed by Set Hernandez Rongkilyounseen is a a multi-platform documentary project that follows the story of Pedro, an aspiring social worker who happens to be a blind, undocumented immigrant. Using diegetic sound and experimental cinematography, the “audio-based” film portrays the point-of-view of a protagonist who is blind to reimagine the accessibility of cinema for audience members that cannot see. Beyond the film, the project also has an “audio play” and immersive VR component, in order for it to be as accessible as possible to audiences with disabilities.
Untitled KQT Project directed by Patrick G. Lee
Every weekend, a chosen family of queer and trans nightlife performers converges at a gay club in Seoul, Korea, to live out their high-femme, high-fashion fantasies. During the week, they grapple with an outside world that refuses to see them on their own terms. Untitled KQT Project follows this crew as they navigate gender, seek belonging, and protect their freedoms, all while joyfully rejecting societal pressures to conform. In doing so, the film creates a rare and crucial reference point for Asian America — one that reframes queerness as empowering, unifying, and culturally resonant, on both sides of the Pacific.