Stronger With Friends: CAAM Filmmaker Summit Collaboration Edition, May 19-21

CAAM filmmaker summit

Collaboration, for us, has been the biggest lesson of the pandemic. Last year, our first virtual CAAM Filmmaker Summit showed the power of the collaboration between our fellow filmmakers and friends, as we jumped on  videoconferences, learning how our peers are continuing to create during shelter-in-place, as well as sharing resources for emergency financial grants and mental wellness.  

This year, our three-day  Filmmaker Summit celebrates the coming together of communities to join strengths against every force that stops us from expressing our authentic selves and telling our stories. We celebrate the tenacity that transforms collaboration into alliances, alliances to movements, and the sheer grit that pushes movements to inspire change.

As much as we miss meeting in real life (enjoy our photos from our in-person Summit in 2019, plus other events) we appreciate the opportunity to go virtual and reach far more people. This year’s Summit sessions and Happy Hours will be hosted on Remo, a platform which allows for small group engagement similar to an in-person gathering. If you’re not familiar with Remo, we invite you to register for the sessions, create your own profiles and check it out.

There has never been a better year to remind ourselves of the power of community. We stood in solidarity with the movement for Black lives, against police violence, and stood up for ourselves and our histories through the racist attacks we continue to brave and stay resilient through. It is our community that we stand proudly with, always learning and always teaching.

Filmmaker Summit Sessions

SESSION 1 Having One’s Back: Mentorship Within the Documentary Community
Wednesday May 19, 2021
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. PDT

Moderators: CAAM 2021 Fellows
Bree Nieves, Niceville
So Yun Um, Liquorstore Dreams
(Attending in spirit, Fellow Elizabeth Ai, A Woman’s Work)

Panelists: CAAM Fellowship 2021 Mentors
Geeta Gandhbir, Call Center Blues, And She Could Be Next
Steve Maing, Crime + Punishment, High Tech, Low Life
Nanfu Wang, In the Same Breath, One Child Nation

Our CAAM fellows this year have not only found a community through the fellowship but have also discovered a ground that props them up and opens up the possibility of connecting, creating, and collaborating in new ways. CAAM 2021 Fellows Bree Nieves and So Yun Um will be in conversation with their mentors Geeta Gandhbir, Steve Maing, and Nanfu Wang, discussing what it means to start out as an Asian American filmmaker and the crucial need to find mentors who guide them through the daunting industry. The fellows will ask questions around the mentors’ career choices, their processes, their experiences with their own mentors, and discuss how we can avoid creating echo chambers.

RSVP here.

Happy Hour hosted by A-Doc

Session 1 will be followed by a happy hour organized by our friends at A-Doc (Asian American Documentary Network). Join us to celebrate the magical collaborations and the persistent resistance of Asian American documentary professionals. You can tune in even if you end up missing the panel (which, ideally, you shouldn’t!)

CAAM Executive Director Stephen Gong speaking at the Filmmaker Summit in 2019

SESSION 2 Beyond Resilience: More Than One Lens
Thursday May 20, 2021
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. PDT

Moderator: Donald Young, Director of Programs, CAAM
Host: Marcia Smith, President, Firelight Media

Stanley Nelson, Filmmaker and Founder, Firelight Media
Grace Lee, Filmmaker Asian AmericansAnd She Could Be Next
Bernardo Ruiz, Filmmaker Latino Vote: Dispatches From the BattlegroundThe Graduates/Los Graduados

Cameo George, Executive Producer, American Experience

Our friends and beloved community members, Grace Lee, Stanley Nelson, Cameo George, and Bernardo Ruiz, have, amongst themselves, directed and produced more than 50 documentary films that reflect the breadth, diversity, and visions of BIPOC communities, movements, and masters. It is through them that we heard the stories of Emmett Till, Grace Lee Boggs, Roberto Clemente, Miles Davis, and Rashida Tlaib. Each one of them leaves us with awe, inspiration, and rage. This panel discussion brings together acclaimed documentary filmmakers and public media executives for a discussion about the necessity of “more than one lens”. It discusses how Lee, Nelson, Ruiz, and many like them, have built their careers within public media; why public media must center BIPOC filmmakers and stories in order to stay relevant; and how BIPOC leadership is shaping the future of public media.

RSVP here.

Presented in collaboration Firelight Media’s Beyond Resilience initiative

Happy Hour hosted by Reel South & NOVAC

Session 2 will be followed by a happy hour organized by our collaborators at Reel South and NOVAC. Join us to meet  our SAUCE Fellows and hear about their work as Asian American makers in the regional South. Last but not least, join us in celebrating the phenomenal work of our friends at Reel South and hear more about our Hindsight Pipeline collaboration with Firelight Media. Two of the Hindsight shorts have preview screenings at CAAMFest as well – Udaan by Amman Abbasi and We Stay in the House by Kiyoko McCrae. Feel free to drop in and stay for as long as you want!

SESSION 3 A Time for Remembering
Friday May 21, 2021
1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. PDT

Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings (2020) is a fearless and provocative hybrid of memoir, cultural criticism, and history through which the author navigates the shame, suspicion, and melancholy that defined her growing up as a Korean-American. The success of the book has led young Asian American critics, writers, and mediamakers to discover, as detailed by Mayukh Sen for The Nation, the “radical vision of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée.”  Cha’s novel was one of many Asian American artistic projects and practices from the 1980s that pushed against form and incorporated the language of alienation, paralleling the increased political value of representational framing since the start of the pandemic.

Critics and artists like Daryl Chin come together to critically reflect on the mechanics of how work comes up. What other forms of Asian American experimentation should we be helping each other retrieve from our collective histories? How do we expand the networks of collaboration across generations, and how do we recover a history waiting to be discovered?

RSVP here

Presented in collaboration with Kaya Press and Line of Sight.

Assistance with Remo

We also have a help desk run by our Guest Services Coordinator Ginger Yifan Chen hosted on Remo, between 11 a.m.  and ending at 12:30 p.m. PDT on the following days:








We will have an ASL interpreter for the Summit presentations and if you need an ASL translator to optimize the Summit experience for you during the table networking, please reach out to our team at

Thank You to Our Partners and Sponsors

Finally, we want to acknowledge our partners in the documentary and public media space. At the Filmmaker Summit we are thrilled to be working with A-Doc, Line of Sight, Firelight Media, Reel South and NOVAC.

We would also like to thank our year round partners starting with our National Multicultural Alliance partners – Black Public Media (BPM), Latino Public Broadcast (LPB), Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), Vision Maker Media (VPM), along with our public media friends ITVS, POV/ American Documentary, WORLD Channel, and our independent film partners the Sundance Film Institute, IDA, BGDM, Visual Communications, Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPE), David Magdael & Associates, Kollaboration, and more.

CAAM’s Filmmaker Summit  and our programs are honored to be supported by the generous contributions of CPB, PBS, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. See you at the summit!

filmmaker summit sponsors

Firelight Media FilmSF

Tags from the story