As part of CAAM’s continuing mission to uplift Asian American stories that showcase the breadth and diversity of experiences in our community, we are excited to award funding to eight projects in varying stages of production for the second half of the year, made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Earlier this year, CAAM announced its support for 11 documentary films for the first half of 2021.
The Americans directed/produced 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 grown and the white population comprises just 39% of residents. Immigrants come to work at Tyson meatpacking plants, where one can earn more than minimum wage without English proficiency or a high school diploma. Filmed over a period of four years, The Americans follows the journey of the American Dream, seen through the eyes of immigrants of different generations. Their struggles, hopes, and triumphs through the era of Trump, Covid, and beyond reveal a lot to us about race, class, civic duty, and what it means to be American.
A Town Called Victoria directed/produced by Li Lu and produced by Anthony Pedone
On January 27, 2017, an executive order bans citizens from several predominantly-Muslim countries from travel into the United States. Later that night, a mosque in the town of Victoria, Texas, burns to the ground. After building their lives here for more than 30 years, leaders of Victoria’s Muslim community – Abe Ajrami, Omar Rachid, and the founder of the mosque, Dr. Shahid Hashmi – watch as their spiritual and communal home is destroyed. The arson breaks open uncomfortable conversations around systemic issues of race, power, and identity in this South Texas town. This three-part docuseries follows this community as they struggle to find answers, reach out to each other, learn tough lessons of the past, and find a better way forward.
Benkyodo directed by Akira Boch and produced by Eryn Kimura
Rick and Bobby Okamura, the current owners of Benkyodo manju shop, make a difficult decision to close their 115 year old family business. The traditional Japanese confectionery shop has endured the anti-Asian laws of the early 20th century, WWII Japanese American incarceration, redevelopment of the 1960s, and continues to weather San Francisco’s notorious high costs of living. Economic pressure, coupled with the brothers’ desire to preserve their Japanese heritage, family business and community space, create an age-old conflict many children of diaspora face — choosing preservation of culture or succumbing to the economic forces of racial capitalism.
Home Is a Hotel directed/produced by Kevin Wong and co-directed/produced by Todd Sills and KarYin Tham
A portrait of San Francisco through the lens of residents living in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels, Home Is a Hotel follows five residents in their fight to stay housed in the most expensive city in the country. While their dormitory-style amenities provide the barest of necessities, SROs offer the residents a modicum of stability, and symbolize the hope that if they work hard enough, keep their heads down and follow the rules, maybe they will be the ones to break the cycles of poverty.
Iris Chang: Power of One directed/produced by Kimberlee Bassford
Iris Chang: Power of One reveals the gripping story of Iris Chang, a Chinese American writer and journalist who revealed to the world the Nanjing Massacre, one of the most horrific yet forgotten atrocities of World War II. The film interweaves her single-minded quest to tell this story, with her personal journey, her activism on issues of historical justice and the ultimate toll that her passion and drive took on her. In doing so, the film serves as a powerful reminder of how a single individual can affect tremendous change while also revealing the vital importance of mental health and wellness.
More Than A Name directed/produced by Sandy Jaffe and produced by Eric Juhola and David Ninh
When a filmmaker’s adopted Chinese teenager comes out as transgender, she struggles to understand and protect him as he becomes a man during turbulent times. Filmed over the next six years, the past and present are poetically interwoven as each negotiates their own narrative through the filmmaking process while exploring gender politics, family dynamics, and filmmaking itself.
Oh, America: My Brother, My Enemy directed/produced by Đoan Hoàng
In director Đoan Hoang’s new documentary, Oh, America: My Brother, My Enemy, the filmmaker whose family was torn apart by the Vietnam War finds her family’s second generation divided by American politics., with her brother, deeply entrenched in a cult and QAnon conspiracies, joining the historic January 6, 2021 protests at the US Capitol. The film shows the continuing effects of war and colonialism on families, even generations later.
Untitled Thao Nguyen Project directed by Thao Nguyen, co-directed/produced by Susannah Smith and produced by Molly King
On the eve of the release of Thao Nguyen’s sixth studio album, the COVID-19 pandemic grinds the music industry to a halt and forces Thao to slow down and audit the shape of her career. The album, TEMPLE is about her Queer identity, a meditation on her decades-long struggle to express herself within the confines of her family, and a celebration of the emotional bravery required of love. The film follows Thao as she works to live openly and fully as a queer Vietnamese artist, and discovers the freedom and possibility of reinventing her family and career.