How CAAM Has Nurtured My Career

I am Kiyoko McCrae, one of the six filmmakers in the inaugural cohort of Hindsight, the joint talent development program led by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Firelight Media, and Reel South

Thanks to the invaluable guidance and funding we received through Hindsight, my colleagues and I made films that present a more nuanced understanding of the lived experiences of communities of color in the American South and Puerto Rico.

(from left) Hindsight Filmmaker Zac Manuel, Firelight Media’s Chloe Walters-Wallace, Sapana Sakya, Reel South’s Nick Price and filmmaker Kiyoko McCrae at the 2021 New Orleans Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Sapana Sakya.


I was first introduced to CAAM in 2017 when I met Stephen Gong and Sapana Sakya at the New Orleans Film Festival, where they told me about
Diverse South, CAAM’s initiative that deepens their support of historically underrecognized Asian American filmmakers in the American South. In 2018, CAAM invited me to its convening, Beyond Borders: Diverse Voices of the American South, in North Carolina. This experience changed my life. I will never forget walking into the first session at UNC-TV and seeing dozens of Asian American filmmakers, and feeling overcome with a sense of belonging I had never felt before. Many of the filmmakers I met there for the first time have become close friends and colleagues who continue to inspire me deeply.

 

 

 

Still from Kiyoko McCrae’s film, Within, Within. Photo courtesy of Kiyoko McCrae.


In 2019 CAAM supported me with a much needed  research and development grant for my film
Within, Within. The film is a reimagining of my grandmother’s experience in post-war Japan when she was pregnant with my motherwho in turn carried the seed of myself, within, within.The grant from CAAM made it possible for me to travel to Japan, interview family members, and film my ancestral home.

When the pandemic began, I was a thriving artist with multiple film and theater projects in full swing, but as a mother of two small children, my life changed dramatically. I found myself consumed by virtual learning, childcare, and losing my identity as an artist.

 

We Stay in the House
Filmmaker Kiyoko McCrae in a still from We Stay in the House. Photo courtesy of Kiyoko McCrae.

CAAM encouraged me to submit an idea for Hindsight, and I immediately knew that I wanted to document and make visible the experiences of being a mother during COVID-19. I am so grateful to CAAM for the opportunity to make my film We Stay in the House, an intimate portrait of four New Orleans mothers, including myself, as we struggle to care for our families and ourselves during COVID-19.

CAAM has been so instrumental in my growth as a filmmaker throughout the years—providing me with a sense of community I’ve never had before and the resources needed to make the kinds of films I’ve always wanted to make. 

 

If you are able to, I hope you will consider making a tax-deductible donation of any amount to CAAM at CAAMedia.org/Donate by December 31, 2021. 

We need organizations like CAAM that are committed to nurturing filmmakers and uplifting communities. You can help Asian American filmmakers tell our stories and lived experiences by donating to CAAM and helping amplify the work of filmmakers like me.

With gratitude,

Kiyoko McCrae
2021 Hindsight filmmaker

 

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