Centering Ourselves: 2022 CAAM Filmmaker Summit

Since its founding more than 40 years ago, CAAM has nurtured storytellers from a diversity of Asian American voices. While uplifting under-represented Asian American experiences is at the core of CAAM’s work, we want to be part of an American cultural shift that better acknowledges the contributions of our community. 

Against the backdrop of anti-Asian violence, the demonization of our community and the marginalization and exclusion from national narratives we feel an urgency to center ourselves and our stories. For too long, we have held back or modified our voices to fit in among mainstream narratives and white spaces.  

Today we redouble our efforts to honor Asian American histories, perspectives and stories, while joining in community at CAAMFest40 to experience the joy, celebrate the beauty and face the challenges together. 

CAAMFest is emerging from a two year all-virtual programming period beginning with selected in-person screenings and events. However, we are still living in pandemic times and we’ve embraced the accessibility of virtual programming. The CAAM Filmmaker Summit will remain virtual with three curated panel conversations–a throwback to 2020, our first year of all virtual Zoom webinars. 

At the 2022 Filmmaker Summit, we start out with a panel titled, “The Power of Personal Documentary Films: The Creators Session” and hear from Re-Present Media (RPM), a BIPOC focused bay area media arts organization in conversation with filmmakers of color to discuss their continued struggle with structural racism when raising support for personal documentaries as part of a recently released study by RPM.

The CAAM Fellowship cohort will host a panel entitled, “How it Started. How it’s Going” between the fellows and mentors about their experience, wisdom and reflections on our creative work and well-being two years into the covid pandemic. 

On the third panel, we celebrate the specificity of one another’s stories, we honor perspectives from the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) community with “Perspectives from the Pacific”, a conversation led by our partners at Pacific Islanders in Communication (PIC) about reclaiming a community’s name to remove the cloak of invisibility. 

Finally, if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, please come out to an in-person Meet the Makers panel conversation with CAAMFest filmmaking teams including Free Chol Soo Lee, In Search of Bengali Harlem, Blurring the Color Line, and Bad Axe in conversation with veteran filmmaker Leo Chiang at the historic Great Star Theater in SF Chinatown.

Check out the details below. We look forward to seeing you virtually at the Summit or at our in-person screenings and other programs during CAAMFest. 


All CAAM Filmmaker Summit Sessions on Wednesday May 11, 2022

Session 1: The Power of Personal Documentary Films: The Creators Session

10:00 a.m. PT (US and Canada) I 90 minute session

Panelists:  Jennifer Crystal Chien, Director, Re-Present Media; Chanda Chevannes, Filmmaker, Writer, and Educator; Nausheen Dadabhoy, Director, An Act of Worship; David Siev, Director, Bad Axe.

Moderator: Abby Sun, Director of Artist Programs, IDA

Register in advance for this Zoom webinar:

Description: In this 90 minute presentation and interactive dialogue, IDA’s Director of Artist Development Abby Sun will moderate a presentation and discussion with Chanda Chevannes, Jennifer Crystal Chien, Nausheen Dadabhoy, a Muslim-American filmmaker and mixed race Asian American filmmaker David Siev regarding highlights of their work as it relates to the results of RPM’s field surveys on personal storytelling and their films – An Act of Worship and Bad Axe. We will also discuss the unique challenges Asian Americans and/or Muslim Americans and other BIPOC  face when making these films. After the presentation, attendees will engage in a facilitated dialogue about their own experiences, reflections, and questions. 



Session 2: How it started. How it’s going. 

1:00 p.m. PT (US and Canada) I 90 minute session

Panelists: Mentor Su Kim, Producer, Free Chol Soo Lee; Mentor Marjan Safinia, Producer/ Director, And She Could Be Next ; Mentor Hao Wu, Director, 76 Days

Moderators: Fellow Pallavi Somusetty, Director, Welcome Home Jhaiji; Fellow Norbert Shieh, Director, Preserves; Fellow Kevin Truong, Director, Mai American 

Register in advance for this Zoom webinar:

Description: How has filmmaking evolved two years into the global pandemic? For emerging directors who are looking to build their first collaborative relationships, what challenges are they facing? For veteran filmmakers, what adjustments have been needed? And as the boundaries of work and personal lives are blurred, compounded with physical distance and isolation, what role has self-care played on our mental health?  We’ll hear from filmmakers, producers and mentors Marjan Safinia, Su Kim and Hao Wu moderated by CAAM fellows Pallavi Somusetty, Norbert Shieh and Kevin Truong about their experiences, pursuits and struggles at this time.



Session 3: Perspectives from the Pacific 

4:00 p.m. PT (US and Canada) I 90 minute session

Panelists:  Alika Tengan, Director, Everyday in Kaimuki; Ciara Lacy, Director, This is the Way We Rise 

Tad Nakamura, Director, Mele Murals; Tavae Samuelu, Executive Director, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)

Moderator: Cheryl Hirasa, Interim Executive Director, PIC

Register in advance for this Zoom webinar:

Description: What’s in a name? For people, itʻs a way we identify ourselves, who we are and where we come from. It’s a way we tell others how we want to be seen. It’s also a way for us to take back power. Join filmmakers, community and arts leaders in conversation tackling the significance of separating the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community from Asians and Asian Americans and separating the umbrella term Asian American Pacific Islander or AAPI. Naming and distinguishing the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander people is a positive step towards acknowledging the difference but there is still a long way to go for equal representation and visibility of the Pacific Islander perspective. Panelists will discuss how both communities may work together to support and uplift one another to advocate for a more authentic representation for all. 


Meet the Makers Panel (in person)

6 p.m. PT I 60 minute sessionI Great Star Theater, San Francisco, Chinatown

Description:  Join us to “Meet the Makers” of CAAMFest. Hear from the filmmakers behind some of this year’s acclaimed films, including Free Chol Soo Lee, Blurring the Color Line, and In Search of Bengali Harlem, and Bad Axe, in conversation with veteran filmaker Leo Chiang to dig deep into their journeys of crafting these films, from development through post-production, and what it took to bring these films to audiences.  This event will be hosted at the historic Great Star Theater in San Francisco’s Chinatown, where attendees may enjoy a no-host bar and selected snacks. 


Free Chol Soo Lee Eugene Yi & Julie Ha, Directors

Su Kim & Sona Jo, Producers

Jean Tsien, Executive Producer

Blurring the Color Line Crystal Kwok, Director 

In Search of Bengali Harlem Vivek Bald & Alaudin Ullah, Directors 

Bad Axe David Siev, Director

Moderator: Leo Chiang, Producer/ Director, Our Time Machine

Co-Presented by A-Doc & BAVC

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