CAAM is thrilled to fund Asian American filmmakers and projects that showcase the breadth and diversity of experiences in our community. This year, CAAM is awarding three projects destined for public media through the Documentary Fund, with generous support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and seven social issues projects in development via the Documentaries for Social Change Fund, made possible with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Watch a preview of these films and read on for the full details
Arise! My Beloved directed/produced by Bree Nieves
On the sleepy shores of Carmel, California a group of elderly cloistered Catholic sisters live, never leaving their homes for the sake of silence and prayer for their entire lives. Arise! My Beloved is a rare access (by way of the Vatican) verité driven film that opens the doors to a hidden—expansive, yet dying world. This film explores the nuances of intergenerational friendships, aging, race, catholicism, and the work of solitude, questioning modern conservative Christian beliefs.
Together directed/produced by Yasmin Mistry
Together (working title) is a film about a Vietnamese-American woman’s efforts to reconcile her tumultuous childhood by exploring her family history. This journey leads to the discovery of two sisters, a legacy of childhood abuse, and a forced confrontation with the haunting question: “How do you heal when you don’t know the truth?” Blending personal interviews, verité footage, and animation, this feature-length documentary explores family separation and trauma while questioning the destructive notion that seeking help is a sign of weakness instead of a path to empowerment. These sisters’ stories weave a dynamic narrative, demanding changes to the ingrained social hierarchies which perpetuate intrafamilial violence.
Untitled Thao P. Nguyen Project directed/produced by Khai Thu Nguyen and cinematography by Arthur Yee
Performer Thao P. Nguyen prepares for her next comedy show while fighting to remain true to herself as a queer Asian American mother in the face of constraining social, cultural, and familial expectations.
CAAM Documentaries for Social Change Awardees 2022
What These Walls Won’t Hold directed by Adamu Chan
Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic at San Quentin State Prison, What These Walls Won’t Hold chronicles the organizing and relationships of people who came together beyond the separations created by incarceration, to respond to this crisis. The film is shot from the perspective of filmmaker Adamu Chan, who was incarcerated at San Quentin during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Saund vs. Cochran directed by Mridu Chandra
Saund vs. Cochran is a documentary about a Sikh American who ran for Congress and won, 66 years ago. In 1956, Dalip Singh Saund (D), a judge of Indian descent, campaigned against Jackie Cochran Odlum (R), an aviation pioneer and WWII hero, in a run for Congress in California’s 29th District. Their dramatic competition sparked local debate and national conversations about race, ethnicity, gender, celebrity, prejudice, xenophobia, representation, and inclusion. While Cochran had unlimited resources and Presidential support, Saund’s grassroots, family-led voter registration drive targeted a changing demographic and led to a narrow and unexpected 3,300-vote victory, making him the first-ever Asian American member of the U.S. Congress.
Chinatown Auxiliary directed by Zijun Cathy You
Chinatown Auxiliary unfolds a poignant and intimate story about a group of senior Chinese grandpas and grandmas, who have been patrolling the streets of Manhattan Chinatown for several decades as NYPD volunteer auxiliaries; persistently and silently , they fought their ways to make home on this unwelcoming foreign land. From the savage tribulation back in the 70s, till the “Asian hate crime” during the COVID-19 pandemic, their stories delineated vividly what it means to live as alienated immigrants in this country.
Untitled Scientist Project directed by Jiayan Jenny Shi
When two respected scientists of Chinese descent in the U.S. come under scrutiny for national security concerns, they suffer irreversible personal and societal consequences.
Adopting directed and produced by Nicole Docta
All adoptions start with a trauma. It is through this lens that Adopting takes an intimate look into adoption systems and practices. Using her own adoption for context, Korean born filmmaker Nicole Docta guides this deeply personal journey after cutting ties with her own adoptive parents. As American families and orphaned children try to navigate the system, we learn how adopting has changed since the first transnational adoptions in the 1950s. A rich cultural juxtaposition is combined with adoptee testimonies and conversations with adoption/ immigration experts, child psychologists, and the U.S.’ most popular adoption agencies domestically and in Korea. Adopting explores the entire system in the wake of the Roe v. Wade reversal and the importance of addressing race and culture during one of the most dangerous times to be Asian in America.
Untitled HIP Project directed by Tim Tsai
Ten years ago in Sacramento, a group of young second-generation Hmong Americans set out to change their world. Their activism and organizing since has reverberated across the state and beyond, and their continued work is inspiring a new generation of Hmong youth to confront pressing issues in their communities today.
The Good Immigrant directed by J.P. Dobrin and produced by Bo Hemtanouth-Kovitz
After twenty years in prison, two Cambodian-American men lose their residency status due to their convictions and face potential deportation back to a country they never knew. Yet despite the insurmountable odds, the two friends try to savor their freedom and make up for a childhood lost, showing us what it means to be young at heart.
CAAM values our role in nurturing Asian American filmmakers working on undertold stories from the Asian American experience. This year, CAAM has been reflecting on how best to respond to the evolving needs of the widely diverse Asian American community. We are proud to continue our core funding support through Documentary Fund and we are excited to announce our new strategic priorities this fall.