Happy Pride Month! This June, we are thrilled to share some Asian American queer films on public media, festivals, and online. From captivating movies to compelling books and bite-sized media, each recommendation embraces and celebrates the vibrant spectrum of LGBTQ+ stories. We invite you to check out these narratives exploring the triumphs, struggles, and resilience of the queer community. Join us in honoring Pride Month by indulging in these inspiring and diverse cultural offerings. May this month be filled with love, acceptance, and the celebration of LGBTQ+ voices…
Before You Know It, Dir. PJ Raval
Dennis, Ty and Robert are pioneers in an “out” generation. They are also among the estimated 2.4 million LGBT Americans over the age of 55. Before You Know It celebrates the lives of active gay senior citizens who have witnessed unbelievable change in their lifetimes: from the Stonewall Riots to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and gay marriage rights.
Here, Hopefully, Dir. Hao Zhou
This short documentary follows a Chinese, nonbinary aspiring nurse seeking to build a gender-affirming life in Iowa. This short documentary is part of the Homegrown: Future Visions project uplifting the stories of BIPOC filmmakers in the Midwest, a partnership of CAAM, Firelight Media and PBS.
Here, Hopefully premieres on PBS.org on June 29. Check the CAAM blog and social media later this month to learn more about Hao and this film.
On the Festival Circuit
Frameline Film Festival
If you’re in the Bay Area, the Frameline Film Festival celebrates Pride all around San Francisco and Oakland, taking place June 14-24, with 11 days of 100+ queer films and spectacular parties. On Instagram, CAAM Board Member Dipti Ghosh made a post inspired by Frameline Executive Director James Woolley, “Let’s all attend Frameline’s LGBTQ+ International Film festival and see at least one L film, one G film one B film, one T film Q film and a ++ film. Heck just get a festival pass and see it all!!!”
Asian and Asian American films co-presented by CAAM at Frameline
Egoist, dir. Daishi Matsunaga
Thursday June 15 at 8:30pm, Castro Theatre
NARRATIVE SHOWCASE: When affluent, emotionally guarded fashion editor Kosuke (Ryohei Suzuki) hires himself a young, cash-strapped personal trainer, he doesn’t mind the flirting mixed in with the weightlifting, but personal connections, to him, are mainly transactional. For charming Ryuta (San Francisco-born, Tokyo- raised actor Hio Miyazawa) however, those boundaries are more porous— and while the two men’s physical chemistry is undeniable, Ryuta shows he is also willing to make himself emotionally vulnerable. In this beautifully observed character drama, as Kosuke and Ryuta’s bond deepens, so do the contrasting themes of love and money, selfishness and vulnerability, autonomy and dependency.
Egghead & Twinkie, dir. Sarah Kambe Holland
Monday, June 19 at 6:00 pm, New Parkway Theatre
NARRATIVE: Desperate to meet the undeniable love of her life who lives over 500 miles away, newly-out Twinkie convinces her best friend Egghead to put his unrequited love for her aside
to embark on a road trip to Texas. With healthy doses of hilarious and cringe moments along the way, Egghead & Twinkie offers us a familiar mix of buddy movie and road flick — think Gypsy 83, crossed with The Half of It, and a dash of Booksmart — with from a fresh perspective.
Monday, June 19 at 3:30 pm, The Castro Theatre
This double bill of portraits of queer Bay Area legends turns the spotlight onto trailblazing lesbian writer/activist Jewelle Gomez and trans activist Anjali Rimi, an Indian immigrant who followed her passion for social justice to San Francisco.
Jewelle: A Just Vision, dir. by Madeleine Lim traces The Gilda Stories author’s involvement with the Black Power movement of the ‘60s in Boston to the fight for marriage equality during the 2010s in San Francisco.
Belonging: Trans Indian Story, dir. by Amir Jaffer follows the organization Parivar Bay Area as they advocate for South Asian trans rights both locally and in India.
Get Tickets With This Discount Code: E78RP56
Golden Delicious, dir. Jason Karman
Monday, June 19 at 8:30 pm at The Castro
NARRATIVE: Cheerful and romantic, Jason Karman’s coming-of-age feature debut offers an exceptional portrait of first (queer) love through the eyes of a Chinese Canadian teenager. Cardi Wong stars as Jake, a high schooler already juggling a number of expectations from his family, girlfriend, and peers. With the arrival of a handsome new neighbor, Jake finds himself caught off guard — and trying out for the school basketball team to get closer to his new gay crush.
The Last Summer of Nathan Lee, dir. by Quentin Lee
YOLO takes a whole different meaning when 1. life has a time limit and 2. you are young and feeling more alive than ever. Last Summer of Nathan Lee captures the essence of coming-of-age joyful abandon, exploring the blurry lines between friendship and sex. We are brought into the last year of high school where Nathan (Harrison Xu) is diagnosed with cancer which leads him on a journey to live life to the fullest with the time he has left. His best friends and newfound love traverse high school drama, modern day friendship, and fluidity in sexual preferences. Seeing how love transcends tradition, culture, and jealousy is what makes this film sing.. “It’s what we do with our time and the people we spend it with…that’s what’s most important”. Anyone looking to flip the script on sickness & death will fall in love with Nathan and his friends. Check Instagram for updates on future screenings.
The Wedding Banquet, dir. by Ang Lee
“Released three decades ago, The Wedding Banquet was ahead of its time in representing a joyful gay couple and a traditional family from Taiwan. The film is lighthearted and clever as it shows the possibility of queer acceptance from Asian parents. I believe that for many LGBTQ+ Asians and Asian Americans, The Wedding Banquet remains just as relevant and delightful as ever.” –Hao Zhou, director of Here, Hopefully
Saving Face, dir. by Alice Wu
This iconic film 2004 festival favorite by filmmaker features a star-studded cast including Joan Chen, Lynn Chen, Michelle Krusiec, and Brian Yang. The cast made an online reunion during the CAAMFest 2020 screening of Wu’s latest the latest movie, The Half of It, which also features a LGBTQ theme.
Fruit Fly, dir. by H.P. Mendoza
Another CAAMFest alum, this musical follows Bethesda, a Filipina performance artist finding home in the unlikeliest places. She moves into an artist commune in the Mission District in an attempt to workshop her latest piece which deals with finding her biological parents. In the process, she finds an artistic family, clues of her mother’s whereabouts, and the startling possibility that she just might be a fag-hag. Watch a Q&A with H.P. Mendoza following the 10th Anniversary screening of Fruit Fly during CAAMFest 2020.
Your Name Engraved Herein, dir. by Kuang-Hui Liu
“Taiwan is often thought of as an exemplar for gay rights in Asia.This Taiwanese film set in the 1980s shows the hard-fought struggle to get there, portraying the parallel movements for political autonomy and gay rights. It’s an emotionally powerful story of young love and challenging societal norms, set in a boys’ high school, just as martial law is lifted on the island. Currently streaming on Netflix“. –Grace Hwang Lynch, Communications and Engagement Director
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
“Novel in the form of letters to the main character’s mother, illustrating the impacts of the Vietnam War on domestic and migrant Vietnamese people, immigrant labor in the U.S, the opioid and fentanyl crisis, and their sexual identity in New England.” –Anteeniya Bell, Development Associate
“I love how lyrical, poignant, and poetic this novel is. Fitting, as the author is one of my all-time favorite poets!” –Sophie de la Cruz, Intern
Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park
“Debut novel that was shortlisted for International Booker Prize for 2022 that portrays the connection between Seoul’s nightlife and the main character’s battle to accept his homosexual identity.” –Anteeniya Bell, Development Associate
Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice Work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
“Collection of nonfiction essays for queer, disabled, and chronically ill people of color, meant to explore the realities of the disability justice movement and the need for radical love and celebration to build power and knowledge for sustainable and resilient communities.” –Anteeniya Bell, Development Associate
Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
“There’s a little something for everyone in this wild ride mesh of sci-fi and fantasy; complete with a deal with the devil, a transgender teen with a gift for violin, and a donut shop run by a family of interstellar refugees.” –Lauren Lola, Distribution Coordinator
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
“It takes place in 1950s San Francisco and is a must-read work of YA fiction! I love how deeply it delves into the history of QTAPI people in the Bay Area.” –Sophie de la Cruz, Intern
This Instagram account by Schuylar Bailar, the first trans D1 college athlete, features candid conversations about everything from inclusion in women’s sports to bodies and much more.
I’m Gay – Eugene Lee Yang
“CAAMFest alum Eugene Lee Yang’s vulnerable coming out video went viral in 2019, and rightfully so. The way he explored societal expectations and his real life story, by way of dance and intelligent use of color makes it one of the more beautifully crafted coming out videos I’ve ever seen.” –Lauren Lola, Distribution Coordinator
These are just a few selections of Asian American queer works. We’d love to hear more from our community. Share your picks on social media and tag CAAM on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and you may be featured!