CAAM 2019 DOCUMENTARIES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE AWARDEES
And She Could Be Next directed/produced by Grace Lee and Marjan Safinia and produced by Jyoti Sarda
In a polarized America, where the dual forces of white supremacy and patriarchy threaten to further erode our democracy, women of color are claiming power by running for political office. And She Could Be Next, made by a team of women filmmakers of color, asks whether democracy itself can be preserved — and made stronger — by those most marginalized. Set against the backdrop of the 2018-midterm elections—where rapid demographic shifts foreshadow the emergence of a New American majority as a decisive political force — a defiant group of candidates including Stacey Abrams, Rashida Tlaib, Lucy McBath, Veronica Escobar and Deb Haaland, are participating in the contact sport of true democracy and changing the face of American leadership.
Life. Karma. Death. Repeat. directed/produced by Hima B. and produced by Harjant Gill
When an aging, disabled father announces he will return to India to perform death rites for various family members including two children, his filmmaker daughter accompanies him. As they travel India performing Hindu rituals to reduce the bad karma of their deceased loved one’s, the filmmaker wonders how the process of atonement can be applied towards their living family members. Can father and daughter repair a family that collapsed under the weight of patriarchy, abuse, and mental illness before time runs out?
Not Your Model Minority! Asian Activists in the South directed/produced by Ligaiya Romero
Not Your Model Minority! Asian Activists in the South is a feature-length documentary film, an intimate conversation with queer, rad, Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) activists, organizing against white supremacy, state violence, and the cis-hetero patriarchy in the South. The film follows their intersectional and unapologetic work, connecting it to the rich history of AAPI liberation movements across the United States, and centers solidarity work across communities of color. AAPIs are the fastest growing ethnic group in the South, with the ability to affect voting blocs in predominantly red states. Narratives of resistance, from the past and present, can nurture our movements for the future, challenging the myth of the model minority.
Skating Friends (working title) directed by Quyên Nguyen-Le and produced by Anh Phan
Skating Friends (Working Title) is about queer, trans, and non-binary Asian American skateboarders who attempt to create something better than the hyper-masculine skate culture that once excluded them. As they navigate through public spaces and private lives, they are challenged by various intersecting issues ranging from anti-immigrant legislation, mental health and access to healthcare, to complicated feelings around gender and masculinity.
The Three Lives of David Wong directed by Diane Paragas and produced by Leslie Norville
The Three Lives of David Wong is a ground-breaking documentary following the harrowing journey of an undocumented, Chinese American man facing a life sentence for a crime he did not commit. David finds hope in a rag-tag Asian American activist group who eventually became the friends and family he always longed for. Told through a bold mixture of shadow puppetry, hand puppets and marionettes, computer animation and live action verité, we follow David through his early years in China, through his conviction, life in prison, trial and eventual exoneration and deportation. The film, which unfolds over 30 years, is an inspiring story of triumph and perseverance against the most impossible odds. The film, directed by Diane Paragas and produced by Leslie Norville, has received support from the Sundance Creative Producing Lab as well as The Bertha Foundation.
When They Walk directed/produced by Jason DaSilva
When They Walk is the final installment of filmmaker Jason DaSilva’s documentary feature trilogy on disability, which began with the Emmy Award-winning When I Walk and continued through its recently completed sequel When We Walk. While the first two films focused on his personal struggles with disability from his perspective as an artist, citizen, partner, and father, When They Walk focuses on the broader disability struggle taking place in the United States and around the world today. DaSilva will join disability activists in the trenches to document what they’re fighting for and what happens to them along the way. This time the lens is political.
Within, Within directed/produced by Kiyoko McCrae
Filmmaker Kiyoko McCrae retraces her mother and grandmother’s footsteps by returning to her hometown Tokyo. By blending vignettes and stories of surviving family members with poetry and animation, Within, Within is anchored by her imagining of what life would have been like for her grandmother in post-war Japan, pregnant with her mother, who in turn was carrying the seed of herself, within, within. Through this journey she aims to uncover the legacy of generational trauma of war and violence, the impossible choices we make as mothers and daughters and the humility of love by weaving a visual tapestry that is part memory, part speculation, blurring the lines between documentary and narrative.
Untitled Lola Project directed/produced by Michella Rivera-Gravage and Karim Ahmad
This reflexive character driven documentary explores the growing crisis of online fraud against senior citizens, guided by the experience of the filmmaker’s family alongside others that have been phished and entangled in suspect online relationships and scams. Revealing a vacuum of support systems to combat the exploitation of one of our most vulnerable populations, this film explores the deeper question of how we as a modern society can care for our elders.
CAAM DOCUMENTARIES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE AWARDEES
Alive In Detroit directed/produced by Shiraz Ahmed
A young journalist’s belief in the Affordable Care Act is tested when his mother becomes a victim of the ‘Medicaid Gap,’ an income trap that leaves millions without access to health insurance. After her emergency heart surgery threatens to destabilize the family, their looming medical debt is forgiven through a public charity care program — an act of grace that sparks a journey for solutions from a patient, a doctor and a pastor struggling to find a measure of peace amidst an ongoing public health crisis in Detroit.
Dreams Uprooted directed/produced by Meghna Damani
Dreams Uprooted is the urgent story of the inhuman treatment of legal immigrant spouses, mostly South Asian women, who leave behind thriving careers to support their husbands’ “specialty occupation” careers in America. Once in the US, they have their right to work denied on arrival, and they are stripped of their independence by archaic laws requiring them to depend on their spouses for basic rights such as obtaining a drivers’ license, SSN cards, bank accounts and more. Revolutionizing themselves from being “dependent spouses” to advocates, they participate in a historic South Asian women’s rights movement that brings work authorization to 100,000 dependent spouses and lands many their dream jobs. Now, however, they must fight once again to keep their American Dream alive as Trump threatens to revoke their work authorization.
Raised by Restaurants directed/produced by Saleem Reshamwala
Behind generic strip mall storefronts, stories from immigrant families whose children grew up Southern. Cities all over the South have immigrant-run restaurants, often hidden in plain sight in strip malls. For years, they served mostly Westernized versions of their countries’ food. Behind that facade were families and stories of immigration. Each episode of Raised by Restaurants will show the adult children of immigrant restaurant owners interviewing their own parents about their experience coming to the US and starting businesses here. With first episodes based in North Carolina, the web-series will tell the stories of immigrant-run restaurants in the South across two-generations, and will explore what happens when second generation immigrants ask their parents to dive deep into their own stories.
Spirited (working title) directed/produced by Joua Lee Grande
Spirited follows Joua’s journey navigating the call to become a healer as an agnostic Hmong-American. It focuses on the experiences of young Hmong American spiritual healers (shamans) and highlights the cross-cultural challenges experienced by this generation: the changing practice of Hmong spirituality, how shifting gender dynamics and roles affect this experience, and Americanization. As Joua searches for a guide to teach her what is required to become a healer, she debates whether or not this is a path she wants to continue on.
Kapwa directed by PJ Raval and produced by Cecilia R. Mejia
Kapwa means togetherness in the Filipino Community. Real change begins at home, with our families, however, we choose to define that. This digital series aims to bring families throughout the Filipino Diaspora together around the dinner table to have a constructive conversation without leaning towards one side, so that we can begin to understand varying viewpoints and work towards positive change within the fastest growing (yet oddly invisible) ethnicity in the US.
America (Re)mixed directed/produced by Pulkit Datta
America (Re)mixed is an innovative non-fiction series that travels across the U.S. to tell the fascinating stories of immigrant communities, through the unique music and performances they create. The episodes, led by local artists or community leaders, use the music and performance traditions of those communities, to learn their stories, the challenges they face, and the role they play in America today. The series uses empowering messages of these American communities, to remind us of who we truly are as a country. America (Re)mixed is our story.
Christine Ha Documentary directed by Huay Bing Law and produced by Andrew Lee & Patty Zagarella
A daughter of Vietnamese refugees, Christine Ha pushes past late life visual impairment and mental health struggles to become a renowned blind celebrity cook. With exclusive access, the feature documentary digs deep into Christine’s cultural heritage, devastating life circumstances, and inspirational creativity and tenacity in her bid to opening a successful restaurant. Life hasn’t been easy on Christine, but Christine hasn’t let that stop her.
PQ Village directed by Camaya Maricar and produced by Emma Francisco & Benito Bautista
In San Diego, residents, church members and volunteers work together to save Peñasquitos Village (a.k.a. PQ Village), the only affordable housing complex left in the neighborhood’s affluent suburb of Rancho Peñasquitos despite the city’s growing housing crisis. While local politicians and supporters of redevelopment are concerned with creating more middle-class housing in the area, what happens to residents who already live there, when they are forced to move? With less than a few months before the local city council votes to demolish PQ Village for a new development plan, Felicidad, Nieves and Gemma, long-time residents of PQ Village, share their challenges in leaving home and point to the forces that are separating their beloved community.
Light of the Setting Sun directed/produced by Vicky Du and produced by Danielle Varga
A Taiwanese-American filmmaker confronts her family’s silence around the cycles of violence that have persisted since the Chinese Communist Revolution of 1949. Light of the Setting Sun is a poetic family portrait of enduring resilience, and the courage it takes to create one’s self. (Also a recipient of the Documentary Fund.)
CAAM DOCUMENTARIES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE FUND AWARDEES
The Americans directed 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 made the white population a minority at 39%. Immigrants come to work at Tyson meatpacking plants, where one can earn more than minimum wage without English proficiency or a high school diploma. As the city lives through the tumultuous time of the Trump & COVID era, what the community goes through reveals a lot to us about race, class, civic duty, and what it means to be American.
Cosmic Egg directed by Anula Shetty
Cosmic Egg is a story about the desire for procreation, and the long-term physical and emotional impact of reproductive technologies in a global marketplace. Set in Mumbai, the film will explore the filmmaker’s personal struggle with infertility and the characters she meets in her journey through the surreal landscape of fertility mythology, egg harvesting, embryo transfers and surrogate motherhood. Cosmic Egg will be a provocative and poignant reflection on the interplay of humanity, society, capitalism, and technology.
K For Kashmir directed by Reaa Puri
Filmmaker Reaa Puri travels to her homeland of Kashmir to reconnect with her 90-year-old great-grandmother, when a series of events in the region spark a quest for answers about this contested land and her place in it. As she gets closer with other women in Kashmir, deep connections and deep chasms become magnified, and her questions take on bigger and bigger truths. K For Kashmir is a poetic investigation of what it means to feel belonging, community, and safety in a climate of unprecedented oppression, state-violence, and polarization.
The Last Resort directed by Sarita Khurana
The Last Resort is a documentary film about the first South Asian senior retirement community in the United States. Built with the vision of creating “a piece of India in Florida,” its success is part of a new wave of retirement communities designed for immigrant seniors. Following the daily lives of the residents, The Last Resort, explores the shifting cultural and familial dynamics of aging; how South Asian seniors are negotiating ideas of home, belonging, death and dying; and of creating new ‘imagined’ communities during the final era of their lives.
Paramita directed by Kirthi Nath
Paramita is a poetic documentary bearing testament to the story of Prajna Paramita, a South Asian queer woman, as she comes out to her family, steps onto a Buddhist spiritual path and takes her place as an activist and healer. Tactile and dreamlike, Paramita reclaims South Asian traditions of Buddhism, ayurveda and earth-based mysticism. Prajna Paramita’s story mirrors the living questions: How do we honor and find bridges to our cultural traditions when our families reject us in our romantic (queer) love and livelihood choices; How can we embody resistance and take our place in a white-centering American system that teaches us to hate our bodies and experience our own ancestral wisdom through a colonized lens? We walk with Prajna Paramita as she reclaims her queer brown body and experiences, finding her way towards collective healing.
Southness directed by Hanul Bahm
Southness is a multimedia story project and visual novel in the spirit of Zora Neale Hurston and William Faulkner, whose fiction explored the crux of Southern existence. In Southness, diverse Southerners play themselves: staging the past, documenting their present, and expressing hopes for the future. The project captures the essence and complexities of inhabiting the American South, whether as “minor” or “major” characters. Foregrounding subjectivity, those featured will co-create media, contributing descriptions of what’s endearing and defining of their lives here. Featuring: Emilia Brocq-Ramirez, Aryon Manson, Zaferhan Yurmu, Joshua Young, and Hanul Bahm.
unseen directed by Set Hernandez Rongkilyounseen is a a multi-platform documentary project that follows the story of Pedro, an aspiring social worker who happens to be a blind, undocumented immigrant. Using diegetic sound and experimental cinematography, the “audio-based” film portrays the point-of-view of a protagonist who is blind to reimagine the accessibility of cinema for audience members that cannot see. Beyond the film, the project also has an “audio play” and immersive VR component, in order for it to be as accessible as possible to audiences with disabilities.
Untitled KQT Project directed by Patrick G. Lee
Every weekend, a chosen family of queer and trans nightlife performers converges at a gay club in Seoul, Korea, to live out their high-femme, high-fashion fantasies. During the week, they grapple with an outside world that refuses to see them on their own terms. Untitled KQT Project follows this crew as they navigate gender, seek belonging, and protect their freedoms, all while joyfully rejecting societal pressures to conform. In doing so, the film creates a rare and crucial reference point for Asian America — one that reframes queerness as empowering, unifying, and culturally resonant, on both sides of the Pacific.
About the CAAM Documentaries for Social Change Fund
We invite applications from Asian American documentary filmmakers with an emphasis on filmmakers from historically underrepresented Asian American communities such as South & Southeast Asians, plus regions outside the major metropolitan cities. For this Fund, we invite ambitious, social issue projects including series that push the boundaries for Asian American storytelling.
We encourage stories that explore issues heightened by the double pandemic of COVID-19 and the call for racial justice across the country as experienced by Asian American communities, however, we accept all topics.
With generous support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, this Fund offers grants for social issue documentary projects primarily in the research and development phase up to $10,000. This is a development grant without any distribution or other restrictions attached. Please apply to the CAAM Documentaries for Social Change Fund on our Submittable application by Wednesday, November 17, 2021.
The CAAM Documentaries for Social Change Fund, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, offers grants for social issue documentary films that highlight Asian American narratives. This Fund will provide much needed resources to projects for research and development and in early production.
CAAM has almost 40 years of experience in funding documentary work for public media and we have found that early seed funding is rare, but incredibly important in developing important work. We believe that these kinds of early funds can nurture a community of makers who are encouraged to take risks and explore topics that are unique and specific to the Asian American community. The early nature of this fund opens up support to filmmakers who do not already have broadcast in place, and can consider all options for distribution.
The Fund will be open to all levels of makers from emerging to veteran, however, the Fund will prioritize filmmakers from historically under-represented Asian American communities such as South and Southeast Asian, traditionally underserved geographic areas like the South, as well as regions outside major metropolitan cities.
This Fund will significantly support CAAM’s mission to advocate for Asian American stories and issues to be included in the national discourse and to codify our voices in the fabric of American society today.
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS To be eligible, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Applicants must hold artistic, budgetary and editorial control and must own the copyright of the proposed project.
- Applicants must be 18 years of age.
- Applicants must either be citizens of the United States, its territories or be based in the U.S. with a valid TAX ID/ ITIN.
- All projects in development or early stages of production are prioritized.
- Projects in the production phase should include a 5-10 minute sample of the project that is being submitted.
- If this is your first media project, you must provide a video sample that demonstrates your ability to tell a story well through a visual medium.
- In some cases, CAAM may require a Fiscal Sponsor, which is a non-profit 501(c)(3) IRS tax-exempt entity. Your sponsor would agree to accept funds from CAAM on your behalf and is responsible for redistributing funds to the project accordingly.
- Only one proposal per applicant will be accepted.
Projects NOT eligible:
- Projects intended solely for theatrical release or commercial in nature.
- Projects in which an applicant is commissioned, employed or hired by a commercial or public television station.
- Thesis projects or student films which are co- or solely-owned or copy-written, or otherwise editorially or fiscally controlled by the school.
- Projects or production entities which are foreign-based, owned or controlled.
- Industrial or promotional projects.
- Projects that are not about the Asian American experience.
Our funding process will use the following guidelines in awarding funds:
- Does the story deal with an important, current social issue affecting the Asian American community?
- Is the story idea compelling, engaging, original and well-conceived?
- Is the visual/ stylistic treatment effective and distinctive?
- Can the project be completed within a realistic timeline based on the applicant’s fundraising plans, personnel and budget?
- Is the filmmaker accountable to their film protagonists and have they built trust?
- Will the project appeal not only to Asian American viewers, but also to a broader audience?
- Does the sample demonstrate the skills and/or potential of the applicant to complete the proposed project?
- Has CAAM recently funded a similar topic, issue or treatment?
HOW TO APPLY
Please apply to the CAAM Documentaries for Social Change Fund on our Submittable application by Wednesday, November 17, 2020.
socialchangefund [at] caamedia [dot] org with any questions.