SAN FRANCISCO — The Center For Asian American Media (CAAM) builds on its history of film, music and food with the launch of CAAMFest 2014.
The 11-day festival (March 13-23) brings “stories to light” from 20 different countries, showcasing talent and artistry from around the world.
CAAMFest 2014 celebrates contributions of Asians and Asian Americans in media by paying tribute to significant benchmarks in history and by showcasing the trailblazers of the 21st century.
From the legacy of entertainment mogul Run Run Shaw to the social significance of activist Grace Lee Boggs to the numerous innovative Asian females in cinema and music, CAAMFest is a diverse, immersive experience that enlightens as much as it entertains.
Opening and Closing Nights
• CAAMFest 2014 comes right out of the gate in style with the North American premiere of the lively Vietnamese box office hit “How to Fight in Six-Inch Heels.” Directed by Ham Tran (“Journey From the Fall”) and starring Bay Area native Kathy Uyen (“Supercapitalist,” “Passport to Love”), the romantic comedy keeps in the spirit of fashion-savvy films like “The Devil Wears Prada” to tell the story of Anne (Uyen), a high-strung New York fashion designer who flies to Vietnam after she suspects her fiancé is having an affair. Comedy ensues when she infiltrates Saigon’s high-fashion world. The film is a prime example of how trailblazers like Tran and Uyen are making a significant impact on the global film market.
The evening continues with the Opening Night Gala at Asian Art Museum. To keep with the fashion theme of the evening, there will be a special presentation by San Francisco-based socially responsible styling firm Retrofit Republic while guests dance to music from local DJs and enjoy delicious bites and beverages from some of the Bay Area’s finest restaurants. Guests will also get an exclusive look at the world’s first yoga exhibition, “Yoga: The Art of Transformation.”
• Shifting from San Francisco to Oakland, CAAM is excited to conclude the festival with its closing night film, “Delano Manongs,” at the New Parkway Theater, a new CAAMFest venue. Directed by Marissa Aroy, the documentary tells the overlooked story of the Filipino leader Larry Itliong and how he helped rally the thousands of Filipino and Chicano farmworkers that led to the Delano Grape Strike of 1965 and the creation of the United Farm Workers Union. The labor movement garnered national attention and embedded Itliong’s legacy in Filipino American history.
In celebration of the culmination of CAAMFest 2014 and its first year in Oakland, the closing night party will take place at Vessel Gallery, one of the most beautiful modern art spaces in downtown Oakland.
• Acclaimed director Grace Lee spotlights the iconic Grace Lee Boggs, the 98-year-old outspoken activist, feminist, author and philosopher. The first of two centerpiece presentations, “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs” documents Boggs and her experiences as an advocate focusing on the struggles in the African American community, including the actions she has taken that have led to her significant impact on social justice in America.
A VIP reception will precede both films. Attendees will honor CAAMFest award nominees while enjoying hors d’oeuvres. Guests include director Grace Lee and the revolutionary herself, Grace Lee Boggs. More special guests are expected to be in attendance and will be announced on the website.
• CAAMFest’s international centerpiece is “Cold Eyes,” a remake of the 2007 Hong Kong film “Eye in the Sky,” directed by Cho Ui-seok and Kim Byung-seo. Set against the backdrop of the streets of Seoul, the story follows an elite police unit, specializing in surveillance, as they track down the ruthless leader of string of robberies. The crime thriller screened at the 2013 Busan International Film Festival before becoming South Korea’s biggest hit of 2013. The director and producer Song Dae-chan will be in attendance.
Directions in Sound and Superawesome Launch
• Directions in Sound is CAAMFest’s premier Asian and Asian American music showcase featuring emerging and cutting-edge artists. Over the history of CAAMFest, over100 live musical acts have been presented. This year’s program features the hip-hop and rock beats from Korea, Vietnam and the Bay Area.
• Korean Showcase: San Francisco native and Korean American hip-hop MC Kero One hosts the first of two Directions in Sound music showcases, featuring three bands becoming big marquee names in the Korean music scene. The night will open with a DJ set by Relic, and continue with the electronic sounds of Love X Stereo, innovative indie band Glen Check and the quirkiness of Rock N’ Roll Radio.
• Here Comes Treble: For the second Directions in Sound of 2014, CAAMFest puts the ladies front and center in a show that celebrates females in hip-hop, folk and soul. Making her U.S. debut is Suboi, who has been tagged as “Vietnam’s Queen of Hip Hop.” Influenced by Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Linkin Park and Aaliyah, the 23-year-old has the ability to hold her own in a male-dominated music genre and a country that is known for censorship. With personal lyrics inspired by family, love, and social pressures, she has not only broken down barriers but created her own distinct style and has become the first female rapper to achieve success in Vietnam.
Joining her is Bay Area-based MC Rocky Rivera, the contemporary jazz-meets-folk sounds of Cynthia Lin and the Blue Moon All-Stars, and an all-female roster of turntablists, including DJ Umami, DJ ThatGirl and DJ Roza.
• Awesome Bad Guys: Enjoy a night at the Oakland Museum of California with a sneak preview of the “Superawesome: Art and Giant Robot” exhibit, curated by Giant Robot’s editor and publisher, Eric Nakamura. CAAM and OMCA team up to offer an exciting evening with a special Asian-focused Off the Grid, live music, and a screening of Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco’s action-comedy “Awesome Asian Bad Guys” starring Tamlyn Tomita (“True Blood,” “Karate Kid Part II”) and Dante Basco (“The Legend of Korra,” “Hook”).
• Spotlight: Grace Lee. CAAMFest is proud to highlight the work of director Grace Lee, known for her acclaimed films “Janeane From Des Moines” and “The Grace Lee Project,” as this year’s Spotlight. With a varied body of work that includes documentaries and feature films, Lee has been recognized for her contribution to film, receiving the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Digital Media, a Rockefeller Media Arts grant, the PPP Pusan Prize as well as funding from several arts and media organizations. In addition to screening her films “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs” and “American Zombie” at this year’s festival, Lee will be in attendance discussing her experiences in modern cinema at the event, “In Conversation With Grace Lee.”
• Retrospective: Ritu & Tenzing. For this year’s Retrospective, CAAMFest hosts its curatorial residents, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, the directors of the new Dharamsala International Film Festival in India. CAAMFest is proud to partner once again with the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) for their ongoing series “Commited Cinema.” The two films featured in the series include “The Sun Behind the Clouds,” a documentary that gives a provocative look at the Dalai Lama’s struggle for justice and recognition for the Tibetan people, and the narrative “Dreaming Lhasa,” which follows a Tibetan filmmaker named Karma as she travels to Dharamsala to interview political prisoners. While there, she becomes involved in an unexpected journey with an ex-monk who is on a journey of his own.
• Out of the Vaults: Rediscovering Grandview Films. Witness a piece of cinematic history courtesy of the Hong Kong Film Archive as CAAMFest highlight two films by the legendary Chinese American producer Joseph Sunn Jue (1904-1990) and the Grandview Film Company in San Francisco. During World War II, Jue made films featuring Cantonese opera actors living in San Francisco at the time. CAAMFest is excited to present two films of the surviving seven from the collection for the first time in 67 years.
The comedy “Black Market Couple” depicts a new generation of Chinese who are making a living for themselves in the United States, all while trying to adapt to local customs. “White Powder and Neon Lights” is a Chinese American take on the age-old theatrical chestnut of “putting on a show.” Determined to start their own Cantonese opera company, a group of young Chinese actors in San Francisco hire a famous opera singer from China, but complications arise as she is spotted and courted by a wealthy businessman.
• Tribute: Run Run Shaw. Having elevated the kung fu movie genre to global proportions, Run Run Shaw has left a significant imprint on the world as a Hong Kong media mogul and founder of Shaw Brothers Studios. His influence in media has also spilled over into his role as a philanthropist, making countless contributions to arts and education as well as promoting Asian culture and values through film. CAAMFest is honored to pay tribute to the late Run Run Shaw by screening three films produced by the Asian cinema pioneer: the musical drama “The Kingdom and the Beauty,” the female warrior driven film “Come Drink With Me,” and “King Boxer (Five Fingers of Death),” one of the original martial arts films to become wildly popular in North America.
Pacific Islanders in Communications Presents: Pacific Showcase
• “Family Ingredients”: Hawaii-based chef Alan Wong’s passion for life and affinity for food culture is documented in this travelogue of his culinary adventures. Director Ty Sanga follows Wong, who is of Chinese and Japanese descent, as he explores the lineage of his family recipes that originated in Japan. (With short “Na Loea – Mac Poepoe: Malami Moomomi.”)
• “Hula: Merrie Monarch’s Celebration”: The art of hula is an enriching part of the Hawaiian culture that is not only a form of dance, but a valued tradition of the Hawaiian people considered a “language of the heart.” Director Roland Yamamoto goes beyond the surface of hula, taking us deep into its cultural history and the elaborate storytelling living in its fluid motions. (With short “Na Loea: Lolena’s Legacy.”)
Memories to Light 2.0
Memories to Light is back for a second year. Launched at last year’s CAAMFest, it is a home movies initiative that aims to recover and digitize film (on 8mm, Super-8 and 16mm) offering a deeper look at the Asian American experience. Set to live music provided by Dan Lee (from Scrabbel) and Goh Nakamura, CAAM Executive Director Stephen Gong will share a selection from the first year of the project including San Francisco imagery from the 1930s and ’40s as well as recollections of a Chinese American family living in India in the ’60s.
Young Historians, Living Histories
As a collaborative project between the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Smithsonian Affiliations and CAAM, “Young Historians, Living Histories” is a national project that engages under-served Asian Pacific American youth and educators to deepen their understanding and appreciation of their history. Join CAAM in welcoming these emerging media makers and enjoy an exclusive premiere of their projects.
CAAM Fellows Showcase
Join the top Asian American professionals in film, TV and the documentary worlds for casual conversation over coffee as they talk about navigating a successful career in media as an Asian American in an ever-changing media landscape. Information about the CAAM Fellowship will be available and the 2014 CAAM Fellows will be in attendance.
Narrative and Documentary Competition
This year’s Narrative Competition includes a mix of genres from eight films including “Brahmin Bulls” (dir. Mahesh Pailoor), a drama about a father-son relationship that straddles the line of heartwarming and heartbreaking; “Innocent Blood” (dirs. D.J. Holloway and Sun W. Kim), a dark thriller following a former police detective confronted by ghosts from his past; and the action-comedy “Awesome Asian Bad Guys” (dirs. Patrick Epino & Stephen Dypiangco), a gathering of your favorite Asian movie villains from the 1980s and ’90s.
Other competition films include “Karaoke Girl” (dir. Visra Vichit Vadakan), a fictionalized documentary style tale of a Bangkok karaoke girl’s struggles; “A Picture of You” (dir. J.P. Chan), a dramedy about two estranged siblings revisiting their mother’s lake house after her death; and “East Side Sushi” (dir. Anthony Lucero), a story of an aspiring Latina sushi chef fighting against the odds because of her race and gender.
Rounding out the Narrative Competition are “The Haumana” (dir. Keo Woolford), a film against a Hawaiian landscape following a luau playboy turned reluctant hula instructor, and “Farah Goes Bang” (dir. Meera Menon) a comedy about a female and her quest to unearth her desirability through awkward sexual adventures.
The Documentary Competition highlights eight films, including: “American Arab” (dir. Usama Alshaibi), an evaluation of American and world realities through personal stories of hate crimes and hope; “Cambodian Son” (dir. Masahiro Sugano), the story of Cambodian refugee turned “criminal alien” turned poet; and “Jeepney” (dir. Esy Casey), a close examination of a colorful and popular form of public transit in the Philippines.
Kristi Yamaguchi and other Japanese Americans help rebuild Tohoku two years after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in “Stories From Tohoku” (dirs. Dianne Fukami and Eli Olson) and students from China’s most prestigious drama school put on a staging of the 1980s American musical “Fame” in “The Road to Fame” (dir. Hao Wu). Other films include “Bringing Tibet Home” (dir. Tenzin Tsetan Choklay), follows a New York-based artist as he navigates international borders to transport more than 20 tons of Tibetan soil to Dharamsala; “Lordville” (dir. Rea Tajiri), featuring a conceptual look at the history of a town and how it makes us reevaluate our relationship to the land; and “Stateless” (dir. Duc Nguyen), a look at Vietnamese refugees living in the Philippines who are waiting for resettlement in the United States.
CAAMFest and BAM/PFA
Since the inaugural festival in 1982, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive has been a generous co-presenter of programming at CAAMFest. This year their “Committed Cinema” series which will include special screenings of “The Sun Behind the Clouds” and “Dreaming Lhasa” by the Dharamshala-based filmmaking couple Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam. Both filmmakers are expected to be in attendance for both screenings.
CAAMFest in Oakland
CAAM is excited to bring CAAMFest to Oakland for the first time. Kicking off with the Superawesome launch at the Oakland Museum of California, the festival continues with a full weekend of programming at the New Parkway Theater.
CAAM enhances the media experience by extending its programming with CAAMFest Online, a platform where talented media makers can share their latest works with a global audience. Visit http://caamedia.org throughout March for free original content.
Official CAAMFest Jury
Narrative Competition: Nicholas Chee (founder, Sinema Old School & Sinema TV), Melissa Hung (founding editor, Hyphen Magazine), Musa Syeed (director, “Valley of Saints”)
Documentary Competition: Michael Fukushima (producer, CNOTE), Cheryl Hirasa (director of program development and content strategy, Pacific Islanders in Communications), Oliver Wang (associate professor of sociology, CSU Long Beach)
The awards program alsos include the APCA Student Film Award, the Remy Martin Filmmaker Award, the Audience Award and the Loni Ding Award. See http://caamedia.org for full details.
General Festival Information
CAAMFest, formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), takes place March 13-23, 2014 in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. San Francisco venues include:
Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St.
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St.
New People Cinema, 1746 Post St.
Great Star Theater, 636 Jackson St.
Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St.
111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna St.
Pa’ina Lounge & Restaurant, 1865 Post St.
Brick & Mortar, 1710 Mission St.
Slate Bar, 2925 16th St.
Oakland venues include:
The New Parkway Theater, 474 24th St.
Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St.
Vessel Gallery, 471 25th St.
Berkeley venues include:
Pacific Film Archive Theater, 2575 Bancroft Way.
Excluding special events, panels, galas and special screenings, advanced general admission tickets are $12. Students, seniors (65+) and disabled adults are $11 (limit 1 per program with ID only). Tickets for Center for Asian American Media members are $10 (limit two per program per ID). There is a $1.50 service charge for all tickets purchased online at http://caamfest.com/2014/.
Tickets can be purchased in person at the CAAMFest box office at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.