See you at CAAMFest 2016

A celebration of film, music, food and digital media, March 10-20

Bay Area film fans, it's on. CAAMFest 2016 is going down March 10-20 in San Francisco and Oakland. Presented by the Center for Asian American Media, CAAMFest is an 11-day celebration of film, music, food and digital media from the world's most innovative Asian and Asian American artists.

This year, the Festival adds new venues in the Mission district. In addition to the historic Castro Theatre, New People Cinema in Japantown and the New Parkway Theater in Oakland, CAAMFest adds the venerable 106-year-ld Roxie Theater and the newly minted Alamo Drafthouse to its slate of venues.

CAAMFest showcases the work of new Asian and Asian American artists and pays tribute to the pioneers who have paved the way for Asian Americans in media and entertainment. The festival kicks of Thursday, March 9 with the Opening Night screening of the feature documentary Tyrus, celebrating the life and career of pioneering Chinese American artist Tyrus Wong.

Here's the CAAMFest 2016 trailer:

Here are some CAAMFest highlights:



CAAMFest 2016 opens with an unforgettable cinematic experience, the Bay Area premiere of TYRUS. Directed by Pamela Tom, TYRUS is an inspirational documentary about the art, life, and enduring impact of 105 year-old pioneering Chinese American artist Tyrus Wong, best known for the conceptual artwork that gave Walt Disney's Bambi its distinctive and unforgettable look. TYRUS will be shown at the majestic Castro Theatre, and is part of a special spotlight series, in partnership with Pixar Animation Studios and the Walt Disney Family Museum, ASIAN AMERICANS IN ANIMATION.


CAAMFest 2016 concludes in Oakland with the Bay Area premiere of RIGHT FOOTED, an inspiring documentary about expert martial artist, disability rights activist and the world's only armless airplane pilot, Filipina American Jessica Cox. Director Nick Spark explores Cox's incredible journey as she overcomes adversity, finds romance and awakens hope in others around the world.



This year's Centerpiece Narrative presentation comes from CAAMFest Spotlight filmmaker Mabel Cheung. Cheung's A TALE OF THREE CITIES transports us to Hong Kong during the turbulent times of war in the 1930s and 1940s, focusing on an epic story of romance and tragedy between the real-life parents of Jackie Chan. Starring Lau Ching-wan (MAD DETECTIVE) and Tang Wei (LUST, CAUTION).


The Centerpiece Documentary presentation brings a premiere from San Francisco's own Michael Siv, DAZE OF JUSTICE. Siv, once a documentary subject himself (REFUGEE, SFIAAFF ‘03), follows Khmer Rouge survivors on a journey from the US to tribunals in Cambodia. The unraveling of unspeakable wounds breaks a decades-long silence in this messy, and ultimately moving, process.



CAAMFest 2016 partners with Pixar Animation Studios and the Walt Disney Family Museum to present ASIAN AMERICANS IN ANIMATION, a special presentation inspired by the subject of Opening Night film TYRUS, Tyrus Wong. The legacy of Wong has helped inspire new generations of media makers and continues to this day. The ASIANS IN ANIMATION showcase kicks off with TYRUS and continues with BAMBI, which owes its visual DNA to Wong, and THE SUPER STORY BEHIND “SANJAY'S SUPER TEAM.” Director Sanjay Patel and producer Nicole Grindle discuss the magic and inspiration behind Pixar's first lead character of color in the Oscar®-nominated short, SANJAY'S SUPER TEAM.


Mabel Cheung is one of Hong Kong's most prominent directors. Her international acclaim reflects over 30 years of award-winning works, beginning with her “Migration Trilogy.” CAAMFest presents two of Cheung's influential films: her newest feature and CAAMFest's Centerpiece Narrative A TALE OF THREE CITIES, chronicling the epic love story of Jackie Chan's parents and THE SOONG SISTERS, originally released in 1997 and considered one of the highlights of Cheung's career. The true story, starring Maggie Cheung (HERO), Michelle Yeoh (CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON) and Vivian Wu (THE LAST EMPEROR), explores the three fascinating sisters whose high-profile marriages, celebrity status and family ties elevated them to positions of wealth and power, profoundly shaping Chinese history in the early 20th century.


Director, writer, actor, producer, musician and CAAMFest alum H.P. Mendoza is a local treasure. Born and raised in San Francisco and currently living in the Mission District, Mendoza's diverse portfolio includes the FRUIT FLY (SFIAAFF ‘09) and I AM A GHOST (SFIAAFF ‘12), as well as a highlight, COLMA: THE MUSICAL. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of COLMA: THE MUSICAL, CAAMFest will be reuniting many of the cast for an unforgettable, profanity-laced sing-along. Mendoza will also kick off the Asian Art Museum's new series, TAKEOVER, where he will host a one-night event and party at the museum, mashing up his preoccupations with musicals, horror films, 8-bit games and virtual reality.



Tadashi Nakamura's world premiere of MELE MURALS looks beyond the obvious beauty of the Hawaiian Islands to the deep connections among the local community. Local artist Estria Miyashiro and with fellow artist John Hina travel to the rural town of Waimea, HI, where they attempt to connect ancient Hawaiian traditions and graffiti with the youth of tomorrow. MELE MURALS will be part of CAAMFest's return to the great Oakland Museum of California, which will capture the intersection of Pacific Island and Bay Area culture.


Continuing the theme of Hawaiian culture is a celebration of food and family with Ty Sanga's FAMILY INGREDIENTS. Chef Ed Kenney takes us on a culinary adventure, exploring traditional Hawaiian foods poi (a paste-like dish made from taro) and pipikaula (salted dried beef) and how they have influenced culture in the Aloha State.


Filmmaker Matt Yamashita's new film, SONS OF HALAWA, follows subject Pilipo Solatorio, the last native Hawaiian from Halawa, on a search for someone to learn and pass ancient traditions to future generations before they vanish with him. (Preceded by short, ROOTS OF ‘ULU)


Canadian artist Randall Okita's diverse portfolio blends sculpture, cinematography, technology and even stunt work. CAAM welcomes Okita to present many of his short films and to share his experiences and influences with attendees. Shorts in the program include: MACHINE WITH WISHBONE, FISH IN BARREL, NO CONTRACT, PORTRAIT AS A RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE and THE WEATHERMAN AND THE SHADOWBOXER.



Justin Lin's entry to THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise has been considered the biggest thematic departure in the series. In partnership with Wild 94.9 and You Offend Me, You Offend My Family (YOMYOMF), CAAMFest welcomes back THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT to the big screen for its 10-year anniversary. Revisit the high-octane ride set in the underground world of Tokyo's street racing scene. With special guests in attendance!


Two Community Screenings capture and address impactful subjects and ideas this year. The world premiere of Christopher C.C. Wong's poignant documentary, BE ABOUT IT, examines life-altering and day-to-day moments of two Bay Area men, reporter Alan Wang and athlete AJ Jabonero, both living with hepatitis B, and the reach and cost of the infection in the Asian American community. EVERYTHING WILL BE, directed by award-winning Julia Kwan, follows the fading light of Vancouver's Chinatown, exploring the loss of history at the expense of modern trends. Youth Workshops continue at CAAMFest with familiar ideas in existing and fresh settings. In its 2nd year as a signature CAAM program, MUSLIM YOUTH VOICES follows acclaimed filmmaker Musa Syeed as he helps young people craft their unique stories disintegrating the borders built on stereotypes. 1990 INSTITUTE: YOUTH VOICES ON CHINA is the culmination of an ongoing online video contest that cultivates global awareness within young American communities. Catch a sneak peek of local artist and CAAM alum James Q. Chan's work-in-progress, CAAM-funded documentary, FRANK WONG'S CHINATOWN (Working Title), which highlights the fascinating story of 81-year-old Frank Wong, a self-taught artist who has created extraordinarily detailed miniature models of San Francisco's Chinatown from his fading memories.


For the fourth CAAMFest iteration of our innovative home movie initiative, we are excited to present a compilation of Chinese American home movies from the 1930s through the 1970s, with live musical accompaniment by acclaimed jazz musician Francis Wong. Memories to Light is a project that collects and digitizes home movies — and the stories they tell — to share with the broad public.



Golden Globe-nominated Netflix series MASTER OF NONE has had critics and viewers binge-watching every episode and thirsting for more. Series co-creator Alan Yang and cast member Kelvin Yu will be stopping by CAAMFest for a panel on the award-winning show. Yang and Yu will divulge juicy details on the show's inspiration and production as well as their own experiences in an industry full of both opportunity and obstacle.


CAAMFest will explore the bane of existence for many Asian American actors: typecasting. For Asian American women and men looking for work, roles can be severely limited and stereotyped, especially when it comes to appearing as a character intended (or specifically not intended) for romance. Featuring actress Vella Lovell and Bay Area native, Filipino-American actor Vincent Rodriguez III from the hit series CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND. Rodriguez and Lovell join other actors and filmmakers (TBA) to discuss the gradually changing landscape for gender roles and what they hope the future holds.


As online platforms like Netflix and Amazon continue to grow mainstream media, 2016 will see a record number of new digital services looking to fund and distribute content from and for diverse communities. Pradeepa Jeeva and Philip W. Chung of You Offend Me, You Offend My Family (YOMYOMF) will speak with key industry players to explore the shift to digital for many artists seeking opportunity.


For over 11 years, Directions in Sound has been the Festival's premier Asian and Asian American music gathering of emerging and cutting-edge artists. Highlighting leading Asian American musicians, Directions in Sound exposes the Bay Area to innovative artists from the underground music scene. This year's program brings back Directions in Sound: Korean Showcase, featuring international groups dripping with rhythmic and vocal talents: Big Phony, HEO, WYM and Love X Stereo.

Once again, CAAMFest follows the live beats to the silver screen to find music-centric films that add a visual layer to the sounds that accompany them. Making its West Coast premiere, Jonathan Yi’s & Michael Haertlein’s MAD TIGER chronicles the relationship between two Japanese bandmates, Peelander-Yellow and Peelander-Red, as their friendship is tested and both seek greater meaning in their lives through their art and relationship with each other. In NO LAND’S SONG, Iranian director Ayat Najafi chronicles his sister Sara’s grim outlook on the fading presence of women in music, and her journey in reviving the female voice in music and culture.

San Francisco’s very own Kollaboration joins forces with CAAMFest for the yearly Social Club event at Slate Bar in the heart of the Mission District. Join filmmakers, artists and fellow attendees to hang out, celebrate and unwind in good company. Featuring R&B soul group The Delivery, vocal soloist Jayne Rio, Korean-American R&B singer Lawrence Park and ambient soul duo AstraLogik.


A visual feast of themes and stories await in this year's Narrative Competition, including GOOD OL' BOY (dir. Frank Lotito), a charming, nostalgia-filled story of a young Indian boy's cultural journey in small town America; CRUSH THE SKULL (dir. Viet Nguyen) the campy horror story of a robbery-gone-wrong when the thieves make the worst choice in houses to steal from; and GRASS (dir. Tanuj Chopra), a smoke-filled stoner comedy following a dynamic duo of friends on their adventures in the park over one day. Other competition films include PALI ROAD (dir. Jonathan Lim), equal parts drama, thriller and mystery, a woman tries to uncover the truth when she awakens from an accident with memories of a life that no one else believes to be real; JASMINE (dir. Dax Phelan) the psychological thriller exploring one man's obsession with a stranger whom he believes murdered his late wife; and TWO LUNES (dir. Hui-Eun Park), two tales of experiences that immigrant women encounter during their new lives in Los Angeles and Vietnam.

Unique perspectives communicate through six films in this year's Documentary Competition. Films include BREATHIN': THE EDDY ZHENG STORY (dir. Ben Wang), the local story of prisoner, immigrant, son and activist Eddy Zheng, and his journey to redemption; PAINTED NAILS (dir. Dianne Griffin & Erica Jordan) a film about a San Francisco-based nail salon owner whose work-related health issues helped fuel a movement for safer salons in general; and MELE MURALS (dir. Tadashi Nakamura), a Hawaiian story following artists' attempts to combine graffiti and ancient traditions in an effort to carry them to future generations. Also included: DRAWING THE TIGER (dir. Amy Benson, Scott Squire & Ramyata Limbu) an observation of a Nepalese family's actions and hopes to send their daughter away for a better education turning into their own tragedy; NINTH FLOOR (dir. Mina Shum), the story of the 1969 Sir George Williams riot in Canada that put racial tensions in the spotlight (preceded by short, RACIAL FACIAL); and OPERATION POPCORN (dir. David Grabias), a film following a Hmong man's rise in his community and the results of his efforts to help other Hmong people fight off attacks from the communist Lao government.


A collection of some of the best international Asian films, CinemAsia explores a vibrant scope of themes and ideas that cross all borders. This year showcases films from Singapore, Iran, Vietnam, India and many more destinations. Highlights include: YELLOW FLOWERS ON GREEN GRASS (dir. Victor Vu) a box office hit exploring the tests on bonds between two Vietnamese brothers against a beautifully pastoral backdrop; 3688 (dir. Royston Tan) a Singaporean musical dramedy following a woman honoring her dementia-ridden father by competing in a singing competition; KAMPAI: FOR THE LOVE OF SAKE (dir. Mirai Konishi) a documentary following sake connoisseurs on their quest to learn more about the industry behind the rich and complex cultural staple in Japan and across the world; and UMRIKA (dir. Prashant Nair) a mix of drama, warmth, and bittersweetness as a small town in India lives vicariously through postcards written to them from one of their own, and then shifts focus as the postcards stop and the traveller's brother leaves to find him. Also in the program: FRANCE IS OUR MOTHER COUNTRY (dir. Rithy Panh) a piece that examines the French occupation of Cambodia, touching on the tragedy brought on by brute force during colonialism; ATOMIC HEART (dir. Ali Ahmadzadeh) an surreal Iranian film that follows two friends on a night of drinking, political commentary and mystery when the friends are visited by an otherworldly figure; IN THE ROOM (dir. Eric Khoo) Singapore's first erotic film visits the same dilapidated hotel room through several decades of encounters; KID KULAFU (dir. Paul Soriano) the story behind real-life champion boxer Manny Pacquiao as he overcame obstacles as a child in the Philippines and found his fighting spirit; THE KIDS (dir. Sunny Yu) a Taiwanese tale of one man's undoing that follows how love and sacrifice are intertwined; THE NAME OF THE WHALE (dir. Fumito Fujikawa) an angst-filled story about a Japanese boy who grows into himself while dealing with family, friends and school-assigned whale fossil-hunting; PLEASE REMEMBER ME (dir. Zhao Qing) a poignant documentary about a Chinese man tending his Alzheimer's-stricken wife with compassionate loyalty; THE ROYAL TAILOR (dir. Lee-Won Suk) a South Korean period piece where rivals battle in the realm of fashion and skill to be the king's tailor; THANATOS, DRUNK (dir. Tso-Chi Chang) an exploration of love and loss in Taiwan, set around a dysfunctional family; and YEU(LOVE) (dir. Viet Max) the first mainstream LGBTQ Vietnamese film, witnessing the change from friendship to love between two women.

For further information about CAAMFest, including the full schedule, program descriptions, and venue and ticket info, visit the festival website, and follow updates on Facebook and Twitter.

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