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HELLO and welcome to the 36th annual CAAMFest!

During the heart of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we are thrilled to showcase so many stories from our communities and to amplify the vital voices of our filmmakers and artists. Our 15-day festival — now four days longer — encompasses more than 100 film screenings and events in over 15 venues throughout San Francisco and Oakland. In addition to our in-theater experiences, we are expanding our music, live performance, and food offerings. Our tagline is CULTURE, IN EVERY SENSE, and that’s what we will be delivering.

At a moment when civic engagement is at its most necessary and crucial, we are elated to open our festival with the world premiere of Dianne Fukami’s AN AMERICAN STORY: NORMAN MINETA AND HIS LEGACY. This inspirational and timely portrait sets the perfect tone to kick off our festival, and we’re so honored to have Secretary Mineta in attendance at the Castro Theatre on Thursday, May 10!

Our Centerpiece Presentations are purposefully audacious, from the world premiere of H.P. Mendoza’s (CAAMFest Spotlight alumnus) newest dark comedy, BITTER MELON, to CAAMFest newcomer Kulap Vilaysack’s ORIGIN STORY, a brave personal journey that takes her to Laos to reunite with her father. Both films express the complexity and future-focused voices within Asian American cinema.

We will wrap up our festival with AUNT LILY’S FLOWER BOOK: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LEGALIZED RACISM on May 24 at the historic Herbst Theater, featuring a live performance by Brenda Wong-Aoki, set to music by Emmy Award-winning composer Mark Izu and koto master Shoko Hikage. Wong-Aoki will transport the audience through a multimedia tale of family secrets and resilience in the face of discrimination. We promise you this is a not-to-be-missed performance.

Join us on the CAAMFest journey as you dig in to our program guide, this year with enhanced editorial content. And, we’re always around if you do want personal recommendations.

Lastly, we want to extend thank to our wonderful members, whose support keeps our gears turning throughout the year, and to our Presenting and Grand Sponsors — Comcast Xfinity, AARP, the Asian Art Museum, and the Boba Guys. Our deep thanks to the incredible CAAM fam as well: our staff, board, and interns. We’re so lucky to have such a fantastic mix of passionate individuals. This festival could not exist without their dedication, late nights and all. And a special shout out to former Development Director Debbie Ng and former Festival Assistant Director Lin Kung. After many great years at CAAM, they have both moved on to serve the broader arts community. Although they may no longer be working CAAMFest, Debbie’s strategic direction helped make this move to May a reality, and Lin’s creative imprint and is on every page of this guide.


See you at the festival!


Stephen Gong, Executive Director                                       Masashi Niwano, Festival & Exhibitions Director