CAAMFest 2016 Preview


The Bay Area’s CAAMFest (Center for Asian American Media Festival) begins tomorrow, opening with the documentary Tyrus, which tells the life story of Tyrus Wong, a 105-year-old artist most well-known for his work on Disney’s Bambi. Wong himself will attend the screening, as well as director Pamela Tom, producer Tamara Khalaf, and art director Susan Bradley.


Other noteworthy films include:

Atomic Heart


This surrealist film is an exciting departure from established Iranian cinema. Superb acting and an intriguing plot make this movie a must-watch this festival. Read my full review here.

Description from the festival website: After a night of excess, Arineh and Nobahar cause a car accident. A mysterious stranger offers help, but in accepting his generosity, a price must be paid. This hyperactive, drugged-up road movie undergoes an atmospheric change into a diabolical and strangely metaphysical game on the streets of Tehran, Iran.

Playing at the Roxie Theater, Saturday, March 12, 2016, at 12:10 pm.

Drawing the Tiger


Amy Benson and Scott Squire’s film documenting the rising and falling fortunes of a rural Nepali family movingly probes the legacy of well-intentioned international aid. I strongly urge you to take advantage of the opportunity to catch this screening and hear Benson speak afterwards. (If her TEDx Talk is any indication, her comments will be passionate, informed, and insightful.) Read my full review here.

Description from the festival website: DRAWING THE TIGER observes a rural Nepali family over seven years in an immersive tableau of the human experience. Even the filmmakers themselves couldn’t have foreseen how a hopeful story of a teenage girl winning a big city scholarship could lead to the Darnal family eventually being overturned by tragedy.

Playing at the Roxie Theatre, Friday, March 11, 2016, at 7:30 pm.

Operation Popcorn


Operation Popcorn is a fascinating documentary providing context and behind-the-scenes interviews about a political scandal that rocked the American Hmong community in the mid-2000s. Watch this film to see local history in the making. Read my full review here.

Description from the festival website: When a Hmong businessman rises to prominence in his community, he decides to answer a call-to-action to help the Hmong people fighting for their lives against violent attacks from the communist Laos government. What happens next is a strange tale that is more than meets the eye.

Playing at the Roxie Theatre, Sunday, March 13, 2016, at 7:00 pm.



This Sundance Audience Award winner is sure to be a crowd-pleaser (not least because it competed against and beat out one of my favorites that year, The Second Mother).

Description from the festival website: “Umrika” is how a small village in India refers to “America.” One of their own decides to journey to “Umrika,” inspiring both hope and debate. When the village loses touch with its contested hero, his younger brother Rama and friend Lalu set out on their own to find him.

Playing at the Alamo Drafthouse, Sunday, March 13, 2016, at 12:20 pm, and at the New Parkway Theater, Saturday, March 19, 2016, at 3:00 pm.

The Royal Tailor

theroyaltailorA Variety review promises a South Korean Amadeus (except dueling geniuses of fashion, not music) with stunning, lush aesthetics. I’m sold.

Description from the festival website: Sartorial rivals Dol-suk (Han Suk-kyu), a master craftsman devoted to tradition, and Kong-jin (Ko Soo), an avant-garde upstart with rakish charm, cross shears for the position of the king’s tailor. High fashion and political intrigue weave together this sumptuous court drama, replete with scenes of rustling hanbok and sensuous embroidery.

Playing at the Alamo Drafthouse, Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at 9:00 pm, and at the New Parkway Theater, March 19, 2016, at 2:20 pm.


grassI like a light-hearted movie now and then, especially if it’s made by a tested director and features minority women. Something new, something good.

Description from the festival website: Complacent pushover Cam and her maverick pal, Jinky, find adventure, merriment and revelation with the help of a backpack full of weed. Their sensory trip comically explores the highs, lows and more highs throughout a day at the park. From the award-winning director of PUNCHING AT THE SUN (SFIAAFF ’06).

Playing at the Alamo Drafthouse, Friday, March 11, 2016, at 9:20 pm.