FUN: Part 2 of Colorlines’ Reported Comic About This Excellent Asian-American Film Festival

By Written by Channing Kennedy. Illustrated by Minnie Phan Mar 24, 2016

To recap: Colorlines asked Oakland-based writer and arts advocate Channing Kennedy to cover the The Center for Asian American Media’s signature festival, CAAMFest 2016. He proposed making it a comic and after some thought we said, "OK." Enter Oakland illustrator and comic artist Minnie Phan. She and Kennedy covered so much of the festival, we’re doing their report-back in several parts. Here’s the second. (Kennedy says the size of the writing is "standard." Colorlines’ comics-ignorant, eye-straining editor said,"OK," and then pasted the text at the bottom. Old school.) —Eds.


Colorlines at CAAMFest 2016, Part 2 Script

As we leave "Tokyo Drift" at midnight, two observations about the present. Outside the theater, young professionals are exiting a nearby minigolf bar to watch an (abandoned) apartment burn. Inside the theater is a single panel of pre-renovation graffiti, preserved behind Plexiglass.

The present is complicated. Is the past less so?

Film: "Sanjay’s Super Team"

It’s the first-ever Pixar short directed by a South Asian and one of the only depictions of a working- class South Asian family in U.S. media. Director Sanjay Patel told the CAAMFest audience: ”I only started doing ‘Indian’-style art when I saw it coopted. Sadly, you don’t feel safe until the natives make you feel safe.” 

He added ”My dad is really proud of me, but for a long time I was really ashamed of him and my mom.“ Sanjay says it took 30 years for him to embrace who he is,mbut when his dad saw "Super Team" for the first time, they hugged.  

Says Minnie: Every hyphen-American knows how huge that is!

Films: "Memories to Light" and "France is Our Mother Country"

Think not only of the personal histories, but also what it represents for our histories. said Stephen Gong, executive director, CAAM

"Memories to Light" presents selections from CAAM’s ongoing efforts to digitize and archive Asian-American home movies. It’s familiar scenes of Americana-of-a-certain-class from 1940-1960, but with no blue eyes. This was a tender screening, spent with Chinatown’s longtime residents.

"France is Our Mother Country" bares Memories’ flip side: a video collage of nearly century of archival footage from Cambodia, filmed by the White colonists to document their acts of ”kindness.” As a child, director Rithy Panh saw his entire family murdered by the Khmer Rouge; this movie is about the unnamed genocide that came before. It is terrifying.

An old White guy in the audience says, "Well I don’t think it was that black and white." Channing shoots him a dirty look.

Interview: Nikki H.

Nikki H., a Bay Area indie film actor, started volunteering at CAAMFest nine years ago—the same year of the illegal rave that left behind that graffiti preserved in the lobby.

Nikki said, "I used to not know that I was Asian—I thought I was only American. I love this festival because it’s a place where all of me can feel like I’m welcome. Like I’m safe.”

What will CAAMFest be like in another nine years? In another 34 years? Will this forgetful city still have room for it?

Stay tuned for the last installment of Colorlines@CAAMFEST2016!