Asian Film Festival Celebrates Diversity & History with San Francisco’s CAAMFest by Kevin M. Thomas

CAAMFest in San Francisco

“Golden Gate Girls” – documentary at the CAAMFest 2014

The Center for Asian American Media’s festival will celebrate Asian and Asian American storytelling in the next 10 days with screenings in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland.

The festival’s core commitment, according to Executive Director Stephen Gong, is the discovery of new talent, stories, voices and visions.  In a program full of exciting films,  here’s what is in store with the GLBT point-of-view.

Golden Gate Girls” is a wonderful documentary by Louisa Wei who digs deep into the past to tell us of pioneering lesbian director Esther Eng, one of the first female (and queer) Chinese American directors. Wei’s film is more than a loving tribute to Eng, set to the most amazing jazz music, but Wei also pays tribute to other pioneering and lesbian filmmakers such as Dorothy Arzner, who paved the road for many of our more recent female directors – gay or straight.

The 90 minute film also is a beautiful refection of early San Francisco, where Eng made a lot of her movies. The film is able to cover a lot of ground with its short run time and proves to be the perfect appetizer to whet your appetite to learn more about Eng, Arzner and other trailblazers.

You can share in the tribute by attending the March 18 6:30pm screening at the Great Star Theatre. Seeing it at the Great Star is also historical as the theatre is the last remaining theatre in any Chinatown in the U.S.

Jazz in Love” is a powerful and bittersweet tale, also a documentary, about a young Filipino who falls in love with a man from Germany, but cannot get a Visa out of his country until he is able to speak German. This is intercut with his German boyfriend coming for a visit while Jazz is still in the Philippines in which the two learn more about each other.

Shot very much like a reality TV show, “Jazz” shines in the early stages of their love in bloom…moments we’ve all experienced when we’re giddy about capturing the attention of  a potential mate. “Jazz” plays March 15 at 9pm at San Francisco’s Sundance Kabuki Cinema and March 21 at 7pm at Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archives.


“How to Fight in Six Inch Heels” at the CAAMFest in San Francisco

Another gay title, “How to Fight in Six Inch Heels,” won me over with its title but did not have any advanced copy to screen. In any event, it’s the story of a young New York fashion designer who flies to Vietnam to spy on her boyfriend and gets a makeover from her flamboyant hairdresser cousin. This is the opening night film, screening March 13 at 7pm at the Castro Theatre.

GLBT films are also represented in a series of short films in a collection called “Out/Here,” which screens March 16 at noon at the Castro Theatre.

Included in the shorts is “Straight Jacket” in which a misfit girl makes a friend thanks to her jacket (!! – see it to understand),  “The Worlds of Bernice Bing” which explores the abstract title artist, “Bai Xie” jumps into the underground world of drag queen and karaoke bars, “Leave a Light” is a music video in which the title has a different meaning by the end and “Crossing Barriers: Culture Class Queers” which tells honest and sometimes painful tales of acceptance.

There’s a full and exciting program beyond just that with GLBT interest. Festival runs through March 23. Check it out and get tickets at

CAAM Film Festival

“Jazz in Love” – Documentary at CAAMFest