The Center for Asian American Media will host its 33rd annual CAAMFest in three San Francisco Bay Area cities from Thursday, March 12 to Sunday, March 22.

Masashi Niwano, festival and exhibition director, said at a Feb. 12 press conference that this year’s festival features more than 120 films and media projects from more than 20 different countries with 11 world premiers.

He said the festival, entitled “Destination: CAAMFest,” is the nation’s largest premier festival dedicated to Asian and Asian American media and has become internationally recognized in showcasing the best of Asian American media.

The festival will open with Benson Lee’s “Seoul Searching,” a film about Korean teens set in the 1980s inspired by “The Breakfast Club,” and close with the world premiere of “Lucky Chow,” a CAAM co-produced PBS series on Asian American food across the country, featuring LUCKYRICE culinary festival’s Danielle Chang. The festival will feature Shonali Bose’s “Margarita, With a Straw” as this year’s centerpiece presentation. “Margarita, With a Straw” is about a NYU transplant from Delhi University with cerebral palsy who falls for a fiery female activist.

The festival also hosts presentations, including a spotlight on San Francisco native and renown filmmaker Arthur Dong, showcases on Pacific Islanders, videos on youth, presentations on food and musical performances. Musical guests for this year’s Directions in Sounds include New York hip-hop artist Awkwafina and Vietnam’s “queen of hip-hop” Suboi.

This year the festival features numerous Japanese and Japanese American affiliated films. Japanese American director Dean Yamada’s “Cicada” will play within the Comcast Narrative Competition. “Cicada” follows the story of Jumpei, a school teacher in Tokyo who finds out he is infertile. The documentary competition features the world premiere of Jim Choi’s “Changing Seasons: On the Masumoto Family Farm,” a film on the organic peach farmers’ transitional year from father to daughter. Under Cinemasia, Ando Momoko’s “0.5MM” will be shown. The film follows Sawa, a caregiver to the elderly, as she survives sexism and patriarchy. The Short Shorts Film Festival will feature five Japanese short films: “In the Tree House” by Tsuyoshi Nakakuki, “An Innocent Beat” by Kazuhisa Kotera, “A Soccer Story” by Liliana Sulzbach, “Stroboscope” by A.T. and “Two Juliets of Verona” by Ken Ochiai. Also featured is Bay Area artist Tina Takemoto’s “Sex, Politics,  and Sticky Rice” in the Out/Here presentation, Robin Takao D’Oench’s “Tadaima” in The Home Promised presentation and Akiko Izumitani’s “The Other Side” and Zhou Quan’s “Woman in Fragments” (produced by Ryoji Kure) will be screened within the Flipside presentation.

The festival will feature the second annual CAAMFeast Awards, which honors Asian American culinary achievement. This year, the program will honor the Masumoto family, Danielle Chang and local chef Tim Luym.

In San Francisco, films will be shown at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St.; Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St.; New People Cinema, 1746 Post St. and the Great Star Theater, 636 Jackson St. In the East Bay, films will be shown at the Pacific Film Archive Theater, 2575 Bancroft Way in Berkeley; The New Parkway Theater, 474 24th St. and Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. in Oakland.

Tickets cost $14 for general admission, $13 for students, seniors (65 and older) and disabled, or $12 for members. Special prices apply for opening night, centerpiece and closing night films, galas and other non-film venues. A CAAMFest 6-Pack is also available for $75 for regular priced screenings and an all-access pass is available for $500

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