Must-see docs highlight the newly renamed CAAMFest
An ultimately more uplifting tale can be found in Invoking Justice, Deepa Dhanraj's revealing examination of women's rights in Tamil Nadu, South India (spoiler alert: there ain't many, violence against women is sadly common, and many cases go unpunished). Hope comes in the form of Muslim wives, mothers, and daughters who form the first-ever Women's Jamaat, assertively working to change the way divorces, abuse cases, rapes, and worse are handled in their communities. "If we talk about our problems openly, we will be able to overcome them," one member reasons, and the film does indeed chart some baby-steps of progress as a result of their efforts.
Bay Area filmmaker Evan Jackson Leong's highly enjoyable Linsanity is the perfect fit for CAAMFest's opening-night celebration. It follows Palo Alto's own Jeremy Lin, a hugely charismatic documentary subject, as he rises from Harvard standout to struggling NBA rookie, giving plenty of context to his apparent insta-fame while considering how his Asian American-ness both helped and hindered his career. Also from the Bay Area is Debbie Lum's remarkably all-access — often uncomfortably so — Seeking Asian Female, look at the relationship between sixtysomething white guy Steve and the half-his-age Sandy, a Chinese woman who agrees to marry him after meeting him online. Neither partner is as stereotypical as they first appear, and as Lum herself is reluctantly drawn into the story, a complicated, frustratingly human (but always compelling) drama emerges.
One more plug: Luke Cassady-Dorion's The Cheer Ambassadors, about Bangkok University's internationally acclaimed cheerleading team. The kids are guided through their high-flying, hip-thrusting routines by a dynamo of a coach, equal parts sparkle and steel, who speaks only in quotable declarations ("I was born to be a cheerleader!") and motivational phrases ("Dreams are what make your life better"). This has gotta be the feel-good movie of the festival; insert your own "stand up and cheer" joke here.
March 14-24, most shows $12
Various venues, SF and Berk.