A 70-year-old Vietnamese American refugee living in Oregon confronts the traumas of her past. As she shares her story with her filmmaker son, she is led down an emotional journey of healing that takes them both to a country she hadn’t seen since fleeing as a young woman.
Director & Producer: Kevin Truong
Impact Producer: Ariel Goodman
Student Fellows: Naren Roy and Jalen Martin
Mentor: Bhawin Suchak
Director & Producer
Kevin Truong is the director, producer and director of photography for “Mai American.” Born in a refugee camp for Vietnamese boat people in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Kevin and his family immigrated to the United States the following year. He first received recognition for his work with The Gay Men Project, a photo project in which he has documented the lives of gay and queer men across 37 countries. As a journalist he has written stories for NBC Digital at NBC News and Motherboard Tech by VICE, with his work often exploring the LGBTQ and Asian American experiences. He has also worked as a youth media producer with Student Reporting Labs at PBS, helping students produce video content for the PBS Newshour. “Mai American” is Kevin’s first documentary feature film working as a director, but he brings to it over ten years of experience in visual storytelling and five years of experience in journalistic practice. He has received film fellowships from the Center for Asian American Media and BAVC Media and is a member of A-Doc and the Video Consortium. Kevin has a B.S. in economics from Portland State University, a B.F.A. in photography from Pratt Institute and a M.A. in journalism with a specialization in documentary filmmaking from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.
Ariel Goodman is multimedia artist and investigative journalist based in Philadelphia whose work centers on community media and collaborative journalism. Most recently she worked as a Tow Fellow at The Marshall Project to create collaborative accountability journalism with communities impacted by the criminal justice system. Previously she managed award-winning community media programs across Philadelphia, including Atrévete, a bilingual community TV project, and Hear Us Out, the first youth radio show on LPFM 106.5FM. Ariel’s journalism has appeared in outlets such as ProPublica, The Associated Press, El Pais, Univision, and more. She has her masters degree in Documentary and Spanish language journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY. Ariel creates and teaches media as a tool for community members to understand themselves and each other, and a basis for collectively imagining, creating, and fighting for the world they want to live in.
Bhawin is an educator, filmmaker, and founding member/co-executive director of Youth FX, a media arts organization focused on empowering young people of color in Albany, NY and around the world by teaching them creative and technical skills in film and digital media. Bhawin also co-directs NeXt Doc, a year-round fellowship program that exists to amplify the voices of documentary filmmakers of color between the ages of 20-24 years old, while supporting self-determined communities of emerging artists.. Bhawin is the co-director, producer, cinematographer and editor of Outta The Muck (2022), a feature length documentary supported by ITVS, JustFilms, Sundance, and Southern Documentary Fund. He previously co-directed, The Throwaways (2014), and Free To Learn (2004).
Jalen (he/him/his), a New Yorker and junior English major and visual studies minor at Haverford College. I enjoy both creative writing and filmmaking as ways of expression. At Haverford, I am a board member of Shoegazing Magazine, a Writing Center tutor, a SLOP board member, a Mellon Mays fellow, and a Communications Office assistant. In my free time, I write short stories and screenplays, watch movies, root for the Knicks, sift through art books, and take naps. Lastly, I am very invested in several social justice issues, in particular the ways that racial oppression and economic oppression intersect and the effects those have on the day-to-day lives of marginalized peoples.
Naren (he/they) is a junior Anthropology major and Visual Studies Minor at Haverford College who hails from the D.C. metro area. At Haverford he participates in Sunrise Movement, the Writing Center, Quaker House, and Bi-Co Mutual Aid. He loves engaging in both academic and personal activities that combine his interests in visual arts, social justice, music and nature, and Latin America. In their free time, Naren enjoys reading, writing and watching films across a variety of different genres.
Liquor Store Dreams
Tracing back to the ’92 LA Uprisings to the current day BLM movement, Liquor Store Dreams is an intimate portrait of two Korean American children of liquor store owners who set out to bridge generational divides with their immigrant parents in Los Angeles.
Director: So Yun Um
Producer: Eddie Kim
Student Fellows: Erica Kaunang & Yuriko Zhang
Mentor: Jin Yoo-Kim
So Yun Um
So Yun Um is a Korean American filmmaker born and based in Los Angeles. She explores the intimate stories of marginalized people through her poetic visual language and poignant editing style. Her directorial debut feature film, LIQUOR STORE DREAMS, about second generation Korean American children of Liquor Store owners in Los Angeles, will have its world premiere at Tribeca 2022. So is a CAAM 2021 Fellow with mentorship support from acclaimed director Nanfu Wang. She is also an alumnus of the Armed with a Camera Fellowship by Visual Communication, recipient of the Sundance Uprise Grant and a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Grantee. She is a proud member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia and the Asian American Documentary Network.
Eddie Kim is a filmmaker, producer, and writer based in Los Angeles, and he is a believer in creating stories that amplify underserved voices. Eddie has deep experience in producing original series for digital media and television. His work has been featured on The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, The View, Billboard, Hypebeast, and more. In partnership with the Executive Producer of THE OFFICE, Eddie has directed and produced multiple docu-series exploring the lives of young Asian Americans in Los Angeles and Orange County. His series, entitled K-TOWN, was nominated for a Streamy Award for Best Reality Docu-series. Currently, Eddie is a Supervising Creative Producer at Spotify where he is charged to create original content for video and audio with rising artists, top stars, and podcast creators. He is also a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Grantee as the Producer of the feature length documentary, LIQUOR STORE DREAMS.
JIN YOO-KIM is a Korean Bolivian American filmmaker currently producing MANZANAR, DIVERTED: WHEN WATER BECOMES DUST (dir. Ann Kaneko). She most recently directed and produced a docuseries episode for TAKE OUT WITH LISA LING on air on HBO MAX. She co-produced A WOMAN’S WORK: THE NFL’S CHEERLEADER PROBLEM (dir. Yu Gu), and K-TOWN ’92 (dir. Grace Lee). She is currently developing her first food docuseries, co-writing a feature comedy. She is a 2020-21 Sundance Creative Producers Fellow, a 2020 Film Independent x CNN Original Series Docuseries Intensive Fellow, a 2020 Film Independent Doc Lab fellow, and was a 2017 Firelight Media Impact Producing Fellow. She received her MFA in Film from USC and a BA in Psychology and Cinema & Media Studies from Wellesley College.
Erica Kaunang is an Indonesian-American born and raised in Queens, NY. Currently, she is a senior Anthropology major at Haverford College with minors in Film Studies and English. While her interests are scattered between social movements, filmmaking, and literature, Erica is invested in storytelling as it relates to liberation for all communities. Erica’s interests in radical change, especially within the API community, was sparked by her own lived experiences and fostered by the wisdom and support from various community spaces around New York– particularly those of radical women of color, Southeast Asians, and first generation low income (FGLI) folks. Asian-American feminism is very close to her heart and Erica is passionate about movement and coalition-building across communities and generations. She hopes to continue exploring and uplifting the multidimensionality and intersectionality of Asian histories and identities. Erica is passionate about API media beyond representation, through a lens of anti-racism and decolonization. She believes representation can be about how interconnected our struggles are across the world and how active and resilient we already are– we just haven’t been shown that story. She hopes to combat this erasure and combine her interests of diasporic communities, urban spaces, and social movements from Asian-American collectives.
Yuriko Zhang (she/her) is a current first-year student at Haverford College. Throughout high school, she worked closely alongside local New York Asian-American nonprofits to pursue a passion for community organizing and amplifying voices and stories. At Haverford, she is part of the board for PARC, the Pan Asian Resource Center. Currently, she is interested in majoring in Anthropology with a minor in Japanese. In her free time, she loves to do tarot readings, listen to indie music, and play with cats.
Above and Below the Ground
Above and Below the Ground tells the story of indigenous punk rock pastors in Myanmar who team up with women activists to protect a sacred river from a Chinese-built megadam.
Director: Emily Hong
Impact Strategist: Stella Naw
Impact Producer: Ningli Hkawn
Student Fellow: Sophia Wan
Mentor: PJ Raval
Emily Hong is a Korean American visual anthropologist and filmmaker based in Philadelphia. Emily is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Visual Studies at Haverford College, a co-founder of Ethnocine and Rhiza Collectives, and a Leadership Team member of the Asian American Documentary Network. Informed by her experiences as a multiracial immigrant with ancestors on both sides of the colonial equation, her work seeks to challenge the colonial legacies of anthropology and documentary filmmaking by creating space to honor non-Western ways of knowing and being. Emily’s short films GET BY (2014), NOBEL NOK DAH (2015), and FOR MY ART (2016), have explored solidarity and labor, womanhood and identity in the refugee experience, and the gendered spectatorship of performance art, respectively. Her current feature project ABOVE AND BELOW THE GROUND features indigenous women and punk rock pastors leading an environmental movement in Myanmar. Emily’s work builds on over fifteen years of experience facilitating cross-cultural organizing and campaigns with grassroots social movements in Asia and the US with a focus on indigenous rights, environmental and economic justice. She has received support from the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Center for Asian American Media, Bertha Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, and the Gotham Film & Media Institute.
Stella Naw is a political writer and advocate for equality. Stella’s research focuses on Indigenous issues, land and resource governance, meaningful political representation, and values-based social change. Stella studied Aboriginal studies at University of Toronto.
Ningli Hkawn is a researcher and activist specializing in women’s leadership, peace and conflict. She has over 15 years of experience working with civil society organizations, including as the Coordinator for Kachin Women Peace Network in Myanmar and, prior to that, coordinator for Kachin Women Association Thailand, among others. She has also served as an advisor for the Shayi Channel, a bilingual Kachin ethnic women’s media channel run by Kachin Women Peace Network. She holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from the Australian National University (ANU).
Named one of Out Magazine’s “Out 100”, PJ Raval is a queer, first generation Filipino American filmmaker whose credits include TRINIDAD (Showtime), BEFORE YOU KNOW IT (American ReFramed, WORLD Channel), and CALL HER GANDA which broadcast on POV (PBS) in 2019 and won the 2020 NLGJA Association of LGBTQ Journalists “Excellence in Documentary Award” and was nominated for a Philippines Academy Award for Best Documentary and a GLAAD Media Award. PJ is the director behind the community video series Stories Within, a recent Gold House Gold Futures Challenge Award recipient, is a co-founder and board president of the queer transmedia arts organization OUTsider, and is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He serves on the leadership team of the Asian American Documentary Network (A-Doc) and is a Soros Justice Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the Producers Guild of America and Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Sophia Wan (she/they) is a junior at Haverford with an Anthropology major and Visual Studies Minor. She is from the state everyone loves to hate, New Jersey, but is rooted in Hong Kong. As a dancer, she is interested in how the bodily form can express resistance, strength, and radical self-care. She is also interested in “cultural” studies, decoloniality, diasporic embodiment, and exploring the everydayness of empire. On campus, she coheads Bounce Dance Club and Students for Abolition, Liberation, and Transformation, works at the Human Rights Coalition and Abolitionist Law Center based in Philly, and enjoys photosynthesizing in the sun.