May Festivals: DocLands & CAAMFest

We have two film festivals coming up in May. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to cover each of them properly, so I’ll just give you a quick rundown.


The Bay Area hosts almost as many documentary film festivals as it does Noir fests. This Marin County-based, four-day festival runs from May 3 through May 6 at the Rafael and the Sequoia. During that time they will screen 43 films from 10 countries.

Although I haven’t been able to preview films for this festival, I’ve seen three of these documentaries at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Here’s what I thought of them:

A Three Identical Strangers

This was the best documentary I saw at the SFFILM Festival. In 1980, three young men who didn’t know each other, all of them adopted, discovered that they were identical triplets. Filmmaker Tim Wardle created an original, deeply empathetic documentary about their lives, their brief celebrity, and the discovery that them and their adoptive parents were guinea pigs in a long-term, secret, nature/nurture experiment. Wardle breaks generally-accepted documentary rules to create a fresh way of telling his story.

A- The Rescue List

Some documentaries make you feel good about your humanistic view of the world. The Rescue List makes you feel guilty. Of course, it does. Kwame, the film’s hero, devotes his life to freeing child slaves. Could you think of something more important than that? The filmmakers were smart enough to concentrate not just on Kwame but also on three boys he rescued. You can read my longer report.

  • The Rescue List plays only once at the festival, at the Rafael, Saturday, May 5, 3:00

B+ Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Ordained minister Fred Rogers, the creator of the long-lived children’s show Mister Rogers, just may be the most moral and decent human being in the history of television. Filmmaker Morgan Neville shows us Rogers’ life and career through clips from his show, archival interviews with Rogers himself, and new interviews with his family and co-workers. One big surprise: Rogers, who was inevitably attacked by Fox News, was a life-long Republican.

  • Sequoia, Saturday, May 5, 6:00
  • Rafael, Sunday, May 6, 2:30; At Rush!


The Center for Asian American Media runs its annual film festival this year from May 10 through May 24. In addition to movies, the festival will have music and food presentations, as well as virtual reality.

The virtual reality presentation, Pacific Gateway: Angel Island VR, will explore poems written by Chinese immigrants detained on Angel Island.

Come Drink With Me

A spotlight on actress Pei-Pei Cheng will include Come Drink With Me, Meditation Park, Golden Swallow, and a discussion with the actress.

A Pacific showcase will include the films Island Soldier, Lady Eva, Out of State, and I Am Because You Are.

As near as I can tell, the only film in the festival that I’ve seen is Walt Disney’s Bambi (I saw it ages ago). The screening is a celebration of Disney artist Tyrus Wong.