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Asia, Beyond at CAAMFest

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Featuring cooking salons and demonstrations, rock concerts, parties, lectures, workshops and more, the Center for Asian American Media Festival also happens to be a film festival. CAAMFest 2013 opens Thursday in The City and runs through March 24.

Festival director Masashi Niwano says the event’s name, formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, is significant.

After celebrating the festival’s 30th anniversary last year, organizers wanted to explore new kinds of programs and remain “as relevant and innovative as possible,” he says.

“We do that through our film programming, but we have so much more to offer,” Niwano says. “CAAMFest is an open canvas, an opportunity to showcase other types of cultural expressions.”

For example, the “Women in Media” series showcases feature films, documentaries and discussions by and about leading female artists. Events include filmmaker Grace Lee’s food conference “Asian Chops” at 5 p.m. March 23 at KQED-TV headquarters, where she will announce a new national production for PBS.

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The series will also feature a free presentation of the documentary “Marilou Diaz-Abaya: Filmmaker on a Voyage,” about the acclaimed Filipina director who died in 2012. Screening at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Kabuki, the movie examines the career of the pioneering artist, who tackled issues such as social injustice and violence against women.

Director Deepa Mehta’s “Midnight’s Children,” her collaboration with Salman Rushdie — who adapted his award-winning novel about the fate of a child born at the birth of India’s independence for the film (and provides narration) — screens at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Castro.

Mira Nair’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” screening at noon Sunday at the Castro Theatre, is based on Mohsin Hamid’s award-winning 2007 book about the journey of a Pakistani man whose life is changed after experiencing 9/11 in New York.

In the vein of classic 1980s ensemble pieces, Nadine Truong’s “Someone I Used to Know,” about the reunion of three school friends in Los Angeles, is another anticipated feature. It screens at 9:15 p.m. Friday and noon March 23 at New People, and 2 p.m. March 24 at the Great Star Theatre.  

Music is another important new CAAMFest component. Emerging Asian-American artists, playing electronic pop to new-school hip-hop and beyond, are featured.  

At 9:30 p.m. March 23 at the Rickshaw Stop, “Directions in Sound” boasts a bill with Los Angeles-based headliners Dengue Fever, playing 1960s Cambodian pop and psychedelic rock, and Jhameel and Vinroc.

The musical film “Dosa Hunt” — which describes what happens when pianist Vijay Iyer; critic Amrit Singh; and members of Das Racist, Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer and Neon Indian pack into an Indian disco van to track down New York’s best dosa — screens at 6 p.m. March 21 at the Asian Art Museum. It is accompanied by an appearance by Indian Bastards from Hell (featuring members of Das Racist).

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