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November 9, 2023

“Iris Chang: Power of One” and “EJ Lee: All-American” Selected for Year Two of AAPI Voices Fund

Kartemquin Films is pleased to announce the two new projects supported by the Peng Zhao and Cherry Chen AAPI Voices Fund: Iris Chang: Power of One by director/producer Kimberlee Bassford and EJ Lee: All-American by director Jason Rhee.

“We are so excited about partnering with Kartemquin on this project, especially given Iris Chang’s roots in the Midwest,” said Iris Chang: Power of One director/producer Kimberlee Bassford. “We look forward to working with and learning from the Kartemquin team and joining its community of filmmakers.”

“The film team and I are excited to receive this support from the Kartemquin AAPI Voices Fund, which will help us in our goal of honoring the legacy of a female Asian American athlete/coach that had an incredible impact on and off the court,” said EJ Lee: All-American director Jason Rhee.

This second year of the multi-year fund supports these two filmmakers with $50,000 awards towards production and mentorship through 2024 as co-productions within the award-winning Kartemquin collaborative production model.

“These projects take an intimate look at the lives of two women, their identity, and the cost of their success and fight for recognition, from two very different vantage points,” said Kartemquin Executive Director Betsy Leonard. “They invite us into deeper connection, while also heralding the power of representation when one can see their lived experience reflected on screen and behind the camera.”

The purpose of this initiative is to invest funds and critical support in AAPI-identifying filmmakers making documentary films that center AAPI voices and deepen their audiences’ understanding of the complexity and diversity of the AAPI communities in the US.

More on the cycle two AAPI Voices Fund projects:


Director/Producer: Kimberlee Bassford

IRIS CHANG: POWER OF ONE explores the intriguing life, unexpected suicide and lasting legacy of Iris Chang, the Chinese American activist and best-selling author of The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, illustrating the ripple effect one person can have and raising critical questions about achievement, self-care and mental wellness in modern society.

Kimberlee Bassford is an independent documentary filmmaker who advances equality by spotlighting stories of girls and women of color, cultural identity and mental health. She directed and produced the documentaries WINNING GIRL (2014, America ReFramed), PATSY MINK: AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY (2008, PBS) and CHEERLEADER (2003, HBO Family) and was a producer on two national PBS documentary series: UNNATURAL CAUSES: IS INEQUALITY MAKING US SICK? (2008) and THE MEANING OF FOOD (2005). She has garnered festival awards, the Hot Docs Forum first look pitch prize, Firelight Media’s Spark Fund Award, a duPont-Columbia Award, Student Academy Award and CINE Golden Eagles. Her work has been supported by the Sundance Institute, CNN, CBS, HBO, PBS, ITVS, Center for Asian American Media, International Documentary Association, Film Independent, Firelight Media, Kartemquin Films and others. Kimberlee holds a BA in psychology from Harvard University and a Master of Journalism from University of California Berkeley.


Director: Jason Rhee

EJ Lee, a Louisiana legend nicknamed by Sports Illustrated as the “Korean Magic Johnson of NCAA women’s basketball,” has been overlooked her entire career. But finally, at the age of 60, EJ receives her first opportunity to become a college head coach and lead an underdog team of young women in West Texas.

Jason Rhee is a Korean American filmmaker with a passion for telling stories centered around his childhood and the AAPI community. Jason was selected as a CONAN script intern and writer’s PA, as well as The Onion’s intern, contributor, and writer’s assistant. With a background in screenwriting and comedy, he helped produce three one-woman shows with comedian Kellye Howard, including directing a sold-out run at the Steppenwolf Theater as part of its 2022 LookOut series. Jason’s current documentary feature has been supported by Catapult Film Fund, Center of Asian American Media, Kartemquin Diverse Voices in Docs fellowship, CNN/Film Independent workshops, and Southern Documentary Fund. He is a proud member of the Asian American Documentary Network and the Writers Guild of America.


The Fund represents a substantial investment by Mr. Zhao and Ms. Chen, building on their long standing commitment to accelerating opportunity and prosperity for the 23 million members of the AAPI community in the United States. Mr. Zhao is a founding board member of The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), which has become a catalyzing force for improving AAPI advocacy, power, and representation across American society. Mr. Zhao and Ms. Chen have also convened and funded a variety of other initiatives focused on supporting their home community of Chicago and elevating AAPI voices, including through their support of the award-winning documentary Finding Yingying, a Kartemquin film directed by Jenny Shi.