Asian American Film Festivals in the USA

Asian American Film Festivals are fairly popular in the USA, sprouting up all over the country. Some popular places for these film festivals include Boston, New York, Dallas, San Fransisco, LA, Philadelphia, and San Diego. The idea behind these events is rather straightforward; they specialize in Asian and Asian American programming.

These festivals are frequently abbreviated. For example, the New York Asian Film Festival is often referred to as NYAFF. This film festival was first held in New York City in 2002. the NYAFF was inspired and grew out of the Yew York Korean Film Festival which was held in 2001. It is not uncommon for one specific culture to give way for another when it comes to these festivals. The NYAFF was founded by Brian Naas, Nat Olson, Grady Hendrix, Paul Kazee, and Goran Topalovic.

Subway Cinema produces and operates the event which often shows both classic and contemporary works. These films come from both Southern and Eastern Asia, primarily Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, China, and South Korea. The genres in the NYAFF are often horror, action, martial arts, or gangster/crime films.

Typically the festival was held at The ImaginAsian and/or Anthology Film Archives, usually sometime around June or July. This is where NYAFF was held until 2007. In that year the festival moved to the IFC center and Japan Society. In 2010 the film festival moved once again to the Lincoln Center. Although the Lincoln Center was the main place for the NYAFF screenings some of them are also held at Anthology Film Archives, IFC Center, and Japan Society.

The festival began handing out a Jury Prize in addition to its Audience Award in 2008. Several years later in 2013 the Daniel A. Craft Award for Excellence in Action Cinema was also added. Daniel A. Craft was the director and treasurer for the festival who had recently passed on.

The Seattle Asian American Film Festival (SAAFF) has been around for much longer than the NYAFF. In fact, the Seattle Asian American Film Festival was originally founded in 1985. Throughout all of these years it has not been ongoing, however, and several different producers have taken the steps to revive the festival. The current iteration sprung up in 2012 and made its debut a year later. Previously the festival was called the Northwest Asian American Film Festival. Kevin Bang and Vanessa Au currently run and direct the film festival.

Kingstreet Media had founded the original Seattle Asian American Film Festival 30 years ago. The film Beacon Hill Boys also helped the festival to come together. The film was about Asian American youth and it made quite an impact in the community. The festival faded in and out, finally reviving for the last time several years ago. The 2012-2013 revival came about after a five-year hiatus and returned back to the name Seattle Asian American Film Festival, which it originally was, after being re-branded as the

Northwest Asian American Film Festival in 2003. Wes Kim is the advisor on the festival. In 2013 the film festival's opening night film was the documentary by Eliachi Kimaro called A Lot Like You. Other films in the SAAFF film festival during that time were Scott Eriksson's How War Ends, Manilatown Is In the Heart, Yumiko Gamo Romer's Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful, Porter Erisman's Crocodile in the Yangtze, and many others.

The Asian Film Festival of Dallas (AFFD) is held annually, usually during the summer months of July or August. The film festival has Asian-American films in addition to international films local to Asia. The festival lasts a week long, generally showing as many as 25-30 feature films and 20 shorter films. The AFFD is the largest Asian-American film festival in the southwestern part of the country. The main location for the festival is Landmark Theatres' Magnolia Theatre in the West Village, Dallas, Texas. Aside from an Audience Award the Asian Film Festival of Dallas also gives away jury prizes for the best feature and short films.

In March of 2002 the AFFD was born. Initially the festival lasted only four days and featured 12 films from 5 different countries. The next year, in 2003, the festival expanded to be a week long and added juried competition. Mye Hoang founded the AFFD because he wanted to share Asian films with those living in Dallas. A couple of films featured in that first year included Seven Samurai and Raise the Red Lantern, as well as the Dallas premiere of Battle Royale.

The BAAFF, or Boston Asian American Film Festival was established by name in 2008 by Susan Chinsen. Prior to that the festival was called the Asian American Resource Workshop and it was around for more than twenty years. The festival focuses on independent cinema, specifically Asian works which are by, or about Asian Americans. The Boston Asian American Film Festival also happens to be New England's largest Asian-themed film festival. The festival generally takes place in October and its location is at Emerson College’s Bright Family Screening Room in the Paramount Center. During opening night the festival locates to Cambridge at the Brattle Theatre.

The film festival lasts four days and they feature special premieres, in addition to co-sponsored events around Boston, and the opportunity to engage in Q&A with filmmakers. The mission behind the BAAFF is to empower Asian Americans through films and film-making. Their goal is to get the Asian Pacific American community to participate completely in US society and to promote Asian American identity. The festival shows documentaries, romantic comedies, dramas, and short films.

Some of the films shown at the Boston Asian Film Festival include Jeff Chiba Stearns's One Big Hapa Family, Minh Duc Nguyen's Touch, Ellie Wen's White Frog, Richard Wong's Yes, We're Open, and Shanghai Calling by Daniel Hsia.

The primary goal and objective of these film festivals is to unite Asian culture and history with the American Asians who live here. It is to promote Asian American identity, unity, and participation through film throughout the country. It is also a great way to have fun and learn.