PAAFF'20 Program Guide

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Staff Credits / 4

Closing Weekend / 46-65

Welcome Letter From The Festival Director / 6

PAPA Presents: The Magic in World Cinema / 46

Content Policy / 7

Centerpiece Narrative: Goodbye Mother / 58

Special Events / 8-9

PAPA Mini-Residency: Memory, Vein / 60

Live Program Schedule / 10–11

Closing Night: The Donut King / 65

Opening Weekend / 12–33

Film Juries / 66

Opening Night: The Paper Tigers / 12

Thank Yous / 67, 68

Creative Discussions / 13, 14, 29, 36-37, 40, 54 Centerpiece Documentary: Far East Deep South / 24 Second Sunday Culture Films: Her Words / 28 PAPA Mini-Residency: Half Magic / 43

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Pass the Mic: Musical Showcase / 44-45


SPONSORS Showcase Sponsor

Foundation Support

Partner Sponsors

In-Kind Support

Prime Sponsor

Press Partners

Community Partners


PAAFF’20 STAFF Selena Yip Festival Director

Irene Chien Programmer

Arzhang Zafar Programming Director

Jixin Jia Programmer

Kacia Huynh Programming Coordinator

Chetana R. Narasimha Jois Programmer

Jacqui Sadashige Marketing & Social Media Co-Manager

Tyler Wan Programmer

Darian Ehya Graphic Designer & Social Media Co-Manager Brad Baldia Corporate Relations & Community Affairs Director Michael Wingate Jones Managing Director

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Eireann Mannino Volunteer Co-Coordinator


Vivian Nhan Volunteer Co-Coordinator Jacqui Anderson Programmer

Kate Pourshariati Programmer Sunny Huang Programmer Eric Hung Programmer Marketing & Communications Committee Quyen Truong Akshika Jain Bethany DePoy Jeff Wang Joshua Reinstein Sarina Chow Chiyeung Lau

Film Screening Committee Jacqui Anderson Irene Chien Chetana N Jois Annie Su Tyler Wan Jixin Jia Sophia Chow Samantha Tan Eric Hung Kate Pourshariati Miles Heck George Rodriguez Tina Haocheng Liu Sunny Huang Khang Hoang Selena Yip Events Committee Khanhmy Vuong Aneel Saleem George Rodriguez Festival Art & Program Layout Darian Ehya

Board Members Rob Buscher (Board Chair) Brad Bladia Michael Wingate Jones Tricia Coonrad Patrick Chen Fariha Khan Kris Mendoza Scott “Chops” Jung Maestro Filmworks Festival Trailer Ballard Spahr LLP Legal Counsel Adam Necelis Certified Public Accountant

THANK YOU TO OUR VOLUNTEERS! Did you know that PAAFF is entirely volunteer run?

Our devoted team of volunteer staff works countless hours on top of their day jobs to make each festival program a success. Thank you to all of our volunteers without whom this festival would not be possible! Meet our team at


SPECIALFROM LETTER SHOWCASES THE FESTIVAL DIRECTOR Welcome to the 13th Annual Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival! Our very first online film festival. What a year 2020 has been so far.

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This festival has gone through many iterations of themes and programming, just as our festival has gone through many iterations of leadership and staff. We started the year thinking that we’d be creating a spooky “Friday the 13th” themed festival in honor of our 13th year, but in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of xenophobia and Anti-Asian racism, the continued systemic violence against BIPOC in the United States, the brutality of policing in Hong Kong and all over the world, and the countless injustices and inequalities in our society — this theme did not feel appropriate.


Instead, we decided to do some self reflection. PAAFF turns 13 this year. The festival has officially become a teenager, not quite yet an adult, and we are still learning, growing, and discovering what makes us who we are. And while we are going through this process of change

and growth, we hope we’re able to influence and inspire the positive changes we wish to see in the world. With this in mind, we’ve built this year’s festival program to reflect our growth as an organization and to reflect how we view our role in this world. And as you all may know, PAAFF is completely operated by a group of incredibly dedicated volunteers and this festival would not be in existence without them. I am incredibly grateful to those volunteers who have supported this work and supported me through this year. Someone also recently said to me that PAAFF audiences are the most adventurous people they know because while they might not always know what they’re getting, they are always ready and willing to support us. This has never been more true. Thank you all for being adventurous with us. I hope you enjoy the festival and stay safe. With love, Selena Yip Festival Director

CONTENT POLICY As we at Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival endeavor to showcase the very best Asian diasporic films, our programming staff is sensitive to the fact that some of our official selections may have content that an audience member may find offensive or distressing. As such, we provide our patrons with film descriptions that appear on our website and in our Festival Program as a guide to the festival’s specific content and themes. We refrain from attaching specific warnings to individual films primarily because it would be impossible to identify all content that could be objectionable or distressing to any possible audience members. Furthermore, identifying objectionable or distressing events for one sector of our audience could be inaccurate and/or incomplete for another. Finally, PAAFF staff are not qualified experts in identifying what subject matter could be found to be objectionable or distressing by a potential audience member, and would not want to make a list of warnings that is not comprehensive. Nor do we want to generate our own subjective warnings with the potential of misrepresenting the films and filmmakers. Please supplement the film descriptions provided on our website and festival guide with your own research before purchasing tickets or attending a screening. We recommend watching the linked trailers and reading any online reviews as a start, and visit a film’s website where possible. Feel free to contact us at PAAFF with any questions or concerns. PA AFF.ORG

We thank you for your support and understanding.


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PAAFF is a platform for new ideas and discourse and we achieve this by inviting filmmakers, performers, academics, and creatives from all over the world to share their expertise and experiences. We are very excited to present some new and returning guests speakers to share with us on topics such as martial arts and popular culture, decolonization of the film industry, and music activism. We will also be broadcasting a retrospective panel from our 2014 festival.

Born out of a desire to support and celebrate diverse Asian theater artists in Philadelphia, PAAFF has partnered with PAPA to present three captivating live streamed performances. Two of the performers are part of PAPA, PAAFF, and AAI’s 2020 MiniResidency and will be presenting their works in progress. Each performance brings a unique artistic voice to the forefront and reflects the greater diversity of this city and its stories.



Every year, the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival has striven to expand our Pacific Showcase and support of Indigenous artists with roots in the Pacific. In 2020, we are proud to have curated the highest number of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander films in our history and the most of any Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander film festival in the U.S.

This year’s featured musicians are not only up and coming artists in the hip-hop and pop scenes but also activists, changemakers, visionaries, and each other’s biggest fans. Son of Paper, Arigato Grande, Leo Xia and Chinoe will take the virtual stage for our 2020 live stream. After their performances, they’ll be speaking about what it means to them to be an Asian American artist during this moment in history. PA AFF.ORG

We aim to do our part to uplift Indigenous art and artists, advocate for the education and awareness of Indigenous histories, presents, and futures, communities, and support Indigenous rights, sovereignty, and self-determination in the Greater Philadelphia Area and across the Pacific.


2020 LIVE PROGRAM SCHEDULE Thursday, Nov. 5

Saturday, Nov. 7

OPENING NIGHT FILM: The Paper Tigers LIVE: 7:00 pm – 9 pm

Retrospective: Who Killed Vincent Chin? Q&A: 1:00 pm

Friday, Nov. 6

Uncertain Movements Shorts Q&A: 3:00 pm

Reflections on the Evolution of Asian Cultural Influences in the Hip Hop Community LIVE: 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: The Global Impact of Martial Arts Film LIVE: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Southeast Asian Tracks Shorts Q&A: 7:30 pm

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Dream in Silence Q&A: 8:30 pm


Djembe in the 13 Streets Q&A: 9:30 pm

Between Tides Q&A 5:00 pm Joy: When I Am My Ancestors Shorts Q&A: 7:00 pm CENTERPIECE DOCUMENTARY: Far East Deep South Q&A: 8:00 pm Self-Determination Shorts Q&A: 9:30 pm

Sunday, Nov. 8 Small Moments: Animated Shorts Q&A: 12:30 pm

Second Sunday Culture Films: Her Words LIVE: 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm To Chinatowns and Broadway: The Kim Loo Sisters and Chinese American History LIVE: 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm LMAO: Life - Merry, Amusing, Outrageous! Comedy Shorts Q&A: 5:30 pm Reflections Shorts Q&A: 8:00 pm Spirit of Youth Shorts Q&A: 9:00 pm

Monday, Nov. 9 Curtain Up! Q&A: 7:30 pm Deconstructing Documentary Filmmaking Panel LIVE: 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Tuesday, Nov. 10

Friday, Nov. 13

The Greatest Country in the World Q&A: 7:30 pm

PAPA Presents: The Magic in World Cinema LIVE Performance: 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Tokyo Hula Q&A: 8:30 pm

Wednesday, Nov. 11 A Conversation with Aisha Fukushima and Anthony Brown LIVE: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Defining Our Selves, Defining Each Other Shorts Q&A: 9:00 pm

Definition Please Q&A: 9:00 pm Woman of the Photographs Q&A: 10:00 pm Unsettling Truths Q&A: 11:00 pm

Saturday, Nov. 14 The Badger Q&A: 12:00 pm – 9 pm

Spider Moth Butterfly Q&A: 5:00 pm

What Haunts Us Shorts Q&A: 3:00 pm

PAPA Mini-Residency: Half Magic LIVE Performance: 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Seeing Ourselves in Asian American History through Film and Media LIVE: 5:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Pass the Mic: Musical Showcase LIVE Performance: 8:30 pm – 10:00 pm

CENTERPIECE NARRATIVE: Goodbye Mother Q&A: 8:00 pm Axandax Q&A: 9:00 pm PAPA Mini-Residency: Memory, Vein LIVE Performance: 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Sunday, Nov. 15 Excavated Memories Shorts Q&A: 3:00 pm The Paradise We Are Looking For Q&A: 4:30 pm CLOSING NIGHT FILM The Donut King LIVE: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm PA AFF.ORG

Thursday, Nov. 12

Queer Futures: LGBTQ Shorts Q&A: 7:30 pm



Opening Night Film, Narrative Program


108 mins | Action, Comedy | USA | English Director: Bao Tran Throughout the 1990s, three teenagers endure brutal Kung Fu training under their master’s constant watch. Swearing loyalty to their teacher and each other, they hone their skills in secret challenge matches and defeat rival schools. Building up a fearsome reputation of invincibility, they are known as “The Three Tigers.” Life gets in the way, and after growing apart for twenty years, the former classmates are reunited when their master is mysteriously killed. Digging deeper, they learn that he died at the hands of a traitorous student who sold out his fighting skills to the criminal underworld. Despite their past grudges, personal struggles, and being terribly out of shape, the old Kung Fu brothers must stop the rogue disciple and keep the vow they made long ago – to defend the honor of the clan, no matter the cost. Philadelphia Premiere

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This film program is available in the United States and Canada.


Q&A with the filmmaker LIVE after the screening

[Pre-Screening] A SIDE OF LIGHT 9 mins | USA | English | 2020 Director: Michelle Wu This short documentary examines how Asian American organizations in Philadelphia are working to keep their communities safe from COVID-19 and the racism spurred by the pandemic.

REFLECTIONS ON THE EVOLUTION OF ASIAN CULTURAL INFLUENCES IN THE HIP HOP COMMUNITY Presented by CHOPS, DJ Rekha, Jeff Chang, and Skeme Richards | LIVE Panel: Friday, November 6, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

PAAFF is proud to present this retrospective livestream of “Reflections on the Evolution of Asian Cultural Influences in the Hip Hop Community” a panel that was recorded by PhillyCAM at our 2014 annual festival. This panel was curated and moderated by Vijay Mohan, a vital member of PAAFF’s organizational history. This retrospective presentation is dedicated to Vijay (1988-2015). Below is the copy from our 2014 program book: CHOPS


“Hip-hop, like any black American form as long as it stays true to “assassin’s heart making for the killer’s art,” will be innovative and profound but hip-hop like “jazz” has become very assimilated. Its expressions, visual, cultural style, musical have been appropriated. They are used to see McDonalds hamburgers, Coca Cola and Pepsi. So that has deradicalized, denatured, deracinated, depoliticized what had the potential to be a revolutionary expression. It had the potential.” —Fred Ho in an interview with Nora Ritchie



The discussion will cover the influence of Asian cinema, culture and ethos on hip hop, the roots of hip hop from Black culture, it’s cross over to other groups of color and it’s existing racial divide between those communities, the exoticization of (Asian) women, and transcending the notions of a ‘model minority’. The individuals brought together will illuminate that hip hop is a culture that continues to articulate the joy in existence but also a desire for a different world.” PA AFF.ORG 13

EVERYBODY WAS KUNG FU FIGHTING: THE GLOBAL IMPACT OF MARTIAL ARTS IN FILM Moderated by Chantal Thieves | LIVE: Friday, November 6, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

From One Armed Swordsman to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to Romeo Must Die, martial arts films have not only seen global success and cult followings, they have also heavily influenced Hollywood and other media industries for decades.

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The popularization of wuxia film in the west, specifically by icons like Bruce Lee, The Shaw Brothers, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan, has had visible impact on the identities of Asian and Black communities in America. Panelists will share their personal and professional experiences with martial arts film and speak to the intersections of martial arts film and popular culture.


Chinatown in Bruce Lee’s Warrior. Tobin is also a two-time winner of the Best Actor award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival for his roles in #1 Serial Killer and Jasmine which he also served as producer and co-writer. Tobin can be seen in the award-winning Mexican drama Sonora written by John Sayles and is currently starring in WARRIOR season 2 which is airing on Cinemax and HBOMax. In 2021 he will be reprising his role of Earl Hu from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in Fast 9.

This panel is moderated by Chantal Thieves, who is an artist in residence for Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists, Asian Arts Initiative, and PAAFF’s 2020 mini-residency. Her performance piece, Memory, Vein, will be livestreamed during the festival on November 14 at 11:00AM EST.

Skeme Richards is a world-known DJ and music connoisseur whose quality work has become synonymous with being a global cultural ambassador in connecting audiences of diverse backgrounds worldwide. Skeme has not only built a brand and reputation in the music world, but his second

PANELISTS: Jason Tobin is an actor best known for his roles in Justin Lin’s classic Better Luck Tomorrow playing the emotionally volatile Virgil Hu and as Young Jun, the heir apparent to the most powerful tong in

passion exists in a visual one as well with his love of cinema, particularly in the Blaxploitation, Kung Fu and Exploitation genres. His love for cinema dates back to the late 1970’s and early 80’s where he would see many of these films in theaters on the big screen. Out of all of all of the genres, it was the Martial Arts or “Kung Fu” films that would catch his attention most and it was also those types of films that were most connected to Hip Hop culture.

Through his dedication and love of the music, the self-proclaimed “Nostalgia King” has built his brand as a “tastemaker” of sorts and continues to “make and break” records in the same fashion that many of the great DJ’s in the past. As a world traveler, you can find Skeme playing parties across the globe and touching down in some of his favorite destinations including London, Amsterdam, Germany, Russia, New York, Los Angeles, Japan, China and Korea and has shared stages with some of the best DJ’s and performers globally. Treandrea Russworm is self-proclaimed AfroGeek who is dedicated to the study of race and popular media, TreaAndrea M. Russworm is the author of Blackness is Burning: Civil Rights, Popular Culture, and the Problem of Recognition. She is a co-editor of the books From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry and Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games. She is also an Associate Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where she teaches classes on video games and other popular media. She has written about Black/ Asian cultural hybridities in games and anime like Afro Samurai. The Last Dragon is one of her favorite movies.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN TRACKS 62 mins Curated by: Kacia Huynhs


Director: Jiale Hu | USA | English | 2019 How a Vietnam War refugee has lost, found, and brought the taste of home for others in American Midwest.

JOURNEYS TO FREEDOM: THE VIETNAMESE REFUGEE STORY Director: Tom Daly and Melodee Mercer | USA | English | 2019

A view of the Vietnam War from the perspective of Vietnamese refugees who escaped by boat, giving up everything for freedom, with little to nothing in their pockets but hope. Their view of the war and the Vietnam Veterans will surprise many.

Determination. Perseverance. Dedication. Survival. From child soldiers to factory workers, this collection of shorts uncovers the different tracks followed by those who contribute to the varied Southeast Asian experience.

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Shorts Program

This program will be available internationally.

Q&A LIVE on 11/06 at 7:30 P.M. EST

IN THIS LAND WE’RE BRIEFLY GHOSTS Director: Chen-Wen Lo | Taiwan Burmese | 2019


Director: Champ Ensminger USA | Thai | 2020 Ninlawan Pinyo is the matriarch of a Thai American family who hustled for her fortune by founding a naem (pork sausage) factory in Chiang Mai, Thailand.


Myanmar, 2013. A 12-year-old Burmese child soldier, imprisoned for deserting battle, is forced to choose between killing her older brother, a fellow deserter, or dying alongside him. Based on actual events.



This film is available in the United States and Canada.

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Documentary Program


DREAM IN SILENCE 76 mins | China | Chinese | 2020 Director: Xin Huang, Ye Bao “Fang Sir” is an elderly Taiwanese immigrant living in New York City. He has been obsessed with filmmaking for more than 40 years. Since making his last award winning short film in 1989, he hasn’t directed any more films. Now in his late 60s, he wants to make his “last film” in NYC, and a group of young Chinese filmmakers decide to help him make his dream come true.

Q&A LIVE on 11/6 at 8:30 P.M. EST


46 mins | Cantonese, English, Swahili | 2019 Director: Kwong Yin Brian Hung In recent years, more and more Africans have settled down in Hong Kong. Local people may wonder, “How did they end up coming here? What is their purpose?” At the same time, some Hong Kong natives have been gradually developing a keen interest in African culture. How exactly do these two groups of people— who could not be more far removed from each other—successfully interact? As pioneers of China-Africa exchanges in Hong Kong, we can get to experience this interactive journey through them.

Q&A LIVE on 11/6 at 9:30 P.M. EST


This film is available in the United States and Canada.

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Documentary Program


We stand as a reflection of our community, reaching

1.3 million people per week in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

WHYY-TV 12, in the fourth largest media market, is considering films for broadcast.

Interested? Email Sreedevi Sripathy at

WHYY is our community. WHYY is you. WHYY-FM 90.9 • WHYY-TV 12 •

WHYY is a proud partner of the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival


83 mins | Documentary | United States | English | 1987 Director: Christine Choy, Renee Tajima-Peña From DC APA Film Festival’s first screening at their inaugural festival in October 2000: This Academy-Award nominated film is a powerful statement about racism in working-class America. It relates the stark facts of Vincent Chin’s brutal murder. This tragic story is interwoven with the whole fabric of timely social concerns. It addresses issues such as the failure of our judicial system to value every citizen’s rights equally, the collapse of the automobile industry under pressure from Japanese imports, and the souring of the American dream for the blue collar worker. Widely acclaimed by the press, “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” is a memorable film for all audiences. This film contains graphic descriptions of violence. Viewer discretion is advised.


Retrospective, Documentary Program

For more information: This film is FREE with registration and available in Philadelphia.

Q&A LIVE on 11/7 at 1:00 P.M. EST PA AFF.ORG 19

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Shorts Program


57 mins Curated by: Kacia Huynh, Arzhang Zafars Lying somewhere between dream and nightmare, American immigrants face a tenuous existence in a land that never quite feels like home. Whether regularly fighting deportation or struggling with the monotony of life on alien soil, these short films represent reality for those who have found themselves caught between a rock and a hard place in the so-called land of the free.



ICE doesn’t just separate families at the border. In the outskirts of Boston, three families face the impending threat of deportation. But as refugees from Cambodia and Vietnam, they know they’ll have to fight together to stay together.

What does it feel like to be a stranger in a country where you have lived for twenty years? Two rootless and tenacious Chinese immigrants, Quan and Fen, try to find a home in each other on foreign soil.

Director: Brian Redondo | USA English, Vietnamese | 2020

This short film program is available internationally.

Q&A LIVE on 11/7 at 3:00 P.M. EST


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Director: Asavari Kumar | India | English | 2019


Finding herself in a state of limbo, an Indian woman revisits her immigration journey and voyages through a tempestuous emotional landscape of memory, identity, belonging, and the illusion of the American Dream.

Director: Zheyu Liang | China Cantonese, Mandarin, English | 2019


80 mins | Japan | English, Japanese | 2018 Director: Masa Fox The multi-ethnic Bonin Islanders grew up as Japanese nationals on an island in the Pacific Ocean while living under U.S. Navy occupation following the Second World War. Having obtained a narrow view of American life that was also complicated by their own mixed heritage, these islanders faced the painful task of having to accept the reversion of the islands to Japan in 1968. Between Tides explores the stories of a postwar community torn apart and re-bonded by history.

Q&A LIVE on 11/7 at 5:00 P.M. EST




This film is available in the United States and Canada.

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Documentary Program


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Shorts Program


PA AFF 2020




62 mins Curated by: Sunny Huangs

“When I was my ancestors, I survived war, infections, and imprisonment. Now I am me, and I can and will survive all this colonial government can throw at me. So when I am my mokopuna, I will thrive on my own sovereign land.” — Tina Ngata (Ngāti Porou) Continuing PAAFF’s tradition of partnering with Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) to offer a special program spotlighting Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander filmmaking talent. This year’s shorts program centers on the Pacific community’s power to find joy, healing, love, and resistance in themselves and one another.



This film program is available internationally.

Q&A LIVE on 11/7 at 7:00 P.M. EST

Directors: Julien Marckt and Pascale Briancon French Polynesia | Tahitian, French | 2020 “Let the beat into your body / Let the mana flow right into you.” “Homai” is Vaiteani’s celebration of the universal power of rhythm.

Directors: Mick Andrews and Dave Atkinson New Zealand | English | 2019


Maori face tattooing almost died out through colonization. Bernard and Sapphire show their passion to see Maori communities heal by receiving face tattoos of their own.



The story of one young woman’s rite of passage as she steps into her destiny.

When his girlfriend dies during childbirth, Makana, a young Hawaiian man, must complete an indigenous birthing ritual with his girlfriend’s overbearing father.

Director: Becs Arahanga | New Zealand Māori | 2019

Director: Bryson Chun | Hawaii, United States English | 2016


STANDING ABOVE THE CLOUDS Director: Jalena Keane-Lee | Hawaii, United States | English | 2020

Standing Above the Clouds follows Native Hawaiian mother-daughter activists as they stand to protect their sacred mountain Mauna Kea from the building of the world’s largest telescope.

Director: Michael Inouye | Hawaii, United States | English, Native Hawaiian, Māori, Chamorro | 2020 Thirteen indigenous poets from Oceania—from Hawaiʻi, Aotearoa, and Guahan—came together to write and record a poem calling for the Cancellation of RIMPAC and for the restoration of ea: life, breath, and sovereignty.






Centerpiece Documentary

FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH 76 mins | United States | English | 2020 Director: Larissa Lam When Charles Chiu, a Chinese American man from California, travels to Mississippi to visit the grave of the father who abandoned him as a baby, he and his family stumble upon surprising revelations that change their lives. Along the way they meet a diverse group of local residents and historians who shed light on the racially complex history of the early Chinese in the segregated South during the Chinese Exclusion era. Their emotional journey leads them to discover how deep their roots run in America. This film is available in the United States and Canada.

Q&A LIVE on 11/7 at 8:00 P.M. EST

SELF DETERMINATION 65 mins Curated by: Selena Yips

Sometimes what we want and what others want for us completely contradict one another. Other times, they align perfectly. No matter how hard we try, the universe also seems to play a role in our decision-making. These shorts explore the internal and external motivations that determine how we live our lives.



The story is set in 1997 against the backdrop of the looming handover. Kit, a middle-aged single parent, brings his son from Hong Kong to California under the pretense of visiting Disneyland. The son, Chun, comes to realize the real intention of the trip is for his own adoption.

A wayward young man, recently released from prison, struggles to reconnect with his son and Hawaiian heritage.

Director: Nelson Ng Chak Hei Hong Kong Chinese, English | 2020

Director: Alika Maikau | United States English, Hawaiian | 2019

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Shorts Program

This film program is available internationally.

Q&A LIVE on 11/7 at 9:30 P.M. EST UNMOTHERED


A celebration of the life of Jun Takahashi: an 84-year-old Tokyo native with an eccentric way of looking at death


Director: Nicole N. Nequinto | United States English, Tagalog | 2019 Alex (25) is finally ready to move out of the house— that is, until her recently divorced mother breaks down after hearing her wedding song.

Director: Urvashi Pathania | United States English, Hindi | 2020 Priyanka is a foul-mouthed and rebellious Indian American college student. When her mother tragically dies, Priyanka believes she should perform the Immersion of the Ashes (a Hindu ritual usually performed by men). In order to do so, she must confront her lovable but insane family.


Director: Mari Young, Anika Kan Grevstad Japan | English, Japanese | 2018


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Shorts Program


55 mins Curated by: Irene Chien, Jixin Jias The experiences of childhood and youth unfold in small moments. These animated shorts reflect the tense & tender, lonely & liberating, and embarrassing & empowering moments that shape our intimate selves and family relationships. This film program is available internationally.

YUAN YUAN AND THE HOLLOW MONSTER Director: Catherine Chen United States | English | 2020

Eight-year-old Yuan Yuan is determined to protect her newest pet, a tiny turtle named Lucy, at all costs—even if it means chasing down a massive hurricane called the Hollow Monster.


Director: Clarisse Chua United States | English | 2020 Mina lives alone in her apartment accompanied by three little house spirits, the Kitchlets, who feed off her positive emotions and take care of her negative ones.

Q&A LIVE on 11/8 at 12:30 P.M. EST

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Director: Justin Bruce Lee | United States English | 2020 Determined to gain favor in his family’s eyes and match his sister’s status, a boy must prove his worth and show his potential in an upcoming martial arts competition.


Directors: Angeline Vu, Arlene Bongco United States | English | 2020 A young boy learns to understand the depth of his mother’s love despite the distance her dedication may create.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE PINES Director: Anne Koizumi | Canada English | 2020

A deeply personal, animated documentary short about a difficult father-daughter relationship inspired by the filmmaker’s own upbringing with her immigrant father, who was also the janitor at the elementary school she attended. The film questions the idea of shame and how it can shape and define us while inhibiting who we can truly become.

Director: Esther Cheung | Canada Cantonese | 2019 A portrait of seventies Hong Kong as my parents remember it.

Director: Sarah Tabibzadeh | Iran | 2019 People are living with their personality layers, and they take them to “Layeromat” just like their clothes. A young man who works in one of these “Layeromats” accidentally loses one of his layers. Despite his long search, he cannot find it. But through an inner revolution during his searching, he reaches a new understanding of his being.






Penn Museum Partnership


30 mins | Documentary | China | English Director: Jing Liu This terrific film is about a secret written language, Nu Shu, developed by women over many centuries in South China. Although women were unable to become officially educated as a rule and by custom, in one region they developed a written language that was passed down from mother to daughter for female-centric communication. Speakers: Filmmaker Jing Liu will be joining from China

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Register for the live-screening at www.Penn.Museum


FROM A MIDWEST CITY TO CHINATOWNS AND BROADWAY: THE KIM LOO SISTERS Presented by Leslie Li & Eric Hung | LIVE: Sunday, November 8, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Daughters of a Chinese “paper son” and a Polish seamstress, the Kim Loo Sisters broke through the bamboo ceiling to perform in kiddie revues in the midwest, on vaudeville and Chop Suey circuits around the country, and finally on Broadway and the Hollywood screen where they shared top billing with Frank Sinatra, The Three Stooges, Ann Miller, and Jackie Gleason. When one of the sisters left the act, her sisters—dubbed “the Chinese Andrews Sisters” —continued to perform as a trio and joined the USO. This presentation tells the story of the “Kimmies” and extends our understanding of 20th-century Chinese American society beyond Chinatowns, bachelor societies, and exclusion.

Leslie Li is the producer/director of The Kim Loo Sisters, her début featurelength film. Daughter of one of the Kimmies and niece of the other three, she is the author of four books, two of which have been translated into five languages. Eric Hung is executive director of the Music of Asian America Research Center. He has published in leading musicology journals, and performed in Germany, Austria, Thailand, Australia, and throughout North America.




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Shorts Program

LMAO: LIGHTHEARTED, MERRY, AMUSING, OUTRAGEOUS! 62 mins Curated by: Jacqui Anderson and Kate Pourshariatis

With premises as outrageous as a secret underground Chinese chess enclave and a truly magical strain of weed, this collection of comic short films are somewhat like life as viewed in a funhouse mirror. While they’re guaranteed to make your smile, these shorts also offer fresh perspectives on navigating our way through modern life.



In 1985 suburban America, a Korean American boy named Yong has trouble fitting in with his classmates, who only see him as a foreigner. In an effort to become popular, Yong makes a wish to become his idol, the world’s most famous foul-mouthed comedian. But when his wish comes true, it brings unexpected results.

Set in a public park in Chinatown, NYC, a girl has to save the park from being gentrified into a doggie yoga studio by battling in games of Chinese chess and proving her own self worth to her Grandfather.

Director: Lilan Bowden | United States English, Korean | 2019

Director: Lukas Chin | United States Cantonese, English | 2019

This film program is available internationally.

PA AFF 2020



Q&A LIVE on 11/8 at 5:30 P.M. EST

Director: Tim Schafer | United States English | 2020 “The Trouble with Cats” follows two sisters, Deena and Mina, through the perils of modern dating in this alternate fantasy world, where we find that they face problems not unlike our own.



A young couple walk a fine line while thriving in an open marriage until they catch each other breaking their own rules.

When a timid, midwestern boy decides to propose to his girlfriend, he has to go through her immigrant, Chinese mother first.



Director: Eddie Shieh | United States English | 2019

Director: Raymond Lai | United States English | 2020

Director: Angel Yau | United States English | 2019 All the moments I have been on stage in childhood and what that has taught me.


Just your average Asian American, coming-of-age, sci-fi, hip-hop stoner comedy about a scratch DJ who discovers a strain of marijuana that allows him to see that certain people are actually intergalactic soul-sucking cyborgs. You know the drill.

Director: Liann Kaye | United States English | 2019


11/05 - 11/15 RENTAL PERIOD

Shorts Program


54 mins Curated by: Kacia Huynhs When you face the world, do people see you as you are or how they perceive you to be? This collection of shorts explores perceptions of the body, questions what it takes to be comfortable in your own skin, and reconsiders the “weight” given to appearances.



A quiet, up-close reflection on masculinity and the meaning of the word “skinny”—delicately captured on 16mm film.

A Korean immigrant with a severely scarred face visits a black market hospital in Queens to seek plastic surgery.



Miku, a fashion model, gets into an accident while on a photo shoot and acquires a disorder called face blindness, which makes her incapable of recognizing people’s faces. Before the accident Miku judged people based on their faces, but she cannot do that anymore.

Single mother Miyabi relies on her child idol daughter Kasumi as their only source of income and ticket to future financial stability. When Kasumi is replaced in the group by a more popular girl, Miyabi must ensure she gets her daughter back in the lineup.

Directors: George Du, Sinclair Neff United States | Mandarin | 2020

Director: Christina Yoon | United States Korean | 2020

This film program is available internationally.

Q&A LIVE on 11/8 at 8:00 P.M. EST

PA AFF 2020

Director: Yusaku Okamoto | Japan Japanese | 2020


Director: Ryushi Lindsay | Japan Japanese | 2020

SPIRIT OF YOUTH 62 mins Curated by: Selena Yips

Skipping school, sneaking out, falling in love, finding yourself… These short films remind us of the complicated nature of youth, both full of both wonder and fear. The whole world lies ahead of us, yet we can never quite get a grasp of where we are or where we’re going.



Two childhood friends ditch school during their senior year. What starts as a day of teenage frivolity ends with them making sense of their waning days— and friendship—in California’s San Gabriel Valley.

An Asian American girl attending Chinese School faces personal obstacles fitting in with her classmates.



“Sixteen” is a coming-of-age short film that blends vignettes of domesticity with chaotic K-Pop fantasies in an honest exploration of intergenerational difference in a vivid portrait of Korean-New Zealand girlhood.

A queer sixteen-year-old girl, Mahina must navigate life on the streets in Oahu, until she eventually finds refuge at the Pu’uhonua o Wai’anae––Hawaiʻi’s largest organized homeless encampment.

Director: Allen Zhang Tran | United States Cantonese, Mandarin, English | 2020

Director: Emily Eng | United States | Mandarin, English | 2020

11/05 - 11/15 RENTAL PERIOD

Shorts Program

This film program is available internationally.

Q&A LIVE on 11/8 at 9:00 P.M. EST

Director: Nahyeon Lee | New Zealand English | 2019

Director: Kimi Howl Lee | United States English | 2020



Documentary Program


69 mins | Documentary | United States Chinese, English | 2019 Director: Hui Tong, Kelly Ng In America, every child of immigrants has an assimilation story, but not all of them include an opportunity to premiere the musical production of “Frozen Kids,” and the identity struggles that come with it. For ten years now, the PS 124 theater club in New York’s Chinatown has been the only Asian American team to compete at the renowned Junior Theater Festival, a gathering of young thespians from across the world. It even earned the privilege of being one of a select few schools nationally to premiere the kids production of Frozen. As the kids gear up for the muchanticipated show, Curtain Up! follows their lives behind the scenes and the challenges that have surfaced. What can theater help these children uncover about who they are? Which ethnic stereotypes does this troupe of kids prove, and which do they debunk? What unexpected turns will these kids be confronted with, as they present their final elementary school performance, before graduating into middle schools? This film is available in the United States and Canada.

Q&A LIVE on 11/9 at 7:30 P.M. EST

For hours and more information, visit:





Moderated by Sreedevi Sripathy | LIVE: Monday, November 9, 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM Is documentary film a colonial construct? This festival panel aims to turn a critical eye to the documentary filmmaking process from ideation to distribution. As part of this process, panelists will consider what we can do as filmmakers, programmers, and consumers to work towards “decolonizing” the industry. We are inviting AAPI filmmakers and programmers to share their experiences with the colonial gaze, capitalist consumerism, and the reception of their movies in different contexts. We hope this will be an opportunity for the audience to learn more about the current landscape of the industry and create a culture of critical consumption of documentaries.

PA AFF 2020

The panel is moderated by Sreedevi Sripathy, is the Director of Production and Programming WHYY-TV, where she leads efforts to grow the impact of WHYY’s television service on people of the Philadelphia region, the nation’s fourth largest media market. Previously she worked at the Independent Television Service (ITVS) as the Managing Director of Distribution and Content Management, working with independent filmmakers, public television distributors, and digital partners on the distribution of independent documentaries representing underserved voices and audiences.


Rahi Hasan (they/them) is a formerly undocumented cultural organizer, impact producer, and multimedia documentary artist. They immigrated to Queens, New York from Dhaka, Bangladesh before moving to Durham, NC. Rahi is currently the Program Coordinator of the Documentary Arts Continuing Education Program at the Center for Documentary Studies. Rahi is Co-Founder of the Undocumented Filmmakers Collective and on the board of Migrant Roots Media. As the Strategic Advisor for International Initiatives at Dhaka Doc Lab, Rahi is committed to supporting South Asian filmmakers gain access to the tools they need.


Emily Hong is a Seoulborn Philadelphia-based filmmaker, social change strategist, and Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Visual Studies at Haverford College. Emily’s non-fiction film and video work combines feminist and decolonial approaches with impact-oriented storytelling. Her current film project Above and Below the Ground features indigenous women and punk rock pastors in Myanmar’s North. Emily is the co-founder of Ethnocine and Rhiza Collectives, producer of the Bad Feminists Making Films podcast, and serves on the Asian American Documentary Network (A-DOC). She is the recipient of support from the Center for Asian American Media, Tribeca Film Institute, Bertha Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

Bhawin Suchak is an educator, filmmaker, and co-founder of Youth FX, a media arts organization focused on empowering young people of color in Albany and around the country. He is also the co-founder and co-director of NeXt Doc, a fellowship program that amplifies the voices of young documentary filmmakers of color. Bhawin is currently in post-production on Outta The Muck, a feature length documentary supported by Sundance Institute, ITVS, Just Films, and Southern Documentary Fund. He previously directed the award-winning documentary, The Throwaways (2014). He is a 2019 Just Films Rockwood Fellow, 2019 Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellow and a member of A-Doc: Asian American Documentary Network.


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Narrative Program

THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD 110 mins | Drama | Canada | French | 2020 Director: Ky Nam Le Duc Following the election of a nationalistic government, a man decides to sell everything to return to Viet-Nâm. But his ex-stepson comes to him for help, bringing along an abandoned child. Together, these three men must live together for a few weeks. This film is available in the United States and Canada.

PA AFF 2020


Q&A LIVE on 11/10 at 7:30 P.M. EST



72 mins | Documentary | United States, Japan English, Japanese, Hawaiian | 2019 Director: Lisette Marie Flanary

This film is available in the United States and Canada.

Q&A LIVE on 11/10 at 8:30 P.M. EST




Today an estimated 2 million people are dancing hula in Japan—a figure greater than the entire population of Hawaiʻi. With more people dancing hula in Japan than in Hawaiʻi, where the native art was born, this phenomenal growth has created a multimillion dollar industry based on culture as commodity. But what motivates Japanese students and teachers to dance hula, and how is it translated into a foreign culture? How do Native Hawaiians participate in this crosscultural exchange? Through the personal stories of Hawaiian master hula teachers and Japanese teachers and dancers, Tokyo Hula documentary examines how tourism, economics, and a love affair with the islands of Hawaiʻi has made hula big business in Japan.

11/05 - 11/15 RENTAL PERIOD

Documentary Program



LIVE Program: Wednesday, November 11, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM Join justice strategist and vocalist Aisha Fukushima and composer and activist Anthony Brown for a conversation about shared identity, mixed heritage, solidarity, and the power of creating visions of justice and liberation through music.

PA AFF 2020

Aisha Fukushima a justice strategist, performance lecturer, singer/songwriter, facilitator, and “RAPtivist” (rap activist). Fukushima is the founder RAPtivism (Rap Activism), a hip hop project spanning 20 countries and four continents, amplifying universal efforts for freedom and justice. She is a multilingual, multiracial African American Japanese woman who has given lectures and performances around the world. As a public speaker, Fukushima combines the art of performance and lecture and links themes such as hip hop, global citizenship, empowerment, feminism, and cultural activism with live musical performance. She was the first non-Native person to deliver a keynote address at Montana’s 2012 Schools of Promise Conference for Indigenous youth and has presented at universities, conferences, and public events such as TEDx.


Anthony Brown is a composer, percussionist, ethnomusicologist, Guggenheim, MacDowell and Ford Fellow, and a Smithsonian Associate Scholar. He has performed on over 30 recordings and has collaborated with Max Roach, Cecil Taylor, Zakir Hussain, Pharoah Sanders, Angela Davis, Anthony Davis and the San Francisco Symphony. Dr. Brown is currently Artistic Director of Fifth Stream Music and the GRAMMY-nominated Asian American Orchestra, and is a professor of music at the California Jazz Conservatory. He has contributed chapters to books about Duke Ellington and John Coltrane published by Cambridge and Oxford University Press, respectively. Anthony Brown received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in Music from the University of Oregon in 2017.



Through the teachings of Malcolm X, a young Asian American college student journeys from self-hate toward self-love.

On the anniversary of her adoption, 9-year-old Esther confronts the duality of her identity when she learns that the food at the Chinese buffet might not be “real Chinese food.”

Directors: Jimmy Vi, Anton Song United States | English | 2019

Director: Sidi Wang | United States Mandarin, English | 2019


Director: Christopher Low | United States English | 2019

Part of life’s complicated journey is realizing and forming all parts of one’s identity: race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, generation … These shorts explore how our racial identity is impacted when we encounter other identities or experience our own identity through the labels given to us by others. How does one identity help to define another? How do these interactions broaden our understanding of ourselves and the world?


This film program is available internationally.

One Japanese Korean teacher meets Japanese Brazilian students in the countryside of Japan.

Q&A LIVE on 11/11 at 9:00 P.M. EST

Director: Jengil Park | Japan | Japanese, Portuguese, English | 2020


Eddie, a first generation Chinese American, is learning how to become a father and his son, Troy, is navigating the spaces between ethnicity and identity. As Troy grows older, Eddie recognizes they carry different racial stigmas and worries that he may not have all the tools to guide Troy through the gauntlet of race.

56 mins Curated by: Chetana R. Narasimhajois, Tyler Wans

11/05 - 11/15 RENTAL PERIOD

Shorts Program


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Narrative Program


80 mins | Experimental Drama | United States, Mexico | English, Spanish | 2020 Director: Alexis Moh CW: Seizure/Epilepsy Warning Inspired by the question of why we love, what we love, and how we should love it, Spider Moth Butterfly observes a traveling circus whose young circus master leads the group in its quest for the highest point of excellence in their craft. The members of the troupe likewise dedicate themselves to their roles in the show. Together they create a magical yet insular world in which they can practice and create to their heart’s content with total concentration— until one member, Violeta, starts to question how far she will follow... This film is available in the United States and Canada.

PA AFF 2020

Q&A LIVE on 11/12 at 5:00 P.M. EST




Performed by: Joseph Ahmed Half Magic is the autobiographical story of a biracial white/South Asian child raised on stories of white heroes. Joseph Ahmed uses physical theater, storytelling, and circus techniques to explore the childhood narratives and social structures that led him to self-identify as white for most of his young life. Rocked by a loss in the family, he finds himself recontextualizing and rediscovering the stories that shaped him. What place is left in his Bengali heritage after a lifetime of white protagonists? This project is a work-in-progress being developed through Philadelphia Asian Performing Artist’s Mini-Residency program, supported by Asian Arts Initiative and PAAFF. It is planned for eventual presentation as an in-person experience, but has been adapted to a live-stream format due to the realities of COVID-19


Live Performance

Joseph Ahmed is a Philadelphia-based theater artist whose work expands into dance, circus, and interactive performance. He is a company member with the Barrymore Award-winning Tribe of Fools and has performed with Almanac Dance Circus Theatre. He is a co-founder of the Obvious Agency, an interactive performance company. He co-directed Chaos Theory by Jessica Creane, which won Immersion Nation’s Best Social Immersion of 2019 award. He holds a BFA in Theater Arts from Boston University. Connect with him here: Directed by Meike D. Props Management by Sara Outing




PASS THE MIC: PERFORMANCES BY SON OF PAPER, ARIGATO GRANDE, CHINOE, AND LEO XIA LIVE Performance: Thursday, November 12, 8:30 PM – 10:00 PM This year, PAAFF will be taking our Asian American music showcase to the virtual stage! These creators are not only up-and-coming artists in the hip-hop and pop scenes, they are also activists, changemakers, visionaries, and one another’s biggest fans. Glimpse history in the making as Son of Paper, Arigato Grande, Leo Xia and Chinoe take the virtual stage for our Philly Asian American Film Festival 2020 live stream!

PA AFF 2020

Kyle Jae Shin, aka Son of Paper, is a rapper, singer, and songwriter from San Francisco. Son of Paper is a great grandson of a Paper Daughter, a term describing ethnic Chinese who illegally immigrated to the U.S. under the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1965) by purchasing the birth certificate of a U.S. citizen and claiming the familial right to immigrate. Son of


Paper’s smooth and melodic delivery is reminiscent of both 2000’s R&B and golden era and Korean Hip-Hop. Since his self-titled EP (2016), SOP’s songs and music videos have been streamed over 30,000 times and performed at approximately 50 shows across the country. From open mic performances and lectures about his work to live shows along the east coast and in his hometown, Son of Paper is quickly developing into the next Asian American artist to watch. Chinoe is a young, upcoming, and talented rapper/songwriter, direct from San Francisco, California. He brings with him a loud and fun energy inspired by Bay Area and other artists. Chinoe takes that inspiration and applies it to a new school sound. He began making waves with singles like “Chase” Ft. Hangtimekyul & Lzke and “Again N’ Again” from his growing and fun EP, Yellow House Party. From his creative music videos to his unique merch, Chinoe has made it clear that he is in this for the long road and not one to sleep on. Through

his creative work he conveys personal experiences, pushes boundaries, and opens Asian representation to a diverse audience. Since the EP release of Yellow House Party he has continued to grow in the Bay Area and is eager to do more. Arigato Grande is an up and coming singer that produced and starred in Asian food and social commentary-centric music videos such as “Don’t Call it Asian” and “Boba Tea Bitches”. You may recognize this name from the 7 Rings Parody about Korean BBQ that went viral in Spring 2019, garnering over a quarter of a million across all online media. Although her parodies and videos explore Asian American topics and food, navigating music artistry during the age of the pandemic has led to more self-reflection and softer music that she is planning to release later this year or in early 2021. As an artist in the pandemic, this exploration of the dualities of public imagery, parody music, and interpersonal music truly surfaces as she reflects upon what message she wants to put in the world and who it is for.

Leo Xia is a Los Angeles-based indie/folk singer, songwriter, and activist whose vulnerable vocals and storytelling lyricism have been compared to the likes of Ed Sheeran and Sufjan Stevens. He aims to expand his listeners’ capacities for empathy through his experience as a second generation Chinese American immigrant. Xia’s music has been heard on Netflix (Wu Assassins) and Cinemax (Warrior) as well as national commercials (Panda Express). Leo’s first full-length album 384 is available on all streaming platforms.



Live Performance


Performed by: Shreeyash Palshikar Is there a difference between western and Asian understandings of what is scary? How does the idea of reincarnation resonate with the idea of ghosts? In what mystical practices do people recall seeing their grandparents engage? From sword swallowing to the Indian Rope Trick, Shreeyash Palshikar will captivate audiences in this unique livestreamed magic show incorporating the best of Indian and western magic. This performance will be followed by a conversation with Chicago actor Dwight Sora about the connections between magic and cinema in Asia and the west. The discussion will explore Bollywood, Japanese cinema, and other Asian cinemas. This segment will include a Q&A in which the audience will be encouraged to share stories of strange and spooky happenings.

PA AFF 2020

Shreeyash Palshikar is a magician and scholar who has performed worldwide in Europe, Asia, and the US. He holds a PhD from The University of Chicago, a BA from Amherst College, and has won two Fulbright fellowships. His current Fulbright allowed him to study the last living traditional street magicians in India, and he is working on a book based on his research. More info:


Dwight Sora is a Korean/Japanese American actor, martial artist, and a community volunteer in Chicago. Sora has appeared in numerous plays, films, industrials, trade shows, and voiceovers with Chicago Children’s Theatre, Strawdog Theatre Company, and Silk Road Rising. He holds a BA from the University of Chicago and is a 3rd degree blackbelt in Aikido. More info:



91 mins | Drama, Comedy | United States English | 2019 Director: Sujata Day Definition Please opens on the 2005 Scribbs National Spelling Bee, where Monica Chowdry, annihilates the competition. Fast forward 15 years later to a sleepy Pennsylvania suburb, where life hasn’t quite panned out for the now twenty-something Monica. She cares for her ailing mother, still lives at home, and has an unusual penchant for “seeing” words to define strangers. When Monica’s brother Sonny returns home to help with family obligations, tensions arise. Can the bickering siblings set aside their differences, or will years of bottled up emotions tear this close knit family apart?

11/05-11/15 RENTAL PERIOD

Narrative Program

The film is available in the following states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware.

Q&A LIVE on 11/15 at 1:30 P.M. EST PA AFF.ORG 47


Narrative Program


89 mins | Horror | Japan | Japanese | 2020 Director: Takeshi Kushida One day, middle-aged photographer and retouch artist Kai encounters Kyoko, a beautiful woman and model with a huge and ugly scar on her body. She asks Kai if he can erase the scar in her photographs of herself. Kyoko is fascinated by her new perfect looks in her photographs. At the same time, she struggles whether to show the world her ideal figure or her real self. Torn between the two selves, she falls into confusion. Kai feels that only he can salvage Kyoko from her anguish. This film is available in the United States and Canada.

Q&A LIVE on 11/13 at 10:00 P.M. EST

11/05-11/15 RENTAL PERIOD

Shorts Program


70 mins Curated by: Selena Yips These shorts will leave you wondering: What is real and what is not? How far would you go to uncover the truth? This film program is available internationally.



A young single mother struggles against ominous forces, which she believes are bent on taking her infant daughter.

A particular mathematical insight by a college professor in Calcutta, India ends up being unexpectedly connected across space and time with people in Fremont, California, leading to a bizarre set of events.



Director: Devin E. Haqq | United States English, Japanese | 2019

Director: Ritendra Datta | United States English, Hindi | 2020

Q&A LIVE on 11/13 at 11:00 P.M. EST

PA AFF 2020

Director: Dinh Thai | United States English | 2019


A light-hearted comedy about the sweetest fiancĂŠ giving her boyfriend the best birthday present ever.

Director: Amin Sameti | Iran | Farsi | 2018 The city is afraid of a new thief who is taking people’s blue eyes.



After a young girl’s father is murdered by an evil centaur, she comes to realize that extracting revenge can often take one’s whole life.

Mason Yamashii is interrogated by cyborg A.I. 042, who is seeking a murder conviction and pinning the blame of his lover Kent. It is inspired by the Japanese legal system where they follow a “guilty until proven innocent” mindset.

Director: David Chai | United States English | 2019

Director: Patrick Nan | United States English | 2019


Director: Gayatri Bahl | United States English | 2019 PA AFF.ORG

“Tina” is a surreal thriller about a woman who goes through self-transformation therapy only to be haunted by an Indian classical dancer, forcing her to confront herself in a way she never expected.


11/05-11/15 RENTAL PERIOD

Narrative Program


93 mins | Thriller | Iran | Farsi | 2020 Director: Kazem Mollaie Right before Soodeh Sharifzadegan’s second marriage, her 11-year-old son Matiar is kidnapped and held for ransom. Unable to pay for his release on her own, she is forced to confront elements of a life she left behind, including an estranged ex-husband—Matiar’s father—and her own father, both of whom may hold the key to getting her son back.

PA AFF 2020


This film is available in the United States and Canada.


Q&A LIVE on 11/14 at 12:00 P.M. EST

WHAT HAUNTS US 55 mins Curated by: Arzhang Zafars


Director: Joon Kim | United States English | 2019 A man desperate to sell his late mother’s house realizes that his childhood home has other plans for him.


Director: Dornaz Hajiha | Iran | Farsi | 2017 Marziyeh is a recently married young woman who has grown up in a religious family with strict rules. Their time-worn and careful thoughts have always overshadowed her true self. But in her married life, she has left all those restrictions behind and has an entirely different lifestyle.

Specters abound in this series of shorts—ghosts of people, places, and lives long abandoned. The footprints left behind by the past can become whole worlds, offer a space for visions, and give rise to versions of ourselves unknown to the everyday.

11/05-11/15 RENTAL PERIOD

Shorts Program

This film program is available internationally.

Q&A LIVE on 11/14 at 3:00 P.M. EST


Director: Anela Ling | United States English | 2019


Grief manifests in conflict for two cousins growing up in Oʻahu. Kekoa’s teenage cynicism gives way when he reluctantly takes his younger cousin Mika in search of spirits to ease the pain of a recent passing.


SEEING OURSELVES IN ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORY THROUGH FILM AND MEDIA Presented by Eric Hung and Irene Chien LIVE Panel: Saturday, November 14, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Asians and Asian Americans have made significant contributions to U.S. film culture since the origins of the medium. Some established careers in Hollywood, and others created independent films. Viewing their works today can enrich our understanding of Asian American history. Creating course content around such works may both balance historical relevance and an appeal to young people and strengthen campaigns for Asian American Studies programs in higher education.

PA AFF 2020

In this panel session, Eric Hung and Irene Chien will share a timeline of films designed for students, film buffs, lifelong learners, and allies who seek an alternate history of Asian American film and media representation. Each film on their list is available on at least one popular streaming service and explores a key moment or a key theme in Asian American history. During the panel Eric and Irene will discuss their motivations behind creating this resource. Afterwards, contributors will discuss what they learned and the challenges in writing about their assigned films.



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Shorts Program

QUEER FUTURES: LGBTQ SHORTS 66 mins Curated by: Eric Hungs

How do you use imagination to survive in this time of uncertainty? In this program, documentarians and narrative characters explore brighter futures through humor, education, resistance, letting go, self-discovery, and thinking far outside the box.


Director: Jordana Valerie Allen-Shim Canada | English | 2020 An experimental auto-ethnographical documentary about queer joy, resistance, and resilience in the face of abuse, trauma, and transphobia.


Director: Kevin J. Nguyen | United States English | 2020 When a surprise party interrupts his plans, an anxious man has to find a private moment to confess his feelings for his friend before he moves away the next day.

Q&A LIVE on 11/14 at 7:30 P.M. EST

PA AFF 2020



Director: Ward Kamel | United States English, Urdu | 2019 A young, immigrant live-in caretaker gets roped into a green-card marriage with her elderly patient and must navigate the ensuing shifting dynamics of their relationship.


Director: Robin Wang | United States Mandarin, English | 2020 Following a graduation celebration, four Chinese must navigate their relationships’ future as dictated by the circumstances of life and their families.



Parents seek advice from leaders in Hawaii’s LGBTQIA+ community advice on how to better understand their gay son. To keep their identities anonymous, the parents’ recordings are re-enacted with puppets.

Long ago, four extraordinary individuals of both male and female spirit brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii and imbued four boulders with their powers. The stones still stand on what is now Waikiki Beach, but the true story behind them has been hidden. Narrated in an ancient Hawaiian dialect, “Kapaemahu” brings this powerful legend back to life in vivid animation.

Director: Dane Neves | United States English | 2020

Director: Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu United States | Hawaiian | 2019


A glimpse into the trans Asian diaspora, “Bind” follows the events that occur when Jules gets a surprise visit from their mother ... and their chest binder.


Director: Emory Chao Johnson United States | Mandarin, English | 2019



Centerpiece Narrative Program


106 mins | LGBTQ Drama | Vietnam Vietnamese | 2019 Director: Trinh Dinh Le Minh Van, the heir of a Vietnamese clan, returns home from the US the first time in 9 years for the move of his father’s tomb. The whole family is surprised upon finding him arriving with a young Vietnamese American named Ian. No one knows Ian is Van’s boyfriend, and they plan to come out to Van’s widowed mother Mrs. Hanh, who expects him to get married and have children to fulfill the heir’s duties. To top it all, his grandmother, who has senile dementia, mistakes Ian for her grandson. While struggling to find the perfect occasion to come out, Van finds out instead that Mrs. Hanh is seriously ill. This film is available in the United States and Canada.

PA AFF 2020

Q&A LIVE on 11/14 at 8:00 P.M. EST



44 mins | Drama, Sci-Fi | Japan Japanese, English | 2019 Director: Keita Niwa In an era where every person’s value is quantified using various factors—such as their educational background, qualifications, and achievements—people are easily compared to each other in terms of their worth. Naomi, an in-home counselor, visits Jin, who lives in a remote mountain area. Jin pushes away Naomi at first—who displays a high value. With time, however, Jin gradually opens up, and talks to her about how he ended up in his current state.

11/05 - 11/15 RENTAL PERIOD

Narrative Program

[Pre-Screening] TEA SHOP Director: Jessie Lee Two sisters after years of separation rediscover themselves through their diverging concepts of home. (East Coast Premiere) This film program is available in the United States and Canada.


Q&A LIVE on 11/14 at 9:00 P.M. EST


19 mins | United States | Chinese | 2019



Live Performance


Performed by: Chantal Vorobei Theives Memory Vein: The Collected Tapes links the movies we watch and the memories we attach to them through spectators’ commentary over associated scenes Each video contains a scene from a film with one memory narrated over it, like a director’s commentary, only your own. About Memory Vein, Theives writes: “I’ve been publishing Veins since 2018 and have learned more through this process about parts of myself I had locked away than I could have ever imagined going into this. But I’ve always wanted to use this as a model to be shared, as a method of understanding each other.”

PA AFF 2020

This project is a work-in-progress being developed through Philadelphia Asian Performing Artist’s Mini-Residency program, supported by Asian Arts Initiative and PAAFF. It is planned for eventual presentation as an in-person experience, but has been adapted to a live-stream format due to the realities of COVID-19.


Chantal Vorobei Thieves creates to understand what is to be and to stay alive. She writes of spies & prophets, Y2K conspiracies, and the relationship between abstraction, perception, and interoception. Recent work include: Memory, Vein and What Would James Baldwin Do? She was a resident at the Queer Materials Lab, Translab, and The Performance Intensive, and Session 9 of the Raw Materials Academie. She is starting a church devoted to the worship & study of art called The Church of the Quarter-Closed Eyes.



56 mins Curated by: Selena Yips



“Providence” is an experimental documentary film that explores class struggle, national identity, and trauma through a family in South Korea visiting their father in prison.

“Sing Me a Lullaby” unravels the complex tensions between love and sacrifice. Told through the intertwined journeys of daughters and their mothers, this is a story about recovering familial history, healing inherited pain, and understanding that love comes in many forms

Director: Daniel Lee | Republic of Korea English, Korean | 2019

Director: Tiffany Hsiung | Canada Mandarin, English | 2020

Employing found footage and interviews, and spanning multiple decades and cultures, these eclectic films all nonetheless reveal the link between personal memory and collective history, between intimacy and community.

11/05 - 11/15 RENTAL PERIOD

Shorts Program

This film program is available internationally.

Q&A LIVE on 11/15 at 3:00 P.M. EST



In the late 1970’s, when L.A.’s punk rock scene was exploding, an unlikely family-owned restaurant in Little Tokyo started by Japanese Americans returning from America’s WWII concentration camps became one the scene’s most popular hang-outs.

Japanese American concentration camp survivor, Yukio Shimomura, recounts the anguish of his captivity during World War II.

Director: Matthew Goriachkovsky United States | English | 2019


Directors: Akira Boch, Tadashi Nakamura United States | English | 2020


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90 mins | Experimental Documentary United States | English, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese | 2019 Director: Norbert Shieh, QuyĂŞn Nguyen-Le, Joseph Mangat, R.J. Lozada Vietnamese, Korean, and Filipino American stories take shape on the streets of San Diego, a refugee and border city built on military narratives. Here, a mortuary worker, an immigrant father, a restaurant full of karaoke singers, and a class of high school students reflect on overlooked histories.

Q&A LIVE on 11/15 at 4:30 P.M. EST


This film program is available in the United States and Canada.

11/05 - 11/15 RENTAL PERIOD

Documentary Program



PA AFF 2020

THE DONUT KING 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

94 mins | Documentary | United States Khmer, Chinese, English | 2020 Director: Alice Gu Everything you thought you knew about the donut begins with Ted Ngoy. Ted’s story is one of fate, love, survival, hard knocks, and redemption. It’s the rags to riches story of a refugee escaping Cambodia, arriving in America in 1975, and building an unlikely multi-million-dollar empire baking America’s favorite pastry, the donut. Ngoy sponsored hundreds of visas for incoming refugees and helped them get on their feet teaching them the ways of the donut business. By 1979 he was living the American Dream. But, in life, great rise can come with great falls.


Closing Night Film, Documentary Program

This film is available in the following states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. PA AFF.ORG

There will be a LIVE Q&A with the filmmaker after the screening





SUSAN JIN DAVIS Senior VP of Product and Operational Compliance, Finance at Comcast Cable and a big supporter of Asian American film.

GRETJEN CLAUSING is the Executive Director of PhillyCAM and works to secure access to media technology, training and distribution platforms for all people. For 30 years she has been an advocate for independent filmmakers and a curator of media programs at International House, the Prince Theater and Scribe Video Center.

KRISTAL SOTOMAYOR is a bilingual Latinx documentary filmmaker, festival programmer, andfreelance journalist based in Philadelphia. They serve as the Programming Director of the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival (PHLAFF) and are a Co-Founder of ¡Presente! Media, a collective led by Latinx filmmakers that produce bilingual content focused on social justice.

ROBERT Y. CHANG is the Coordinating Producer of America ReFramed and is part of the American Documentary Programming & Production team. He has served as juror, screener, programmer, panelist, and reviewer for a range of film festivals and arts funders. He is a member of the Producers Guild of America.

RANA FAYEZ is the founder of YallaPunk, a transaffirming multidisciplinary arts organization redefining the narrative for SWANA peoples, as well as a performing artist specializing in experimental noise and space disco under the names Tagine Dream and Rana Ransom. Rana is passionate about empowering communities everywhere with tech solutions to support and spread their messages.

PA AFF 2020

SARAH MUELLER is a passionate cinephile and proud 18+ year community-rooted resident of Philadelphia. She is the Director and Founder of, cinéSPEAK, a justicecentered art house cinema based in West Philadelphia. Intrinsic to her life-long work is the notion that having the ability and access to create and experience deep and diverse depictions of one’s various identities on-screen is a basic human right.


SHAHANA JAN is a Pakistani Actor, Digital Creator and Educator. As a multi-hyphenate artist, she has worked on both sides of the lens with a special focus on authentic storytelling, a passion that has taken her to work on sets across the globe.

ALLEN CHOU President of Sales and Acquisitions at Passion River Films, a NYC based company that distributes documentaries and arthouse films for the US home video and international sales market since 1998.

IMRAN SIDDIQUEE is a writer, filmmaker, and activist confronting white supremacist patriarchy. They are the current Communications Director of BlackStar Projects, home of the BlackStar Film Festival

THANK YOUS Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists InterAct Theatre Sarun Chan Jenna Lam Cambodian Association of GP Lanica Angpak CAGE Catzie Vilayphonh Laos in the House Kim Andrews Aaron Dilliplane Japan America Society of GP Japanese American Citizens League Kimiko Marr Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages JACL Philadelphia Chapter NaFFAA Philadelphia Philippine Chamber of Commerce

Sreedevi Sripathy WHYY Filipino American Association of Philadelphia, INC Matthew Wong Noel Ramirez Philly Asian and Queer Diana Lu Hotpot! Philly We Are The Seeds FIlipino Executive Council of Greater Philadelphia National Federation of Filipino American Associations Philippine Folk Arts Society, Inc Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival Rana Fayez YallaPunk Nancy Nguyen Ahn Nguyen

Chris Pixel Oliver Stone VietLead PA APA Power Caucus Shahana Jan Aleks Martray Big Picture Alliance Sarah Mueller cineSPEAK Indonesia Diaspora Network Modero Dance Company Pan Asian Assoc. of Greater Phila. Asian Am. Chamber of Commerce Samip Mallick SAADA Alix Webb Wei Chen Asian Americans United PAACH Governor’s Advisory Commission on APA Affairs

Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs Mayor Jim Kenney Governor Tom Wolf Councilwoman Helen Gym Sharon Pinkenson Joan Bressler Nicole Shiner Amira Smith Greater Philadelphia Film Office Djung Tran, Esq. APABA-PA Lailanie Gadia A-Doc Susan Jin Davis Shubham Garg APA@Comcast Melody Wong Dr. Aida Rivera Rommel Rivera Andy Toy SEAMAAC


Cheryl Hirasa Roann Gatdula Pacific Islanders in Communications PA Dept of Drug & Alcohol Programs PECO PECO Asian American Resource Group GP Asian Studies Consortium Hepatitis B Foundation Philadelphia Cultural Fund PA Council on the Arts Music of Asian American Research Center 1882 Foundation Dave Kyu Rodney Camarce Asian Arts Initiative Cat Ramirez Shreeyash Palshikar Joseph Ahmed Chantal Vorobei Thieves


THANK YOUS CONTINUED Allen Chou Passion River Films Joe Kim Phuong Nguyen The Womens Film Festival World Channel Asian American Film Lab Cambodiatown Film Festival Scott CHOPS Jung Kris Mendoza Joanna Shen Maestro Filmworks Gretjen Clausing Laura Deutch PhillyCAM Kris Mendoza John Chin Lamei Zhang PCDC Harry Leong Philadelphia Suns RAAWC

Anderson Le Masashi Niwano Stephen Gong Center for Asian American Media Francis Cullado David Magdael Abe Ferrer Visual Communications Kayla Wong Wynton Wong Brett Kodama Asian Cinevision Ellison Shieh Andrew Koh Seattle Asian American Film Festival Susan Chinsen Anna Zeng Boston Asian American Film Festival Brian Hu San Diego Asian Film Festival

Hanna Huang Austin Asian American Film Festival Debbie Chen HAAPIFest Melissa Bisagni DC APA Film Festival Maori Holmes Imran Siddiquee Blackstar Film Festival Marangeli Mejia Rabell Kristal Sotomayor PHL Latino Film Festival Aram Siu Wai Collier Toronto Reel Asian Louis Massiah Alexia Chororos Scribe Video Center Kathleen Greene The Barnes Foundation Institute of Contemporary Art Penn Museum Atif Sheikh

Aisha Khan Twelve Gates Arts Fariha Khan University of Pennsylvania Asian American Studies Program Madame Saito Diana Widjojo Hardena Waroeng Surabaya Judy Ni Baology Thu Tran Bill Kelly Carol Ha Okie Dokie Donuts Chatayee Thai Philly Poke Rangoon Set Hernandez Rongkilyo Rahi Hasan Undocumented Filmmakers Collective

Robert Y. Chang Emily Teera-Hong Bhawin Suchak Skeme Richards Jason Tobin TreaAndrea Russworm Aisha Fukushima Anthony Brown Kyle Jae Shin Aaron Thanh Leo Xia Arigato Grande Quynh-Mai Nguyen Chiyeung Lau Dr. Melissa Kapadia Ayoung Lee Frances Nan Raina Kulkarni Shannon Ko Kunal Duggal Nicole Kish IBIT Temple University

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