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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Staff Credits ............................................................................................. 5 Letter From The Director ...................................................................... 8 Content Policy ......................................................................................... 9 Special Showcases .......................................................................... 10-11 Live Program Schedule ..................................................................12-13 Opening Weekend ....................................................................... 14–38 Opening Night: Americanish .............................................................14 Panel: Race and Education Access ...........................................22-23 Centerpiece Documentary: Wuhan Wuhan .................................25 PAPA Mini-Residency: Have You Heard the Moves? ................ 43 PAPA Mini-Residency: Half Magic ..................................................45 PAPA Mini-Residency: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Memories .... 47 Asian American Beats to Jam to: Musical Showcase .......... 48-49 Closing Weekend .......................................................................... 47-67 Centerpiece Narrative: Waikiki ........................................................58 Panel: The Road to Social Impact FIlmmaking....................... 64-65 Closing Night: A Sexplanation ......................................................... 67 Film Juries ....................................................................................... 68-69 Thank Yous ....................................................................................... 70-71
PAAFF 2021 STAFF 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 paaff.org/our-team.
Selena Yip Festival Director Arzhang Zafar Programming Co-Director Kacia Huynh Programming Co-Director Sophia Lin Partnerships Coordinator Vivian Nhan Volunteer Co-Coordinator Eireann Mannino Volunteer Co-Coordinator SCREENING COMMITTEE Christy Choo Sophia Chow Kelly Conrad Vinh Dang Hien Dinh Yashaswi Dixit Edward Hong Eric Hung Jixin Jia Brittany Ko Ryan Kuang Wren Lee Abi Mlo Chetana R. Narasimha Jois Nightingale Nguyen Claris Park Sarah Park
Emmy Sinh Nicole Tanaka David Tanh Tyler Wan Linda Wei Irina Wirjan Jian Yu Ling Yue SHORTS PROGRAMMERS Kelly Conrad Edward Hong Sunny Huang Eric Hung Kacia Huynh Ryan Kuang Chetana R. Narasimha Jois David Tanh Tyler Wan Linda Wei Selena Yip Ling Yue Arzhang Zafar LIVE EVENT PROGRAMMERS Kacia Huynh Wren Lee Claire Nguyen Selena Yip
Jacqui Sadashige Social Media Coordinator & Copywriter Theresa Ramirez Newsletter Coordinator Kathy Chung Festival Artwork Graphic Designer Program Layout Darian Ehya ADVISORY BOARD 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
MARKETING Akshika Jain Marketing Coordinator Darian Ehya Social Media Coordinator & Graphic Designer
SPONSORS Presenting Sponsor
LETTER FROM THE FESTIVAL DIRECTOR was overwhelming and heartwarming— so much so that we decided on a hybrid model for our 2021 festival. As we approach our 2nd pandemic anniversary, more than half of the world’s population remains unvaccinated while America is seemingly going back to normal. We have endured so much unexpected change in such little time, that it seems only fitting that our festival theme this year is “Pause/Unpause.” Welcome to the 14th Annual Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival! This time last year, we made the tough decision to adapt our entire festival to be online only. And although our community didn’t get the chance to meet physically, we were able to come together on our computer screens and connect in ways that we’d never done before. Our online format gave audiences much-needed control of film screenings in a way that felt like a relief at a time when our lives were being turned upside-down. Families could watch animated films together during their afternoon snack time, insomniacs could binge a horror shorts program to the light of a full moon, university students could pause their new favorite Vietnamese queer film just in time to log onto virtual class. We saw our community and festival audiences grow—reaching across the world from Philadelphia to California to Hong Kong. The positive response to the increased accessibility of our festival
With this theme, we are reminded that as we press “play” on returning to normal, we should also be taking time to pause, recuperate, and reflect. We encourage you, in your moments of pause, to open the door to self-care and take the time you need to cultivate empathy for yourself and others. Whether this is your first year or your 14th year, thank you for joining us in our celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander film and storytelling. We are honored to present a highly anticipated slate of films and events that truly reflect the passion and resilience our community has built throughout our histories and throughout this pandemic. Now hit that play button! With love and gratitude,
Selena Yip Festival Director
CONTENT POLICY FESTIVAL INFORMATION As we at Philadelphia Asian American guide with your own research before Film Festival endeavor toPOLICY showcase purchasing tickets or attending a PAAFF CONTENT thewe very Asian diasporic films, screening. We recommend watching As at best Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival endeavor to showcase the our programming staff is sensitive the linked andtoreading very best Asian diasporic films, our programming staff istrailers sensitive the factany that to the of fact that someselections of our official online reviews as a start, and visit some our official may have content that an audience member may selections mayorhave content As thatsuch, an we provide a film’s possible. find offensive distressing. ourwebsite patronswhere with film descriptions audience member find and offensive Feel free toas contact ustoatthe PAAFF that appear on our may website in our Festival Program a guide festival’s or distressing. Asand such, we provide with any questions or concerns. specific content themes. our patrons with film descriptions that thank you forprimarily your support We refrain attaching individual films because appear on from our website andspecific in our warnings toWe and understanding. it would Program be impossible to identify Festival as a guide to theall content that could be objectionable or distressing to anycontent possibleand audience festival’s specific themes.member. Furthermore, identifying objectionable or distressing events for one sector of our audience could be inaccurate and/or We refrain from attaching specific incomplete for another. Finally, we would not want to make a list of warnings that warnings to individual films is not comprehensive,nor doprimarily we want to generate our own warnings with the because itofwould be impossible potential misrepresenting the films and filmmakers. to identify all content that could Please supplement film descriptions provided on our website and festival be objectionable or the distressing to guide with your own research before purchasing tickets or attending a screening. any possible audience members. We recommend watchingobjectionable the linked trailers, reading any online reviews, and visiting Furthermore, identifying a website wherefor possible. Please feel free to contact us at PAAFF with orfilm’s distressing events one sector any questions orcould concerns. of our audience be inaccurate and/or incomplete for another. Finally, We thank you your support and understanding. PAAFF staff arefornot qualified experts in identifying what subject matter could be found to be objectionable or distressing by a potential audience LIVE IN-PERSON member, and would notEVENTS want to All live-in eventsthat will isbenot held at: make a listperson of warnings Asian Arts Initiative comprehensive. Nor do we want to 1219 Vine our Street (Chinatown) generate own subjective warnings Philadelphia, PA 19107 with the potential of misrepresenting the films and filmmakers. **Masks must be worn over mouth and nose at all times. The theater will be the set film up with social distancing in mind. Please supplement descriptions provided on our website and festival
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SPECIAL CREATIVE DISCUSSIONS
PAAFF prides itself as a platform for new ideas and discourse. We have invited new guest speakers that will share their expertise and experiences on topics such as social impact filmmaking and educational access in Philadelphia. Each panelist will bring their own diverse perspective, deepening our understanding of the film industry and providing context for some of the topics our films will touch on this year.
Born out of a desire to support and celebrate diverse Asian theater artists in Philadelphia, PAAFF has partnered with PAPA to present three captivating livestreamed performances. Our artists in residence from PAPA, PAAFF, and AAI’s 2020 Mini-Residency return to the festival to share updates on 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.
SHOWCASES PACIFIC SHOWCASE For the Pacific Showcase please use this copy: Every year, the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival presents a Pacific Showcase to specifically celebrate Indigenous artists with roots in the Pacific. This showcase is sponsored by our good friends, Pacific Islanders in Communications. In 2021, we have curated the highest number of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander films in our festival history. We aim to do our part to uplift Indigenous art and artists, advocate for the education and awareness of Indigenous histories, and advocate for Indigenous rights, sovereignty, and self-determination in the Greater Philadelphia Area and across the Pacific.
ASIAN AMERICAN BEATS TO JAM TO This year’s Asian Music Showcase is back to being in-person and features an entirely local artist lineup, showcasing the passion and talent that Philadelphia’s Asian American creatives bring to the music industry. Marina Murayama, Joshua Bation, Lukey, and REGOTHERESHEGO will shower the stage with good vibes, positive energy, and music to jam to.
2021 LIVE PROG Thursday November 4
Who is Lun*na Menoh? Q&A: 2 P.M.
Opening Night Film: Americanish LIVE: 7 – 9 P.M.
Centerpiece Documentary: Wuhan Wuhan Q&A: 7 P.M.
Opening Reception 9 – 11 P.M.
Friday November 5 I Was a Simple Man Q&A: 8 P.M.
in another language Q&A: 8 P.M. SHORTS: Take Me Away Q&A: 9 P.M.
SHORTS: HEAL: Undocumented Filmmakers Collective Q&A: 5 P.M. SHORTS: Our Deepest Bonds: Family Shorts Q&A: 6:15 P.M. Cane Fire Q&A: 8:30 P.M.
Monday November 8
Try Harder! Q&A: 9 P.M.
SHORTS: The Language of Healing Q&A: 10 P.M.
SHORTS: Fighting for Identity Q&A: 10 P.M.
Sunday November 7
Like the Northern Ray Q&A: 11 P.M.
Filmmaker (Virtual) Brunch 10:30 – 11:30 A.M.
Saturday November 6
The Nodey Process Q&A: 12 P.M.
Tuesday November 9
SHORTS: This Place We Occupy Q&A: 1 P.M.
SHORTS: Rethinking History Q&A: 7 P.M.
SHORTS: Alternative Realities Q&A: 2:15 P.M.
The Celine Archive Q&A: 8 P.M.
SHORTS: Are We Alone? Q&A: 11 A.M. PANEL: Race and Education Access LIVE: 12 – 1:30 P.M.
SHORTS: Dear Resources Q&A: 7:15 P.M. SHORTS: “Dirty” Work Q&A: 8:30 P.M.
GRAM SCHEDULE Wednesday November 10 PAPA MiniResidency: Half of Half Magic + Artist Conversation LIVE Performance: 6 P.M.– 7:30 P.M. George Nakashima, Woodworker Q&A: 8 P.M.
Asian American Beats To Jam To LIVE Performance: 8 – 10:30 P.M. After Party 10 P.M.– 12 A.M.
SHORTS: Moments in a Woman’s Journey Q&A: 11 A.M.
Saturday November 13
Ek Tha Gaon (Once Upon A Village) Q&A: 12:15 P.M.
Queer Zoom Brunch 10:30 – 11:30 A.M.
Thursday November 11
SHORTS: A Queer Time & Place Q&A: 12 P.M.
PAPA MiniResidency: Half Magic LIVE Performance: 6 – 7:30 P.M.
SHORTS: Vā: The Space Between Us Q&A: 5 P.M.
See You Then Q&A: 1:30 P.M.
SHORTS: The Darkness Within Q&A: 8:30 P.M.
LOIMATA the sweetest tears Q&A: 6:30 P.M.
Friday November 12
Centerpiece Narrative: Waikiki Q&A: 8 P.M.
PAPA MiniResidency: Crouching TIger, Hidden Memories LIVE Performance: 5 – 6:30 P.M.
Sunday November 14
SHORTS: PAAFF Picks Q&A: 1:15 P.M. PANEL: The Road to Social Impact Filmmaking Q&A: 2:30 P.M. White Elephant Q&A: 6 P.M. Closing Night Film: A Sexplanation LIVE: 7 – 9 P.M. Closing Reception 9 – 11 P.M.
SHORTS: Being (Un)Present: A Father’s Love Q&A: 9 P.M. The Six Q&A: 9 P.M.
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE OPENING NIGHT FILM, NARRATIVE PROGRAM
90 mins | Comedy, Romance, Coming-of-age | USA | English | 2021 Director: Iman Zawahry In Jackson Heights, Queens, career-driven sisters Maryam and Sam and their newly-immigrated cousin Ameera must navigate the consistent and sometimes conflicting demands of romance, culture, work, and family. Serving both as a lighthearted reimagination of and critical divergence from the classic romantic comedy, AMERICANISH tackles and celebrates the complex intersectionalities of womanhood by welcoming us into the world—with all its joys and tribulations— of these three marriage-aged women. This film will be screened in-person and available for a 24 hour rental starting on 11/4 at 7 PM There will be a LIVE Q&A with the cast and crew after the screening, followed by a small reception at Asian Arts Initiative.
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE NARRATIVE PROGRAM
I WAS A SIMPLE MAN
100 minutes | Drama | USA | English, Japanese | 2020 Director: Christopher Makoto Yogi A ghost story set in the pastoral countryside of the north shore of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, I Was A Simple Man tells the story of an elderly man who—facing the end of his life—is visited by the ghosts of his past.
PRE-SCREENING WITH: PUREA 6 minutes | Drama | Aotearoa, New Zealand | Māori, English | 2020 Director: Kath Akuhata-Brown Māori elder, Hamo, returns to her ancestral home and finds it empty. Offering karakia (prayers) she calls on the house to release the spirits of those who have passed on. In the river where the past and present collide, Hamo is overwhelmed by memories. She continues her journey to the top of her tribe’s sacred mountain. As dark meets the dawn, she releases her family into the warmth of the rising sun. LIVE Q&A for Purea on 11/05 at 7:35 P.M. EST Followed by a LIVE Q&A for I Was A Simple Man at 7:45 P.M. EST
84 minutes | Comedy, Documentary, Coming-of-age, Drama | USA | English | 2021 Director: Debbie Lum At Lowell High School, the top-ranked public high school in San Francisco, the seniors are stressed out. As they prepare for the emotionally draining college application process, students are keenly aware of the intense competition for the few open spots in their dream colleges. They scrutinize how every element of their application, from their classes to their extracurricular activities to their racial identities, might be read by admission officers. At Lowell—where cool kids are nerds, nearly everyone has an amazing talent, and the majority of the student body is Asian American—the things that usually make a person stand out can feel not good enough, even commonplace.
PRE-SCREENING WITH: EXTRA CREDIT 6 mins | USA | English | 2020
H.A.G.S. (HAVE A GOOD SUMMER) 9 mins | USA | English | 2020
Director: Angel Yau
Director: Sean Wang
An auto-biographical stop-motion animation about the filmmaker’s experience with school and learning as a shy and awkward kid.
A portrait of growing up told through the pages of a middle school yearbook.
LIVE Q&A for Extra Credit and H.A.G.S. on 11/5 at 8:45 P.M. EST Followed by a LIVE Q&A for Try Harder! at 9:00 P.M. EST
FIGHTING FOR IDENTITY 60 mins | Curated by: Eric Hung
How do people discover who they are meant to be? How can they carve out a safe space in a hostile society? This showcase features three individuals, dancer/choreographer Caili Quan and fictional protagonists Eng and Shin-mi, all fighting to carve out identities for themselves. Whether through contemporary dance, basketball, or nightclub performance, these films show the ways in which performance can be liberating, exhilarating, or even utopic.
LIVE Q&A on 11/5 at 10:00 P.M. EST
Directors: Elliot deBruyn, Nathaniel Brown, Caili Quan United States | USA, Guam | English, Chamorro | 2020 “Mahålang” is Caili Quan’s love letter to Guam: an exploration of family, nostalgia, identity and a longing for home through the lens of contemporary dance.
Director: Erica Eng | USA | English, Cantonese | 2021 A high school basketball player struggles to fit in, on and off the court.
GOD’S DAUGHTER DANCES
Director: Sungbin Byun | Korea | Korean | 2020 A transgender female dancer, Shin-mi, gets a call from the Military Manpower Administration to attend the Military Service Examination.
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PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE NARRATIVE PROGRAM
LIKE THE NORTHERN RAY
45 minutes | Drama | Japan | Japanese | 2021 Director: Tetsuya Uesugi Azusa Makabe is a magazine editor who lives in Sapporo, a snowy city located in northern Japan. She has an alcoholic father who gave up on himself because of failure in his career. Keeping a distance from her father and striving to live a different life, she tries hard not to rely on anyone despite. Is she simply self-disciplined, or is she afraid of something?
PRE-SCREENING WITH: SOLO TREKKER 25 minutes | Taiwan | Mandarin | 2020 Director: Jing-Ye Chang A young logger who illegally cuts down Formosan cypress trees meets a middleaged solo trekker who broke his leg after falling off a cliff. The fates of two souls who trek alone intertwine briefly. LIVE Q&A for Solo Trekker and Like the Northern Ray on 11/5 at 11:00 P.M. EST
ARE WE ALONE?
64 mins | Curated by: Selena Yip and Arzhang Zafar Sometimes experimenting with form is the only way to depict the inexplicable: the comfort of home, the absurdity of isolation, the violation of voyeurism. The more time we spend alone, the more these ideas can intermingle in ways that cannot be explained through words. These somewhat upsetting, sometimes hilarious, and utterly unique shorts briefly look at the strangeness of who people are when they believe no one is watching—or when they suspect that someone might be… LIVE Q&A on 11/6 at 11:00 A.M. EST
NIGHT & DAY
Directors: Paolo Bitanga | Philippines, USA English, Filipino | 2021 Blending documentary and fiction, a mother′s home comes alive once a year when her many children return for the holidays and play on their piano.
THIRD CULTURE KID
Director: Truong Dam | Germany English, German, Vietnamese | 2021 James Heinrich Nguyen, a “third culture kid,” is battling an inner conflict about cultural heritage, identity, and marriage.
IN LOVING MEMORY (OF WHO WE USED TO BE)
Director: Vicky Lee | USA | English, Cantonese | 2021 “In Loving Memory (of Who We Used to Be)” is reminiscent of the growing pains and awkward tween years of a Chinese American girl.
AN INTERLOPER’S KISS
Director: Grace Kim | USA | English | 2019 A portrait of a woman’s everyday domestic life from the perspective of an unlikely, voyeuristic love interest.
Director: Morteza Mirmontazemi| Iran | Farsi | 2020 A lonely and obsessed girl who is not able to communicate with the world around her, invites a stranger to her house.
WE KEPT WARM
Director: Apa Agbayani | Philippines | English | 2021 A young woman in isolations discovers the games of grief.
RACE AND EDUCATION ACCESS Moderated by: Claire Nguyễn
There’s no denying that today’s high school seniors are stressed. But to what degree do Philadelphia high school seniors suffer from additional pressures brought on by racial dynamics in education? This panel will take a closer look at the student narratives in Try Harder! The featured panelists will help contextualize Lowell High School’s position in the San Francisco school district, think through the ways in which Philadelphia’s public school system reflects and differs from what we see in the film, and analyze what these examples reveal about the intersections of race, higher education, and educational access. This program will screen LIVE on 11/6 at 12:00–1:30 P.M. EST
Originally from San Jose, California, Claire Nguyễn is a senior at Penn studying History and serves as the Co-Chair of the Asian American Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board. They are also an organizer on VietLead’s Community Defense team and immerse themself in Southeast Asian and Asian American student organizations and spaces. They enjoy exploring library stacks, cooking with a lot of garlic, and watercolor painting.
(she/her) is a writer and futurist educator. She was raised among the cottonwoods of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and now raises hell in San Francisco. Annie mainly teaches humanities and health education, and prioritizes boundary-setting, wellness, and criticality in the classroom. You can engage with her work on Medium, Twitter, or Ko-Fi under the handle @MsPhanLearns.
(he/him) migrated to Philly in 2008 with his family. Dương is a queer Chinese Viet/Southeast Asian and was a co-founder and Youth Organizer at VietLead, a grassroots organization working with Southeast Asian and other BIPOC communities in Philly and Camden. Dương has worked to support the leadership growth along with the social, emotional, and political development of over 300 Southeast Asian youth since summer of 2013.
is a recent Rhodes Scholar, who received a MPP and an MSc at the University of Oxford. As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, Anea helped to found the school’s First-Generation, Low-Income Student Program. A Truman Scholar, Anea has held a variety of roles in Philadelphia public schools, in local government offices and non-profits, and at the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for African Americans. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of Reclaim Philadelphia’s Education Caucus and as a Board Member for Philadelphia Youth Volunteer Corps.
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
WHO IS LUN*NA MENOH?
81 minutes | Comedy, Documentary | USA | English | 2021 Director: Jeff Mizushima Who Is Lun*na Menoh follows the life and work of the extraordinary Japanese artist from her early career in Japan to the underground music scene in Los Angeles, from fashion runways featuring her sculptural designs to art galleries showing her fantastical work. Director Jeff Mizushima follows Lun*na’s artistic career— showcasing her unique expressionism and interviewing her family, gallery owners, models, fans, and fellow visual artists & musicians—to find out who and what Lun*na Menoh is and why her art, in all of its forms, fits in our world. LIVE Q&A on 11/6 at 2:00 PM EST
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE CENTERPIECE DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
90 minutes | Documentary | USA | Chinese with English Subtitles | 2021 Director: Yung Chang Unfolding at the height of the pandemic, Wuhan Wuhan offers unprecedented access into the peak of the pandemic lockdown and focuses on the human side of the mysterious virus. Comprising five compelling stories Wuhan Wuhan follows a soft-hearted ER doctor and an unflappable ICU nurse; a volunteer psychologist at a temporary hospital; a tenacious mother and son navigating the byzantine PRC healthcare system; and a volunteer driver for medical workers and his pregnant wife. In a time when the world needs greater cross-cultural understanding, Wuhan Wuhan depicts a city joining together to overcome a crisis.
PRE-SCREENING WITH: YELLO 5 minutes | USA | English | 2020 Director: King Yaw Soon In this colorful and moving animated documentary, a woman takes us through her emotional process after a racist encounter at the airport, offering an honest look at fear and connection in an era marked by uncertainty. This film has a limited watch period from 11/5 till 11/9. LIVE Q&A for Yello on 11/6 at 6:50 P.M. EST Followed by a LIVE Q&A for Wuhan Wuhan at 7:00 P.M. EST
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE NARRATIVE PROGRAM
IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE
49 minutes | Comedy, Drama, Romance | Japan | Japanese, English | 2021 Director: Masaya Tsutsumi Summer 2020. Pedestrians have begun to return to Tokyo. In one corner of a cafe, a man and woman take part in a One Coin English Cafe, where participants can enjoy English conversation for a small price. Miki lies about her work and background to satisfy her need for approval. Kenji is a young actor who plans to work in the US but is restricted from traveling there. The two of them begin playing a game where they visit English conversation cafes and act like different people. There are two rules to the game: stay out of one another’s lives, and don’t lie in Japanese. LIVE Q&A on 11/6 at 8:00 PM EST
TAKE ME AWAY
58 mins | Curated by: Kelly Conrad
Film can offer a catharsis for confronting and processing complex feelings and experiences. After a particularly distressing year for API communities, catharsis may be more necessary than ever. From an army of angry sex dolls to heckling magazine clippings, the shorts in this eclectic program offer escapism, absurdism, and humor to help us cope with a reality that is often challenging and painful. LIVE Q&A on 11/6 at 9:00 P.M. EST
LEARNING TAGALOG WITH KAYLA
Director: Kayla Abuda Galang | USA | English | 2021 Kayla offers a lesson in Tagalog, the language of her homeland.
LOOK OUT OF PLACE
Director: Ken Tanigawa | Japan | Japanese with English Subtitles | 2021 What is a life that doesn’t change? This story features life-risking negotiations between a “reaper” that manipulates life and a family doing everything they can for their daughter suffering from an incurable illness.
Director: Alberta Poon | USA | English | 2021 A surreal act unfolds as an Asian American comedian takes to an open mic to battle the insecurities manifesting across her apartment.
...LOVEHOTEL…~THE GUIDE TO JAPANESE MIDNIGHT CULTURE~ Director: Kaichi Sato | Japan | Japanese | 2021
A couple has an affair at a love hotel in Japan. A medium comes to investigate a ghost that appears in the room. Love Hotel is both a narrative film and an education in Japanese midnight culture.
Director: Emily Kim | USA | English | 2021 An awkward tween, desperate to fit in, is forced to miss a crucial sleepover when she is dragged by her mother to their annual camping trip.
THE LANGUAGE OF HEALING
54 mins | Curated by: Ryan Kuang and Chetana R. Narasimha Jois Language serves as an imperfect bridge between our innermost emotions and the outside world. How can we communicate our pain, loss, passion, or rage? This double feature focuses on individuals experiencing loss and their attempts to fill the void to allow for healing. These shorts explore the surprising, creative, and secret ways that “language” in its many forms can be used to display the tenacity of the human spirit.
LIVE Q&A on 11/6 at 10:00 P.M. EST
Based on a true story. When the police refuse to investigate their daughter’s alleged suicide, two technologychallenged parents decide to design a protest banner.
When modern bureaucracy and science stand against her, a grief-stricken young Chinese girl reaches into the past to honor her departed mother.
Director: Jayil Pak | South Korea Korean | 2020
Director: Shicong Zhu | China Mandarin | 2020
EAST COAST PREMIERE DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
THE NODEY PROCESS
62 minutes | Documentary | France, China, Vietnam | French | 2021 Director: Maël Lê-Hurand & Vincent Nguyên aka Francis Cutter CW: nudity In the midst of an identity crisis, French Vietnamese hip-hop producer Nodey decides to leave his native Paris for Asia. Between Paris, Shanghai, and Saigon, his nomadic and creative journey sparks an irreversible reinvention. LIVE Q&A on 11/7 at 12:00 PM EST
THIS PLACE WE OCCUPY 62 mins | Curated by: Kacia Huynh
What makes a memory? Is it the sweet taste of a childhood treat? The familiar sounds of a bustling urban neighborhood? The family keepsakes we keep close? This collection of short films highlights the tangible aspects of human connection—and the traces we leave behind for those who will follow.
LIVE Q&A on 11/7 at 1:00 P.M. EST
A NEW NORMAL
Director: Asavari Kumar | India, USA | English | 2020 Subverting the limitations of digital intimacy, “A New Normal” seeks to define the meaning of home and belonging through the musings of a family spread across different time zones.
Director: Kaia Rose | USA | English | 2020 An intimate portrait of the 117-year-old Japanese sweet shop that has become a memory bank for the Little Tokyo community.
A HUNDRED JOYS
Director: Amanda Ann-Min Wong | Canada English, Cantonese| 2021 “A Hundred Joys” pairs cinematic impressions of Toronto’s East Chinatown neighbourhood alongside interviews with residents and business owners, giving voice to their experiences of community, identity, anxieties, and hopes for the future.
Director: Enyi Zhu, Yang Shi, and Bolun Wei United States | Mandarin Chinese | 2021 A son tries to reconnect with his astronaut father in space through a VR game but it goes haywire from the start.
THE MINIATURIST OF JUNAGADH
Director: Kaushal Oza | India | Hindi, Urdu | 2021 1947. Renowned miniature painter and collector Husyn Naqqash must sell his ancestral home in India and move his family to Pakistan. The home’s new owner schemes to acquire Husyn’s collection, but all is not what it seems.
ALTERNATIVE REALITIES 59 mins | Curated by: Selena Yip
Some may define “reality” as everything that we pick up with our five senses: sight, touch, smell, hearing, taste. But is that all there is? In truth—reality, or the perception of it—differs from person to person and encompasses the totality of all things known and unknown. These shorts transport us to realities similar and different from our own.
LIVE Q&A on 11/7 at 2:15 P.M. EST
Director: Jill Von Dae | USA | English | 2021 Captain Esson Halser is alone on Planet Aurelia, Earth’s nearest inhabited planet, to extract all organic life forms to send back to New Earth. Or so he thinks.
Director: Mahin Sadri | Iran | Farsi | 2020 A woman’s quiet and depressed life is suddenly disrupted by her new neighbor who has a husband and twin boys—making her think about different lives she could have had.
Director: Kun-Yu Lai | Taiwan, USA | Mandarin, English, Taiwanese | 2020 A Taiwanese immigrant tries to face the past he has been avoiding through an amulet.
JOURNEY TO THE EAST
Director: Eve Liu | USA | English, Mandarin | 2020 A Woman with No Name retrieves her husband’s bones from a gang of mythical Chinese Cowboys.
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HEAL: UNDOCUMENTED FILMMAKERS COLLECTIVE SHOWCASE
62 mins | Curated by: Josaen Ronquillo and Undocumented Filmmakers Collective With pain comes healing. The HEAL shorts program features films by members of the Undocumented Filmmakers Collective, showcasing a diverse range of narratives—both beautifully uplifting and tragically traumatizing—on a collective common subject: the immigrant experience. These stories normalize what it means to be undocumented in an uncertain political climate in which a community of everyday people is subject to constant (mis)labeling. We are not the sad narratives that the media uses to portray us. We are virtuous, everyday people who are also creators in this industry of filmmaking. LIVE Q&A on 11/7 at 5:00 P.M. EST
Director: Paolo Rein | USA | English | 2021 “FYI” is a journey of overcoming the systemic oppression of Hollywood gatekeeping and pre-labeled narratives. Our main character finds a community in which they are able not only to navigate their own personal creative endeavors but find the confidence to go beyond.
Director: Set Hernandez Rongkilyo | USA English, Tagalog, Spanish | 2019 The Affordable Care Act denies undocumented immigrants access to healthcare. While laws in California have made healthcare available for undocumented young people, undocumented adults remain excluded. “COVER/AGE” follows the campaign to expand healthcare to include all people.
4-14 UDHAARE SUPNE (BORROWED DREAMS)
Director: Amritpal Kaur | USA | English, Punjabi | 2019 A young womxn, tasked with taking care of her teenage sister when their parents leave without a trace, holds a dark secret that can cause a rift between the two.
TEARS OF THE SKY
Director: Eriko Tsogo | Mongolia, USA Mongolian | 2019 “Tears of the Sky” short chronicles the director’s autobiographical journey back to her home country of Mongolia after twenty years of absence due to DACA restrictions. The film follows her journey on a life-altering spiritual quest in the pursuit of her new identity.
THANK YOU, COME AGAIN
Director: Nirav Bhakta | USA| Gujarati, English | 2020 An Undocumented Indian American convenience store clerk comes crashing into his subconscious as he grieves the death of his father from an attempted border crossing.
THE GEM PROJECT
Director: Paolo Rein | USA | English, Tagalog | 2021 SoulTree, an artist who happens to be undocumented, must confront past versions of herself in order to pave the way for the future.
OUR DEEPEST BONDS: FAMILY SHORTS
64 mins | Curated by: David Tanh, Tyler Wan, and Selena Yip A loving glance. A warm embrace. Laughter and grief. These are just some of the things we share with those many of us love most: the ones we call our family. These heartwarming family shorts portray the deep, complex bonds that we form with our loved ones. LIVE Q&A on 11/7 at 6:15 P.M. EST
Directors: David Chai | USA | English | 2020 An irritated little brother and his bossy older sister come to learn that saying “I love you” doesn’t always mean saying “I love you.”
Director: Sophia Whalen | United States English, Hawaiian | 2020 “Pua Warriors” is an animated action film about magical girls Leilani, Ayaka, and Jasmine who need to prevent a sludge monster from destroying their hometown on Hawai’i island.
THE PĀKALĀ KIDS
Director: Gavin Arucan | USA English, Pidgin, ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi | 2020 On the run from their home in the rustic plantation town of Pākalā Village, two best friends, Lani and Dixie, embark on a journey up Waimea Canyon.
Director: Denise Zhou | USA English, Cantonese | 2021 Desperate to salvage her less-than-remarkable 13th birthday, Georgia plots an escape to the crowded streets of Brooklyn with her little sister Cassie in tow.
Director: Richard O’Connor | USA | English | 2021 After years of labor in the Philippines, Crescenciana Tan came to the U.S. to help raise her grandchildren, who called her Lola. At StoryCorps, her grandson, Kenneth Tan, told his mother Olivia Tan Ronquillo about the greatest lesson Lola taught him.
RED JUNIOR AND THE WOLF
Director: Winnie Wu | USA | N/A | 2021 In a fairytale world, Red Riding Hood’s granddaughter is best friends with Wolfie, a young wolf. Granny Red doesn’t like wolves because of her past experience, but Wolfie is nothing like the infamous Big Bad Wolf.
TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR
Director: Shiyue Xu | China | N/A | 2020 Throughout Tommy’s life, the song “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” has undergone many changes that mirror his journey through the different stages of his life.
89 minutes | Documentary | USA | English | 2020 Director: Anthony Banua-Simon Representations of Kauaʻi as a paradise of leisure and natural beauty obscure the colonial displacement, worker exploitation, and environmental extraction that have shaped life on the island for the last 250 years. Cane Fire critically examines the island’s history through Hollywood fantasies as well as four generations of director Anthony Banua-Simon’s family, who first immigrated to Kauaʻi from the Phillipines to work on sugar plantations. Assembled from sources ranging from amateur YouTube travelogues to epic Hollywood dance sequences, Cane Fire offers a portrait of the economic and cultural forces that have cast indigenous and working-class residents as “extras” in their own story.
PRE-SCREENING WITH: TA HASSO I MANAINA (LET’S REMEMBER OUR ANCESTORS) Neil Tinkham Director: Neil Tinkham Members of the Kutturan Chamoru Foundation meet online to create a new in-language chant. LIVE Q&A for Ta Hasso I Manaina (Let’s Remember Our Ancestors) on 11/7 at 8:20 P.M. EST Followed by a LIVE Q&A for Cane Fire at 8:30 P.M. EST.
DEAR RESOURCES 49 mins | Curated by: Linda Wei
Individuals and communities alike require resources to survive and thrive. In a world where our natural resources are not only precious but unevenly distributed, one person’s waste may be another’s lifeline. What we choose to consume and conserve deeply impacts both natural environments and communities around us. This collection of short films spotlights the complex relationships between humanity and our beloved stuff—whether treasure or trash—and the repercussions of wanting more than we need. LIVE Q&A on 11/8 at 7:15 P.M. EST
Director: Li-Wei Hsu | Taiwan | English | 2021 On a plastic-formed island in the great Pacific ocean, a lonely man found and hatched a supermarket egg.
RIVER OF SMALL GODS
Director: Bradley Tangonan | USA | English | 2021 Displaced from her home, a Native Hawaiian woman named Anela takes a job from a mysterious sculptor to retrieve stones from a riverbed deep in the forests of northern O‘ahu.
A WOMAN’S LAND
Director: Alina Peng and Charles Zhang | Bhutan Dzongkha, English | 2021 Karma, a Bhutanese farmer, has not seen a successful harvest in 10 years due to climate-induced water scarcity. As men have migrated to urban centers, the women in the village must tend to fields and family and work together to overcome the water crisis.
Director: Yutao Chen | USA, Vietnam | Vietnamese, English | 2019 Plastic recycling workers in Minh Khai, Vietnam wrestle with the blessings and curses of an empire built on our trash.
Director: Directed by Rose Kang | USA English, Korean | 2021 Amy and her mom work through their distant relationship while escaping a junk realm from her mother’s hoarding. PAAFF.ORG
59 mins | Curated by: Kacia Huynh and Ling Yue
Work is often promoted as a way of fulfilling one’s purpose in life. But who are “dream jobs” really for? For many and the most vulnerable, work can be physically demanding, mind-numbing, and even dangerous. But many do it out of obligation to their loved ones or as a means of survival. This showcase bears witness to the complexities around the “dirty” work that’s rarely acknowledged, the people who do it, and the reasons why.
LIVE Q&A on 11/8 at 8:30 P.M. EST
Director: John Hwang | USA | Korean, English | 2021 After no one shows up to work, a Korean warehouse owner is forced to confront her fears in order to complete the day’s delivery.
SỐNG Ở ĐÂY | TO LIVE HERE Director: Melanie Dang Ho | USA Vietnamese, English | 2020
Exploring the intimacy of the mundane, “sống ở đây” focuses on the lives of Vietnamese shrimpers and elderly farmers in New Orleans—and how reverberations of the past are present in day to day labor.
Director: Eileen Cabiling | Philippines | Tagalog | 2019 Desperate for cash, a Filipino Fisherman dumps bodies into the ocean for the drug war’s faceless vigilantes. Tension rises when he discovers his neighbor has been murdered for selling shabu (crystal meth).
THE BLUE BED
Director: Alireza Kazemipour | Iran, Canada | Farsi | 2020 Zahra is a middle-aged woman who uses a “temporary marriage” agency to hire a Negar, a younger woman. Negar begins to suspect Zahra’s intentions, but is she correct?
50 mins | Curated by: Kelly Conrad and Arzhang Zafar In school, we are often taught one side of historical events and expected to accept them as objective truth. If we learn to think critically, we come to see history as a multidimensional account of the past—and that the story being told heavily relies on the person telling it. Through the lens of colonialism and cultural imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries, these films juxtapose two AAPI histories in an attempt to challenge what we think we know.
LIVE Q&A on 11/9 at 7:00 P.M. EST
LONGING FOR HAWAI’I
This documentary tells the story of one family’s nearly century-long journey from Korea to the Russian Far East to Central Asia to their new home in the United States.
In the face of colonial erasure, one ‘ohana’s journey into the past reveals a hidden history about the lost Hawaiian Kingdom and its forgotten heroes.
Director: Lidiya Kan | USA, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan | English, Russian | 2021
Director: Katia Kalei Barricklow USA | English | 2020
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
THE CELINE ARCHIVE
69 minutes | Documentary | USA | English | 2020 Director: Celine Parreñas Shimizu What does it mean to be descendants of gendered violence? The Celine Archive is an act of journalism, a story of family grief and trauma, and a séance for the buried history of Filipino Americans. Filmmaker and scholar Celine Parreñas Shimizu weaves together her own story with that of Celine Navarro, who was buried alive by her own community in Northern California. Through animation, portraiture, archival materials, and interviews, The Celine Archive shares multiple versions of the story. Told with care and respect for Navarro and her descendants, this film is a gift of love given to generations who have held Celine in heart and women fighting to have a voice in the face of violence.
PRE-SCREENING WITH: NO DOGS 15 minutes | USA | English | 2021 Director: Randal Kamradt Set against the Watsonville race riots that set central California ablaze in 1930, Filipino American Marisol seeks shelter at Carl’s diner. Neither of them can foresee where that violent night will take them, or what secrets will be revealed. LIVE Q&A for No Dogs on 11/9 at 8:00 P.M. EST Followed by a LIVE Q&A for The Celine Archive at 8:10 P.M. EST
PAPA PRESENTS: HAVE YOU HEARD THE MOVES
Performed by: Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists PRESENTED BY:
Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists (PAPA) is putting on dancing shoes for our latest showcase! These past 20 months have been wild and heavy. It’s time for a collective breath and a collective stretch with some of our favorite dance and movement artists. “Have You Heard the Moves” will present a collage of styles and tones wrapped around the central question: “How do we get moving again?”
“Have You Heard the Moves” will feature Rohaan Unvala, Sevon Wright, KC Chun, Muyu Y. Ruba as well as some ~*mystery~* dancers! Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists (PAPA) is a grassroots, membership-based collective that exists to build community among, and address the lack of economic and artistic opportunities for, people of Pan-Asian descent involved in the performing arts in the Philadelphia region. We do this through member-led programming such as community-building events, professional development programs, performance opportunities, and grassroots organizing. These programs are designed and implemented through the framework of “For Us, By Us, Beyond Us,” and fueled by our values. In-Person: 11/10 at 6:00–7:00 P.M. EST at Asian Arts Initiative
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
GEORGE NAKASHIMA, WOODWORKER 119 minutes | Documentary | USA, Japan, India | English | 2020 Director: John Nakashima George Nakashima died in 1990, but his influences and attraction to his work remain strong today for makers and admirers. His most groundbreaking works feature thick slabs of hardwoods with glorious, complex grain and nature’s “imperfections” boldly finished and stabilized with perfected joinery. His nuanced designs of simple beauty are equally respected. He did not come to woodworking by first mastering the technical. Instead, he spent his adult life until his mid-thirties emersed in the new Modern Architecture, absorbing Shinto and Zen aesthetics and working/studying in a legendary Indian ashram. His life’s work sprang from these layers of experiences, knowledge, and skills. LIVE Q&A on 11/10 at 8:00 P.M. EST
PAPA MINI-RESIDENCY: HALF OF HALF MAGIC + ARTIST CONVERSATION Performed by: Joseph Ahmed
1 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 selfidentify as white for most of his young life. Animorphs, Ender’s Game, and Harry Potter form the cornerstones of his identity until a loss in the family forces him to reconsider everything. What place is left in his Bengali heritage after a lifetime of white protagonists? Joseph presents the first half of Half Magic live and in-person during this event, followed by an artist’s talk. PRESENTED BY:
Joseph Ahmed (he/they) is a Philadelphia-based theater artist and a co-founder of the interactive performance company Obvious Agency. Half Magic, is under development through PAPA’s Mini-Residency program and was an Exhibition Screener at the first annual Mixed Asian Media Fest. As a director, actor, and more, he has worked with companies such as First Person Arts, ON THE ROCKS, Almanac Dance Circus Theatre, Tribe of Fools, Interact Theatre Company, Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, and Team Sunshine Performance Corporation. He holds a BFA in Theater Arts from Boston University. Learn more and connect at www.josephahmed.com. In-Person: 11/11 at 6:00–7:30 P.M. EST at Asian Arts Initiative
THE DARKNESS WITHIN 50 mins | Curated by: Edward Hong
Is it simply human nature to be utterly fascinated by what terrifies us the most? Whether the terror is conjured by our own culture & history, obsession with technology, guilt, or just simply the fear of the unknown, it is within the darkness that we may discover who we really are.
LIVE Q&A on 11/11 at 8:30 P.M. EST
KOREATOWN GHOST STORY
Director: Minsun Park and Teddy Tenenbaum USA | English | 2021 In this supernatural horror tale based on a Korean ritual and starring Margaret Cho and Lyrica Okano, a woman entertains a macabre marriage offer that would allow her to pursue her dreams—for better or for much much worse.
Director: Cavan Campbell | Canada | English | 2020 Isolated on the night shift, an idealistic telephone counsellor is confronted by an insidious caller with the power to control her mind.
SMILEY DEATH FACE
Director: Andrew Patrick Torrez | USA | English| 2020 A young girl stumbles into a text message conversation with an anonymous person that communicates entirely in Emojis.
OUT OF ORDER
Director: Trevor Zhou | USA | English | 2020 When a man awakens in a hotel room and realizes he drunkenly cheated on his wife, a sinister stairwell forces him to tell the truth or risk everything.
Director: Louisa Phung | Canada | English | 2019 On the razor’s edge between awake and asleep a young woman fights her deepest nightmare.
PAPA MINI-RESIDENCY: CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN MEMORIES
Performed by: Chantal Vorobei Thieves
Li Mu Bai. The Green Destiny. Jade Fox. Michelle Yeouch! Nothing holds the same space in the annals of film history as Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Come join us in-person for a special screening of this beloved epic. As a part of PAPA’s miniresident Chantal Vorobei Thieves’ ongoing project, Memory, Vein: The Collected Tapes—where personal memories are shared in connection to specific scenes from various films—members of the audience are invited to narrate your personal memories over the action! This movie-watching experience will lie somewhere between Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the director’s commentary tracks from the special features on DVDs (remember those?). PRESENTED BY:
Chantal Vorobei Thieves is a multimedia artist who creates to both understand what is to be and stay alive. Titles of her recent works include, Piano Lessons, “Memory, Vein,” A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Terrorist, Mulata She-male Gets it From All Sides, and Not One & Simple, or, What Would James Baldwin Do? She was resident at the Queer Materials Lab, Translab, The Performance Intensive, PAPA, PAAFF, & the upcoming Session 9 of the Raw Materials Academie hosted at the ICA in Spring 2022. She is founding a church devoted to the worship and study of art called The Church of the Quarter-Closed Eyes. In-Person: 11/12 at 4:00–6:30 P.M. EST at Asian Arts Initiative
ASIAN AMERICAN BEATS TO JAM TO
PAAFF’s Asian Music Showcase is back and in-person at Asian American Arts Initiative! This year’s showcase features an entirely local artist lineup, showcasing the passion and talent that Philadelphia’s Asian American creatives bring to the music industry. Coming from a variety of music genres, each artist brings their own unique energy that will radiate energy throughout the room as the audience jams to these Asian American beats. In-Person: 11/12 at 8:00–10:00 P.M. EST Asian Arts Initiative
is a Filipino Singer-Songwriter & Producer raised in Philadelphia. Blending both Pop & RnB, Joshua’s heart is singing - laying his smooth vocals on songs such as ‘Fall In’, ‘Otherside’ & ‘All Night’.
musical writing explores themes of mixedness, decolonization, and accountability. Although Marina has roots in the classical tradition, their current music weaves together synthesized electronic textures and lush orchestral soundscapes. Outside of composing and performing, Marina teaches high school music with the School District of Philadelphia.
is the stage name of Filipino-American artist and producer Lucas Geniza. The Philadelphia-based musician is recognized as a true multifaceted talent, gifting listeners with rich production, poetic lyricism, and timeless melodies. Since his debut in 2016, the artist has continued to add to a decorated resume that includes over 2.3 million global streams and placements on Spotify’s coveted Soultronic, Fresh Finds, Fresh Finds: Indie, and Fresh Finds: Pop playlists.
a groundbreaking artist with dynamic sound, is making waves in Philadelphia and to audiences across the world. REGO continues to elevate each visual and sonic standard she sets with every new release. She stamps the integrity and depth of her artistry with the latest “Beg for It” music video. Her second solo EP titled “Interlude,” adds to the depth of her catalogue and continues to inspire audiences through her raw and passionately electric music.
A QUEER TIME & PLACE 51 mins | Curated by: Arzhang Zafar
Leading a queer existence in a fractured world makes for heightened explorations of identity. This year’s LGBTQ+ program showcases such stories, examining how we find comfort in the actualization of our truest selves in isolation, our humanity is affirmed but in communion with others. Connection and validation in seemingly hopeless circumstances lies at the core of these short films. LIVE Q&A on 11/13 at 12:00 P.M. EST
Director: Mary Kim | USA | English | 2020 In an attempt to explore their sexuality, Hajun descends into the heart of their Church’s core beliefs of denial and shame.
Director: Emory Chao Johnson | USA, Malaysia English | 2020 Video, illustration, and animation are combined in this intimate portrait of an international art student studying abroad in the United States.
Director: Aashuka Aryal | Nepal | Nepali | 2020 After getting married to a stranger, a newly wed woman feels uncomfortable in her new home. Instead of seeking comfort with her husband, she is attracted to her sister-in-law.
Director: Sajjad Shahhatami | Iran | Farsi | 2021 Judged by the ones closest to him, a man must choose between sense and sensibility regarding his innermost feelings.
Director: Achim Mendoza | Philippines Tagalog, English, French | 2021 A Filipino musician discovers an unauthorized cover of his song made by a rival content creator, leading to a multilingual and multicultural musical battle over social media. PAAFF 2021
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE NARRATIVE PROGRAM
SEE YOU THEN
75 minutes | Drama | USA | English | 2021 Director: Mari Walker A decade after abruptly breaking up with Naomi, Kris invites her to dinner to discuss their complicated lives, relationships and Kris’ transition. Over the course of one evening, they engage in a series of increasingly intimate and vulnerable conversations until a shocking truth is revealed. LIVE Q&A on 11/13 at 1:30 P.M. EST
VĀ: THE SPACE BETWEEN US 103 mins | Curated by: Sunny Huang
“Vā is the space between, the betweenness, not empty space, not space that separates but space that relates, that holds separate entities and things together in the Unity-that-is-All.” —Albert Tuaopepe Wendt For the diaspora and those displaced from our homelands, ancestors, and potential future selves, “space” can be a site of pain. But what if we re-envisioned “the space between us” as a space of Vā, a cultural concept arising out of Samoa and Tonga? A space of love, calls to identity, community, and hope? These short films chronicle connection - in doing so they invite us to care for one another across time and space. LIVE Q&A on 11/13 at 5:00 P.M. EST
Director: Mia Kami | Fiji, Tonga, Banaba, Rotuma, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands | English | 2021 A music video for the people of Pasifika by Pasifika people.
Director: Sergio M. Rapu & Elena GK Rapu USA | English | 2021 In the face of a global travel shutdown, a Rapanui father living in Minnesota tries to maintain ties to his culture by teaching it to his children.
Director: Camille Mỹ Giang | France, United Kingdom French, English, French Sign Language | 2020 A surprising and unconventional danced sign language brings together a deaf boy and a Tahitian dancer through an unexpected path of encounter.
MAWHIALEO OTE ALOWHA / OUR LOVE
Director: Valeriya Golovina| Tokelau, New Zealand | Tokelauan, English | 2020 Meli and her husband Avito reflect on the pivotal decision of their lives—when they left the tiny atoll of Tokelau for New Zealand seeking a better life for their son. 43 years on, they find themselves pulled between family and a longing for home.
Director: ʻĀina Paikai | USA | English, ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi | 2020 I can recall the way your voice would fill the room and we would all be stilled by your melody.
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
LOIMATA, THE SWEETEST TEARS
94 minutes | Documentary | New Zealand, Samoa | English, Samoan | 2020 Director: Anna Marbrook CW: sexual abuse, death Samoan Lilo Ema Siope is six feet tall, has the strength of three men, and is one of the few women in the world who can build and captain ocean-going canoes. Ema is also dying. Conjuring forces of leadership and spirituality to heal her family from the trauma of child sex abuse, Ema takes them on a journey through the past. Starting from the New Zealand wilderness of Taihape, to their family home in Auckland, to their mother’s Samoan birthplace Lalomanu, and finally to her father’s Apolima Island, they find a real sense of “home.” A finely-crafted documentary, this film is an intimate exploration of a family working courageously to liberate themselves from the shackles of the past.
PRE-SCREENING WITH: THE DENSITY OF VĀ 5 minutes | Experimental | Fiji | English | 2020 Director: Ropate Kama The Spirit of Oceania embodied in the form of a Goddess is overtaken by grief and calls on Pacific ancestors for cultural strength and resilience in a lament for the earth. LIVE Q&A for “The Density of Vā” on 11/13 at 6:20 P.M. EST Followed by a LIVE Q&A for LOIMATA, The Sweetest Tears at 6:30 P.M. EST
CENTERPIECE NARRATIVE PROGRAM
88 minutes | Drama | USA | English, Hawaiian | 2020 Director: Christopher Kahunahana CW: violence In this cinematic allegory of love and loss, a hula dancer fights for survival and her sanity in the shadows of Waikiki for an unflinching glimpse into paradise where there remains hope through human connection and re-connection to ʻaina (nature). This film has a limited watch period from 11/10 till 11/4. LIVE Q&A on 11/13 at 8:00 P.M. EST
BEING (UN)PRESENT: A FATHER’S LOVE
48 mins | Curated by: Kacia Huynh and David Tanh
How would you define your relationship with your father? Was he there for you? Did he provide affection or fill you with sorrow? Were there smiles or tears? For many, there is absence. For some, there is rejection. A few find quiet strength. These short films show how the presence of a father’s love can deeply define one’s life. LIVE Q&A on 11/13 at 9:00 P.M. EST
ANG MERON SA WALA (BEYOND NOTHING) Director: Arby and Christine Laraño | Philippines Filipino | 2020
A resolute man unapologetically abandons his firstborn, believing that it was the right thing to do. Many years later, an inquisitive documentary filmmaker interrogates him.
Director: Jess X. Snow | USA, Canada | English, Mandarin, Cantonese | 2021 Haunted by their childhood memories, Chinese American drag sensation, Sky returns to their hometown to confront their estranged father.
Director: Kitty Hu | USA | English, Mandarin, Shanghainese | 2020 A father and daughter navigate the new responsibility of caregiving and face challenges in their own relationship, while disconnected from the rest of the family in China.
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
102 minutes | Documentary | China, USA, Canada, UK English, Mandarin, Cantonese | 2020 Director: Arthur Jones When the RMS Titanic sank on a cold night in 1912, barely 700 people escaped with their lives. Among them were six Chinese men. Arriving in New York with the other survivors, the six were met with suspicion and slander. Less than 24 hours later, they were expelled from the country, and vanished. What became of them? In an epic journey that crosses continents, an international team of investigators sets out to discover who these men really were, tracing their origins and tracking down descendants denied access to their history. The Six is an extraordinary story of survival and dignity in the face of racism and anti-immigrant policy that still reverberates today. LIVE Q&A on 11/13 at 10:00 P.M. EST
MOMENTS IN A WOMAN’S JOURNEY 50 mins | Curated by: Chetana R. Narasimha Jois
Women often navigate life within systems that are oppressive— forced by roles, identities, circumstances, and values just to persevere. The shorts in this program explore the breadth of women’s experience. Some find themselves “diminished”; others develop a quiet tenacity. Some dare to embody fierceness, build a strength they only ever dreamed they had, and even develop a love for self and even others, they never knew was possible.
LIVE Q&A on 11/14 at 11:00 A.M. EST
LION ON THE MAT
Director: Asali Echols | USA | English | 2021 A Vietnamese-American single mother pours herself into martial arts as a way to overcome past trauma.
Director: Nischhal Sharma | India | Hindi | 2021 Rimi, a housewife, stuck in the mundane life of domesticity finds herself on the threshold of leaving everything behind and embracing liberation when a desire awakens in her after she encounters young and attractive Riya.
Director: Tsung-Yen Lin | Taiwan Mandarin Chinese | 2021 A woman struggles to share the news of her unexpected pregnancy with her career-focused husband as the future of their nation is being decided in a pivotal election.
LONG NIGHT’S SEARCH FOR DAY Director: Dai Leyi | China, USA Mandarin Chinese | 2021
A young Chinese woman navigates her place in the world after a hospital refuses to give her further treatment which would damage her hymen.
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
EK THA GAON (ONCE UPON A VILLAGE)
61 minutes | Documentary | India | Garhwali, Hindi | 2021 Director: Srishti Lakhera “Villagers have a saying that the dead come back to visit the living. Now those of us who remain have only these ghosts for company.” Semla is a ghost village in the Himalayan foothills. The 50 families that once lived in the village have migrated to the city, leaving behind 7 people. Leela is old and resilient, but she doesn’t want to leave for the city. Golu is the only young person in the village. She is desperate to escape to the city but doesn’t have the means. These women face the invisible but palpable forces of migration. Their emotional journey changes their relationship with the place they call “Home.” Ek Tha Gaon explores life in a dying village where a haunting absence lingers. LIVE Q&A on 11/14 at 12:15 P.M. EST
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93 mins | Curated by: PAAFF Programmers This collection of shorts have no particular theme except for the fact that they are some of this year’s PAAFF Programmers’ favorites. Enjoy!
LIVE Q&A on 11/14 at 1:15 P.M. EST
THE ROSE OF MANILA
Director: Alex Westfall | USA, Philippines | Tagalog, English, Waray | 2020 An imagined telling of the formative years of Imelda Marcos, who would become infamous for embezzling billions from the country to sustain her extravagant lifestyle. Here, the fate of a young girl and an entire nation become entangled as the absent mother of a country is born.
WINNING IN AMERICA
Director: Amrita Singh | USA | English, Hindi | 2020 Aishwarya Narayanan clashes with her immigrant coach-father and questions the meaning of success while vying for a spot at the prestigious National Spelling Bee.
Director: Sean Wang | USA | English | 2020 A young couple spends what could be their last night together.
THE WAR WITHIN
Director: Javid Farahani | Iran | Farsi | 2020 A paralyzed man who has lost his legs due to a car accident says at home, buying and selling dollars. He anticipates a war between Iran and the US, hoping the value of his dollars will soar, regardless of how many people would die in the war.
Director: Kent Donguines | Canada Filipino, English | 2020 “Kalinga” (Care) shares the stories of several Filipina caregivers and nannies in Vancouver, bearing witness to their sacrifices as they struggle to reunite with their children and families.
THE ROAD TO SOCIAL IMPACT FILMMAKING Moderated by: Oanh-Nhi Nguyen
With the rise in society’s interest in social change, film presents a unique opportunity to educate and engage. This panel will provide a space to learn about the process of creating socially impactful films from pre-production, to production, to distribution. Each of the panelists will discuss their perspectives within the film industry, provide a roadmap of ways that other filmmakers can join the social impact movement, and point to resources that filmmakers can utilize in their own filmmaking process. This program will screen LIVE on 11/14 at 2:30 P.M. EST
(she/her)is a writer, director, producer ,and activist with a particular interest in gender and racial justice. Oanh-Nhi is currently directing and executive producing a community storytelling documentary in partnership with VietLead, a youth led social justice organization. The documentary amplifies Southeast Asian resettlement stories and the impact of anti-Black policies and gentrification on communities of color in Philadelphia. Oanh-Nhi writes stories honoring Vietnamese women and immigrants. Her stories focus on the impact of intergenerational trauma and how these women actualize their dreams and to build anew.
(he/him) is an Impact Coordinator for Working Films, an organization that leverages documentary film and storytelling as a resource for social justice movements. He is from Jakarta, Indonesia and is based in Brooklyn, NY. Gerry brings a background in community organizing, blending his experience in grassroots movement building and policy advocacy. Previously, Gerry worked on issues of food justice, voting rights, and police accountability. His leadership on a number of coalitions and boards led to policies to reduce racial profiling within the carceral system and collaborative funding opportunities for equitable and just community leadership.
is a Senior Development Producer at Culture House Media, a Black, Brown, and Women-owned production company for film and television and a cultural consultancy. Culture House makes entertainment-forward work and creates opportunities for women and BIPOC creators. Jaimie is also a Senior DEI Facilitator at ReadySet. Jaimie began her career as a community organizer on economic justice campaigns, and worked on gender violence policy at the Obama White House. She served as a communications director in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she was the only female AAPI to hold the title in all congressional offices throughout her tenure.
was born and raised in NYC to Chinese immigrant parents. She is a multimedia artist, photographer, filmmaker, and activist. She holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, an MFA from Hunter College, and a One-Year Certificate from the International Center of Photography. She is a co-founder of Chinatown Art Brigade, a cultural collective using art to advance anti-gentrification organizing. She teaches video, social practice, art and activism at Pratt Institute, Hunter College, and The New School. She has over 20 years of community, media justice, and labor organizing work and sits on the boards of Third World Newsreel and Working Films and on the advisory board of More Art.
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE NARRATIVE PROGRAM
61 minutes | Comedy, Coming-of-age, Drama | Canada | English | 2020 Director: Andrew Chung CW: violence, bullying Set in 1996, White Elephant is about Pooja, an Indo-Canadian teenage girl with an innocent crush on Trevor, a local white boy who’s just like the teen heartthrobs she sees in movies and on TV. He’s also unlike the other boys in her mostly Brown and Black neighborhood. Growing up in a majority-minority neighborhood makes her efforts to pursue Trevor harrowing. As her attempts to spend time with him grow bolder, the cultural divide between their social circles grows larger. The rift ultimately becomes more hostile than she could have imagined. But this isn’t your typical forbidden love story. It’s a self-love story. LIVE Q&A on 11/14 at 6:00 P.M. EST
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE CLOSING NIGHT FILM, DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
81 minutes | Documentary | USA, Canada | English | 2021 Director: Alex Liu Like with many American youth in the 90s, Alex was taught that sex before marriage was wrong. Because he knew he was gay, these tactics worked to suppress his sexuality. Now in his 30s and out of the closet, Alex has turned fear and loathing into something positive and humorous. From neuroscience labs to church pews, A Sexplanation features provocative conversations with psychologists, sex researchers, and even a Jesuit priest. With humor and grit, Alex takes audiences on a playful, heartfelt journey from a shame-filled past to a happier, healthier future. This film will be screened in-person and available for a 24 hour rental starting on 11/14 at 7 PM. There will be a LIVE Q&A with the crew after the screening, followed by a small reception at Asian Arts Initiative.
PRE-SCREENING WITH: THƠ 8 minutes | USA | English | 2020 Director: Heather Muriel Nguyễn and Jake Villadolid Thơ ventures into romance as a Vietnamese-American panromantic asexual/ace looking for acceptance and respect.
JURIES NARRATIVE BEDATRI D. CHOUDHURY Bedatri wrote her first “culture criticism” at age 6 and fell in love with the sweet feling of seeing her name in print. She always writes from the intersections of post-colonialism, race, and gender. She has managed documentary projects at Doc Society, Working Films, The Gotham Film & Media Institute, Rada Studio, and CAAM, among others. An alumna of the NYFF Critics Academy, Sundance and SXSW Press Inclusion Initiatives, the National Critics’ Institute, and Berlinale Talents, she grew up in India and now lives in New York City. Presently, she is the Managing Editor of Documentary magazine and an Associate Programmer at DOCNYC. She loves dogs and dessert, and is also trying very hard to keep her houseplants alive. JESSE PIRES is the Director & Curator of Lightbox Film Center at University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His work delves into a wide range of moving image histories and connects them to the present moment. Pires was a fellow at the 2013 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar (Hamilton, NY), and a delegate at the 2012 Experimental Cinema Congress (Berlin) and the 2010 Experimental Media Congress (Toronto). He has curated programs for the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Slought Foundation, Vox Populi Gallery, The Fabric Workshop & Museum, Light Industry, and Union Docs. ANNE ISHII is a writer, editor and translator, who for the past ten years has worked specifically to achieve visibility and recognition for art and artists that touches on issues of gender and sexuality in the Asian diaspora. In her quest to platform more and better iterations of work from the API diaspora, Anne has worked in publishing and advertising, venture consulting and content strategy.
DOCUMENTARY SREEDEVI SRIPATHY is the Director of Production and Programming WHYY-TV, where she leads efforts to grow the impact of WHYY’s content. Previously she worked at the Independent Television Service, 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. WYNTON WONG is a storyteller across a variety of mediums including film, television, audio, and interactive. Born in Hong Kong and raised in North Carolina, she has always tied social exploration and change to storytelling. She has worked at Universal Cable Productions, The It Gets Better Project, The Outline, and other projects on set, as well as a producer. She currently works at the non-profit newsroom, The Markup, where she works on operations and produces events and other content. She was the Programming Manager at Asian Cinevision/Asian American International Film Festival for three years and has worked and screened for other festivals including AFI Fest, Austin Film Festival, Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, DOC NYC, Full Frame Film Festival, Hamptons Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and others.
JURIES LAILANIE GADIA Based in Los Angeles, CA, Lailanie Gadia is a Filipina American from Guam. She is Manager of the Asian American Documentary Network. She helped produce A-Doc’s Storytelling Initiative - 2020’s #AsianAmCovidStories and 2021’s #AsianAmResilience. She is an associate producer on Tadashi Nakamura’s doc feature, THIRD ACT. She assists with fiscal sponsorships at Visual Communications, home to the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. She has produced several narrative shorts including Dive Bar, which is airing onboard Alaska Airlines flights. She is concurrently a financial professional who values financial wellbeing. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a BA in Economics with minors in Business and Asian Studies.
SHORTS MEHRNOOSH FETRAT Mehrnoosh Fetrat is an Iranian filmmaker who has had a strong passion for literature and cinema since childhood. She received her MA in Cinema from the Tehran University of Art. In 2017, she was awarded a University Fellowship in the MFA program in Film and Media Arts at Temple University in Philadelphia. She has teaching experiences in schools such as TCNJ, Drexel, PCA&D and Temple. She has written, produced and directed three short films “War Game”, “America”, and “Copsi” which have been screened in more than fifty film festivals and galleries. She founded the Utopia Film Club which provides a place for all cinephiles to watch and discuss Avant-garde and alternative cinema. JO SAEN RONQUILLO Born in Manila, Philippines and raised in Los Angeles, Jo Saen Hernandez Ronquillo (they/them) is a film editor, photographer, and artist. Thrugh the inspiration of their grassroots community organizing work, Jo Saen seeks to uplift the vivid and impactful stories of immigrant communities and works to educate people through storytelling & the arts. Jo Saen is a member and co-leader of the undocumented filmmakers collective, a collective that tackles the systemic inequities that undocumented immigrants face in the field of filmmaking, by centering the expertise of undocumented people not only as sources of stories but more importantly as creators, artists, and primary audiences. ANNA ZENG is a Boston-based visual artist that has been a part of the Boston Asian American Film Festival’s programming team since 2016 and currently serves as BAAFF’s Programming Director. In addition to designing BAAFF’s ‘Rising Together’ wave logo, she has worked on a variety of projects as an illustrator and designer, including apparel and accessories, websites, emojis, children’s books, and concept art. Anna passionately believes in the limitless power of art and stoytelling as a tool for greater social change.
THANK YOUS Comcast APA Cheryl Hirasa Roann Gatdula Leanne Ferrer Pacific Islanders in Communications PA Dept of Drug & Alcohol Programs PECO GP Asian Studies Consortium Hepatitis B Foundation Independence Public Media Foundation Philadelphia Cultural Fund PA Council on the Arts Music of Asian American Research Center 1882 Foundation Dave Kyu Anne Ishii Rodney Camarce Asian Arts Initiative Cat Ramirez Joseph Ahmed Chantal Vorobei Thieves Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists InterAct Theatre Sarun Chan Jenna Lam Cambodian Association of GP Sarun Chan Jenna Lam Lanica Angpak
CAGE Catzie Vilayphonh Laos in the House Kim Andrews Japan America Society of GP Japanese American Citizens League Kimiko Marr Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages JACL Philadelphia Chapter Sreedevi Sripathy WHYY Matthew Wong Noel Ramirez Quynh-Mai Nguyen Philly Asian and Queer Diana Lu Hotpot! Philly We Are The Seeds National Federation of Filipino American Associations Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival Rana Fayez YallaPunk Nancy Nguyen VietLead 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
THANK YOUS Rommel Rivera Andy Toy SEAMAAC 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 Nasha Taylor Laura Deutch PhillyCAM Kris Mendoza Lexi Morrison Maestro Filmworks John Chin Yue Wu Lamei Zhang PCDC Harry Leong Philadelphia Suns RAAWC Anderson Le Masashi Niwano Stephen Gong Center for Asian American Media Francis Cullado
Eseel Borlasa 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 Sara Zia Ebrahimi 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 Atif Sheikh Aisha Khan Twelve Gates Arts Claire Nguyen Fariha Khan University of Pennsylvania Asian American Studies Program Jeannie Wong Queen & Rook Cafe Set Hernandez Rongkilyo Jo Saen Rongkilyo Rahi Hasan Undocumented Filmmakers Collective Glenn Hing Rahat Babar Vanessa Julye Jae Ermer Talia Dunyak Gene Brumbach Laura Nikkel Esther Hio Tong Castillo Yuji Okumoto PAAFF Staff Volunteers PAAFF Festival Volunteers PAAFF Advisory Board
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Full details for the 14th annual festival program taking place November 4-14, 2021