OUR TICK ETS
AT P AAF F.OR G BU Y YO UR T ICKE TS
T ICKE T S AT R U O Y BUY
KETS C I T OUR Y Y G BU R O . F AAF
BUY G R FF.O A A P AT
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAA Staff Credits ............................................................................................. 5 FFSponsors .ORG & Community Partners ....................................................6-7
Letters from the Festival Directors ................................................ 8-9 Content Policy ........................................................................................10 Special Showcases ................................................................................11 Live Program Schedule ..................................................................12-13 Opening Weekend ..........................................................................14-21 Opening Night: Above and Below the Ground ............................14 Centerpiece Film: Peafowl .................................................................15 The Fight for Our Communities: Stories from Save Chinatown and Save UC Townhomes ...........15 Closing Weekend ......................................................................... 26-30 cinéSPEAK In-Process Salon: Anula Shetty ................................ 24 Restoration Screening: The Fall of the I-Hotel ............................30 Closing Night: Photographic Justice: The Corky Lee Story ......31 Rental Features & Shorts Programs ........................................32-59
.O Film Juries ........................................................................................ 60-61 AAFF TP
Thank Yous ..................................................................................... 62-63 ETS A
TICK R U O YY
PAAFF 2023 STAFF Did you know that PAAFF is a volunteer-run festival? 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!
Joseph Carranza Festival Co-Director Arzhang Zafar Festival Co-Director David Tanh Programming Coordinator Eireann Mannino Volunteer Coordinator Vivian Nhan Volunteer Coordinator Darian Ehya Art Director PROGRAMMERS Klyde Breitton Sunny Huang Shivon Love Nova Meng Chetana R. Narasimha Jois Phoebe Schaub Brittney Scurry Chen-Yi Wu Selena Yip SCREENING COMMITTEE Klyde Breitton Anyun Chatterjee Irene Chien Clarisse Chua Kelly Conrad Frances Conwell Vinh Dang Aiko Hamamoto Caren Hosansky
Eric Hung James Kawano Emai Lai Wren Lee Lillian Li Shivon Love Larissa Lucas Nova Meng Anna Migliaccio Chetana R. Narasimha Jois Sharon Pearson Riq Rafi Phoebe Schaub Brittney Scurry Jack Tan Macey Tanseco Don Thomases Mamta Travedi Chen-Yi Wu Emilie Xie
FESTIVAL TRAILER Maestro Filmworks BOARD Kris Mendoza (Board Chair) Tricia Coonrad Art Gimenez Amy Karpf Peggy Kelly Sreedevi Sripathy Dyana Wing So Winnie Wong
Meet our new board at paaff.org/our-board!
LIVE EVENT PROGRAMMERS Sarah Mueller Selena Yip MARKETING Kathy Chung Festival Artwork Graphic Designer Abby Obfenda Graphic Designer Darian Ehya Program Layout & Social Media Coordinator Jacqui Sadashige Social Media Coordinator & Copy Editor
SPONSORS Presenting Sponsor
LETTERS FROM THE FESTIVAL DIRECTORS Welcome to the 16th Annual Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival! To me, a film festival is a sacred space - there is nothing like it in the world. The awe that comes upon me when I step into a theater brings me so much thrill and excitement. To direct a film festival is something that I never dreamt would be a part of my life’s story. I’ve centered my life and career around contributing to making the world a better place by creating work spaces that thrive off of teamwork, gathering creatives to work on projects that have meaning, planning large scale events that make an impact on our culture and society, and providing a storytelling platform for our society’s underdogs. To come into the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival in its 16th year is one of the most pleasant surprises that life has presented to me thus far. Being Filipino American is something that I have grown to cherish more and more the older I become. The films that, together with our amazing programming team, we have selected this year illuminate parts of my own life that I never knew existed. The stories of resilience remind me of my immigrant grandparents who moved to America at a point in history where they had no examples to glean from. The
stories of love remind me of my parents who, as first generation Asian American citizens, had to find ways to honor the heart of their culture while forging a new way to live. The stories of levity in the midst of hardship remind me of my younger brothers, who always know how to make me laugh even in life’s hardest moments. I am thankful to our filmmakers who have submitted such brave, thoughtful, and compelling stories this season. I am a better person because of these films. I am also thankful to our entire team who are the real heart and soul of our organization. Arzhang, with whom I have the honor of co-directing this festival with, has taught me the art of programming with exquisite taste; thank you for journeying with me through this new chapter of my career and in this new season in the history of Philadelphia American Film Festival. Last, but certainly not least, thank you to every person who has purchased a ticket to our program this year! I truly believe that the best days of Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival are ahead of us and you are one of the main reasons why our future is so bright. I am committed to keeping our vision and mission alive while bringing the joy of cinema to our beautiful community. Joseph Carranza Festival Co-Director
The identity of a film festival is ever-changing, just as artists shift their focus across different subjects and media, just as communities become engrossed in issues and struggles when the need arises, and just as individuals evolve and grow over lifetimes. A film festival is a conduit for information and vision and experience. It is, in essence, a platform; and the identity of a platform wholly depends on who it serves. The city of Philadelphia has been my home for six years. In 2017, I was floating through life without any real idea of what I wanted to do but make it from one day to the next, and Philly seemed as good a place as any to be. I spent my time working odd jobs, writing, and noncommittally dipping my toe into various community organizations. About six months into my time here, an old friend told me the local Asian film festival was looking for volunteers to help with programming. On a whim, I stopped by one of their monthly meetings… My parents were born in Iran in the years following a U.S.-engineered coup d’etat and came of age in the years preceding revolution. As a result, I have always had a complicated relationship with that country, as well as the country of my own birth and the diaspora to which I belong. In 2020, in the earliest stages of what would become a global pandemic, the United States was once again at the brink of conflict with Iran. As PAAFF’s new programming director, I saw the opportunity to provide a platform to Iranian filmmakers who, under the yoke of cruel economic sanctions, were struggling to find an international audience. Then the world shut down, and we were forced to reimagine what our festival would look like in the age of COVID…
I am someone of many intersecting identities and experiences. Naturally, I’m of the belief that an “Asian American” film festival must represent the full spectrum of what that label means, including the ways Asians in both diaspora and their countries of origin interact with the world at large in all its complexity and contradiction. In late 2022, it became apparent that PAAFF was once again going to see a turnover in leadership, and I was encouraged to apply for the job of festival director. For my part, I was excited to focus on the core of the festival: as a platform, serving filmmakers and artists of almost innumerable identities whose work is capable of expanding the worldview and imagination of audiences; and serving those who have historically been without voice, whose work has remained unseen…` I don’t mean to assert my own importance. The theme of this year’s festival is “lost and found” and I would be lost without the many people who made and still make PAAFF possible. I have to give special mention, of course, to my predecessor, Selena Yip, who shepherded our organization through its most uncertain years and continues to provide me with invaluable advice and guidance; and to my co-director, Joseph Carranza; to our marketing and design team; our volunteers and volunteer coordinators; our programmers; and so on, and so forth… The identity of PAAFF is ever-changing. It will continue to change, and hopefully grow, this year and for many years to come. I thank you for staying with us on our long journey, and for joining us in this new chapter. While I’m here, I’ll do my best to make it worthwhile. Arzhang Zafar Festival Co-Director
FESTIVAL INFORMATION PAAFF CONTENT POLICY As we at PAAFF endeavor to showcase the 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 a film’s specific content and themes. While we have included some content warnings with the descriptions in this program book, please understand that we are not capable of identifying all content that could be considered especially upsetting or triggering. For this reason, if you have concerns, we ask that you please supplement our film descriptions with your own research before purchasing tickets or attending a screening. We recommend watching the linked trailers, reading any online reviews, and visiting a film’s website where possible. Please feel free to contact us at PAAFF with any questions. We thank you for your support and understanding. IN-PERSON EVENTS In-person events will be held at:: Asian Arts Initiative 1219 Vine Street (Chinatown) Philadelphia, PA 19107
• Primary language spoken by festival staff is English.
Chinese Christian Church & Center 1101 Vine St (Chinatown) Philadelphia, PA 19107 ONLINE ACCESS Films are accessible online through rentals. Once you begin watching a program, you will have 24 hours to complete it. For more information about supported browsers, availability, and geoblocking, please consult our ticketing website. PUBLIC SAFETY PROTOCOLS In order to address ongoing public safety concerns to provide an equitable and accessible community space, PAAFF will enforce the following protocols during in-person, indoor events:
• Masking is required at all times. If eating
or drinking during catered events, masks may be removed only while the food and drink is being consumed. There will be no eating or drinking in the theater or prior to the catered reception.
• At CCCnC, masking is required at all times. • Cloth masks and non-medical-grade masks are not effective and do not count as adequate protection. If you do not have an appropriate mask, one will be provided for you.
What to expect: • Film programs and installations will be held in the blackbox theater and adjoining box office area.
Anyone who does not abide by these protocols will be asked to leave and will not be issued a refund.
More public safety information can be found on our ticketing website.
• The building’s front entrance has an ADA • Genderless bathrooms are located on the first floor.
• First floor windows do not open. If you
need fresh air, please exit the building.
The Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival stands in solidarity with the WGA, SAG-AFTRA, and all workers demanding fair pay and safe working conditions globally.
• Festival staff, venue staff, and event
volunteers are available if assistance is needed.
PAAFF.ORG PAAFF 2023
CREATIVE DISCUSSIONS Throughout its history, PAAFF has provided a platform not only for Asian artists and filmmakers, but also writers, critics, academics, and activists who bring valuable insight to topics relevant to our audience and touched upon in the films we curate. As part of our ongoing series of panels and conversations, we have invited new guests to speak on their approaches to craft, the intersections of documentary filmmaking and activism, and the ongoing effort to protect historical, diaspora, and working class communities. Each panelist will bring their own diverse perspective, deepening our understanding of the film industry, the power of art and media, and more.
PACIFIC SHOWCASE Every year, PAAFF presents a Pacific Showcase with the specific goal of celebrating indigenous artists with roots in the Pacific. We aim to do our part to uplift indigenous art and artists, and advocate for education of indigenous histories and the struggle for sovereignty and self-determination, in the Greater Philadelphia Area and beyond.
2023 LIVE PROG THURSDAY NOVEMBER 2
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 5
Opening Night Film
ABOVE THE CLOUDS Asian Arts Initiative 2–4:30 PM
ABOVE AND BELOW THE GROUND Asian Arts Initiative 6:30–9 PM
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 3
PEAFOWL Asian Arts Initiative 7–9 PM
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 4 NO RULE IS OUR RULE Asian Arts Initiative 4–6 PM
Screening & Panel Discussion
COMING AROUND Asian Arts Initiative 7–9:30 PM
MONDAY NOVEMBER 6 UNSEEN Asian Arts Initiative 6:30–8:30 PM
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 8 THE GRIZZLIE TRUTH Asian Arts Initiative 6–8:30 PM
THE FIGHT FOR OUR COMMUNITIES Chinese Christian Church & Center 7–9 PM
GRAM SCHEDULE THURSDAY NOVEMBER 6
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 12
CONTEMPORARY VIDEO ART EXHIBITION Twelve Gates Arts 2–4 PM
CINÉSPEAK IN-PROCESS SALON: ANULA SHETTY Asian Arts Initiative 5:30–6:45 PM YAOBIKUNI’S LOVE Asian Arts Initiative 7–8:30 PM
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 10 THE FALL OF THE I-HOTEL Asian Arts Initiative 7–8:30 PM
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 11 CONTEMPORARY VIDEO ART EXHIBITION Twelve Gates Arts 2–4 PM
Closing Night Film
PHOTOGRAPHIC JUSTICE: THE CORKY LEE STORY Asian Arts Initiative 7–9:30 PM
Buy your tickets at PAAFF.org Don’t miss the prerecorded filmmaker Q&As following each shorts program!
PUNCH DRUNK Asian Arts Initiative 7–9:30 PM
IN-PERSON OPENING NIGHT FILM, DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
ABOVE AND BELOW THE GROUND
84 minutes | Documentary | USA | Kachin, Burmese, English | 2022 IN-PERSON: November 2 | 6:30–9:00 PM | Asian Arts Initiative Director: Emily Hong Above and Below the Ground tells the story of Indigenous punk rock pastors in Myanmar who team up with women activists to protect a sacred river from a Chinese-built megadam. From Aung San Suu Kyi’s broken election promises to a military coup threatening their homeland, activists and musicians fight back the best way they know how – through protest, prayer, and Karaoke music videos. This film will be screened in-person only. There will be a Q&A after the screening.
TAKING ROOT: SOUTHEAST ASIAN STORIES OF RESETTLEMENT IN PHILADELPHIA (EPISODE 1) 25 minutes | Documentary | USA | English | 2023 Director: Oanh-Nhi Nguyen “Taking Root” amplifies the stories of Southeast Asians who resettled in Philadelphia after the American War in Vietnam. It highlights the intergenerational impact of structural violence and demonstrates the power of Southeast Asians in resisting and rebuilding in America.
IN-PERSON CENTERPIECE FILM, NARRATIVE PROGRAM
114 minutes | Drama | Korea, Republic of | Korean | 2022 IN-PERSON: November 3 | 7:00–9:00 PM | Asian Arts Initiative Director: Sungbin Byun There still might be hope in this town where I was born and denied. Myung is a trans woman who has cut ties with her family and hometown because of who she is. Now it seems that all she needs is surgery, but the only way to earn enough money is by winning the Waacking dance competition. One day she receives a call that her father passed away and she will gain his legacy if she performs the Drum Dance at his memorial. With no choice left, Myung returns to her hometown to perform according to her father’s will. This film will be screened in-person only. Q&A details available at paaff.org.
HOUSE OF ENIGMA 11 minutes | Documentary | USA | English | 2023 Directors: Slade Warnken & Ying Dai “House of Enigma” is a 10 minute short film exploring gender on an international scale. Using both genderand artistic-expression, two artists on opposite sides of the world explore what it means to exist as an enigma, something that can never be defined, only expressed.
NO RULE IS OUR RULE
73 minutes | Documentary | USA/Japan/China | 2023 IN-PERSON: November 4 | 4:00–6:00 PM | Asian Arts Initiative Directors: Wen Hui, Eiko Otake, and Yiru Chen No Rule Is Our Rule is a story of friendship between two independent female artists and the body memories each willingly carries. In January 2020, New York-based, interdisciplinary performing artist Eiko Otake arrived in Beijing to visit Wen Hui, a Chinese choreographer and filmmaker. Eight years apart, Eiko grew up in postwar Japan and Wen during the Cultural Revolution. They planned to visit each other for a month to converse and collaborate. COVID-19 abruptly cut off Eiko’s visit, and the pandemic made Wen’s visit to the USA impossible but not the collaboration. Looking back on the video diaries they shot, Eiko and Wen continue their dialogue on Zoom, sharing past works that form a deeper understanding of their circumstantial differences and characteristic similarities. The screening will be followed by a conversation between Eiko Otake and Merián Soto, a Puerto Rican dancer, choreographer, video, and improvisation artist. This is an Asian Arts Initiative event, co-presented by PAAFF. Tickets available at asianartsinitiative.com.
LIVE PANEL DISCUSSION & SHORTS SCREENING
THE FIGHT FOR OUR COMMUNITIES: STORIES FROM SAVE CHINATOWN AND SAVE UC TOWNHOMES IN-PERSON: November 4 | 7:00–9:00 PM Chinese Christian Church & Center
Between the 1940s-1970s, cities across the United States entered a period of urban renewal, an attempt by local and federal governments to revitalize cities by rehabilitating “blighted” neighborhoods. Initially focused on improving housing, the urban renewal laws later expanded to include commercial and institutional developments and large-scale projects. In Philadelphia, it is estimated that more than two thirds of those displaced by such projects were people of color. We will screen three films that feature stories from Chinatown and West Philadelphia. After the screening, panelists will speak about their experiences as activists and highlight the importance of solidarity across communities. FILMS
Director: Jon Wing Lum | USA | English | 1973 This film was made by the Chinese community in Philadelphia to document and aid in the effort to halt the Vine Street Expressway development project from cutting through Chinatown and demolishing the Holy Redeemer Chinese Catholic Church and School.
BLACK JOURNAL: EPISODE 4
Director: Marvin Schlenker | USA | English | 1968 Episode 4 examines the misuse of urban renewal and eminent domain by universities in the process of their expansion. Community leaders, affected slum dwellers, and representatives of the University of Pennsylvania and University of Chicago are interviewed.
SAVE UC TOWNHOMES (WIP)
Director: Keyssh | USA | English | 2023 This film documents the journey of residents of the public housing complex, UC Townhomes, and their fights against the University of Pennsylvania as they try to save their homes after they are served eviction papers. The film is not yet complete.
(she/her) is a neighborhood planner at the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC), where she helps manage the organization’s community planning and development projects. Before working at PCDC, she worked primarily in public health settings focused on addressing racial health inequities. She has a BA in Anthropology from Stanford University and a MS in City Design and Social Science from the London School of Economics.
(he/him)is a lifelong advocate for Asian community empowerment. He is currently the Civic Engagement Coordinator at Asian Americans United where he runs the Chinatown Vote project. Wei is the co-founder of the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance, the first-ever 501c4 political organization directly advocating for the needs of Asian Pacific Islanders in Pennsylvania. He serves as the Vice-chair of the board of Victim Witness Services of South Philadelphia and the Chairperson of Governor’s Advisory Commission on AAPI Affairs.
(she/her) is a born and raised Philadelphian and a member of the UC Townhomes Resident Council. She lived at the Townhomes for 29 years. There, she raised 3 children who are all grown up and doing well. In addition to being a fierce advocate against displacement, Ms. Darlene is also a veteran, and a beloved grandmother and neighbor.
(they/she) is an artist and community organizer based in West Philadelphia. They are the former Executive Director of PAAFF and lead the festival for 5 years. They are a bookseller and founder of Book Harvest, a bookstore pop-up specializing in Asian and Pacific Islander stories. In their free time, they are usually doing some kind of DIY home project or rescuing cats.
(she/her) has been a resident at UC Townhomes for 4 1/2 years. Alongside her fellow resident council members, she has fought against Altman and other city and state officials to preserve 20% of the townhomes. Krystal’s goals are to finish her time at CCP and achieve a degree in nursing or mental health. She loves to sing at the top of her lungs and dance around the house like no other. PAAFF.ORG
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
ABOVE THE CLOUDS
90 minutes | Romantic Comedy/Drama | USA | English | 2022 IN-PERSON: November 5 | 2:00–4:30 PM | Asian Arts Initiative Directors: Jon Hill Two Asian American strangers bond over a lost dog, an old cassette tape, and an unforgettable day while helping each other learn that there’s no such thing as bad days, just tough ones.
This film will be screened in-person and is available for online rental. Q&A details available at paaff.org.
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
75 minutes | Documentary | USA | English, Arabic | 2023 IN-PERSON: November 5 | 7:00–9:00 PM | Asian Arts Initiative Director: Sandra Itäinen A queer Muslim woman grapples with the decision to come out to her devout, psychiatrist mother and ends up marrying her male partner to evade her mother’s silent disapproval. This film will be screened in-person only. Q&A details available at paaff.org.
US PREMIERE DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
88 minutes | Documentary | USA | English, Spanish | 2023 IN-PERSON: November 6 | 6:30–8:00 PM | Asian Arts Initiative Director: Set Hernandez Most people dream of a better future. Pedro, an aspiring social worker, is no different. But as a blind, undocumented immigrant, Pedro faces political restrictions to obtain his college degree, secure a job as a healthcare provider, and support his family. Uncertainty looms over Pedro as he graduates. What starts as a journey to provide mental health for his community ultimately transforms into a path towards Pedro’s own healing. Through experimental cinematography and sound, Unseen reimagines a cinema accessible to blind/low vision audiences while exploring the intersections of immigration, disability, and mental health.
This film will be screened in-person and is available for online rental. Q&A details available at paaff.org.
THE GRIZZLIE TRUTH
99 minutes | Documentary | Canada | English | 2022 IN-PERSON: November 8 | 6:00–8:30 PM | Asian Arts Initiative Director: Kathleen S. Jayme Award-winning filmmaker and super fan Kat Jayme sets out to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of her beloved hometown NBA team in hopes of bringing them back. In her obsessive quest to find out what really happened to the team and its cult fandom, she unravels the mystery that’s haunted the NBA’s Vancouver Grizzlies fans for 20 years. The Grizzlie Truth is a “true-crime” style story exploring the deep roots of fandom and an irreverent expose of the wild business of professional sports. This film will be screened in-person only. Q&A details available at paaff.org.
CINÉSPEAK IN-PROCESS SALON: ANULA SHETTY
IN-PERSON: November 9 | 5:30–6:45 PM | Asian Arts Initiative
Join cinéSPEAK for an intimate communing with award winning filmmaker and new media artist, Anula Shetty. This event will feature select excerpts of Shetty’s recent cinematic works. Shetty will be in conversation with multidisciplinary artist, Sophie Lee. Light refreshments to be served.
(she/her) is an award-winning filmmaker and new media artist. She is currently an artist in residence at SEPTA, as part of Public Works, a program of Forman Arts Initiative and Mural Arts. She is a recipient of a Pew Fellowship and a Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) Fellowship. She was previously awarded three Media Arts Fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and nominated for a USA Artist Fellowship. She received a Project Involve Fellowship, two Independence Foundation Fellowships and a Leeway Foundation Transformation Award for her art and social change work. Anula received her MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University and serves on the board of the Alliance for Media Arts and Culture. She is a proud member of A-Doc, Brown Girls Doc Mafia and a co-director of the artist run video collective Termite TV.
(she/her) is a multidisciplinary designer, illustrator, and musician interested in marginalized histories, collective storytelling, and urban design. Inspired by Korean folk arts and cultural history, her latest project is Anchovy Studio, an independent apparel brand that weaves stories of diasporic community and visions of past-present-future through gender expansive clothing design and illustrated zines.
EAST COAST PREMIERE NARRATIVE PROGRAM
58 minutes | Comedy/Horror | Japan | Japanese | 2022 IN-PERSON: November 9 | 7:00–8:30 PM | Asian Arts Initiative Director: Kantarou Miura A woman who has become immortal from eating a mermaid is known as a Yaobikuni. When Miike starts spending time with and interviewing three modern day Yaobikuni women, those involved gradually start to disappear.
CW: violence This film will be screened in-person and is available for online rental. Q&A details available at paaff.org.
GOOSE QUEST 17 minutes | Animation | Singapore | English | 2022 Directors: Clarisse Chua When Goosie’s hamster, Nibbles, dies, the young goose will go on a quest to find the restart button.
RESTORATION SCREENING: THE FALL OF THE I-HOTEL
60 minutes | Documentary | USA | English, Tagalog | 1983 IN-PERSON: November 10 | 7:00–8:30 PM | Asian Arts Initiative
Director: Curtis Choy After a decade of spirited resistance to the razing of Manilatown, the battle for housing in San Francisco ends in the brutal eviction of the elderly tenants of the International Hotel. The Fall of the I-Hotel serves as the witness to the community’s fight to survive, and as a tribute to the dignity and strength of the “Manongs,” or elderly tenants of the hotel. This is a restored and optimized version of the iconic documentary by Curtis Choy. The Manilatown Heritage Foundation restored the 16mm print in collaboration with the UCLA Asian American Studies Archive. Restoration, optimization and a 4K digitization of the most pristine 16mm copy of the film was completed by FotoKem so that the best possible format could be preserved and viewed by the public. This film will be screened in-person and is available for online rental. There will be a Q&A with the restorers after the in-person screening.
100 minutes | Comedy | Iran | Farsi | 2022 IN-PERSON: November 11 | 7:00–9:30 PM | Asian Arts Initiative Director: Adel Tabrizi A nostalgic drama-meets-comedy sports action narrative set in Iran 30 years ago. It’s 1996. Mahtab lives in Tehran along with her 10-year-old child, Erfan. Her husband Morteza is in jail, and she enrolls Erfan in a karate class so that he does not end up like his father. Erfan’s only interest is cinema, however, and he couldn’t care less about sports. Hassan Khoshnood is the tough and serious karate instructor whose dictator-type methods cause Erfan to run away from the karate academy. This film will be screened in-person only. There will be a Q&A with cast and crew members after the screening.
CONTEMPORARY VIDEO ART EXHIBITION PRESENTED BY TWELVE GATES ARTS AND PAAFF 60 mins | Curated by: Atif Sheikh, Mehrin Masud-Elias, Sarah Trad, Sonali Gulati, Hania Cheema, Krishang Nair, and Arzhang Zafar IN-PERSON: November 11 & 12 | 2:00–4:00 PM | Twelve Gates Arts
THE DREAM THAT I OFTEN SEE BUT CAN’T REMEMBER
Director: Shwarga Bhattacharjee | Bangladesh | 2022 A drawing-based animation that deals with South Asian post-colonialism and history and the identity of the artist dealing with these ideas.
Director: Dinesh Das Sabu | USA | English | 2023 A short experimental film made from material from the 1937 film Elephant Boy, co-directed by Roberty Flaherty and starred the 13 year-old Indian actor known as “Sabu” in his first role. The film is an attempt to liberate Sabu and deconstruct the innate Orientalism of the original film.
Director: Labkhand Olfatmanesh | USA | English | 2023 This film is part of “Blooming in the Whirlwind” – an experiment in collaboration co-created, produced and supported by Level Ground. “Blooming in the Whirlwind” features a lineup of nine short films each inspired by a different poem. “Post Cyclone” is based on the poem “Cyclone” by Madeleine St John.
Director: Chantal Partamiani | Lebanon | 2023 Beirut 1980s. In the midst of the rubble of a torn building, a reel of film. An unlikely unraveling of queer bodies taking shape and form, while the war-torn city around and its spectacle of toxic masculinity glitches and disintegrates.
VESSELS OF ANGER
Director: Sāgar Kāmath | USA | 2022 An exploration of the relationship between climate change, anger, dance, and shifting identities.
Director: Safwat Saleem | USA | English, Urdu | 2023 A father and a daughter converse about the meaning of words. What starts off as a simple Urdu lesson for a 5-year-old reveals something deeper, hinting at themes of cultural loss, immigrant life, and the father’s longing to belong.
11 & 12 2:00 PM
Director: Samir T. Radwan | Egypt | English | 2023 A life of a man who has passed away but whose voice lives on through letters he wrote about significant times in his life. Through the combination of footage and personal reflections, we gain a deeper understanding of the profound impact that the war had on his life, thoughts, and relationships.
THE LANDMARKS OF MEMORY
Director: Christina Hajjar | Canada | Arabic, English | 2023 A tattoo ritual and hookah session memorializes a prewar florist. After seeing its storefront in archival footage of the Lebanese Civil War, a first-generation daughter seeks information and connection to place. Scenes of 1976 Beirut are paired with today’s developed landscape.
THEN CAME DARK
Director: Marie-Rose Osta | Lebanon | Arabic | 2021 A mist emerges, a howling wind kicks in and the forest turns dark. Two men pull out a tree and drag it like a dead body. In a forest in the mountains of Lebanon, where the unspoken pact of balance between the villagers and the forces of nature breaks, legend has it that revenge is bound to happen.
A PLACE THAT TIME FORGOT
Director: Natali Khlili Tari | United Kingdom | English | 2023 A small house. Dilapidated and seemingly empty, her walls have born witness to industrialisation, the creation of nation states, conflict, mass migration, both man and nature’s own will, and destruction. Once the center of community, of family, she now sits forgotten, a frozen relic of a time.
Director: Abdul Hadi | Pakistan | 2023 My work explores everyday objects in a contentious context. The chappal (shoe) becomes a symbol of the proletariat; chairs are a political metaphor for power and corruption. Through the juxtaposition of these objects in lower Punjab landscapes I create surreal animated imagery. PAAFF.ORG
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE IN-PERSON CLOSING NIGHT FILM DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM
PHOTOGRAPHIC JUSTICE: THE CORKY LEE STORY
87 minutes | Documentary | USA | English | 2022 IN-PERSON: November 12 | 6:30–9:00 PM | Asian Arts Initiative Directors: Jennifer Takaki For 50 years, Chinese American photographer Corky Lee tirelessly documented Asian Pacific Americans and kept a relentless record of their everyday lives, celebrations, and struggles. He was everywhere in the New York City community and beyond – wielding his camera “like a sword to combat injustice.” Yet few really knew the man behind the lens. Director Jennifer Takaki’s intimate portrait reveals the triumphs and tragedies of the man who produced a vast collection of close to a million compelling photographs, which will forever tell the Asian Pacific American story for generations to come and transform the way America sees itself. CW: images of real violence This film will be screened in-person only. Q&A details available at paaff.org.
Proud Media Partner of the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival Watch or stream WHYY-TV 12 for world-class documentaries, gripping dramas, cooking, science, nature shows and so much more. Listen or stream WHYY-FM 90.9 for trustworthy news and information. Martin Yan Yan Can Cook
PBS Nature Amna Nawaz PBS NewsHour
Cherri Gregg & Avi Wolfman-Arent Studio 2
Shirley Min You Oughta Know
Christiane Amanpour Amanpour and Company
Think you know? Think again. Watch or listen live | Stream anytime WHYY-TV 12 | WHYY-FM 90.9 | whyy.org | WHYY APP
TAL N E R LINE
F.OR F A A AT P
PAA FF.O RG W ATCH
n e R PAAFF 2023
TCH O A 32 W F.ORG
PAA FF.O RG W ATCH
s l a nt
Don’t miss th prerecorded e filmmaker Q following eac &As shorts prograh m!
TAL N E R E ONLIN PAAFF.ORG
TCH A W RG O . F F A AT PA
ENT R E N ONLI
89 minutes | Drama | Kazakhstan | Russian | 2023 Director: Abdel Fiftybayev A gripping coming-of-age film that follows a group of teenagers as they navigate the challenges of growing up and chasing their dreams in a tough world. As they navigate the complexities of adolescence, the boys find themselves confronted with a variety of obstacles, from family problems and peer pressure to poverty and violence. Some turn to music as a means of expression, others are tempted by the allure of fast money and easy thrills, flirting with a life of crime. But no matter what path they choose, they are united by a deep-seated desire to succeed and find their place in the world. CW: violence, sexual violence This film is available for online rental only.
THE FOREST OF MISS TANG
40 minutes | Animation | France | Min Nan | 2022 Director: Denis Do To leave or to stay? Director Denis Do takes us on an existential quest through the generations of a single family, shaken by 200 years of history in China. This film is available for online rental only.
IMUGI 4 minutes | USA | Korean | 2023 Directors: George Park Studying under a renowned painter, Bi-Hyun refuses to stop painting the mythical creature, Imugi, despite her teacher’s harsh criticisms.
BELIEFS, CHOICES: NATIVE HAWAIIAN & PACIFIC ISLANDER SHORTS 60 mins | Curated by: Sunny Huang
“[My] film’s structure adopts Polynesian perceptions of non-linear time, where past, present and future intertwine. The past coexists with our present and future.” –Karin Williams This quote could frame this year’s Pacific Shorts Showcase. These award-winning shorts from filmmakers across the Pacific and time examine the choices we make and the powers we unlock across various axes of life when we believe, whether through religion and spirituality, or self and community, or grace and redemption. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
BURNING OF THE GODS
Director: Karin Williams | New Zealand/Cook Islands English | 2022 With his island at risk from industrial tourism and environmental degradation, a boy travels back in time to reconnect with his ancestors.
Director: Veialu Aila-Unsworth | USA/Papua New Guinea | English, Tok Pisin | 2023 Raya loves makeup but her family does not. She’s torn between her secret dream of being a makeup artist and her family’s strict religious beliefs. In a nightmare, she receives a profound message from her Papua New Guinean ancestor who encourages her to look at her Indigenous culture for answers.
HE KARU, HE TARINGA
Director: Tahuaroa Ohia | New Zealand | English, Maori | 2022 A story about how a takiwātanga (autistic) child sees and hears the world.
TRENTON: TO THE MOON & BACK
Director: Josh Leong | USA/Solomon Islands English, Pidgin | 2022 Two indigenous brothers from the Solomon Islands escape a cult posing as a leadership training organization and find refuge in a small conservative town in rural Georgia.
Directors: Daniel Sousa, Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson USA | 2023 A valiant island warrior, wounded in battle against foreign invaders, falls deep into a mysterious underwater world. Everything changes when the octopus who rescues him transforms into a handsome young man.
80 mins | Curated by: Brittney Scurry
Inside jokes connect us to the people we love the most, even if they may sometimes cause us to laugh when we shouldn’t. By tackling topics such as caring for an aging loved one, intergenerational culture clash, and the myriad emotions brought on by spending time in our own heads, these films invite you to find humor within the ebb and flow of life. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
SINGING IN THE LIFEBOAT
Director: Grace Wijaya | United States | English | 2023 Jin seeks solace in the woods of Pennsylvania amidst the Covid pandemic. Surrounded only by trees, her thoughts become increasingly fraught with desperation and danger.
ERIE COUNTY SMILE
Directors: Van Tran Nguyen & Alex Derwick | USA English, Vietnamese | 2022 “Erie County Smile” is a parody of Paris By Night (PBN), a popular Vietnamese-language variety show that is still in production. We always had PBN in the VHS player of my family’s nail salon. This film is dedicated to children of immigrants, who grew up behind doors labeled “EMPLOYEES ONLY.”
Director: Hang Luong Nguyen | Vietnam Vietnamese, English | 2022 While preparing for her husband’s second death anniversary, a middle-aged, Vietnamese immigrant woman and her Americanized adult daughter butt heads over how best to honor him and inadvertently drag a handsome stranger at the local Asian market into their messy family dynamic.
Director: Jinsui Song | USA | English, Mandarin, Cantonese | 2022 Some tequila, a little OJ, and a splash of grenadine. Is that too much to ask for? Jia doesn’t think so. At 70 years old, she deserves a break! But when the toll of looking after her dementia-ridden husband gets too heavy, she starts imagining other creative solutions so she can finally relax.
SILVER MAVERICKS: WOMEN IN MOTION 70 mins | Curated by: Chen-Yi Wu
This documentary collection illuminates the lives of spirited women in their sixties. Transcending traditional roles such as mothers or housewives, these remarkable individuals reshaped the stereotypical narrative about Asian womanhood. Celebrate these trailblazers, whose accomplishments in the realms of law, science, and community building continue to influence and uplift us today. Witness as their quests for selfdiscovery and empowerment inspire Asian women across generations to embrace their uniqueness, challenge norms, and forge their own paths. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
Director: Jireh Deng | USA | English | 2022 Mia Yamamoto has seen it all. She was born in an incarceration camp during World War II. At age 60 she came out as transgender after a 20-year career as a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. At age 78, Mia shows no signs of slowing down. Follow her mission to rally communities of color around issues of racism and bring visibility to the LGBTQ community.
SHE MARCHES IN CHINATOWN
Director: Della Chen | USA | English | 2023 In 1952, Asian American girls had no extra-curricular activities until Ruby Chow created the Seattle Chinese Community Girls Drill Team, the only one of its kind in the world. Despite gentrification, Title IX, and a global pandemic, the drill team continues to define, represent, and celebrate the evolving Asian American experience of its multigenerational participants.
BETWEEN EARTH & SKY
Director: Andrew Nadkarni | USA | English | 2023 For her entire professional life, renowned ecologist Nalini Nadkarni pioneered climbing techniques to study “what grows back” after an ecological disturbance in the rainforest canopy. Now, after surviving a life-threatening fall from a tree, she must turn her research question onto herself in order to understand the effects of disturbance and recovery throughout her life.
REVISITING LANDSCAPES: CHILDREN’S PERSPECTIVES 80 mins | Curated by: Chen-Yi Wu
Children observe and listen to those around them. But their understanding of a situation doesn’t always align with that of adults. In these shorts, filmmakers tap into the unique emotional and psychological perspectives of young people to tell their stories. What does it feel like to be bullied by your classmates? to struggle against the forces of unforgiving climates? How can a person hold onto a sense of self against the pressures of culture and tradition? Glimpse the world anew through this shorts program! Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
Director: Julianna Romero | USA | English | 2023 After a catholic middle schooler gets bullied about her period, her friend consoles her about accepting menstruation as a normal part of their lives. THROUGH SONG!
MY GRANDMOTHER IS AN EGG
Director: Wu-Ching Chang | Taiwan | Mandarin | 2021 The film reflects the fragility and resilience of a woman who struggles for freedom in the face of oppression from Confucian traditions in Asia.
YOUNG PEOPLE, OLD PEOPLE & NOTHING IN BETWEEN
Director: Parida Tantiwasadrakan | USA | Thai | 2022 7-year-old Juice has one mission this year: to help Grandma Lovely retain as many memories as possible in order to halt the onset of her early dementia.
A ROADSIDE BANQUET
Director: Peiqi Peng | China | Mandarin | 2022 Eleven-year-old Mai turns into a feather duster at her baby brother’s first birthday party soon after learning her parents only ever wanted a boy.
Directors: Justin Kim WooSŏk | USA | Mongolian | 2023 Munkhjargal, a 10 year old female jockey, and her family of nomadic herders train to compete in Mongolia’s most important festival – Naadam – following a devastating cycle of extreme winters and dry summers that decimated their flock and threatened their way of life.
Director: Abbas Taheri & Mahdieh Toosi | Iran Farsi | 2022 Nazanin is under constant pressure from her ex-husband to steer their child - Aban, nine years old - away from feminine inclinations. One day, Aban goes to the hospital thinking of undergoing life-changing surgery.
QUEER DREAMS & WAKING LIFE 81 mins | Curated by: Arzhang Zafar & Joseph Carranza
The mundanity of our lives often feels torturous, especially when contrasted with the fantasies we conceive to escape that daily grind. When coupled with the longings and repression of queer love, this despair can become overwhelming. Nevertheless, the very ideas of romance and desire, whether unrequited or fleeting or separated by great distances of time and space, can provide a glimmer of hope in the bleakest of situations. In these films, characters dealing with the everyday experiences of depression, social alienation, the specter of death, and even legal and workplace frustrations are given respite by the sheer beauty of queer connection and potential freedom. Even as we are anchored to the ground by brutal realities, imagination can give us wings to soar. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
KNOW YOU TWICE
Director: Andrew Chan Gladstone| USA | English | 2022 When a policy shift puts NYC-raised Paloma at risk of deportation, she pushes her girlfriend Claire for help, revealing expectations that threaten to unravel their future together.
SOMEWHERE ALL THE BOYS ARE BIRDS Director: Apa Agbayani | Philippines | English, Tagalog | 2023
Benjie’s obsession with long-dead movie star Jaime Reyes leads him to the rooftop where the actor killed himself. Here, he summons Jaime’s ghost for a conversation.
Director: Tao Wei | Japan/China | Mandarin | 2023 Yanyan, who has expressive language disorder, lives with his grandfather in Shanghai. One day, Yanyan brings home Ping, a young Chinese man from Penang, Malaysia. The grandfather, grandson, and this “good friend” begin a weird, wonderful table conversation.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US
Director: Imran Siddiquee | USA | English | 2023 An undocumented immigrant in Philadelphia starts to fall for a roommate she’s never met — forming a connection that will test the limits of her romantic imagination.
76 mins | Curated by: Arzhang Zafar
An astral door. A secret highway. A lost memory. As we are propelled across history, through pain, and into transcendence, the only thing we have to hold onto is other people. In this showcase of potent and evocative short films, the fantastic and surreal coalesce with deep human truths, telling stories about what we mean to each other and ourselves through the primal language of dreams and impulses. Characters overcome grief, find lost loves, and reconnect with the past. Explore the realms of joy, fear, and wonder as we enter life’s hidden passages. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
THE ROARING OF THE CARABAO
Director: Angeline Meitzler | USA | English, Tagalog | 2023 Born in the United States, a daughter visits the Philippines for the first time. On the night of her arrival to her mother’s homeland, a volcano erupts. Mesmerized by the land’s turbulence, she wanders through the past, the present, and the hereafter following the glow of an ember.
Director: Peng Yue | China | Mandarin | 2023 A mysterious boy jolts a lonely girl out of her dull routine, but his sudden disappearance sends her on a disorienting quest across shifting realities. As she navigates grief and confusion, glimmers of hope emerge from life’s impermanence. For it is only once we wake up that dreams can come true.
Directors: Yuta Noguchi | Japan | Japanese | 2023 Shiori has been searching for her son Taka since his disappearance three years ago. Determined to do anything to reunite with her child, Shiori contemplates a significant choice after meeting a peculiar yet empathetic pawnbroker on the anniversary of Taka’s fourth birthday.
THE SOUND OF DREAMING
Director: Kalani Gacon | Nepal | Nepali | 2021 On her way to start a new life in Australia, Sonam remembers a trip she had with a ride-sharing motorcycle driver, Bikash, who had been having the same recurring dream as her. As Bikash and Sonam try to find each other again, Bikash begins to use his lucid dreams to find her in the real world.
HOME AS CHARACTER 76 mins | Curated by: Klyde Breitton
The scent of your neighbor’s garden, the hustle and bustle of people flowing in and out of the bodega down the block, the laughter of children playing silly games in the street - home is more than just a setting. It’s the people, the places, the history, the memories, and the way they all come together. These short films all depict a home that can be described as a character in and of itself. From the quiet resilience of a city in “Kathmandu Monsoon” to the smoldering generational anger of Hawaiʻi in “Inheritance,” these films depict a home that holds as much weight and depth as the people that inhabit it. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
Director: Kunao Yan | China | Mandarin | 2022 Before leaving China to study abroad, Xiao Jun goes on a family trip to visit his grandparents after two years of separation. Although everything seems to have changed, Xiao Jun tries to reconnect with life around him and finish the photography assignment about his family.
Director: Ngima Gelu Sherpa | Nepal | Nepali | 2021 The film offers an ethnographic study of the filmmaker’s hometown, punctuated by an approaching storm. Providing a commentary on climate change, as well as how life must go on, this film is not only a portrait of place but also of the resilience of people.
Directors: Anna Phuong Nguyễn, Winston Liu, & Lilian Yu Wen Cao | Australia | English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese | 2022 “2166” documents snippets of the daily lives and memories in the suburbs of Cabramatta and Canley Vale by focusing on sensory experiences, relationships, children and the elderly, workers, gossiping aunties, and the feeling that memories are constantly being created all around you.
Director: Erin Lau | USA | English | 2022 A struggling nature photographer is forced to confront the pain his family has carried for generations.
Directors: Catherine T. Nguyen | Vietnam | English, Vietnamese | 2023 Upon learning of her mother’s passing, May returns to Vietnam after being away for 20 years. Despite facing family opposition and cultural barriers, May remains determined to uncover the truth about her parents’ separation in relation to her mom’s practice of Hầu Đồng (Mother Goddess Worship).
FOLKTALES OLD & NEW 61 mins | Curated by: Klyde Breitton
Whispers and hurried exchanges have long been the subject of mythic tales. They remind readers and listeners that we are small humans facing great unknowns. Visual design, sound, editing, and cinematography can elevate the effect of these tales when rendered in film. On the other hand, film can take away the intimacy of storytelling and mute the sense of mystery that originally made the stories so compelling. The shorts in this showcase navigate these murky waters, unearthing the unconscious from the depths of our collective imagination. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
Director: Sean Sankalp Raju | USA | Hindi | 2023 Set during the Mughal Empire in India, villagers accuse a woman of casting the Evil Eye (nazar) on their village, resulting in calls for her execution. King Akbar turns to his advisor, Birbal, to examine whether their fears are founded in reality or rooted in superstition.
Director: Amir Ali Sisipour | Iran | Farsi | 2022 A boy named Mehran and his mother Ziba use a black fur to catch the shadow of people and drink it until their own shadow returns. One day, Mehran decides to catch someone’s shadow alone.
Director: Karim Azimi | Iran | Farsi | 2022 Immigrants by the sea are waiting for others to cross the sea. A young couple are going to the light of the world with others, but they have problems when their baby is born.
THE OLD YOUNG CROW
Director: Liam LoPinto | Japan | Japanese, Farsi | 2022 An Iranian boy befriends an old Japanese woman at a graveyard in Tokyo.
COMING OF AGE AT THE END OF THE WORLD 80 mins | Curated by: Phoebe Schaub
Is the end of the world literal or figurative? Each of these films depicts a moment in time when a character begins to understand the meaning of life – just when everything is coming to an end: the loss of autonomy; burning along with Hong Kong’s “cursed generation” in a record store; living in total isolation while the seasons change outside the window. The world these characters know is ending, but as with all endings, there is newness and change. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
THE MOUNTAIN RABBIT
Director: Lucy Soutter | USA | English | 2023 An Asian American woman coming to terms with her eccentric grandmother’s dementia.
Director: Rendro Aryo | Indonesia | Indonesian | 2021 One night full of tactics and puzzles, Monalisa is confronted by mysterious voices that disturb her. What is that sound? Who is monalisa? What is she really looking for?
Director: Hadi Sheibani | Iran | Farsi | 2022 Mother and son play dressed up as Catwoman and Batman before father returns for dinner. Through their play, the child discovers a difficult truth about his parents.
A LONG ALONE
Director: Eun-a Yeo | Korea, Republic of | Korean | 2023 The record of discontinued time and place, from dying alone to discovery. The one-year period after a person’s solitary death is shown in time-lapse.
Director: Erica Kwok | Hong Kong | Cantonese | 2022 A coming-of-age story about Yumi, and her record store coworker. They dread turning 27 - the age at which many western rock stars passed.
60 mins | Curated by: Aiko Hamamoto
The threads of our lineages weave together to tell the story of the present day. It is often complicated and messy. Some threads are stronger than others, and sometimes we have to choose what we carry with us and what to leave behind. This showcase explores different lineages—from parent to child to cultural practices being passed down to the next generation—and what it means to tug upon them as we walk into the future. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
BENKYODO: THE LAST MANJU SHOP IN J-TOWN
Directors: Akira Boch & Tadashi Nakamura | USA English | 2023 Ricky and Bobby Okamura wrestle with closing their beloved family-owned manju shop after serving the San Francisco Japantown community for 115 years.
Director: Chelsie Pennello | USA | English | 2023 A black sheep attempts to eulogize her mother with a story about pigeons.
SILK AND IRON
Director: Kee Streater Heywood | USA | English | 2023 A short film spotlighting Gary Llamido, an antiques collector and restoration artist. We have an intimate conversation with Gary on the important role that Samurai armor has played in his life, as well as the impact it continues to have on the world.
Director: Vivian Cheung | Canada | English | 2022 Inspired by true events, an imaginative Asian Canadian girl attempts to fold a thousand cranes as she learns to lose her father during his final days in the hospice.
Director: Theodore Caleb Haas | USA | English | 2023 98-year-old Homer Yasui takes four generations of his family to his secret mushroom-hunting grounds in Oregon in search of the prized and delicious matsutake, passing on a longtime Japanese American tradition. PAAFF 2023
ANOTHER TOMORROW 67 mins | Curated by: David Tanh
No doubt life is full of ups and downs. What should you do when you make the wrong decisions? What if those choices affect others? Will you be content with being told a half truth? Should the past remain buried? No matter the outcome, the following films show us that there will always be another day.
Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
Director: Anne Hu | USA | English, Mandarin | 2022 When a Taiwanese American woman prepares lunches from her childhood, she struggles to forgive herself for pushing away her immigrant mother.
Director: Daniel Lee | Korea, Republic of English, Korean | 2022 Raised in California, Sol has just returned to Korea with his parents. Staying at his aunt’s house with his mother, Sol develops a curiosity for pet fish. He also begins to encounter the puzzling circumstances that brought his family back to Korea.
Director: Christina Yoon | USA | English, Korean | 2023 Leah, a Korean adoptee raised in America, returns to Korea to search for her birth mother. Although she is met with secrecy from the adoption agency as well as her own family, Leah remains relentless on her solo journey, driven by her longing to discover the truth of her origins.
FORGET ME - A GOODBYE LETTER
Director: Ryan Chunren Shih | USA | Min Nan | 2022 A belated letter from 60 years ago explains a problematic event from a family’s past.
71 mins | Curated by: Chetana R. Narasimha Jois It can seem impossible to share private truths or show our weaknesses to the world, particularly when we belong to a minority group. Even if we’ve been taught that certain topics and experiences are taboo, there is healing to be found in sharing our stories. Empathize - cry, laugh, root for, triumph, or feel frustration - with the characters in these very personal stories as they struggle to take that first step in letting themselves be seen. CW: sexual situations Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
Director: Seth Imperial | USA | English | 2023 Gavin is a shy convenience store worker. He tries to win over a girl after finding out he is stuck in a time-loop during his night shift. He struggles to figure out why he is in this situation and if this girl is the key to getting out. Will he figure out a way to get out or be forever trapped?
Director: Brandon Okumura | USA | English | 2023 A reserved and lonely man struggles to express his feelings to his friends-with-benefits while maintaining the delicate balance of their situationship.
Director: Alexandra Qin | USA | English | 2023 On a road trip with her younger sister, Charlie struggles to hide a secret sex addiction.
Director: Kim Marcelino | USA | English | 2023 An Asian American woman’s internalized racism stands between her and a steamy one-night stand.
Director: Armin Azizi | Iran | Kurdish | 2023 A young filmmaker wants to watch his first film to connect with the residents of his apartment and get out of his loneliness, but he is having trouble communicating with them.
Director: Kshitij Kumar Pandey | India | English, Kannada | 2023 While scrolling through Instagram, Prajwal sees his college crush Anvita has returned to Mumbai, where Prajwal has recently moved. Amidst Mumbai’s torrential rains, Prajwal finds himself falling for her again. Will he deliver the letter he had written long ago, or will it drown in a splash?
ADVENTURES IN DAUGHTERING 75 mins | Curated by: Chetana R. Narasimha Jois
Our relationships to our mothers are some of the most visceral ones we have. It has been said that this is all the more so for daughters. The characters in these shorts display tremendous devotion whether they are in the role of daughter, granddaughter, or daughter-in-law. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
Director: Christopher Hwisu Kim | USA English, Korean | 2022 When Alison Cho gets an emergency alert on her phone warning of an imminent missile attack, she calls her mom in a panic—only to struggle to explain the situation because she doesn’t know the Korean word for “missile.”
Director: Sarah Rangooni | Canada | English, Urdu | 2023 Growing up in a multi-generational, Pakistani household, Safa lives with her overbearing grandmother and cares for her ailing mother. When Safa realizes her mother’s medication has run out, she is forced to navigate a path that’s filled with cultural stigma and Islamophobia
THE MESS WE’RE IN
Directors: Jamie Lam | Canada English, Cantonese | 2023 Still living in the hoarder’s house where she grew up in, young adult Dara contemplates moving forward in life.
Director: Lauren To’omalatai | USA English, Samoan | 2023 On a night out with friends, Jess briefly opens up about the grief she’s processing in the aftermath of her grandfather’s death. After going home early and while rummaging around in the kitchen, Jess and grandmother share a sweet moment through food and song, remembering the man they’ve both lost.
Director: Michelle Sastraatmadja | USA | English | 2023 Marianna goes on a grocery run to buy instant noodles and unexpectedly encounters a series of events that will force her to embrace her heritage and grieve her mother’s death.
Directors: Gayeon Yoon | Korea, Republic of Korean | 2023 Sang-gu heads to his hometown with his girlfriend on his mother’s birthday. The three of them have an unexpected day and offer consolation to each other.
DREAD THE DARKNESS
57 mins | Curated by: Phoebe Schaub & David Tanh
Whether in a dingy bar, our very own bed, or a perfectly manicured household, fear of things beyond our control haunts us. When the lights go out for this block of short films, expect disturbing historical truths, jump scares, body horror - along with a healthy dose of animation, surprising laughs, and moving moments. These films will leave you wondering who holds the control, and whether or not any of us really have any power when night falls. CW: violence, disturbing imagery Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
Directors: Statten Roeg & Sunita Soliar United Kingdom | English | 2023 A freakish, throbbing growth torments Ash. She is stuck caring for her vitriolic, dementia-ridden mother. With every indignity, Ash’s lump grows, until it erupts, spewing a mysterious substance.
Director: Julie Zheng | China | English | 2023 A story about a witch, a frog, and their neighbors.
Director: Fon Davis | USA | English | 2023 It’s last call in more ways than one for the regulars and new visitors to a dive bar as an unexpected killer has been unleashed. The reason why is terrifying.
THE NEW TALE OF RAT WIFE
Director: Yoonsun Kim | Korea, Republic of | Korean | 2023 A wife who is pressured to have a baby encounters a rat wife who happens to look just like herself.
ASTONISHING LITTLE FEET
Director: Maegan Houang | USA | English, Cantonese | 2022 Afong Moy, the first documented Chinese woman to come to the United States, realizes the men who separated her from her family only have interest in profiting off the peculiarities of her bound feet. PAAFF 2023
RECOGNITION, LIBERATION, CELEBRATION
60 mins | Curated by: Arzhang Zafar
Over the years, we have watched the struggle for trans liberation make immense strides. Outdated ideas about gender have been torn down by people fighting to be recognized for who they are. That struggle has also met with devastating setbacks in recent years in the form of reactionary legislation and inflammatory public discourse - including provocations to violence. Despite everything, trans people will persevere and find moments of joy and solace in community. These documentaries follow such individuals as they experience hardship, heal from trauma, and celebrate life - all with the knowledge that there is no option but for the world to change. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
Director: Mars Verrone | USA | Cambodian | 2023 Forty years after the Khmer Rouge regime, a transgender man returns to the village where he survived the genocide and miraculously found queer and trans community, including the love of his life.
Director: Iranmehr Salimi | Iran | Farsi | 2022 Zainab is a successful girl volleyball player who considers herself a boy in spirit, and now she has decided to undergo gender transition. If she does this, she will lose her professional future forever due to her short stature, as well as her livelihood jeopardizing her family.
THE ALEXANDER BALL
Director: Jessica Magro | Australia | English | 2023 An observational documentary extravaganza celebrating Samoan-Māori-Australian trans woman of color, Ella Ganza, and the Meanjin (Brisbane) ballroom scene, as the community prepares for one of biggest ballroom events of the year: The Alexander Ball.
YOUNG, DUMB & ASIAN AMERICAN 66 mins | Curated by: Nova Meng
Being “dumb,” wild, and free are the cornerstones of youth. At times it can feel like Asian Americans are caught between the expectations of our parents and the society around us. This shorts program reminds us that it’s okay not to take life too seriously or to take silly things way too seriously. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
WHEN YOU LEFT ME ON THAT BOULEVARD Director: Kayla Abuda Galang | USA | English, Tagalog | 2023
Teenager Ly and her cousins get high before a boisterous family Thanksgiving at their auntie’s house in southeast San Diego in 2006.
THE JENNIE SHOW: IN THE HOTPOT SEAT Directors: Superdog & Kevin Lee | Taiwan English, Mandarin | 2023
Jennie is an ABT—American born Taiwanese—in Taiwan to connect with her roots, but the public garbage collection ritual and the subtleties of family hot-pot conversations are much more difficult than she imagined. The Jennie Show proves that being a third culture kid is tough, fun, and a good story.
DAWN OF SKATES
Directors: Mitch Truong | USA | English | 2023 A Vietnamese American teenager finds her confidence through a great mentor and the art of roller-skating.
Director: Hannah So | USA | English, Korean | 2023 Kwon, an A-list K-pop star, is about to shoot his latest kimchi commercial. He’s dead set on wearing dreadlocks for the video but is met with opposition from Adrienne, the company’s head of marketing. The two go head to head in a battle involving bribery, theft, and viral videos.
JUST AN ORDINARY DINNER Director: Will Pak | USA | 2023
In this modern family narrative with a mythical twist, cultural and generational divides between a patriarchal father and his rebellious daughter bring a Korean American family dinner to chaos.
Directors: Yasmine Gomez | USA | English | 2023 A Filipino American woman grapples with going behind her strict Catholic sister’s back to buy condoms for her 14-year-old niece.
GROWING UP: FAMILY SHORTS 43 mins | Curated by: David Tanh
From childhood through our adult lives we make new friends and families members. They can be small, smelly, and furry - or they can look exactly like us. As we grow, we face our fears and - most importantly - share laughs. After all, all we have is each other. The following films present these shared experiences. Pre-recorded Q&A available with rental.
THE BEST FOR BEEF
Director: Yeng Madayag | USA | English | 2023 A kind cat named Beef is thrown out of his original home only to be impulsively adopted by two roommates.
Director: Linjie Huang | USA | English | 2023 An odd young woman who has devoted herself to astrophotography becomes aggressive when she finds out her plan is sabotaged by her dog.
Director: Kirsten Magbanua | USA | English, Tagalog | 2023 A young boy races to fetch dessert for the party before his older sister, leading to a race for their mother’s approval.
Director: Jennifer Nie | USA | English, Cantonese, Mandarin | 2023 A day in the life of two girls living in the San Gabriel Valley.
THE LITTLE POET
Director: Justine Yixuan King | USA | English | 2023 A love letter to a girl in a painting.
Director: Joe Tuliao | Canada | English, Tagalog | 2022 A family uproots their life in the Philippines to move to Canada only to find out that they will need to uproot themselves again to return to the Philippines.
DANCE ON! NONOKO!
Director: Wanci Hua | Taiwan | English | 2023 Nonoko the cat and Haro the rabbit dance to share a bittersweet goodbye on their graduation day.
Directors: Luke Tianxiang Lu | USA | English | 2023 A middle aged man has trouble balancing his work and taking care of his father.
JURIES NARRATIVE JURY EUNICE CHEN (she/her) serves as the Associate Director at Asian CineVision, the longest-running Asian American film festival in the United States. Her involvement spans more than a decade, during which she has become deeply immersed in the world of Asian American diasporic storytelling. Eunice’s expertise extends to building and nurturing community partnerships and donor relationships that have supported the festival’s production. Her management ensures the festival’s continued success, making Asian CineVision a hub for Asian American cinema and cultural celebration. LAURA FRIES (she/her) is a Korean adoptee, passionate about giving a voice to underrepresented communities. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Laura is a member of the DGA, Television Academy, SAG-AFTRA, and AEA. A Stowe Producers Lab alumni and Sidewalk Narrative fellow, her latest project, BODY SHOP, was one of five finalists in the Tribeca Untold Stories program and was awarded a $15,000 grant and the opportunity to pitch live during the festival. She hopes to use her unique voice to bring more BIPOC stories to the big screen. PATRICK PASCUA (he/him) is a Hawaii based actor and singer. He studied at University of Hawaii at Manoa majoring Communications and Theater. Throughout his career, Patrick has worked in theater, film, and dance. Currently, Patrick works as a musical director and has crafted his career around mentoring and training young creatives.
DOCUMENTARY JURY AIDAN UN (he/him)is a French Korean American filmmaker based in Philadelphia. He is working on You Don’t Have To Go Home, But... a feature documentary about the Philly Second Sundae party. Recent works include “Sisters of the Soil,” a documentary short about a Black-owned bookshop in Philadelphia, and The Ancestors Live, a feature-length documentary about Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble. He is a member of the Korean percussion group URIOL and the Fundação Internacional de Capoeira Angola. FRANCES PAAHANA (she/her) is a Hawaii based filmmaker and creative designer. She studied at Hawaii Pacific University and majored in integrated multimedia. Throughout her career she has worked in the non-profit sector mentoring and managing creative teams, as a designer for various corporations and television networks. In her freetime she enjoys fishing with her husband and finding inspiration watching the the Hawaiian sunset.
JURIES MELISSA BISAGNI (she/her) is a film curator, consultant, and programmer specializing in Indigenous and Asian American film. She is currently the Festival Director for the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, a member of the Four Quarters Collective and a contributing partner in the Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival Organizers Collaborative. She served for 15 years as the Film and Video Program Manager at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
SHORTS JURY AISHIKA JENNELA (she/her) is a community organizer and media specialist. She is currently Program Manager at the Indian American Impact Project. She previously worked as the Director of Communications at the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, where she connected Asian-owned small businesses with essential resources during the pandemic. Aishika is also involved with nonprofits like the East Coast Asian American Student Union and founded Tamasha, a South Asian Film Collective. ALANA DELOSTRINO (she/her) is an LA based producer. She attended California State University Fullerton where she got a degree in Cinema and Television Arts and minored in Asian American Studies. She participated in the Television Academy Foundation Summer Internship Program and was placed with Endemol Shine North America’s Unscripted Development team and was later hired to work in Endemol Shine’s Current Programming department. Alana currently works at indie production company, 44 Blue Productions. ERICA ENG (she/her) is a fifth-generation Chinese American director based out of Los Angeles. She wrote and directed “Americanized,” which screened at PAAFF in 2021 and won 26 awards across multiple festivals. Erica’s latest film “Off Fairfax” is a comedic mystery-thriller that premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and took home an Honorable Mention at Slamdance in the Episodic category. Erica is the solo domestic winner of the 2023 Academy Gold Fellowship for Women, developing her first narrative feature.
THANK YOUS Asian Arts Initiative • Dave Kyu • Joyce Chung • Matt Nelson
Friends Select School • Natalie Mayer
Asian Cinevision • Eunice Chen • Peggy Tseng
Independence Public Media Foundation
Asian Mosaic Fund Big Picture Alliance • Aleks Martray • Shahana Khan • Stanley Augustin Chinese Christian Church & Center • Sonny Wu • Wayne Lee CineSPEAK • Sarah Mueller • Vernon Jordan III DC APA Film Festival • Melissa Bisagni
Greater Philadelphia Film Office
Maestro Filmworks • Kris Mendoza • Lexi Morrison PA Dept of Drug & Alcohol Programs The Rail Park • Rebecca Cordes Chan Scott “CHOPS” Jung Scribe Video Center • Louis Massiah SEAMAAC • Thoai Nguyen • Halle Porter
THANK YOUS Twelve Gates Arts • Aisha Z. Khan • Atif Sheikh • Krishang Nair • Mehrin Masud-Elias VietLead Give In May • Barbara McGrath • Terence Washington • Hilde Nelson • Manasi Eswarapu • Patricia Ma • Cindy Chu • Lisa Upshaw Mayo • Bahar Nikkhah • Betty Litsinger • Al’n Duong • Ramya Sivakumar
Visual Communications Woori Center • Mel Lee PAAFF Advisory Board PAAFF Volunteers • Caren Hosansky • Esther Castillo • Sami Khan • Alexander Chan • Kristal Sotomayor • Vanessa Julye • Brittney Scurry • Eseel Borlasa • Ayoung Lee • Mary Wilby • Kunal Duggal
Everything Everywhere all at Once
Never Have I Ever
Spotlight on Asian American stories, talent, and culture Don’t miss movies and shows recognized by the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, Gold House, and more—all waiting for you in our latest collection. Say “Asian American” into your Xfinity Voice Remote.
Separate subscriptions required.