The San Diego Asian Film Festival is a competitive film festival aiming to celebrate achievements in Asian American cinema. An independent jury of filmmakers, curators, critics, academics, and other professionals is chosen to view films and select winners in the following categories: Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Narrative Short, Documentary Short, Animated Short, and International Short. Additionally, the jury selects a Grand Jury winner and optional Special Jury mentions.
SDAFF programmers also select the recipient of the George C. Lin Emerging Filmmaker Award, named after the co-founder of the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival and the former Program Director of the San Diego Asian Film Festival. An advocate for all things independent, George passed away from cancer on October 14, 2008. The award in his memory is given to a first-time feature filmmaker who embodies his spirit.
Other awards at the festival include the Digital Pioneer Award, Best International Short, the Lifetime Achievement Award, and an Audience Award, which is open to all new feature films in the festival.