SAVE THE DATE: 10th Spring Showcase is coming April 23 – May 2!

SAVE THE DATE: 10th Spring Showcase is coming April 23 – May 2!

Written by Andrea Baek

After the postponing of last year’s festival due to the start of the pandemic, we’re so excited to return on April 23, 2021 for the 10th SDAFF Spring Showcase with the freshest Asian cinema, ranging from time-slip romcoms to pop-culture drama, to documentaries highlighting often-neglected stories. 

This year’s program has a total of 16 films and will feature two special presentations: Songs Our Elders Taught Me and The Political Documentary of Nā Maka o ka ‘Āina.

Film still courtesy of Cosmopolitan

Song Our Elders Taught Me will commemorate the elders in our community and humanize them by sharing their stories. The program will feature three films: The Wash, Cosmopolitan, and And Thereafter, where the films will be shown on Laser Disk, and will feature the stories of our elders from their perspective. These “songs” that were taught to us by our elders — whether they’re songs or memories and snippets of our culture they’ve passed down — are something to be carried on for generations. When the PacArts’ social media team sat down to talk about this specific presentation, we took a moment to recall memories we had of our grandparents. Many of us shared stories of having our grandparents cook us food, because after all, one defining characteristic of all Asian grandmothers is that food is one of their love languages. We shared the stories of how our grandparents overcame language barriers to express their love for us. We shared stories of our grandparents’ badass-ery and how they were the ones who taught us to never stand down. Many of us have grandparents who live across oceans, and these “songs” are ones we’ll hold onto tightly for the rest of our lives. 

One such song that is fond to me is the memory I have of my grandpa holding my hand and walking me to the grocery store to treat me to my favorite ice cream. There’s a Korean phrase, “소소하지만 확실한 행복” that means “small but certain forms of happiness” and my memories with my grandparents are something that represent exactly this. “Songs Our Elders Taught Me” is a program that recognizes and shares these stories of our elders. Often, Asian elders are regarded as old and frail, but the stories and memories we hold of our grandparents are quite the opposite. In a time where hate crimes against Asians have been on the rise, especially targeting our Asian elders, we hope that this special presentation will humanize this part of our community and inspire others to remember the songs their elders have taught them.

Film still courtesy of The Tribunal

The Political Documentary of Nā Maka o ka ‘Āina is a collection of three films: Act of War — The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation, The Tribunal, and Mauna Kea — Temple Under Seige, all by directors Puhipau and Joan Lander. This special presentation will give a platform to the voices of Pacific Islanders, specifically Hawaiians. Though Pacific Islanders are a part of the AAPI community, their stories and experiences are too often ignored. They are an integral part of the AAPI diaspora and this program aims to display the diversity and depth of the Pacific-Islander experience and identity.

Film still courtesy of Try Harder

This year’s opening film is called The Way We Keep Dancing, a film from Hong Kong about Asian activism through art. This film is a testimony to the consistent but underrecognized activism of the Asian community. The closing film is called Try Harder! and it documents the college application period for a competitive high school in San Francisco. This documentary, in many ways, feels like a hat tip to high school classes of 2020 and 2021 for their vastly different college application process, as well as the effort and learning that — as a whole — happens through this experience. Look out for my upcoming blog post regarding my personal thoughts on Try Harder!


We’re so excited to be back in festival season and hope you enjoy the films as much as we do!


Happy festing!


Tickets can be purchased at