17 Oct 2015 SDAFF HIGHLIGHTS
After a much-needed good night’s sleep, I woke up on October 7 realizing that another San Diego Asian Film Festival has come and gone. An empty feeling came over me—like on the day after Christmas, when all the gifts are opened, the guests have gone home, and there’s nothing left but the dishes in the sink. All that hustle and bustle to prepare for the “big party” is over… for now. I suspect that many of our SDAFF staff and volunteers are walking around aimlessly, not knowing what to do with all their spare time.
We call it the post-SDAFF blues (complete with withdrawal symptoms) from having spent countless hours with community friends in preparing for the annual Asian Film Festival. Our only cure is to get together for boba, exchange stories about the film festival around a campfire, and start working on the next one!
But first, we must revel in the enormous success of our sixth season. Not only was it our longest festival ever (extended from 4 to 8 days), but we also generated our largest audience—with more than 12,000 people in attendance between September 29 and October 6.
To all who bought a ticket, sponsored our event, brought friends and family, donated, volunteered, or even forwarded an email about us, thank you for helping make this year’s film festival the best one yet. Your involvement—no matter how big or small—is deeply appreciated. We’ve learned that no amount of marketing is more powerful than positive word-of-mouth, so we hope that you help us spread the good word of SDAFF to keep our machine running year after year.
And now for a few highlights:
- We doubled the number of screening days this year, presenting more than 130 films and videos from around the world, including the United States, Canada, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, China, India and Singapore. Crowds throughout the 8-day festival at the new UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas broke attendance records from previous years.
- More than 100 filmmakers and actors attended the festival to represent their films—many of them short films—and answer questions from festival audiences.
- Our heartwarming opening night film from Korea, MARATHON, generated rave reviews and tears.
- We added encore screenings of local favorite, CAVITE, as well as our closing night finale, ONLY THE BRAVE, a narrative feature about Japanese American soldiers who fought in World War II. Patrons lined up outside the theatre several hours before the screening.
- Many of them were eager to meet the impressive cast and crew of ONLY THE BRAVE (11 of the actors in attendance including Tamlyn Tomita, Mark Dacascos, Jason Scott Lee, and the director himself, Lane Nishikawa).
- Another sold-out program was SAVING FACE, the debut feature from writer/director Alice Wu, who took home high honors. Wu received SDAFF’s Visionary Award for her touching portrayal of a mother and daughter struggling with societal pressures to come to terms with their own secrets. SAVING FACE co-star Joan Chen also attended the gala awards dinner to accept SDAFF’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The award honored her career as an actor and director spanning multiple decades and continents.
- Speaking of actors, our star-studded ASIAN AMERICANS IN HOLLYWOOD panel pulled another standing-room-only audience to hear honest behind-the-scenes stories from actors Dustin Nguyen, Roger Fan, Jason Scott Lee, Michelle Krusiec, Lynn Chen, and filmmaker Mora Mi-Ok Stephens. Moderator Martin Wong from Giant Robot Magazine set the stage by asking each one to start by sharing their worst stereotypical moment in the biz. Roger Fan’s story about hitting a gong in an MCI commercial brought the house down.
- This year, we proudly introduced six new stars to our festival. In our first-ever Reel Voices program, six San Diego teenagers presented short documentaries that they created through the San Diego Asian Film Foundation in a showcase that brought out so many people, we had to turn away some folks at the door. It was crazy like high school graduation. And it’s that enthusiasm that we hope will continue in our local youth, who are our future media makers.
Of course, there were many other great moments and highlights that you can probably read about on our website.
And if you’re like us and can’t wait for more, please mark your calendar for next year’s 7th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival. We’ve already tentatively set the dates for October 12-19, 2006 at the UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas at Hazard Center.
Lee Ann Kim is the founder and former Executive Director of Pacific Arts Movement and the San Diego Asian Film Festival.