SDAFF Filmmakers Reflect on this Year’s Festival

SDAFF Filmmakers Reflect on this Year’s Festival

Eugene Lee Yang, BuzzFeed

SDAFF was one of the most wonderful, vibrant, and inviting festivals I’ve ever had the pleasure to attend! Even though it was my first time, one word that kept crossing my mind throughout my time there was “family.” Bringing together so much Asian talent from across media under one event was like a family reunion I never knew I needed in my life until SDAFF made it a reality.

Abe Greenwald, BuzzFeed

SDAFF was such a great experience all around. Meeting some superfans of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures at the panel was a great reminder that our internet world is very much a part of the real world and the dialogue with the audience was really exciting. Best of all, we had such a good time and were so well taken care of. Thanks SDAFF!

Mallory Wang, BuzzFeed:

This was my very first panel experience and I enjoyed every minute of it. As a UCSD alumni, I felt honored to come back and represent the Triton pride. It was amazing to see in real life how BuzzFeed Motion Pictures is impacting the world of media. My favorite moments were talking with students about their dreams of working in the industry and impacting the world. I had such a wonderful time, and everyone from SDAFF was so kind and welcoming! Thank you, SDAFF!!

Benson Lee, Jessika Van, & Esteban Ahn

Benson Lee, director of Centerpiece Film, SEOUL SEARCHING:

The San Diego Asian Film Fest is one of the most important film festivals in Southern California. They provide vital exposure for filmmakers’ work, and they give access to new Asian films from around the world for the San Diego community. I had a wonderful time at SDAFF where I felt like I was part of an intimate film community that loves movies!


Pamela Tom, director of Audience Award winner, TYRUS:

I was thrilled to screen my documentary TYRUS at SDAFF. Brian and Lee Ann crafted an incredible multi-faceted event that honored the legendary Tyrus Wong, gave me an opportunity to showcase my film, and provided the community with a truly special and memorable experience. Thank you PacArts and SDAFF. SDAFF is the kind of festival a filmmaker dreams of – it has vision, class, and is, simply put, a BLAST!

Linda Barry, producer of Audience Award winner, TYRUS:

The San Diego Asian Film Festival is by far one of my all-time favorites.  Lee Ann Kim, Brian Hu, and the entire SDAFF team run a top-notch first class festival with artistic integrity and incredible organization. It’s audience and filmmaker friendly, well-run and downright fun! Happy Sweet 16!! Looking forward to returning again!


Kimberlee Bassford, director of WINNING GIRL:

SDAFF is a filmmaker’s festival. It celebrates filmmakers and their work by going the extra mile to not just get people in the seats for the screenings, but people for whom that particular film will make the most impact. Even though I couldn’t attend the festival this year, the festival included me in a Skype Q&A (and it was one of the most thoughtful and meaningful Q&As I’ve had!) and shared with me written feedback about the film from audience members. It’s truly a gift to get that kind of feedback, especially when you can’t be there in person. SDAFF sets the bar high, and I’m incredibly grateful to them.


Nelson Kim, director/writer of SOMEONE ELSE:

We had one of our best festival experiences screening SOMEONE ELSE at SDAFF. A terrific audience, unfailingly generous support from the festival staff, and a great party. Plus I was so impressed by the scope and quality of the programming — quite a thrill for my weird little low-budget Asian American indie to screen alongside work by some of the greatest filmmakers on the planet. I’ll make another movie just in the hopes of getting invited back!


RJ Lozada, winner of Grand Jury Award, DISTANCE BETWEEN:

Organizations like Pacific Arts Movement and its San Diego Asian Film Festival allow films like mine to have a proper home, and allow them to breathe and just be. I’m incredibly humbled that the jurors saw so much in my film – a film using my native tongue and intentionally nuanced dynamics of diaspora and family (both traditional and untraditional). The programming looked and felt so robust and challenging and satisfying. I’m looking forward to next year, and will consciously plan to keep those days open to be in San Diego.


Tian Guan, winner of Best Narrative Short, DRAMA:

It was definitely an exceptional experience in San Diego. I enjoyed watching films, meeting fellow filmmakers, talking to producers and audiences. The festival is very well organized and the volunteers are excellent. The Gala is amazing too. As a Chinese filmmaker based in L. A., it’s my first time to see so many outstanding Asian films during such a short time. Some of the films may even be hard to reach in China. This is something very special and exciting.

David Grabias

David Grabias, winner of Best Feature Documentary, OPERATION POPCORN:

What a wonderful festival experience. I really felt at home. A great way for us to show our film and connect with a community.  


Ji Sub Jeong, winner of Best Short Animation, ‘CUZ HE’S BLACK:

I am very lucky and blessed to have been a part of the San Diego Asian Film Festival this year. It is very inspiring to meet so many talented individuals with great talents and potential. Being able to experience their passion for filmmaking first hand was exceptional. I am so thrilled and excited that the San Diego Asian Film Festival is at the forefront of representing the Asian American community through showcasing the exceptional talents that California holds!


ALVIN TSANG, director of Special Jury Mention, REUNIFICATION

While in the midst of the festival, I can already begin to see a wide horizon of many different opportunities for REUNIFICATION in terms of presentation formats that are not just limited to just traditional distribution. Pac-Arts helped me see that and made this world premiere such a special and comfortable experience. This sensitive team did everything with grace and ease and in unison. They set up video and print interviews and were flexible to my schedule during the festival. They connected me with the community directly by sending me out on the field to a local high school and university (UCSD, my alma mater) to share my experience in making the film. That was such a great way of outreach which benefitted both the film and the new generation of artists and storytellers. Many of these students came to the screening and sparked a great Q&A (moderated by Glenn Heath). And as I went on from one talk to the next, I found myself gaining more and more confidence in talking about my work. Brian gave me great advice on what to do next with the film. This experience was altogether a priceless training for navigating through future festivals and media engagements. I now know what a supportive community is and I was glad to have been a part of it.