SEPTEMBER 22, 2020, NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Presented by Asian CineVision, the 43rd Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF43) is announcing their full lineup, which in addition to the previously announced feature films includes 14 short film blocks and over 16 workshops, masterclasses, and special events. Tickets can be purchased or reserved at https://www.aaiff.org/.
Every day of the festival will feature over 3 hours of live-streamed panels, Q&As, and performances, all accessible as pay-as-you-wish programs. Highlights include a conversation with director Andrew Ahn and the cast of DRIVEWAYS, and a Filipino Filmmaker Roundtable to kick-off Filipino American History Month. The festival also introduces a two-part conversational series on the urgent issue of anti-racism in storytelling - Anti-Racism: Storytelling in Education and Awareness and Online Activism Campaigns. The complete lineup of events is available at https://www.aaiff.org/events/.
Two special events celebrating the various forms of storytelling make a return this year. Music Night Out interweaves musical performances and our official music video selection to highlight the collaboration of API musicians and filmmakers, while Comedy Night offers performances by top API stand-up and sketch comedians.
Our nine jury prize award winners will be determined by a lineup of leading industry professionals, including actor/producer Sung Kang (FAST AND FURIOUS), actress Rosalind Chao (STAR TREK, MULAN), director/writer Jeff Chan (PLUS ONE), producer Karin Chien (dGenerate Films), filmmaker Bao Nguyen (BE WATER), filmmaker PJ Raval (CALL HER GANDA), editor Faroukh Virani (HUNTERS), actress and host Sherry Cola (GOOD TROUBLE), actor/producer Vinny Chhibber (THE RED LINE), Third World Newsreel Executive Director and filmmaker JT Takagi (AMERICAN MASTERS), Bravo Digital Media EVP Lisa Hsia, director/producer Smriti Mundhra (INDIAN MATCHMAKING), Universal Kids coordinatorSam Cheung, screenwriter Jay Vaida (THE HARDY BOYS), producer Cecilia Mejia (YELLOW ROSE), filmmaker/visual artist Maggie Jung, Goldthread Editor Gavin Huang, actor/YouTuber Mike Bow (THE MAZE RUNNER), writer/director Kevin Lau (WESTWORLD), actor Chase Tang (JUPITER’S LEGACY), CAPE Executive Director Michelle Sugihara, musician Bohan Phoenix, rapper and activist Jason Chu, director Marie Jamora (FAMILY STYLE), and The Song Collective.
72 HOUR SHOOTOUT TOP TEN SELECTION
Directed by Asian American Film Lab - U.S., South Korea - English
The 72 Hour Film Shootout is a worldwide competition in which filmmakers have 72 hours to write, shoot, and edit a short film. The projects in the Top Ten Selection are based on the theme “Going Viral” and the mystery prop “Toilet Paper.”
CUNY SHORTS SHOWCASE
Since 2004, the CUNY Asian American Film Festival (AAFF) has recognized and awarded over $12,800 in cash prizes to student filmmakers enrolled at the City University of New York, including City College, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, Lehman College, College of Staten Island, and Queens College. The CUNY AAFF helps to promote the artistic visual talents and stimulate communication among CUNY students who are separated by the different campuses and serve as a central location to display their creative works. Asian CineVision and AAIFF43 are excited to showcase these amazing student filmmakers.
SHORT FILM PROGRAMS
A Fighting Chance - 109 mins
We are told how we handle life's obstacles is a measure of strength and character. The fighters in these short films not only surprise us with their gumption, persistence, and deceit, they show us that obstacles come in all shapes and sizes—from war trauma and battling corrupt justice systems to money and home issues. Opening with CHA, a colorful animation that recounts experiences during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India, we are led to stories, like MELT and SHADES OF JADE, that reminds us that friendship and connection can sometimes be found in the silver lining.
CHA - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Gagandeep Kalirai - United Kingdom, India - English
While Bibi teaches her granddaughter Simran how to make Cha, they are pulled into Bibi's memories of one fateful day in Delhi, 1984.
RUWATAN - New York City Premiere
Directed by Ernest Lesmana - Indonesia - Indonesia
Sri accompanies her blind mother to undergo alternative therapy each week, but today might be their last visit.
FLYING-WAGON - New York City Premiere
Directed by Kunal Narula - India - Hindi
A boy dreams of one day flying in an airplane.
Directed by Moxie Peng - China - Chinese
When Little Jia is asked to read his essay about Women's Day out loud in class, he hides the truth that he has only shared with his friend Dong.
SHADES OF JADE - World Premiere
Directed by Rose Chang - U.S. - English, Mandarin Chinese
A young girl must bond with a new father figure in order to help her mother pass their fake green card marriage.
IDOL - North American Premiere
Directed by Ryushi Lindsay - Japan - Japanese
Single mom Miyabi relies on her child idol daughter, Kasumi as her only source of income and ticket to future stability. When Kasumi is replaced in the group by a more popular girl, Miyabi takes drastic measures to get her back in the lineup.
SHADOW OF THE MOON - East Coast Premiere
Directed by Shuhan Lei - China - Chinese
An unprivileged teenage girl faces a dilemma and must choose between morals and her desires.
Directed by Hai Rihan - China / U.S. - Mongolian, Chinese
A Mongolian single mother fights to save her son who is about to be executed, only to discover that the absence of justice is crushing her life.
Crush or Be Crushed: Love Stories - 78 mins
These stories present us love through more than just rose-tinted shades. From facing the challenges of the New York dating scene while wearing hearing aids to the crushing heartache of love lost in time and history, romance finds a way.
WEDNESDAYS - World Premiere
Directed by Jung Yoon Jang, Hae Seoung Kim - South Korea / U.S. - Korean
Dongbok, a human rights activist and a former sex slave of the Imperial Japanese Army, has been petitioning for 27 years for both reparations and an apology.
Directed by Saleem Gondal - U.S. - English
Worried that his hearing aids will fail him, Wahid must find a new language to keep his budding romance with Samar alive.
COBY AND STEPHEN ARE IN LOVE - New York City Premiere
Directed by Luka Yuanyuan Yang, Carlo Nasisse - China / U.S. - English
Despite dissimilarities in culture and age, an artist and a former Chinatown nightclub dancer find an unlikely love in each other through handmade outfits, dance, and collage.
HAUNT - World Premiere
Directed by Siamak Kashefazar - Iran - Persian
Reza is a gambling addict who, during a game without knowing it, loses his wife. When he comes back home, he looks for a way to escape…
Directed by Olivia Leong Sulkowicz, Blair Cannon - U.S. - English
A Japanese grandmother has a coming-of-age experience later in life.
Directed by Jason Guerrero - Japan / U.S. - English, Japanese
After an unexpected crisis, a woman phones her friends for solace while wandering the streets of Tokyo, only to find that all the solace she needs is within herself.
Episodic - 55 mins
The “Golden Age of Television” is not over yet! Experience this mix of pilots and episodes that showcase up and coming API episodic storytellers.
Directed by Hang Nguyen - U.S. - English
A young Asian American woman begins a journey of sexual discovery after enrolling in a class to learn how to have an orgasm.
HIGHBREAD - World Premiere
Directed by Jayesh Jaidka - U.S. - English
A collegiate comedy that highlights the lives of a baker, a burnout and an international student on the brink of breakdown as they collectively break bread and cultural stereotypes over a Boston-based marijuana-bakery.
ANALYSIS PARALYSIS - New York City Premiere
Directed by Van Hai Doan - U.S. - English
A series of overthinking scenarios told in 5 mins or less.
SO BRIGHT 2 - New York City Premiere
Directed by Kok Man Hon - Singapore - Chinese
A hard-working musician who finally has an opportunity to fulfill his dream. A girl with terminal illness falls in love with him despite knowing he has a girlfriend. With relationship complications impacting his career, he has to decide.
In The Moment - 99 Mins
Join us as we intimately experience fire breathing on the hawker-lined streets of Saigon, the waters of Manilla amidst the Philippine’s drug war, and Filipino karaoke in a beloved restaurant in National City, California. While the short film Ephemeral takes an experimental approach using archival footage from the 70s to create an expansive look at a past Vietnam, A Trip with Mom uses a traditional narrative to explore the complexities in caring for the ageing. These films illuminate the quietness at each moment to create portraits of family, places, and connection.
STAY AWAKE, BE READY
Directed by Pham Thien An - Vietnam, South Korea, U.S. - Vietnamese
On a street corner a mysterious conversation among three young men at a street stalls.
BASURERO - East Coast Premiere
Directed by Eileen Cabiling - Philippines, U.S. - Tagalog
A Filipino fisherman, desperate for some quick cash, turns to dumping bodies into the sea for the current Philippine "Drug War".
A TRIP WITH MOM - International Premiere
Dected by Sophie Shui - Taiwan - Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, Shandong dialect
While struggling to take care of his 80-year-old disabled mother, middle-aged Xia Changming loses his job and must answer to multiple external pressures..
EPHEMERAL - East Coast Premiere
Directed by Alexander Phuc Khang Nguyen - U.S., Vietnam - Vietnamese
A juxtaposition of life before 1975 and life during the fall of Sai Gon – a matter of life or death, the Vietnamese people took a leap of faith to escape their homeland, in search of finding a better life for themselves and their children.
BIDYOKE - World Premiere
Directed by Joseph Mangat - U.S., Philippines - Tagalog, English
Portrait of a beloved Filipino karaoke-restaurant in National City, California, that has since closed its doors
Lost & Found - 99 Mins
These films are about the physical and emotional distance that can be necessary to cross as a result of emigrating from home. We see the consequences of moving to a new land, and the vagaries about home and the self that are created. Through these films, we can see that assimilation is not relegated just within immigration and being forced into another culture. It can also include others’ idea of who you should be physically or behaviorally, in any place. These films are about losing and then finding oneself.
Directed by Lilan Bowden - U.S. - English, Korean
A Korean American boy in the 1980s struggles to fit in with his classmates, so he makes the only logical wish - to become America’s most famous foul-mouthed comedian.
Directed by Stéphane Ly-Cuong - France - French, Vietnamese
In the early 1960s, Loan, a young Vietnamese woman, & Pierre, her Eurasian husband, are relocated to a village in Auvergne, under a resettlement program for French nationals from Indochina.
Directed by Daniel Lee - Korea / U.S. - Korean, English
On his way to meet his father, a young man recounts his family's troubled history.
Directed by Edwin Ho - Singapore/Malaysia - Mandarin, Hokkien, Malay, English
Ling needs a kidney. She leaves Malaysia and crosses the 1056 metres long causeway at the border to Singapore to see her younger brother who now lives there to seek this desperate favour. Will her last hope eventually save her?
THE UNTITLED PORTRAIT OF RED
Directed by Simeon Hu - U.S. / CA - English, Chinese, French
A young Chinese student meets a free-spirited girl obsessed with the surrealist Rene Magritte and promptly falls in love with her, challenging the conservative values of his family.
WHY DON’T YOU EAT MORE
Directed by George Du, Sinclair Neff - U.S. - Mandarin Chinese
A quiet, up-close reflection on masculinity and the meaning of the word "skinny”.
Made in NY - 104Mins
This program offers a diverse cross-section of New York City presented by NY-based storytellers. An unlikely friendship develops between an aspiring actress and shopkeeper; a Chinese American father in Brooklyn faces challenges while raising his Black son; and a young woman finds community and inspiration in the queer Asian dance party, Bubble_T. These are narratives that could only unfold in New York, as stories in and of the city.
Directed by John H. Kim - U.S. - English
Realizing how much he has neglected his 6-year-old son, a smug Korean-American businessman races to deliver cupcakes in time for his son’s class birthday party.
DANCING ON MY OWN
Directed by Alexandra Cuerdo - U.S. - English
A hybrid documentary/narrative love letter to the queer Asian experience, inspired by New York's radical dance party Bubble_T.
Directed by Sunil Gurung - U.S. - Nepali
After being fired from a job, a desperate undocumented immigrant takes up a new gig that seems straightforward but leads to an unforeseen consequence.
WAY BACK HOME
Directed by Yanyan Zhao - U.S. - Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, English
A story of the life of a group of Chinatown stowaways. Yu comes to New York to make money for her sick son; however, in the frustrations of life and work, she finds that there is no way back.
BLACK GHOST SON
Directed by Chris Low - U.S. - English
Eddie is Chinese and his son, Troy, is Black. Together they navigate the spaces between ethnicity and identity and confront their own prejudices.
Directed by Snigdha Kapoor - U.S. / India - English, Hindi
Rhea, a young Indian girl living in the U.S., is struggling to make a decision that impacts her life and dreams when a chance encounter with an immigrant grocery store manager leads to an unexpected bond between the two.
Ones to Watch: Filmmakers Under 21 - 88 mins
Rhea, a young Indian girl living in the U.S., is struggling to make a decision that impacts her life and dreams when a chance encounter with an immigrant grocery store manager leads to an unexpected bond between the two.
THE OTHER SIDE
Directed by Josh Leong - Ethiopia / U.S. - English, Amharic
Set against the Ethiopian abandoned children crisis, two orphan brothers (Ethan Herisse, WHEN THEY SEE US) are faced with the reality of never being adopted.
Directed by Caroline Xia - U.S. - English
A mother and her 11-year-old daughter wait for a bus. To pass the time they play a game: if they could wish for anything in the world, what would they wish for?
Directed by Roxy Morris - U.S. - English
Adopted immigrants open up about their experiences trying to find identity whilst redefining the typical American family.
Directed by Sidi Wang - U.S. - English, Mandarin Chinese
On the anniversary of her adoption, 9-year-old Esther confronts the duality of her identity when she learns that the food at the Chinese buffet might not be "real Chinese food."
Directed by Radheya Jegatheva - Australia - English
Silence is the most beautiful thing that exists in the universe.
Directed by Milky Tran - U.S. - Vietnamese
After announcing her pregnancy to her volatile partner, a Vietnamese woman completes a grocery store trip by herself.
Directed by Nancy Nguyen - U.S. - English
The sleepy city of Garden Grove, California was once home to over 15 gay bars. Frat House is the last.
NOODLES & INCENSE
Directed by Rey Tang - China - English
Chinese-American cook Amy Chang wants to move to L.A. with her girlfriend Megan. However, she's held back by unfinished business with her late grandma.
Directed by Aimee Uehara - Japan / U.S. - English
An uptight health inspector bites off more than he can chew when he inspects a noodle restaurant run by demons.
Parental Guidance - 112 mins
Parenthood is equally as demanding as it is enriching. These films don’t shy away from some of the more difficult aspects of parenting. Whether it is the mental anguish of losing a child in THE PREGNANT GROUND, a mother in MOM FIGHTdoing whatever she has to do to get her child a prized action figure, or the multi-layered feelings of inadequacy in the SECOND PARENT, we can see that child-rearing isn’t a role to be taken lightly.
Directed by Shoki Lin - Singapore - Chinese, Malay
Tired of his turbulent family life, Adam seeks out an alternative arrangement in hopes of finding his place.
Directed by Penny Pin-Jung Chen - U.S. - English
A non-biological lesbian mother struggles when her daughter shows signs of favoring her wife who's the birth mom. Her fears deepen when her brother, who's also their sperm donor, comes to visit from Asia.
THE PREGNANT GROUND
Directed by Haolu Wang - UK / China - Mandarin Chinese, English
After a traumatic stillbirth, a woman starts to believe the ground below her apartment is pregnant.
Directed by Mickey Finnegan - U.S. - English
Two moms seek the hottest toy this holiday season at the local store. The problem is, there's only one left.
Directed by Thavary Krouch - U.S. - English, Khmer
A tough female line cook is tasked with delivering bitter melons to her estranged father.
Special Delivery: Shorts that Spark Joy - 111 Mins
Ring Ring Ring! Special delivery. This section of shorts will have you laughing, smiling, and crying tears of joy. From Bollywood superstars, Canadian celebrities, and notable Asian figures, we have it all. OVERSHARE will have you relating to your everyday Lyft ride, ASMR BOYFRIEND will give you a comedic take on Asian parent pressure, and much more. It’s time to sit back, relax and bathe in joyful stories.
OVERSHARE - East Coast Premiere
Directed by Michelle Noh - U.S. - English
There are some things Hazel’s rideshare driver needs to know… And there are some things he does not.
IN LOVING MEMORY - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Mayumi Yoshida and Diana Bang - Canada - English
An apathetic young woman attends her dad's wake, 20 years after he abandoned her family.
AYE KO - North American Premiere
Directed by Daniel Fahn Schoffman - Myanmar - Burmese
Stranded on a Southeast Asian country road with a headstrong goat as her sole companion, 12-year-old Aye Ko must find her way home in time for her sister's wedding.
TAIWANESE CHA CHA - East Coast Premiere
Directed by Judie (YuHui) Yang - Taiwan - Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, English
The fading dialect becomes the key to rebuild relationships.
EK JHALAK - A GLIMPSE - International Premiere
Directed by Deepmala - India - Indian
Can a man fall for a woman he has never met? And what if she is not who he imagined her to be?
IDOLS NEVER DIE - East Coast Premiere
Directed by Jerome Yoo - Canada - Korean
When Korean pop idol “N.D.” tragically dies, a dysfunctional group of high school fan girls discover a hidden message in his music.
IKEBANA - East Coast Premiere
Directed by Alejandro Yoshizawa - Canada, Japan - English
A Japanese Canadian elder recalls her experiences growing up in Vancouver and shares her love of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement.
ASMR BOYFRIEND - World Premiere
Directed by Angela Cheng - U.S. - English
Jessica can't sleep. The internet can help.
Through Practice: Documentary Shorts - 113.54 Mins
We follow six practitioners who ask us to reflect on what it means to fully define ourselves and our philosophies of life through practice.
FARMING SLOWLY - East Coast Premiere
Directed by Anthony Newen - U.S. - English
A passionate young Vietnamese-American woman farmer is more interested in taking care of the land she grows her crops in and in building a community around organic food.
STANDING ABOVE THE CLOUDS - East Coast Premiere
Directed by Jalena Keane-Lee - U.S. - English, Hawaiian
STANDING ABOVE THE CLOUDS follows Native Hawaiian mother-daughter activists as they stand to protect their sacred mountain, Mauna Kea, from the building of the world’s largest telescope.
AN OBJECT OF MERIT - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Amanda Ann-Min Wong - Canada, South Korea, Japan - English, Korean
What makes an ordinary bowl beautiful? Korean-Canadian ceramic artist Minjae Lee explores the influences on his functional wares, searching for purpose in his art.
BETWEEN THE NOTES - East Coast Premiere
Directed by Jordan Hwang - U.S., Taiwan - English, Mandarin Chinese
Four students on the cusp of adulthood, hailing from different corners of the world, congregate at the first ever Taipei Music Academy & Festival, where they are pushed to reckon with their insecurities preparing for a risky career in music.
Directed by Champ Ensminger - Thailand - Thai
Ninlawan Pinyo is the matriarch of a Thai American family, who hustled for her fortune by founding a naem (pork sausage) factory in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
HOW SHE MOVES - International Premiere
Directed by Anya Raza and Aisha Linnea - Pakistan - English, Urdu
HOW SHE MOVES is a documentary short about the spirited Indu Mitha, a 90-year-old dance teacher in Pakistan, as she prepares for her final dance recital.
Truth and Realness: Queer Shorts - 97 Mins
A selection of shorts that celebrates queer Asian storytelling and expression. From an Indian American drag performer’s fusion of cultural influences to a young trans artist’s impassioned manifesto, these poignant accounts—of queer love, joy, heartbreak, and resilience—explore what it means to “be gay as in queer and gay as in happy.”
SACH - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Christian Francis - U.S.- English, Hindi, Punjabi
SACH (meaning “truth” in Hindi) takes you behind the scenes where drag and culture meet. Rooted in love, kindness, and truth, SNJV shares a message of acceptance and affirmation.
GAY AS IN HAPPY: A QUEER ANTI-TRAGEDY
Directed by Jordana Valerie Allen-Shim - U.S., Canada - English
An award-winning experimental autoethnographical documentary about queer joy, resistance, and resilience in the face of abuse, trauma, and transphobia.
KEEP ME AT BAY
Directed by Jingyi Hu - U.S., China - English, Mandarin Chinese
After finding her father’s old coat in a storage box, Snow remembers the day he came home from military service and the childhood trauma that led her to emotional distance from others.
WERE YOU GAY IN HIGH SCHOOL? - New York City Premiere
Directed by Niki Ang - U.S.- English
Two queer women recall their awkward, closeted high school days of kissing boys and straight girl crushes.
THINGS WE CARRY - East Coast Premiere
Directed by Bo Yoon Ha - South Korea - Korean, English
A closeted Korean woman returns home to a small fishing village for her father's funeral and uncovers a secret that reconnects her with her grandmother, a traditional deep sea diver.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE RING (婚戒) - New York City Premier
Directed by Yichi Chen - Taiwan - Mandarin Chinese
Though same-sex marriage is now legal in her hometown in Taiwan, Xin risks both her family and lover as she is forced to own up to her true feelings.
Uncharted Waters: VR & Digital Shorts - 109 Mins
Bring your virtual reality headsets if you’ve got ‘em! In the 360° animated world of LUTAW, a young inventor shows us how locals boat between islands in the Philippines, before we are guided into further uncharted virtual and two-dimensional waters to experience humorous, dark and eclectic stories of heartbreak and discovery. We end on YANG SONG: FLY IN POWER, an important and powerful short film that illuminates the intersection of sex worker advocacy and migrant labor rights.
LUTAW - International Premiere
Directed by Samantha Quick - U.S., Philippines - English
Step into Geramy’s world, a scrappy, budding inventor, who is trying to find a better way to commute to school. The film has no dialogue in order to maximize international accessibility and raise awareness of this important and far-reaching issue.
...IZAKAYA - World Premiere
Directed by Ryoji Sugimoto and Chuya Sudo - Japan - Japanese
One summer day, Takuya was invited by his girlfriend to go to an izakaya (a Japanese tavern) during lunchtime.
Directed by SJ Son and Woody Fu - Korea, Japan, U.S. - English
A Korean woman and her Japanese lover are interrupted at an inconvenient time.
Directed by Yehui Zhao - U.S., China - English
Xun is an experimental meditation on diaspora, disorientation and invisibility. Xun explores a surrealist journey to locate oneself through the juxtaposition of animation, paintings and live action.
YANG SONG: FLY IN POWER
Directed by Yin Q and Grace Naw - U.S. - English, Mandarin Chinese
Fly In Power conveys the urgent issues of migrant Asian massage and sex workers.
About the Asian American International Film Festival
Established in 1978, the Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF), presented by Asian CineVision, is the nation’s first and longest running festival of its kind and the premier showcase for the best Asian independent and Asian American cinema. AAIFF is committed to film and media as a tool for social change and supporting diversity and inclusion in independent cinema, the Asian American media arts and the API community.
The 43rd Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF43) will take place online for the first time from October 1st to 11th. With Elevent as the ticketing partner and Cinesend as the exhibition platform, audiences in the US and Canada will be able to watch most of the titles on-demand with a 48-hour viewing window right from their own homes. Programs to include over 15 feature films, 10 shorts blocks, and over 30 hours of livestreamed events, panels, and workshops! Additionally, this year's festival will present a virtual Pop-Up Market, featuring curated products from local and small businesses by Asian diaspora and BIPOC artisans impacted by COVID-19.
About Asian CineVision
Asian CineVision (ACV) is a media arts nonprofit devoted to the development, exhibition, promotion, and preservation of Asian and Asian American experiences through storytelling. Our mission is to nurture and grow the community of makers and lovers of independent diasporic Asian film, television, and digital.
The 43rd Asian American International Film Festival is made possible by special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, our contributing and community partners, and the generous support of the many friends of ACV. Incubated at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP