AAAFF goes virtual in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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AUSTIN, TX – The Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF) is excited to announce the lineup for its upcoming Online Shorts Festival, taking place June 11-17, 2020. [Ticket link.]

Current conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic led AAAFF’s team to host this virtual festival in lieu of their planned 12th annual festival next month.  AAAFF 2020–with in-person screenings and a slate of feature films–is currently postponed to late fall, pending health and safety updates. 

In the midst of a time that has shaken communities everywhere, AAAFF is grateful for the opportunity to share these filmmakers’ unique voices and create a forum where viewers can come together to experience this wide array of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) perspectives.

PASSAGE

“The opportunity to create an online shorts festival made it possible for us to highlight more films and filmmakers than we would usually be able to,” said AAAFF Executive Director Hanna Huang. “Just as the world has had to adapt to the current circumstances, we had to do so to continue our work in supporting AAPI stories on screen. The xenophobia and anti-Asian racism that has been stoked along with the pandemic only highlights the urgency of our mission.”

AAAFF Online Shorts Festival admittance is available via purchase of the full series ($11.99; virtual access to all shorts for the duration of the online festival) or tickets to individual, soon-to-be-announced “blocks” (virtual access to the shorts in the themed “block” for the duration of the online festival). Series passes are on sale now at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/aaaff, while individual short film blocks will be available for purchase during June 11-17.

GAY AS IN HAPPY: A QUEER ANTI-TRAGEDY

AAAFF 2020 Online Shorts Festival Lineup

Documentary Shorts

ANG MERON SA WALA (BEYOND NOTHING) (Philippines, dirs. Arby and Christine Laraño) – A resolute man unapologetically abandons his first-born, believing that it was the right thing to do. Many years later, an inquisitive documentary filmmaker interrogates him.

BETWEEN THE NOTES (U.S./Taiwan, dir. Jordan Hwang) – Cho-Liang Lin, a world class violinist and soloist, created the “Taipei Music Academy & Festival” where he invites masters and rising musicians from around the world to perform together in his home country in Taiwan. The story follows four young students who are all at pivotal stages in their lives as they tackle doubts and insecurities while preparing for their professional music careers.

CHUNYUN (China, dir. Jonathan Bregel) – “Chunyun,” the world’s largest annual human migration, takes place every Chinese New Year. This cultural phenomenon consists of over three billion passenger-journeys, largely for the purpose of spending treasured time with family.

FARMING SLOWLY (U.S., dir. Anthony Newen) – Just outside of Portland, Oregon, a farmer owns two-thirds of an acre by herself growing and selling annual vegetables. Her philosophy on farming is a rebellion against industrializing food, instead she aims to take care of the land she uses and includes her customers into the entire farming process.

GAY AS IN HAPPY: A QUEER ANTI-TRAGEDY (Canada, dir. Jordana Valerie Allen-Shim) – An experimental autoethnographical documentary about queer joy, resistance, and resilience in the face of abuse, trauma, and transphobia.

SOMA (U.S., dir. Peter Trinh) – What happens when a master of her craft creates something with her bare hands, putting behind it tradition, family, and extreme attention to detail? In Chef Mutsuko Soma’s case, the best soba noodles in America, created everyday from scratch with just buckwheat flour and water. This short film takes a look into Chef Soma’s philosophy, dedication to tradition, and an inside look at the preparation of her world class menu.

TRANSPLANT (China/U.S., dir. Zheyu Liang) – What does it feel like to be a stranger in a country that you’ve lived in for twenty years? Two rootless and tenacious Chinese immigrants, Quan and Fen, try to find a home in each other on foreign soil.

UNSPOKEN (U.S., dir. Patrick G. Lee) is the collective outpouring of six queer and trans Asian Americans from across the Asian diaspora—from Sri Lanka and Myanmar to China and South Korea—as they grapple with their queerness and share what they would say if one day they woke up and their families’ generational, cultural, and language barriers were gone.

VANISHING CHINATOWN: THE WORLD OF THE MAY’S PHOTO STUDIO (U.S., dir. Emiko Omori) brings families together: in the past by splicing together family portraits in spite of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and in the present by reconnecting May’s granddaughter with her family’s legacy. These stunning photographs show San Francisco’s Chinatown in the early to mid-20th century, a vanishing “old Chinatown” vibrant with culture; an immigrant community becoming Americanized.

YAI NIN (U.S./Thailand, dir. Champ Ensminger) – 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.

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WHEN SUMMER COMES

Narrative Shorts

AIDA (IN BETWEEN) (U.S., dir. Christopher W. Graham) – A young mother is stuck between development and decay. Desperate to connect, she strikes a chord that links to the deepest parts of our memory.

AWAKEN (U.S., dir. Leena Pendharkar) – Rakhi Singh has recently put her mom, Uma Singh, into a “care center” after exploring other options for her Alzheimers Disease. Rakhi’s mom isn’t taking well to it, and still has long spells of crying, and bouts of confusion. Rakhi brings her mom home in hopes of comforting her, helping her reset, and to find her way, only to learn that it’s not only unhelpful, but also breaking her family apart. Rakhi is at a loss as to what to do, but when her mother disappears, she finds her lost in a moment from the past, paving the way for a solution. It’s not an easy one, but it’s something.

BITTER MELONS (U.S., dir. Thavary Krouch) – “Bitter Melons” is a short film about the pain we hold, and the growth we experience when we learn to let go. Sophia, a female line cook is tasked with delivering bitter melons to her estranged father. The delivery doesn’t go as planned, but through personal encounters and challenges involving the bitter melons, she is forced to confront her past and connect with her heart, tribe, and cultural roots.

BODHI (Singapore, dir. Png Zhen Yu) – The film follows a single mum, Li Ping, who is affected by her son, Junhao’s decision to ordain as a monk. When reality kicks in the day before her son’s ordination, Li Ping’s fear for loneliness becomes prominent as her son prepares to embark on a new journey as a monastic. She begins to cast doubts on her faith and struggles to choose between her faith and her only son.

FAMILY STORY (Indonesia, dir. Rendro Aryo) – One day, the life of a family changes forever.

FOR MY MONOLIDDED GIRLS (U.S., dir. Anna Tran) – Set in the early 00’s, a young girl follows misleading tips from a magazine.

HALWA (U.S., dir. Gayatri Bajpai, Nirav Bhakta) – On the eve of her wedding anniversary, empty-nester Sujata Chopra attempts to find some joy in her broken marriage, until she learns about the passing of her childhood companion’s spouse on Facebook. Having been disconnected from this woman for over 30 years over a misunderstanding, Sujata finds the courage to reach out to send her condolences. They reconnect, sparking friction when Sujata’s controlling husband, Dr. Chopra, finds out.

I KILLED A PERSON (Iran, dir. Nima Aghakhani) – A devotee is passing by. Children are playing with their water guns. The devotee bops a kid. The kid, pissed off of interrupting, raises his gun and shoots the man. The man falls down and minute by minute different people stop to help but no one is really helping. At the end, the man suddenly rises. So, what was his purpose? Maybe to teach a lesson to that kid?

LOTUS (U.S., dir. Beibei Xu) – Lili wants to hang out with her cool friends, but the family Buddhist bracelet that she wears keeps reminding her that she is watched by superior divinity. Although she tries very hard to blend in the new environment, she is always too self-conscious about it. In order to fully enjoy herself at a party, she decides to take the bracelet off, but eventually she loses it. Now she needs to do something to cover it, otherwise there will be some consequences.

MAGIC KINGDOM (U.S., dir. Nelson Ng Chak Hei) – The story is set in 1997 against the backdrop of the looming handover. Kit, a middle-aged single parent, brings his son from Hong Kong to California under the pretense of visiting Disneyland. The son, Chun, comes to realize the real intention of the trip is for his own adoption.

MALAKOUT (Iran, dir. Farnoosh Abedi) – Music was his passion… Love was his masterpiece…

MIRROR (U.S., dir. Christina Yoon) – A Korean girl with a severely scarred face goes to a black market hospital in Queens for plastic surgery.

MOONWALK WITH ME (U.S., dir. So Young Shelly Yo) – A story from the heart about a Korean American girl named Juno who is haunted by her father’s disappearances. Upon his return, Juno must decide between keeping her drifting father grounded or letting him go. “Moonwalk With Me” is a tale about the immigrant experience told through a magical landscape.

OUR HOME HERE (U.S., dir. Angela Chen) – Parallel stories of broken relationships between parents and their children striving for the American Dream all revolving around one explosive night at a fast food joint in Texas.

OVER THE HILL (U.S., dir. Jason Chao) – A Korean man tries to keep up with his elderly father on a hike up a mountain. The man tries to connect with his father during stops on the trip, but it is difficult for them to communicate. They reach the top of the mountain, and the son asks his father a final question.

PASSAGE (India, dir. Askari Kumar) – Finding herself in a state of limbo, an Indian woman revisits her immigration journey and voyages through a tempestuous emotional landscape of memory, identity, belonging and the illusion of the American Dream.

PIECES & BITS (U.S., dir. Bo Nawacharee) – A day in a life of a young Thai artist, Cea, where she has to encounter yet another stereotype of her identity as a Thai woman. All the frustration that she might have been accumulated, she found a way to chasten the stereotype, and bring her pride back to her fellow girls.

PUSSY TALK (U.S., dir. Kim Tran) – Kate’s date is going well. Until her vagina ruins it.

SERIOUS LEES (Canada, dir. Krista Jang) – A Chinese-Canadian father and daughter grocery shop in Chinatown, and learn what it means to be in touch with one’s culture.

STILL TRYING (U.S., dir. Nicole N. Nequinto) – Alex (25) is finally ready to move out of the house. That is, until her recently divorced mother breaks down after hearing her wedding song.

TAIWANESE CHA CHA CHA (Taiwan, dir. Judie Yang) – Two young girls set out for a secret journey against their parents’ will in order to reconnect back with their grandparents. Their encounter encourages each other, turning the ridiculed and doubted journey into a meaningful and unexpected adventure.

THE HEAVY BURDEN (Turkey, dir. Yilmaz Özdil) – Hosted by his uncle in Turkey, a young Kurd from Syria decides to return to his country to bring back his young donkey to replace his uncle’s old donkey recently “retired” by the municipality of the city.

THE MASK FROM HOME (U.S., dir. Jordan Hwang) – A 13-year-old starts her first day in a new school far away from home.

THINGS WE CARRY (South Korea, dir. Bo Yoon Ha) is about the burden of secrets and how they can bring a family apart, but can also bring them together.

WHEN SUMMER COMES (U.S., dir. Jiwon Uhm) – In the days leading up to their separation, two teenage girls face the biggest fight of their friendship when one finds a cigarette on an impromptu trip to their old elementary school.

WORTH (Canada/Pakistan, dir. Meelad Moaphi) – A single father has planned to give up his newborn son in exchange for money so he can take his daughter to safety across the border. But just minutes before their scheduled departure, he insists on seeing the adoptive mother as he confronts a sudden change of heart.

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Shorts Blocks

Tickets may be purchased for one or several of the individual shorts blocks below, priced at $2.99 each. Tickets for shorts blocks will be available for purchase here from June 11-17, 2020.

Documentary Program 1 (Duration: 1:07:00)

  • SOMA (dir. Peter Trinh, USA, 10:30)
  • FARMING SLOWLY (dir. Anthony Newen, USA, 7:56)
  • TRANSPLANT (dir. Zheyu Liang, China/USA, 21:43)
  • ANG MERON SA WALA (BEYOND NOTHING) (dir. Arby and Christine Laraño, Philippines, 13:53)
  • YAI NIN (dir. Champ Ensminger, USA/Thailand, 12:58)

Documentary Program 2 (Duration: 1:10:42)

  • UNSPOKEN (dir. Patrick G. Lee, USA, 17:07)
  • BETWEEN THE NOTES (dir. Jordan Hwang, USA/Taiwan, 15:06)
  • GAY AS IN HAPPY: A QUEER ANTI-TRAGEDY (dir. Jordana Valerie Allen-Shim, Canada, 3:22)
  • CHUNYUN (dir. Jonathan Bregel, China, 7:07)
  • VANISHING CHINATOWN: THE WORLD OF THE MAY’S PHOTO STUDIO (dir. Emiko Omori, USA, 28:00)

Narrative Shorts Program 1: Texas Filmmakers (Duration: 1:05:26)

  • PUSSY TALK (dir. Kim Tran, USA, 7:14)
  • LOTUS (dir. Beibei Xu, USA, 13:22)
  • OVER THE HILL (dir. Jason Chao, USA, 8:48)
  • HALWA (dir. Gayatri Bajpai and Nirav Bhakta, USA, 15:00)
  • FOR MY MONOLIDDED GIRLS (dir. Anna Tran, USA, 4:55)
  • OUR HOME HERE (dir. Angela Chen, USA, 16:27)

Narrative Shorts Program 2 (Duration: 1:21:56)

  • MIRROR (dir. Christina Yoon, USA, 12:18)
  • I KILLED A PERSON (dir. Nima Aghakhani, Iran, 27:38)
  • PIECES & BITS (dir. Bo Nawacharee, USA, 14:15)
  • MALAKOUT (dir. Farnoosh Abedi, Iran, 10:00)
  • BODHI (dir. Png Zhen Yu, Singapore, 17:45)

Narrative Shorts Program 3 (Duration: 51:02)

  • TAIWANESE CHA CHA CHA (dir. YuHui (Judie) Yang, Taiwan, 15:35)
  • PASSAGE (dir. Asavari Kumar, India, 5:15)
  • AWAKEN (dir. Leena Pendharkar, USA, 12:42)
  • THINGS WE CARRY (dir. Bo Yoon Ha, S. Korea, 17:30)

Narrative Shorts Program 4 (Duration: 1:13:04)

  • THE HEAVY BURDEN (dir. Yilmaz Özdil, Turkey, 17:00)
  • MAGIC KINGDOM (dir. Nelson Ng Chak Hei, USA, 15:00)
  • WHEN SUMMER COMES (dir. Jiwon Uhm, USA, 20:44)
  • AIDA (IN BETWEEN) (dir. Christopher W. Graham, Japan, 9:20)
  • STILL TRYING (dir. Nicole N. Nequinto, USA, 11:00)

Narrative Shorts Program 5: Happy Father’s Day (Duration: 1:14:28)

  • SERIOUS LEES (dir. Krista Jang, Canada, 8:24)
  • THE MASK FROM HOME (dir. Jordan Hwang, USA, 13:28)
  • WORTH Meelad Moaphi Canada/Pakistan 13:50
  • BITTER MELONS (dir. Thavary Krouch, USA, 25:36)
  • MOONWALK WITH ME (dir. So Young Shelly Yo, USA, 14:10)

Exclusive Content

Exclusive Content is only available to Online Shorts Festival pass holders.

  • FAMILY STORY (dir. Rendro Aryo, Indonesia, 22:05)

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 Virtual Events

Everyone is invited to the virtual events that AAAFF (along with some fantastic community partners) is hosting during our Online Shorts Festival! Check out the event lineup and RSVP below.

“Have You Eaten Yet?” the AAAFF Game Show 

Co-hosted by Taiwanese American Professionals (TAP) – Austin Chapter

When: Friday, June 12th from 7:30-9:00pm CT
Where: Zoom or live-streaming on the AAAFF Facebook page
Join on Zoom to cast your vote for the winner!
RSVP here

Homeschool with G-Su

Presented by Y’all We Asian and ColdTowne Theater

When: Saturday, June 13th from 8:05-8:50pm CT
Where: the ColdTowne Theater Twitch Stream
RSVP here

Online Shorts Festival Closing Party

Presented by GivePulse

When: Wednesday, June 17th from 7:00-10:00pm CT
Where: Zoom virtual event
RSVP here

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Downloadable Assets

Want to spread the word about AAAFF’s Online Shorts Festival? Click the links below to open and save the promotional asset files.

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ABOUT AAAFF

The mission of the Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF) is to tell Asian and Asian American stories via media arts and help Asian Americans explore opportunities in cinema.

AAAFF is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. More information can be found at www.aaafilmfest.org.