The SFIAAFF is one of the oldest and most prestigious Asian American film fests in the country. And this is one of the first times, in my memory at least, that the opening and closing night films are both made by Asian American directors. In years past, the opening night films have been foreign. Last year it was Hero. The year before it was Bend it Like Beckham.
Why is that? Is it because there just aren't enough Asian American films out there? Or is it because Asian films draw in more of an audience than Asian American films? Most Asian American film festivals in this country actually program both American and foreign films. The exception is Chicago's Asian American Showcase, which, being politically minded, decided from the beginning to only program Asian American film. And perhaps the occasional Canadian film. To the general public, there is probably no difference in Asian and Asian American films. They just see Asian faces and think we're all the same. But the stories we have to tell are very different.
I think this year's SFIAAFF signifies that Asian American directors are finally coming into their own. I have high hopes for both Saving Face, by Alice Wu and The Motel by Michael Kang. I’ve shown the student work of both directors at my own Asian American shorts festival in Houston (called Slant) and Wu’s Trick or Treat and Kang’s A Waiter Tomorrow are among some of my favorite short films.
Anyhow, hope to see you at SFIAAFF tonight!