35th Annual Asian American International Film Festival Highlights New Filmmakers

A still from “A Lot Like You,” an autobiographical documentary by Eliaichi Kimaro. (Photo courtesy Asian Cinevision)

Films that explore Asian Americans trying to balance aspects of their ethnic heritage are featured in this year’s Annual Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) which began this week in New York.

Organized by Asian Cinevision, a nonprofit media arts organization, the festival started in 1978 to present independent films by Asians and Asian Americans.

According to festival spokesperson Vivian Foung the main focus of Asian Cinevision and the festival is to provide a platform for emerging artists.

“A lot of our directors, they’re not extremely well known, but they’re on their way to being well known,” Foung told Fi2W.  “A lot of them are showing their first film, their feature debuts.”

This year, several films reflect the Asian-American immigrant experience.

“A Lot Like You” (pictured above) is a documentary by Eliaichi Kimaro about her singular life experience as a half-Tanzanian, half-Korean first generation American.

“[Kimaro’s] particular film is more to draw attention to people who are bi-racial and mixed race, and to illustrate the ties between your families and two different cultures and how that relates to you as an individual,” said Foung.

“Viette.” (Photo courtesy Asian Cinevision)

“Viette,” a film by Mye Hoang, a Vietnamese-American, tells the story of young Vietnamese-American seeking greater freedom for herself.

“Model Minority” tells the story of a half-Japanese, half-American high school student facing the pressures of modern adolescence.  It is directed by Lily Mariye.

“Seeking Asian Female.” (Photo courtesy Asian Cinevision)

Finally, “Seeking Asian Female” tells the story of an aging, twice-divorced American man and his search for an Asian bride.  Foung said the film is still a work in progress, and what will be shown at the festival is a “sneak preview.”  According to Foung the director, Debbie Lum, finds herself pulled into the story, with her preconceptions of the situation challenged.

The Asian American International Film Festival runs through August 5th.  An online guide to the Festival is available here.  Venues include Clearview Chelsea Cinemas, the Asia Society, and the Museum of Chinese in America.  More information is available here.

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund.




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AboutJustin Mitchell
Justin Mitchell was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska. He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in 2002 with a degree in theater, and worked as an ESL teacher in the Czech Republic, Cambodia, and Korea. He is now a student at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism with a focus in international journalism. Follow him on Twitter @mittinjuschell.