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,” 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.
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.