To me, the IPAAFF means representation. It means Asian Americans breaking stereotypes and showing America and the world that Asian Americans are not all nerds or villains. We are not Fu Manchu or Long Duck Dong. We can be heroes and macho too. Watching TV or movies can be tough for Asian Americans because we are not often seen, and if we are seen, we are played by white actors and actresses. Being told your people can only be on the big screen if they are played by white people is not only whitewashing but also incredibly heartbreaking.
Yellowface sends the message that Asian Americans cannot be the lead role in films, so a film festival with Asian American films means people get to see Asian Americans on the big screen. It means we can see actual Asian Americans in lead roles and not white people in yellow face. Emma Stone, for example, is not Asian American nor does she look remotely Asian American, but she plays an Asian character in the film “Aloha”. For the film “Ghost In the Shell,” Scarlett Johansson plays a Japanese character, where she got her face CGIed to look more Asian American. For the amount of time that took, that is ridiculous. Why not just hire someone who is actually Asian?
For me, the worst case of yellowface has to be in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” where Mickey Rooney plays a Japanese man in which his portrayal is more of a caricature and incredibly racist. That portrayal of a Japanese person shows America that Asians are buck tooth fools, but that is not who we are.
IPAAFF allows us to fight against yellowface and to fight against the stereotypes, and IPAAFF, if anything, is a fighting mechanism to show the world Asian Americans are not the stereotypes that films represent. IPAAFF is a fighting mechanism to show the world how we want to be represented.