I’m definitely not an expert, but film festivals are kind of my thing. In the past, I have worked with the Minneapolis Saint Paul International Film Festival, Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, and most recently Ithaca Fantastik. This progression has gone from the broad to the specific, and IPAAFF is no exception.
To me, Asian American cinema refers to films created by Asian Americans with narratives focused on Asian Americans. I know what you’re thinking, “But you said this film festival is specific?” The beauty of Asian American cinema is the fact that it can encompass so much. While IPAAFF has a theme, the variety of films is vast. That is what makes IPAAFF unique. There are festivals in the United States that focus on a particular Asian country and independent film festivals sometimes have films that show the perspectives of Asian Americans, but IPAAFF does it all.
For the duration of this festival I am acting as the student coordinator of film programming. I have past experience in programming, but IPAAFF will be a challenge. When dealing with the diversity within Asian American cinema itself, my challenge to myself is to program as many perspectives as I can. I would like to focus our third year on the intersectionality of Asian American identity. What does it mean to be Asian American and gay? Asian American and a woman? Asian American with a mental health disorder? Asian American and a comedian? Asian American and undocumented? I think it is greatly important that we not only push audiences to think about the diversity of Asian Americans in regard to country of origin, but also in their additional identities and situations. Just as much as we allow the complexity in white narratives, we must for all races and ethnicities as well.
IPAAFF is happening during a time of turbulence with the current political climate in the United States, specifically, the future is becoming less certain for those who are not white, wealthy, able-bodied, or heterosexual men. I hope that this festival will be a space for dialogues and conversations about identifying shortcomings and how to make the United States more understanding and sympathetic to diverse experiences. Progress is happening and IPAAFF is here to see it through.