Seattle Asian American Film Festival continues in virtual format

Festival spokesperson says the virtual format allows for more access to films and events.

The Seattle Asian American Film Festival continues this week in an almost entirely virtual celebration of culture and film.

The 9th annual SAAFF, which would typically be held in a few select theaters and venues in Capitol Hill has been transitioned into a virtual format as a result of the pandemic.

Executive Director of SAAFF, Vanessa Au, said the silver lining of holding the festival virtually is that it expands access to the festival as space is less limited.

“Now, we can sell a lot more tickets,” she said.

Additionally, the festival has been expanded from 4 days to 11 days, from March 4 to March 14.

Au said the festival usually would include panel discussions, tabling and Q&A sessions with filmmakers, but AU said the pandemic has “turned all that upside down.”

She says the festival will still offer those events in a digital format, including pre-recorded Q&A sessions with film makers after film screenings.

The festival, according to Au, will also continue to partner with local restaurants. This year SAAFF has partnered with Macadons, Phnom Penh Noodle House, Sushi J, Bobae and Itsumono.

SAAFF will feature over 120 films in total, including full-length features, documentaries and a variety of short films and animations.

The festival will feature a diverse collection of films ranging from the modern kung-fu comedy “The Paper Tigers,” directed by Bao Tran to an informative yet emotionally compelling documentary called “Far East Deep South.”

“Far East Down South,” is a family documentary captured and told by Larissa Lam and her husband Baldwin Chiu. The documentary follows their Chinese-American family as they track down Baldwin’s grandfather’s roots in a small Mississippi town.

The family brings Baldwin’s father along with them, who really never knew his father as he left for America when he was young to open a general store in Mississippi and financially support his family. Baldwin’s grandfather died while his father was young.

Together, the family discovers how integral Chinese-Americans were to communities in the deep South and the film elaborates on a racist part of American history that is largely unexplored and untaught in school books.

The documentary is both informative and deeply touching as Baldwin Chiu and his father discover and reimagine their identities and relationships in what is a profoundly American story.

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