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San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival Preview

San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival

Center for Asian American Media
145 Ninth St.
Suite 350
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 863-7428

Festival March 8 through March 18, 2012
San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose venues
Schedule and Ticket prices to be announced
Price: Members of The Center for Asian American Media ( receive discounts and waivers, privileges

The 30th annual San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival showcases inspirational digital and interactive media while crossing over and attracting non-Asian audiences. With 30,000 attending annually, it's clear that film festivals have become much more than films.

From young girls climbing Mount Everest to a 35-year-old ukelele player reinventing beach culture internationally, this festival offers an inspirational, enlightening and edifying multicultural experience. This year, independent filmmakers will be showing 120 films in English in the cities of San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose.

The media center also offers hundreds of indie films for sale, plus filmmaker funding and an exciting and free youth workshop that comes with a stipend, personal screening and festival privileges.

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Climbing Sacred Mountain game

Climbing Sacred Mountain

Climbing Scared Mountain is a video game based on a documentary featuring girl mountain climbers overcoming obstacles in ways specific to the strong personality of each. The journey follows the mountaineers as they reach the summit of Everest together after embarking from Kathmandu. Producers Sapana Sakya and Michella Rivera-Grivage created this protype mountain climb for middle school children, hoping the game would empower girls just as the Nepalese documentary "Daughters of Everest" is meant to.

Peace Love Ukelele: The Jake Shimabakuru documentary

Jake Shimabukuro
(credit: Danny Clinch /

See the humble and free-spirited ukulele, the quintessential Hawaiian beach instrument, break free of it's stereotypes in "Peace Love Ukelele: The Jake Shimbakuru Documentary." Director Tadashi Nakamura follows a self-taught 35-year-old musician, a product of Hawaiian beach culture with his ukulele, through his successful tours and visits home. This film is meant to dispel stereotypes of Asian musicians limited to classical music and jazz. Jake, an international performer, shows versatility with this stereotyped instrument which is meant to change perceptions of his beach culture.


Do you have something to share about your multiracial experience, or would you like to meet others who do? Kip Fulbeck designed an interactive website for multiracial Asian Americans called The site allows people to upload personal videos, pictures and stories about being multiracial and also allows for participants to meet each other.

On-Line Content

Once Upon a Rooftop
(credit: still from 'Once Upon a Rooftop')

The festival features an online film each month such as Sybil Wendler's award winning documentary about Hong Kong's rooftop residents, "Once Upon a Rooftop."  Wendler received the Loni Ding Award last year for her social issue documentary, named after a local film maker and advocate.

Sale by subject, ethnicity and title

Patrons may purchase films by subject, ethnicity and title from diverse Asian originations. Films range from funny or mirthful to deadly serious, including the South Asian films "I'm British But," "The Thai" and "Death of a Shaman;" or the Vietnamese and multiethnic "Monterey Boat People;" or the Korean "Silence Broken:  Korean Comfort Women," or "Angry Little Asian Girl."   Pacific Islanders offer "Act of War:  The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation" and "A Grave Matter" while Japanese films far outnumber the others with titles such as "Issei Wahine," "The Spirit of Taiko," "Wataridori, Birds of Passage," "NY Geisha" and "Who's Going to Pay for These Doughnuts Anyway?"

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Filmmaker Entries and Funding

Want to see your vision on the big screen and meet creative colleagues?  Filmmakers may apply for completion and production funding as well as a fellowship. The deadline for 2012 was in May 2011.  Entry fees for the festival are $25 early or $35 late, the deadlines were in September. The festival also offers a free media literacy and production workshop for youth ages 13 to 23 that sounds like a fantastic opportunity although, entries are closed for this year. The filmmakers not only receive a stipend and passes to the festival, but also see their own group project screened after they learn how to make a movie themselves.  It's called the Himalyan Youth Video Workshop, at the Ninth Street Independent Film Center.

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Cindy Warner is a freelance writer and a San Francisco Bay Area native. Cindy has covered SF theater and opera for via her bicycle since January 2009. Check out her work on

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