Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival

PAAFF 2016
  NOV. 10-NOV. 20

2016 Festival Recap

Director’s Statement

Greetings friends, it is with great excitement that I welcome you to the 9th annual Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival! In this guide you will find details about all the features, shorts programs, food events, musical performances, panels, workshops, and a host of other peripheral programming at this year’s festival.

2016 has been a year of both great challenges and tremendous strides for the AAPI community in film and television. We saw a second successful season of Fresh Off the Boat, the first TV show in twenty years to feature an all AAPI lead cast, with the third season currently airing on ABC. Talented actors such as Randall Park, Constance Wu, Steven Yeun, Kal Penn, Mindy Kaling, John Cho, Priyanka Chopra, Danny Pudi, Daniel Dae Kim, and Ken Jeong have all become household names and a whole slew of new AAPI actors have achieved series regular status in the Fall 2016 premiere line up. Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang even won an Emmy for their breakout Netflix comedy series Master of None.

That said, 2016 began with one of the least diverse Academy Award shows in recent history, sparking the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Only 1 in 20 speaking roles and just over 1% of lead roles got to AAPIs in major Hollywood productions. To make matters worse, the extremely virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric in this year’s presidential campaign has brought a resurgence of blatant racism from the fringes of society into the limelight. Look at the recent controversy surrounding the bigotry-laden segmen that Jesse Watters filmed for The O’Reilly Factor on election opinions in NY Chinatown.

Referring to it as “harmless fun,” Watters’ segment reinforces the perpetual foreigner myth, disrespects our elders, and homogenizes Asian cultures. The fact that it could be aired on primetime television shows how much work there is left to be done.

This election has shown us that the racial divides in our country still run deep, and as this presidential campaign comes to an end, it is more important now than ever before for artists and creatives from our communities to have safe spaces to share their work and be recognized for their achievements.

There are far too many exciting programs for me to highlight in this short letter, but check out a few of our new additions such as the tw0 day academic conference at Community College of Philadelphia, two days of live theater performances at Fleisher Art Memorial, Indonesian Night and cooking demo by Japanese chef Chigumi Obayashi at Reading Terminal Market, and the “I Bear Witness” gallery exhibit at Asian Arts Initiative. PAAFF’16 also includes two special showcases, which you can read about on the next page. I also encourage all of you to attend our Opening Night Celebration with special guest DJ Rekha and Closing Night Reception with Hawaiian graffiti artist Prime featuring catering by Poi Dog Hawaiian food truck.

PAAFF’16 would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of our volunteer staff, community partners, venue partners, and sponsors. Thank you all for attending, and I look forward to welcoming you to our festival.

Rob Buscher
Festival Director


We always believe that amazing work should be awarded and praised. These were the best of the best from our 2016 festival.

Tiger Hunter Filmmakers holding their trophies for Best Narrative Feature at PAAFF 2016

Best Narrative Feature

Director: Lena Khan

Film Still from Tyrus

Best Documentary Feature

Director: Pamela Tom

Film Title for I Won't Miss You

Best Narrative Short

Director: Bernard Badion

Film Still from Noodle Deli

Best Documentary Short

Director: David Liu

Film Still form The Last Smile


Director: Shankey Srinivasan

Film Still from Mele Murals

Audience Choice: Documentary Feature

Director: Tadashi Nakamura

Film Poster from Dear Thalia

Vijay Mohan Social Change Award

Director: Rex Moribe






THE memories

Festival photographs taken by Antrim and Spruce Photography, The Miles Eye, Justin Chiu, Rob Buscher, Xu Xiaoye, Dyana Wing So and Pheng Tang.