Austin Asian American Film Festival Announces Full Lineup for 13th Anniversary with Hybrid Online and Drive-In Screenings
The Austin Asian American Film Festival is excited to announce its 2021 full lineup, comprising 16 feature films and 30 shorts from Asian and Asian American filmmakers. The festival’s 13th anniversary (June 4 – 20) will be commemorated by a special hybrid format of both online and drive-in screenings.
For this year’s centerpiece presentation, Mei Makino and her all star crew of UT alumni return to Austin with Inbetween Girl, a heartfelt and poignant teen dramedy that shows just how messy coming of age really is. Austinites who loved the film’s award-winning SXSW premiere and those who haven’t had the chance will get to catch the film screening at Pioneer Farms or online from June 11 – 13.
Showing more love for Austin is Mohit Jaswal’s special event premiere of Night on Sixth at the Long Center with standup performances by cast members Yola Lu and Tai Nguyen kicking off the event. The charming comedy follows Yola’s (playing herself) journey downtown as she meets a ragtag group of artists and has conversations sure to shake up her views of life and connection.
Bookending the drive-in events are two narrative dramas: Antoinette Jadaone’s Fan Girl and Sujata Day’s Definition Please, both dealing an emotional punch to start and end the event series. Where Jadaone’s film explores the darker sides of romantic fantasies, Day’s offers a reprise, a loving meditation on mental health and cultural expectations.
Additionally, the festival will show two documentary features that both showcase ties to Hong Kong’s past and present. This year’s retrospective, Hong Kong New Wave master Stanley Kwan’s 1991 feature Center Stage, explores 1930s Shanghai silent film icon Ruan Lingyu’s lasting legacy in a new restoration of the original director’s cut. The unconventional biopicambitiously follows Maggie Cheung and an all star cast who dramatise the political, artistic, and intellectual ferment of prewar Shanghai. Memories to Choke On, Drinks to Wash Them Down follows four Hong Kongers to pay bittersweet tribute to the city’s contested past, whirlwind present, and ambivalent future.
Zooming out, the festival presents two films that present an international lens, looking at current issues around the world. Assembling from over 300 hours of on-the-ground footage, Yung Chang’s Wuhan Wuhan provides an invaluable record of the city’s early experience with the virus, taking a warm, empathetic look at the experience of the Chinese city’s residents during last year’s unprecedented lockdown. Mohammed Ali Naqvi’s The Accused: Damned or Devoted? dives into Pakistan’s controversial ancient blasphemy law, which has resulted in the lynching or burning to death of at least 50 people. The documentary features stories of people accused of blasphemy as well as supporters of the law, revealing the interplay of religion and politics.
“The Austin Asian American Film Festival has always strived to bring subversive, groundbreaking films to Austin that don’t always get playtime in the city’s film community, or made accessible to those who can’t attend big, flashy film festivals,” Programs Director Jenny Nulf said. “Many of the AAPI stories we program fit the Austin indie vibe, often showcasing delightful comedy and unique low budget skillset.”
Among the great range of films our 13th annual festival boasts, we believe there’s something for everyone. For families and young children, Hui Tong and Kelly Ng’s Curtain Up! provides a sweet, sometimes sombering, and insightful look into the lives of the elementary students in the PS 124 club, the only Asian American team to compete in the Junior Theatre Festival, as they navigate their developing identities while preparing for their production of “Frozen Kids.”
Continuing to focus on Asian American students, Debbie Lum’s Try Harder! paints a portrait of high school seniors as they embark on the college application process, navigating the intersections of class, race, and educational opportunity to reach the next step in their lives.
In light of the surge of reported anti-Asian violence and racism since the onset of the pandemic, our place in uplifting Asian American filmmakers and changing narratives is as vital as ever. “The rise in hate crimes against our community is unfortunately not new, and the racist and stereotypical depictions of Asians on screen are partial contributors to the misconceptions of our community that lead to them,” Executive Director Hanna Huang said. “This makes our work in supporting our Asian and Asian American indie filmmakers even more important.” Artistic Director Ray Loyd added: “We showcase and highlight Asian & Asian American films because they are part of a diverse fabric of stories and voices that need to be heard.”
All Access Virtual Film Passes are available now for $125 or for $99 as an add on to drive-in tickets. Drive-in event tickets are available for $35 per vehicle. The special screening tickets of Night on Sixth at the Long Center Terrace are $10 per person. Single film tickets and a complimentary slate of 30 short films are also now available.
More information can be found at www.aaafilmfest.org.