VAFF 2018: A Year in Review
The Vancouver Asian Film Festival embarked upon its most ambitious year in 2018, coinciding with historic breakthroughs for representation and diversity in the North American film industry. We’d like to invite you to join us as we look back at a year of successes, landmarks, and innovations.
The theme of VAFF’s 22nd season was “INFUSIAN”, which was announced at our AGM in February 2018, featured the many exciting ways in which inspirational creatives, organizations, and innovators from diverse backgrounds are changing the world around us.
Brand-new Blog and E-newsletter
Through our yearlong series of INFUSIAN News spotlight blog/e-newsletter articles, VAFF profiled artists like Takeshi Murakami, local and international filmmakers such as Mayumi Yoshida and Nach Dudsdeemaytha, Asian-American viral video stars Wong Fu Productions, and filmmaker-authors Michelle Kim and Jeff Chiba Stearns.
Open Call Successes
Our Open Call for Submissions launched on both Withoutabox and FilmFreeway platforms for the first time, resulting in an unprecedented number of feature and short film submissions to our November festival between March 15 and May 31.
National Canadian Film Day
On April 18, VAFF launched its annual programming with a sold-out National Canadian Film Day screening of A Time to Swim (2017 VAFF Director’s Guild of Canada Best Canadian Feature Award Winner) in partnership with ExplorASIAN, Reel Canada, and the Museum of Vancouver. This special event took place in the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre’s Star Theatre, with director Ashley Duong and the documentary’s star Murtag Urud joining local audiences remotely for a lively Skype Q&A. We also screened the first-ever music video in the indigenous Kelabit language, Alena Murang’s “Re Lekuah” – also directed by Ashley Duong. [See our photo album on Facebook]
13th Annual Mighty Asian Moviemaking Marathon
VAFF Industry Insight Panel Series “Diversity in Filmmaking Day”
VAFF’s signature short-filmmaking competition, the 13th Annual Mighty Asian Moviemaking Marathon (MAMM13), kicked off the summer with at the first-ever VAFF Industry Insight Panel Series “Diversity in Filmmaking Day” on June 16. Moderated by our new MAMM13 Creative Producers, Mayumi Yoshida and Nach Dudsdeemaytha, VAFF ran four well-attended panel discussions of local industry professionals at the Museum of Vancouver. Topics covered a range of practical and high-level topics around increasing representation in the television and film industry from Production, Casting/Acting, Writing/Directing, to the state of diverse representation on-screen. [Read our Event Recap Here]
Photography by Gerry Gaviola & www.ruggeromano.com
When registrations closed for MAMM13 in July, it had received the highest number of applications in the history of the competition. Once teams were selected for the 8 short film and 11 ultra short projects, we undertook the first ever MAMMentorships program for those selected teams, with a full day of practical hands-on workshops on July 29 at and continuing industry mentors throughout production. [See our photo album on Facebook]
Photography by Chantelle Lui
The culmination of our competition was the MAMM13 Gala Screening & Awards Presentation, which sold out the 420-seat Rio Theatre on September 9 and with an impressive display of independent diverse short film. [Read our Event Recap Here] The five winning films were re-screened at our festival’s Canadian Shorts program on Sunday November 4.
Photography by Alisha Weng
Spectacular Summer Screenings / Chinatown Movie Night & Culture Fair
Summer 2018 also saw VAFF participate in a significant number of partnered screenings beginning with director Leon Lee’s Letter From Masanjia on August 3 with the Vancouver International Film Festival. This was followed by two partnered outdoor Spectacular Summer Screenings with Vancouver Biennale’s Pioneers of Cinema series at Leg-In-Booth Square, with films previously screened at VAFF: Robin Lung’s Finding Kukan on August 13 and Pamela Tom’s Tyrus on August 27. VAFF’s own partnered outdoor screening of Mina Shum’s Meditation Park took place September 1 at the historic Chinatown Movie Night & Culture Fair, co-produced with Chinatown Today and made possible by the City of Vancouver. This event brought roughly 500 Vancouverites to a groundbreaking cultural festival and outdoor movie night at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Plaza in partnership with Fresh Air Cinemas. [Read our Event Recap Here]
Photography by Chantelle Lui, Vincent Wong, and Clement Lau
2018 also marked a breakthrough year for Asians in cinema, with the success of feature film Crazy Rich Asians. To celebrate the first major studio film featuring an entirely Asian ensemble cast since The Joy Luck Club (1993), VAFF took part in the #GoldOpen campaign, a series of buy-outs throughout North America aimed at sending a strong and unified message to Hollywood. VAFF’s private advance screening of Crazy Rich Asians on August 13 was sponsored by SkyGlobal and filled a 400+ seat auditorium at the Cineplex Odeon Scotiabank Theatre in downtown Vancouver. [Read our Event Recap Here]
Photography by Kevin Tsia, Clement Lau, Vincent Wong
#WeHeart Canada + Japan 90
From Summer to Fall of 2018, VAFF initiated the second year of its #WeHeart program: We Heart Canada + Japan 90, which celebrated the 90th anniversary of Canadian and Japanese diplomatic relationships. Originally begun in 2017 with “We Heart Canada” (as joint venture with the City of Vancouver’s Canada 150+ celebrations), We Heart pairs local filmmakers with nonprofit and community organizations to produce a series of shorts around a different focus each year. The culmination of the 2018 program was We Heart Canada + Japan 90’s four short films pairing local filmmakers with nonprofit organizations with connections to Japan, which were premiered on Sunday November 4 at the 22nd Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival.
Photography by Alisha Weng
Another program that came to fruition in 2018 was the AIM: Asians in Movies calendar project. This innovative project began at VAFF’s 2016 festival as part of our first ever “AIM: Asians in Movies, Media, and Music Summit”, continuing throughout 2017 and 2018 in the form of a competition for loglines, directors, and models to create a series of 12 movie posters featuring Asian leads. The result is the AIM 2019 Calendar, which is now available for purchase on our website here.
22nd Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival
The 22nd annual festival, held November 1-4, 2018 at Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas, was immensely successful, welcoming more new ticket buyers to the festival than ever, a significant increase on VAFF 2017’s revenue total, with greater numbers of day-of ticket purchases and greater social media engagement than ever before. Featuring 35 films including features and shorts, two panel discussions, and four afterparty celebrations the 2018 festival was also noteworthy in having over 50% female filmmakers as well as a large number international films from around the world. Beginning with Sundance Film Festival Award Winning film Dead Pigs by Cathy Yan – soon to be director of DC’s first-ever female directed Birds of Prey – the festival also had the privilege of screening Canadian director Domee Shi’s Bao, the first-ever Disney Pixar short to be directed by a woman. Opening night concluded with a well-attended Gala Celebration held at D6 Lounge at Parq Vancouver, where crowds were entertained by the Chinese-Rock fusion tunes of Son of James Band. This year’s two VAFF Industry Insight panels – one on the state of diversity and representation onscreen and one focusing on female filmmakers – were well-attended and generated important discussion. Filmmakers were also treated to a delicious Saturday evening of Filipino food with the screening of director Alexandra Cuerdo’s Ulam: Main Dish, followed by VAFF’s A Masarap Party held at local eatery Bao Down. [A full recap of the 2018 festival can be found on our blog here]
Photography by Alisha Weng
The dedicated team at VAFF looks forward to an even more successful year in 2019, building upon the achievements of an INFUSIAN of local and international filmmaking talent. We hope you’ll join us and continue to support our mission as we strive to bring you more of the best diverse content from Vancouver, Canada, and beyond. The Vancouver Asian Film Festival would like to thank all of the audience members, sponsors, community partners, volunteers, team members, industry supporters, media and vendor partners, for being a part of this spectacular year of the Vancouver Asian Film Festival.
STAY IN TOUCH
To stay up to date on our activities or to read up on everything we’ve accomplished, visit our online blog at VAFF.ORG/vaff-news , and if you haven’t already done so we encourage you to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter!
If you believe in our mission, we encourage you to contact us to become a sponsor or a donor at email@example.com . Together, we can ensure authentic and diverse stories continue to be told, and bring even more of stories to screens both big and small. Find out More.
Vincent Wong is the Director of Marketing at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival. Vincent has been with VAFF for the past eight festivals and is very proud to be part of this unique family of creative and passionate individuals. In his role with VAFF, he works to increase VAFF’s visibility to new and existing audiences through strong branding, strategic partnerships, promotions, effective communications and events, including participating as a Producer for the Mighty Asian Moviemaking Marathon in 2018. Vincent has worked in the non-profit sector for 17 years, and in the special events field for over 8 years, including roles producing and planning festivals and concerts at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, and as Manager of Marketing & Sales at Vancouver Opera. Among Vincent’s favourite things about Vancouver are its love of festivals, vibrant social communities, and its cultural diversity, aspects of the city that Vincent works hard to promote both in and out of VAFF.
This article is part of a series of INFUSIAN News Spotlight Articles: vlog posts, interviews, and articles exploring VAFF’s 2018 season theme of INFUSIAN, which features individuals and organizations who are pushing the boundaries, creating not only film, but art, culture, and change by infusing their work with a diverse mix of traditional and contemporary influences. Over the course of 2018, we’ll be profiling artists, filmmakers, musicians, thinkers, and agitators are changing the world in which we live by bringing a unique perspective based on their lived and cultural experiences. It is through this act of enrichment that they are renewing society with fresh and interesting ideas, and new and unexpected takes on ancient traditions. We encourage you to stay tuned and join us on this fantastic journey!
This article was originally published as part of the VAFF 2018 Festival Program under the title “VAFF 2018 : A Year in Review”.