Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival

Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival

The Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF) was founded in 2008 to fulfill the need for a festival space in Philadelphia that was focused on supporting the growing Asian filmmaking community. PAAFF is dedicated to supporting and highlighting the experiences of Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora through creative community-focused programs.

Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival

The Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF) was founded in 2008 to fulfill the need for a festival space in Philadelphia that was focused on supporting the growing Asian filmmaking community. PAAFF is dedicated to supporting and highlighting the experiences of Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora through creative community-focused programs. PAAFF is currently the third-largest film festival of its kind in the United States. In addition to our film programs, our volunteer-run organization also presents supporting programming such as live performances, chef demonstrations, panels and lectures, and educational workshops during the festival and throughout the year.

About the Organization:

The Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF) was founded in 2008 to fulfill the need for a festival space in Philadelphia that was focused on supporting the growing Asian filmmaking community. PAAFF is dedicated to supporting and highlighting the experiences of Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora through creative community-focused programs. PAAFF is currently the third-largest film festival of its kind in the United States. In addition to our film programs, our volunteer-run organization also presents supporting programming such as live performances, chef demonstrations, panels and lectures, and educational workshops during the festival and throughout the year.

organizational budget

$50,000 - $100,000

existence for

11-15 YEARS

The Issue:

In the history of American film, Asian characters have often been limited to caricatures and stereotypes—written by non-Asian storytellers, and sometimes even portrayed by non-Asian actors. Some of the most popular American films, such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and Ghost in a Shell (2017) adaptation have relied on problematic stereotypes and whitewashing as part of their craft. This type of stereotypical or even non-existent media representation is harmful to Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora communities— often erasing the diversity of our experiences and perpetuating racist, exotified narratives that have a direct connection to violence against us. In a recent survey conducted by LAAUNCH and reported by NPR 42% of respondents couldn't name a prominent Asian American. The study also found that most Americans get their perceptions or knowledge about Asian Americans through TV, music, or movies—making clear the need for better media representation for Asians and Pacific Islanders.

The Solution:

PAAFF is a festival with year-round programming that serves as a platform to elevate Asian and Pacific Islander storytellers in different creative mediums. In November of each year, we host an 11-day festival gathering featuring film and art from all over the A&PI diaspora. Each day of our festival is full with events and screenings that encourage audiences to expand their understanding of Asian and Pacific Islander identities, experiences, and stories. In addition to film showcases, the festival staff carefully curates live panel discussions, and workshops to create spaces for community connection and generative conversation. As a local indie film festival, PAAFF is one of the key spaces for many Philadelphians to encounter first-hand the innovative ways in which Asians and Pacific Islanders are changing the film and arts industries. Now that the festival has adapted to be online, the reach of its programs has increased significantly.

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