Stories Within (sponsored by Austin Asian American Film Festival)

Stories Within is a community-led and created project from Austin, TX created in the aftermath of the March 2021 Georgia Asian Spa Shootings and during a heightened time of the pandemic-related rise in hate crimes against Asians. With the support of established local arts nonprofit Austin Asian American Film Festival and Unraval Productions, the project expansion will include training and production resources for other AAPI communities in Texas to create their own video series, a traveling exhibit in 2022, and an educational toolkit adapted for all ages to participate and engage in narrative storytelling using prompts based on the series.

Here's the Issue:

Texas has the third-largest AAPI population in the country and is the fourth-highest in reported anti-Asian hate incidents. One of the first reported incidents of COVID-related anti-Asian hate also occurred in Midland, Texas in March of 2020 where a man attacked and slashed at an Asian American father and his 2 young children at a Sam’s Club. However, national responses and organizing around Stop Asian Hate initiatives typically are clustered around the East and West Coasts, where there are older and larger established Asian American communities. Increased representation of AAPI stories in states like Texas is essential as part of the history and fabric of Asian Americana.

The creative team behind AAPI Stories Within worked with AAAFF on focused discussions with community leaders and filmmakers to bring this project to fruition at a high production value using personal narratives of local community members from diverse ethnic and social backgrounds.

Our Solution:

After the shootings in Georgia that left 6 Asian women dead, a collaborative of Asian American leaders in Austin teamed up to film a series of videos in response to the past year’s rise in anti-Asian racism and hate crimes. We have since refined the initial #StopAsianHate PSA concept into Stories Within.

Along with releasing the series in the local Austin community, this project demands us to expand and grow throughout the state of Texas to reach over 1.6 million Asian Texans. We are developing an impact program replicating the project model so community partners and AAPI filmmakers in other Texas cities can team up to create their own Stories Within videos with personal narratives from local participants. Our goal is not only to broadcast the diversity and strength of the AAPI population in Texas but also to respond to these acts of violence through community and storytelling.

We're the right people to do the work because:

The Stories Within project team and advisory board include leaders from our AAPI community organizations such as –  Asian Family Support Services of Austin, UT Center for Asian American Studies, Asian American Quality of Life Commission, Asian American Community Health Initiative, Asian American Communities Civic Coalition and more. Our commitment to community input throughout the process of the project is a significant core value. Paired with film industry experts Unraval Pictures and BEAST editorial house, we pair important social issues with high production value.

Our fiscal sponsor and programmatic partner, Austin Asian American Film Festival, has been a prominent fixture in the local Austin Asian American art scene championing films that speak to and enhance understanding of the AAPI experience. Their work throughout the years includes not only an annual film festival but also year-round presentations, AAPI filmmaker network, and participation in our Austin-area Cultural Arts community.

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