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Seattle Asian American Film Festival marks 12th anniversary

The annual Seattle Asian American Film Festival (SAAFF) is celebrating its 12th anniversary of showcasing different animated, documentary and narrative films by Asian American filmmakers. 

The festival will host its in-person screenings at Northwest Film Forum from Feb. 22 to 25, and the film content will be available online from Feb. 26 to March 3, according to SAAFF’s website.

“People come to our festival to connect with themselves, their wider community, and underrepresented histories and stories they may not necessarily find elsewhere,” said Ellison Shieh, the co-director of SAAFF, to South Seattle Emerald. “A lot of people look forward to our festival every year because they know they’ll find films and stories they wouldn’t have heard of otherwise.”

Consisting of 17 programs, 55 short films and eight feature films, the festival will offer audiences a chance to watch the work of filmmakers from varying degrees of experience, including award-winning films like A Dire Strait, unseen and The Accidental Getaway Drive, South Seattle Emerald reported. 

On opening night, unseen directed by Set Hernandez will be screened, following the life of a blind, undocumented immigrant, according to South Seattle Emerald. Another film includes the feature Coming Around, which follows a queer Muslim Palestinian woman who struggles to come out to her family. 

“Film festivals like ours exist to provide a third space that celebrates independent filmmaking and serves as a community space that specifically platforms Asian American stories, creativity, and storytellers,” said Shieh to South Seattle Emerald

Having begun in the 1980s as a volunteer-led organization, SAAFF has offered the Asian American and Pacific Islander community the opportunity to raise awareness of their creative projects, South Seattle Emerald reported. 

According to SAAFF’s website, the film festival “empowers and uplifts Asian American creatives” to expand their platform and showcase their stories to the broader community. 

“SAAFF’s mission centers our community of filmmakers and art supporters, and how we approach the work we do is constantly evolving,” said Shieh to South Seattle Emerald. “As we continue our mission to support and uplift Asian American independent films and storytelling, we hope that the festival brings together connections and community that our audiences are looking for.”

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