One thing that COVID-19 can’t take away from the API community is the enjoyment of watching films in the comfort of their own homes.

With the normalization of a virtual world, the Seattle Asian American Film Festival has found a way to provide the community with entertainment through film without the fear of contracting COVID-19. 

“With everything being virtual, everything is super new to us,” said Victoria Ju, co-director of the Seattle Asian American Film Festival. “We’ve been researching and watching what all the other Asian American Film Festivals have been doing in the past year to figure out our bearings on how to host our virtual film festival.”

With new circumstances comes new opportunities and the Seattle Asian American Film Festival has brainstormed and come up with creative ways to hold the festival and enhance the diversity and assortment of films through a virtual platform.

During an ordinary year, the film festival would showcase about 80 films. With the shift to an online festival, the event coordinators have made it possible to show more films this year which helps out with the goal of diversifying their content.

“We have 125 films, most of them shorts because we realize that everybody is kinda tired of always being online. There is a lot of virtual fatigue, so we kept our programming mostly shorts,” said Ju. “We showcase mostly features that are by or starring Asian American stories.”

This new structure of showing an increased number of short films allows a larger number of filmmakers to gain exposure while giving viewers the opportunity to watch at their own pace.

“We’re hoping more people will be able to access and see the films than if we were to have it in person,” said Ju. “It will hopefully be easier for us to bring in the filmmakers to the festival experience.”

The interactions and connections that are formed between the community and filmmakers during the Asian American Film Festival are invaluable and this is something that the directors of the festival are aiming to continue, despite the virtual execution of the event.

“We’re still trying our best to create spaces during our film festival this year for people to be able to connect online and we’re still reaching out to our community organization partners to see if they can participate in our film festival as well. We are trying to retain the best parts of our film festival as much as we can this year,” said Ju.

Whether it is through Q&As or social media interactions and feedback, there are various ways that people can feel close to each other and remain interconnected with other community members from a safe social distance. 

The film festival will still be doing audience choice awards and both pre-recorded and live Q&As that will allow participants to be just as engaged as they have been in previous years.

“People are really able to build intimate relationships and friendships with each other and I really enjoy that aspect of our film festival,” said Ju. “The community that we build together not only with the filmmakers but within Seattle is one of the best parts of putting this film festival together.”

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