On behalf of the staff at SAAFF, we’d like to extend a warm welcome to our 8th annual festival. This year, we are proud to bring you 12 outstanding feature-length films and eight exciting shorts programs, including four free screenings. It’s been a year of exciting news for Asian and Asian American films, filmmakers, and actors, and local film festivals like SAAFF are where they get their start. The 64 films that comprise this year’s program truly demonstrate the deep talent of up-and-coming filmmakers and the richness and diversity of Asian American communities.

Vanessa Au

The four-day festival opens February 20 at Broadway Performance Hall with a screening of the provocative documentary, Seadrift, about early Vietnamese refugees to a small fishing town in Texas who find themselves embroiled in a violent face off with locals. Seadrift has earned countless awards and recently screened at Asian American film festivals in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Austin, and San Diego.


Victoria Ju

SAAFF will screen many outstanding documentaries making their Seattle premieres. Love Boat: Taiwan by returning filmmaker, Valerie Soe, playfully recounts the experiences (and escapades) of Taiwanese American youth who took part in Taiwan’s unique heritage program, while Jeronimo, chronicles the fascinating life of Jeronimo Lim Kim, a Korean man born in Cuba in 1920s who joined the Cuban Revolution with his law school classmate Fidel Castro and even worked with Che Guevara. Between Tides takes a fascinating look at multi-ethnic Bonin Islanders who grew up on an island in the Pacific Ocean as Japanese nationals under a U.S. Navy occupation following the Second World War. One of our centerpiece films, Geographies of Kinship by celebrated filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem, details the painful experiences of Korean adoptees and the historical circumstances that led to the thousands of transnational adoptions.

Our shorts programs are the perfect opportunity to take in many films in one screening. Don’t miss shorts programs including Southeast Asian Showcase, What Haunts You (FREE), Queer AF, Borders and Belonging, Family Portraits, Mastering the Craft (FREE), Looking Past Paradise: Shorts from Hawai’i, and DirectHer: Films Made by Women.

If feature narratives are up your alley be sure to check out the The Illegal, about a young student from India who drops out of film school to work as an undocumented worker in the US. Another highlight is centerpiece film, Song Lang, which won Best Narrative Feature Jury Prize at the Seattle Queer Film Festival. It is set in 1980s Vietnam and tells the story of a loan shark and traditional Vietnamese opera singer who discover hidden depths within each other that change both their lives. Anyone who grew up in a family business will want to check out our closing film, Happy Cleaners, about a Korean American family about to lose their dry cleaning business. Be sure to check out our schedule online for more amazing narrative films screening at SAAFF this year.

We are also proud to kick off SAAFF 2020 this year with another great night of live entertainment at the historic Washington Hall. The opening night party, co-presented by 206 Zulu, will feature hip hop artists G Yamazawa and local favorite Rogue Pinay and emceed by Aleksa Manila of Pride Asia.

There is something for everyone at this year’s festival and we can’t wait to see you there.

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