2021 Festival Info

On behalf of the staff at SAAFF, we’d like to extend a warm welcome to our 9th annual festival. Due to COVID-19, we’re partnering with Northwest Film Forum to host this year’s festival (almost) entirely online for the first time. That means we have the opportunity to show more films over more days than ever before–123 films in total, including 4 feature narratives, 5 feature documentaries, and 15 shorts programs over 11 days, March 4-14, 2021. With the exception of a few special limited screenings, you’ll be able to access the films anytime during the festival and you’ll have 48 hours to finish watching once you hit play. 

SAAFF opens this year with The No-Good Very Bad Terrible Longest Worst Year — 2020 COVID Shorts. This program highlights incredible (and not all sad!) short films that reflect on the pandemic’s varied and wide-reaching impacts on communities across North America, as well as the creativity that blossomed during lockdown. 

One of our special limited screenings is our Centerpiece Narrative, local martial arts action comedy THE PAPER TIGERS, which will make its Pacific Northwest premiere at the Burien Drive-In on March 6 at 7 pm. In it, three childhood kung fu prodigies turned middle-aged, out-of-shape dads overcome old grudges to avenge their master’s death. This film will also be available online for a limited time.

FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH and GOODBYE MOTHER will make their Seattle premieres at SAAFF, and will only be available March 8-14. Feature documentary FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH follows one Chinese-American family’s complex ancestral roots to the historically segregated South. In the touching feature narrative, GOODBYE MOTHER is a family drama about a young man’s trip home to Vietnam after living overseas in the United States with his Vietnamese American boyfriend. 

DEFINITION PLEASE will also make its Seattle premiere at SAAFF and will only be available on March 13 for 24 hours. This riveting dramedy about a former spelling bee champion won the 2020 CAAMFest Jury Award for Best Narrative. 

Other highlights include our many shorts programs, too many to list here, several of which are free or pay-what-you-can. Grief Like No Other: Holding Space for Healing from Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss is a free program that brings attention to the rarely discussed, yet widely experienced trauma of pregnancy complications. We invite you to join and actively hold space with us during the live panel discussion on March 11 at 1 pm.

The Việt Kiều: Vietnamese American Shorts, Looking Past Paradise: Shorts From Hawai’i, Haru Haru: Day by Day, and Southeast Asian Showcase shorts programs each speak to the unique experiences of their communities. Việt Kiều: Vietnamese American Shorts includes NO CRYING AT THE DINNER TABLE, which won the 2020 SXSW “Short Documentary Jury Award” and is a 2021 Academy Awards contender for the “Best Short Documentary” category. Looking Past Paradise: Shorts From Hawai’i includes the 2021 Sundance Film Festival selection THIS IS THE WAY WE RISE, as well as the 2021 Academy Awards short film contenders MOLOKA’I BOUND and KAPAEMAHU

We end this year’s festival with the Closing Night: Collective Memory, Community Spaces shorts program, which will be followed by a live panel discussion on March 14 at 6 pm. From the oldest Sikh temple in North America to the closure of an acclaimed New York restaurant, this program explores the histories, memories, and communities in cherished Asian American spaces. 

While we won’t physically see you there this year (except at the drive-in screening of THE PAPER TIGERS), we hope this year’s program entertains, educates, moves you, brings you joy, and lends a different perspective. We hope to actually see you again in person next year when we celebrate our 10-year anniversary!

Vanessa Au
Executive Director

Victoria Ju
Festival Director