First Annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Storytellers Virtual Film Festival Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month To Increase Media Representation, Benefit Anti-Racism Causes
Kinema, the industry’s new virtual cinema hosting platform, in partnership with a coalition of business, entertainment and creative leaders and GoFundMe.org, today announced it will leverage its virtual screening technology to host the first annual Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Storytellers Festival, in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.
The festival is focused on movies made by American filmmakers of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, and aims to increase representation of the AAPI community in media and entertainment and showcase the color and diversity of their stories. Ticket proceeds will go towards supporting GoFundMe.org’s AAPI Community Fund, focused on rectifying the racial inequalities in our society and uplifting, empowering and protecting the AAPI community.
The Festival kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. ET with the global virtual premiere on Kinema of “The Paper Tigers,” an action comedy starring Alain Uy, Ron Yuan, and Mykel Shannon Jenkins ahead of its wide release date of May 7. The screening, which will feature a discussion with the film’s director Bao Tran and Seattle Times writer Thanh Tan, moderated by Kindred Ventures’ Steve Jang, is one of more than a dozen additional films showings and panel discussions during the month.
In addition to Jang and documentary filmmaker Bao Nguyen, the festival’s other co-hosts include Jeff Chang, author of “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop”; Carol Lim, founder at Opening Ceremony; Gold House founder Bing Chen, creative director Dao-Yi Chow, designer Jeff Staple, illustrator and designer Sophia Chang, executive director at Korean American Community Foundation SF Lina Park, and co-founder of Q&A , Suzy Ryoo, Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee, designer and artist Bobby Hundreds, artist, technologist & CEO of Drue Kataoka Studios Drue Kataoka, among others.
The AAPI Storytellers Virtual Film Festival will feature films every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during the month of May as one-time special viewing events.
“We are living through a crucial time in American history as minorities and people of color,” said Jang, founder of, Kindred Ventures and co-organizer of AAPI Storytellers. “With the media far too often inaccurately depicting Asian Americans in tired tropes and harmful racist stereotypes, we want to create a platform to share the color and humanity of their voices and stories. Our hope is that uplifting these filmmakers and sharing their movies can aid in our efforts to be included in the definition of who is an American.
The Festival programming, ranging from advance screenings to retrospectives, and from documentaries to comedies, shares perspectives and narratives of the diverse Asian American experience, featuring Chinese, Korean, Cambodian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Indian and Hawaiian filmmakers, storytellers and casting. In addition to “The Paper Tigers,” films include: “Minding the Gap”, “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”, “Columbus”, “Try Harder!”, “Be Water”, “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs”, “The Donut King”, “Seadrift”, “Waikiki”, “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble.”
Expect additional films to be added throughout the month.
The storytellers behind these films - the writers, directors, producers and talent - will join the festival’s co-hosts for live conversations with the audience. Participants will include Oscar-nominated director Bing Liu, director Alice Gu, director Debbie Lum, director Bao Nguyen, director Bao Tran, director Christopher Kuhanahana, and Abacus Bank Founders The Sung Family among others.
Conversations will be hosted by Seattle Times’ Thanh Tan, founder of Strong Asian Lead David Moriya, Letterboxd #1 writer Mia Vicino, author Christine Paik, impact strategist Meg Vandervort and Kinema founder Christie Marchese.
Alongside the AAPI Storytellers Festival, Kinema’s core offering, which enables filmmakers a seamless way to screen their films and organizations, individuals and other venues to host screenings, is featuring two of the festival titles in its current library. Both “The Paper Tigers'' and “The Donut King” are available to any individual or organization in the US for virtual screenings as a way to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month.
“Uplifting the AAPI community and supporting organizations dedicated to immediate and long term action is more important than ever,” said GoFundMe.org Executive Director, Yoshi Inoue. “We’re honored that the GoFundMe.org AAPI Community Fund is the beneficiary of the AAPI Storytellers Festival as we come together to spread the word about the racial inequalities in our society and create lasting change.”
“Dehumanizing stereotypes of Asian Americans have historically been perpetrated by film and TV, and, as we’ve tragically seen lead to continued racism and violence against the culture,” said Christie Marchese, founder and CEO at Kinema. “At Kinema, we launched our platform with one mission: to foster an interactive cinematic viewing experience and expanded exhibition opportunities for a diverse and growing global audience and we are honored to do that with this festival.”
GoFundMe.org is working with a diverse advisory group of AAPI advocacy and activist leaders, and the GoFundMe Trust & Safety team to review organizations and determine which ones will receive grants from the AAPI Community Fund. To date, organizations that have benefited from the Fund include: AAPI Women Lead, Adhikaar, Apex for Youth, Asian American Federation, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Center for Anti-Violence Education, Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Cia Siab, Coalition of Asian American Leaders, Desis Rising Up and Moving, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, Filipino Advocates for Justice, Freedom Inc., Khmer Girls In Action, Koreatown Youth and Community Center, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) – Georgia + NYC Chapters, New Mexico Asian Family Center, Oakland Chinatown Ambassadors Program, Southeast Asian Community Alliance, Thai Community Development Center, United Cambodian Community of Long Beach. Full list at GoFundMe.com/aapi.
To learn more about this festival, and purchase a ticket to attend, click here.