This weekend, the Film Series and Asian American Students Association at Bryn Mawr College teamed up to volunteer at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF)!! Located at the Asian Arts Initiative, the festival featured shorts, food demos, and an art exhibit. Over the span of the final weekend of the film festival (11/18-11/19), around 15 Bryn Mawr students covered four different volunteer shifts. At the film festival, we helped usher and take audience as well as collect and count ballots. One perk of volunteering at the festival was that we were able to watch some of the films!
One of my favorite films that I saw while volunteering at the festival was the documentary Forever Chinatown. The film tells the story of Frank Wong, an 81-year-old self-taught artist who creates miniature models from his childhood memory of San Francisco Chinatown. His miniatures capture the images of an evolving Chinatown of the 40s during a time of discrimination and rapid change. In sweeping takes of Wong’s miniatures and clips from films of the 40s, the film recreates a sense of a time lived long ago.
Another film that I really loved from the festival was Painted Nails a documentary that follows Van Hoang, a Vietnamese immigrant and nail salon owner. At the time being pregnant, Hoang advocates for safer cosmetics and working conditions for nail salon workers after having two miscarriages as the result of the toxic chemicals in nail products she uses at her salon. She goes on to testify in Washington, DC in front of Congress for the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act and ends up giving birth a healthy baby!
Overall, volunteering at the Asian American Film Festival was really fun as we got to watch really amazing movies, meet cool people, and speak to actors and directors! We hope to continue volunteering with the Philadelphia Asian American Film and Filmmakers as well as with other film festivals in the future!