This weekend, UF’s Asian American Student Union will present its first film festival, showcasing student films alongside a screening of the video series “Yappie” and a live Q&A session by members of popular YouTube channel Wong Fu Productions.
FilmFest is a free event that will take place in the Reitz Union. Saturday it will be in the Grand Ballroom at 6:30-9 p.m. and Sunday it will shift to the Rion Ballroom at 2:30-5 p.m. There will be free food, prize raffles and interactive booths.
FilmFest was created due to the AASU members’ desire to see representation of Asians and Asian-Americans in media. The organization’s co-presidents, Henry Nguyen and Lauren Vu, made the event as a way to encourage the Asian-American community to engage in the production and influence of the artistic medium of film.
“My hope is for AASU to be an environment that promotes the arts, not just for art students, but for anyone who has an inkling of interest,” said Lauren Vu, a 21-year old UF psychology senior.
Florida does not host its own Asian-American film festival, so the co-founders wanted to start this in Gainesville, said Henry Nguyen, a 22-year old UF biomedical engineering senior.
Both Nguyen and Vu hope that the UF community can come out, learn and appreciate diverse storytelling and creative content.
On the first day of the festival, twenty-five film submissions from students at UF and UCF will be presented on the big screen in two categories: exhibition and competition. The separate categories are meant to showcase creativity in both a non-competitive and competitive format. For the competitive category, three winners will be selected and awarded on the second day of the festival.
In addition to the award ceremony on the second day, three members of Wong Fu Productions, Philip Wang, Jennifer Le and Jessica Lin, will participate in a live Q&A session. They will also host a meet and greet and screen their latest work, “Yappie,” a series about young Asian professionals and their exploration of contemporary social and racial issues.
When asked to describe the “Yappie” series in three words, Nguyen and Vu both said it is “thought provoking,” “relatable” and “realistic.”
Wong Fu Productions is an independent digital production company founded in 2003 by co-founders Philip Wang, Ted Fu and Wesley Chan, according to their website. Their creative work has been recognized by CNN, NPR and the White House for its striking quality and emotional depth, as well as its authentic representation of Asian-Americans. As of Jan. 7, the group’s YouTube channel has more than 3 million subscribers and over 530 million video views.
Tiffany Tran, a 20-year old UF English junior and the director of this inaugural FilmFest, said last year, 2018, was a monumental year for Asian-American representation in Hollywood with the release of movies like “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Searching” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” She chose the theme “Cognizance” for FilmFest to promote awareness of the diverse stories of Asian-Americans.
“I hope that everyone attending the event to feel welcome, have fun and feel that they are part of a community,” Tran said.