Welcome to the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

Dear Festival Artists and Guests,

We look forward to having you with us for our 37th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, presented by Visual Communications.

We understand that this Festival presentation was not what you had imagined when you began creating your projects, with a dream to openly celebrate your films with our communities. To create the Festival’s in-person moments to connect and converge, we are highly focused on protocols and procedures to keep us all safe. We ask you to be mindful and protective of each other. Let us be graceful to one another.

Our safety protocols have limited our theater capacities to 50% or less. We hope that each of us finds gratitude in sharing space with your friends and family, no matter how small or large, to finally see your work on the big screen.

This past year and a half has been certainly challenging. Most of us are still struggling and grieving.  As we continue our journey of progress together, we still deeply think about our social, political, and cultural movements.  Through reflections come renewed intentions and desired impact.

In this pandemic, Visual Communications celebrated our 50th anniversary. We are grateful to our generous donors and supporters who have carried us through this time. Additionally, blessings continued with an LA Arts Recovery Fund grant, as Visual Communications was named as one of “America’s Cultural Treasures”, which honors the diversity of artistic and cultural expression and excellence in America.

Visual Communications reached its 50 year milestone because of community support and collective work. However, it also reflects decades of sacrifices from staff, volunteers, and artists.  In our continued challenge to improve and create brave spaces, we understand that we have to mitigate extractive practices to make our work more impactful.

These values and actions are reflected in RESTORING THE FUTURE, the product of intellectual, emotional, and physical labor led by Karim Ahmad (Director of Outreach & Inclusion, Sundance Institute) and the ALLIED coalition of organizations.

These organizations include Pacific Islanders in Communications, led by the late Leanne Ferrer, whose spirit can be felt through several artists and their works presented in the Festival’s Pacific Cinewaves programs; and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, powered by Sue Obeidi, a champion of Iman Zawahry and AMERICANISH.

To create and sustain cultural abundance, we need to create systemic change through restorative values and practices. We must:

  1. Uphold BIPOC artists, creative workers, and arts organizations as essential and as drivers of cultural power and change
  2. Mitigate and abstain from extractive practices that does not fully value our artistic and cultural contributions
  3. Build regenerative and accessible economic systems that allow artists, creative workers, and arts organizations to be equitably remunerated for their artistic and cultural labor
  4. Create a network of alliances to shift institutions, corporations, and philanthropy that do not uphold our values, and transform them to become our investors in new systems and structures

For this upcoming Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, we have made changes to shift programming and operations to reflect our commitment to be better.

  1. We do not have volunteers this year. We believe that labor should be paid, especially during this time of economic disruption.
  2. We do not have as many Community Partners as in previous years.  While we continue to value the allies and partnerships that we have, we need to examine how partnerships can be extractive, oftentimes asking for unpaid labor.
  3. We do not have Opening Night and Closing Night parties. Aside from COVID safety, we shifted our special events budgets to pay Festival staff, programmers, and other workers.

As we fight towards cultural abundance for our communities to receive proper remuneration from funders and sponsors, we hope to fully support our Festival artists and guests in the near future.  From honorariums, screening fees, and travel support, Visual Communications intends to be a space to uphold artists and creative workers.

The Festival will be different from previous editions.  We have to be, and we will continue to be.

We are proud to open the Festival with Ann Kaneko’s MANZANAR, DIVERGENT: WHEN WATER BECOMES DUST.  Manzanar has always been a place of convergence for our communities, and our Festival programs highlight the always-present Indigenous interconnections that we often make invisible.

Intersections and convergences are effective ways for us to safely connect with each other. We also need to be brave and welcome collisions.  It’s easy to coalesce as an “AAPI” community when we’re going against hate and white supremacy.  However, the required work needed for us to build collective power is to confront issues that divide us, from discussing why Black Lives Matter with our families, to acknowledging Asian settler colonialism in Oceania and how these power structures are replicated and represented in media. We have a lot of work to do to mitigate our own unjust practices that create inequalities within our communities.

We look forward to working with you as we traverse through these brave spaces.  We wish you all an abundance of bravery and grace.

With gratitude,
Visual Communications