This week, the Twittersphere became embroiled in discourse (through #whitewashedOUT) over mainstream Hollywood’s Whitewashing of several traditionally Asian and Asian American characters — including the casting of Emma Stone as Allison Ng in Cameron Crowe’s Aloha, Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in the upcoming Ghost in the Shell live-action adaptation, and Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Marvel’s Dr. Strange. While discourse is important to activate and engage the community, I’ve long felt that our community must do more: we disentangle ourselves from considering only popular culture media, and throw more of our support towards independent AAPI actors and filmmakers.
Along these lines, KQED — a public access radio and television station servicing Northern California — has put together a playlist of student films for 2016’s Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month. The films were originally aired as part of the station’s Film School Shorts, a half-hour program which showcases student film projects. Assembled as a Film School Shorts APAHM2016 playlist, the collection highlights eleven fantastic short films by student filmmakers who span the AAPI diaspora. Included in the lineup are shorts like the Student Academy Award-winning Above the Sea, as well as and Pagpag (The Refuse), directed by John Paul Su, who was named the Director Guild of America’s Best Asian-American Filmmaker for his work on the short. My personal favourites are the quirky So You’ve Grown Attached by Kate Tsang, and the adorable heart-warming animated short Steadfast Stanley.