Keep the Conversation Going

by Samantha Yu
2012 Student Delegate

After living in NYC for more than a decade, it’s funny that I would begin my journey in Asian American Media on the other side of the country. As a part of the student delegate program, we have the privilege of flashing our badges to awkwardly begin a conversation with filmmakers and industry workers, through some of these meetings, I have gained a new perspective on the role Asian American Media plays in my life.

For 12 hours a day, over the course of 5 days, we attend 4 scheduled screenings. Now you might think, “Half a day watching movies? How hard can that be?” Well, let me tell first hand that it’s actually quite exhausting. Partially due to jetlag, by the time we reach the last screening of the day, I am ready to check out and hit the hay. When so many films are watched back to back, we don’t receive a lot of opportunities to reflect on everything we’ve just taken in. But at the end of the day, when I really absorb and think about all of the screenings, it only brings me to further appreciate the diversity within the Asian American culture.


WongFu at Present/Future / photo by Jain Thapa

Yesterday during our breaks in between screenings, myself and another delegate had an opportunity to attend parts of the Present/Future panel, a conversation about Asian American Media. We received the opportunity to hear many different speakers present, including the guys from WongFu Productions, about where they feel the Asian American media should be headed towards. Phil Wang of WongFu was quick to point out that in the room full of audience, there weren’t many “young people” present, referring to high school students. In fact, since I am the youngest of the student delegates, I am pretty sure I was the youngest one at the presentation. Phil raised a concern that in the midst of trying to reach the younger generation of media consumers, it is incredibly important to begin engaging them at a young age, and the age demographic of the room reflected such concern. It isn’t so much that young Asian Americans aren’t consuming media, because they sure are, but when it comes to caring about the matter and actively participating in and seeking it out, there is still much room for growth.’


Packed room at Present/Future Summit. Photo by Jain Thapa

For reasons unknown to me, I have always kept my Taiwanese identity separate from my American identity, it wasn’t until this past winter when I visited family in Taiwan and realized through my aging grandparents that I could no longer live in the States without embracing my Taiwanese self. Soon after, “Linsanity” hit the Big Apple and the globe, and for the first time ever, it became relevant to talk about Asian American presentation on national television. I have encountered so many people who feel that the conversation is long overdue, but the fact is that it has begun nonetheless. We can’t predict where Asian American Media will end up in the next few years, but these months of relevant conversations are extremely important, and I am grateful to be a part of SFIAAFF this year and participate in some of these conversations. These past few days have led me to a world I never much about, and the fact that I was able to do so through engaging myself in the film medium only adds on to its impact on me.

Chosen from a competitive pool of undergraduate and graduate students, the Student Delegates are a small but diverse group of students who undergo Festival “boot camp.” Guided by Festival staff, students participate in a rigorous schedule of film screenings, discussions, and exclusive meetings with filmmakers and special guests. The program aims to cultivate the next generation of filmmakers, activists, educators, and community leaders. See all of the 2012 Student Delegates here and their blog!

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