Skip to Content
SDAFF 2021 Blog

Press Release: San Diego Asian Film Festival Makes A Comeback To Theaters Across San Diego

October 1, 2021

CONTACT: Carmela Prudencio,, 951-265-1544
SAN DIEGO, October 4, 2021

October 28: San Diego Asian Film Festival Makes A Comeback To Theaters Across San Diego

Pacific Arts Movement (Pac Arts) presents the 22nd Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF) from October 28 – November 6, 2021, the most comprehensive portrait of Asian and Asian American cinema in North America. SDAFF will showcase more than 130 films from over 20 countries in 30 different languages. The festival is back in-theaters at the UltraStar Mission Valley with additional screenings at the San Diego Natural History Museum, Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, and Angelika Film Center in Carmel Mountain.

This curated lineup of films includes the best in both award-winning and cutting-edge cinema from around the world, including 22 premieres—15 West Coast premieres, 5 North American premieres, 1 US premiere, and 1 International premiere. Festival attendees will enjoy films, Q&A’s with filmmakers, and opportunities to meet cast and crew. In addition to films from the United States, the festival welcomes works from countries around the globe that showcase the diversity of Asian representation, including Argentina, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Colombia, India, Iran, Hong Kong, Japan, The Philippines, Taiwan, and South Korea.

With the return to in-person programming, the festival reflects on a “post-pandemic world” and reinvigorates a sense of community that is much needed after a year of isolation, social unrest, and anti-Asian racism and xenophobia.

Pacific Arts Movement’s return to theaters comes at a critical time for Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander stories,” says Kent Lee, Executive Director of Pac Arts. “We remain steadfastly committed to the empowerment of these voices — especially following two years of ongoing pandemic challenges that have tested our resilience as communities.

For two decades, SDAFF has been a centerpiece of Asian American culture in the San Diego region. The festival has influenced how Asian and Asian American cinema has evolved during this time and continues to strive to represent the AAPI community through storytelling. At Pac Arts, film is a powerful medium to bring communities together in sharing unheard stories and voices from around the world. More than ever before, filmgoing in the safety and comfort of the community is of utmost importance.

Many of our films were made before the pandemic and are only available now because theaters are open again,” shares Brian Hu, SDAFF Artistic Director. “Others were made in the past 18 months and reflect what an awkward and historic moment it’s been. All of them though have been craving an in-person audience and the theatrical experience to say that our stories are bigger than our circumstances and our communities are stronger than any of us individually.

7 DAYS, a romantic comedy that reflects the awkwardness of dating during a pandemic, opens the festival on October 28th. A pre-arranged date goes awry when Ravi and Rita are forced to shelter in place together as COVID-19’s reach intensifies.

The festival’s centerpiece film is CATCH THE FAIR ONE, a thriller about a Native American woman who embarks on the fight of her life when she goes in search of her missing sister. The film highlights human trafficking and the crisis of kidnapped Indigenous women that is not often covered by the media.

Special presentation INSIDE THE RED BRICK WALL is a courageous Hong Kong documentary directed by a group merely known as “Hong Kong Documentary Filmmakers.” The on-the-ground documentary follows demonstrators occupying Hong Kong Polytechnic University to protest a pro-Beijing extradition bill in 2019 and is filmed with journalistic instincts and a sympathy for escalating human and political stakes.

The festival will close with a screening of DRIVE MY CAR (Winner of Best Screenplay at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival). The narrative feature film adapted from the short story Men Without Women by famed Haruki Murakami is a must-watch for cinephiles and movie lovers alike.

Opening Film: 7 DAYS
Thursday, October 28 at 7:00 p.m.
Location: San Diego Natural History Museum
Q&A: Cast and Crew
As if their pre-arranged date, organized by their traditional Indian parents, wasn’t uncomfortable enough, Ravi and Rita are forced to shelter in place together as COVID-19’s reach intensifies.

Centerpiece Film: CATCH THE FAIR ONE
Sunday, October 31 at 5:00 p.m.
Q&A: Cast and Crew
A former champion boxer embarks on the fight of her life when she goes in search of her missing sister.

Special Presentation: INSIDE THE RED BRICK WALL
Tuesday, November 2 at 8:10 p.m.
Q&A: Hong Kong Documentary Filmmakers
What begins as an energetic battle and protest against the establishment turns into a lopsided game of cat and mouse when the police decide to surround the building. Within its red brick walls, the university building becomes a prison.

Closing Night Film: DRIVE MY CAR
Friday, November 5 at 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Based on the short story by author Haruki Murakami, Nishijima Hidetoshi is a stage actor and director happily married to his playwright wife. A new commission leads him on a mysterious journey of roads and rehearsals that will lead him to rethink his relationship with her.

SDAFF Virtual Awards Gala
Saturday, November 6, time TBA
Join audiences from around the world to celebrate the top independent films and filmmakers of this year’s San Diego Asian Film Festival. This year’s virtual awards show will present 10 awards, look back at past festival winners, and showcase acts from local artists. Proceeds from the annual Awards Gala help to support Pacific Arts Movement’s Reel Voices educational program – as the students from the Class of 2021 will also be recognized.

Sunday, October 31 at 12:00 p.m.
Q&A: Student filmmakers from the REEL VOICES Class of 2021
Nine filmmakers, nine stories exploring filmmaking from the teen perspective. From our Reel Voices documentary filmmaking program.

More News