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Local Filmmakers Shine in the 24th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival

October 24, 2023


CONTACT: Carmela Prudencio,

SAN DIEGO, October 4, 2023

Local Filmmakers Shine in the 24th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival

October 4, 2023—Pacific Arts Movement (Pac Arts) is thrilled to host the 24th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF), from November 2nd to 11th, 2023. As the largest showcase of Asian and Asian American cinema in North America, SDAFF promises an exceptional lineup of films and events that will captivate audiences.

The festival’s primary venue will be the Regal Edwards Mira Mesa, with additional screenings and special events hosted at renowned San Diego locations, including the San Diego Natural History Museum, the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, the UCSD Price Center Theater in La Jolla, and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla.

This year’s festival offers a curated selection of films representing the best in award-winning and cutting-edge cinema worldwide. With a staggering 23 premieres, including 13 West Coast premieres, 3 North American premieres, 1 US premiere, 1 International premiere, and 5 World premieres, SDAFF continues to push the boundaries of cinematic innovation.

Filmmakers include Zeinabu irene Davis, Kayla Abuda Galang, Emory Chao Johnson, Joe Mangat, and Nathan Xia.

A standout feature of SDAFF 2023 is the celebration of local talent. Five highly talented San Diego filmmakers have contributed their unique voices to this year’s festival:

  • Zeinabu irene Davis: A pioneering filmmaker and educator known for her impactful contributions to African-American and women’s cinema. With a career spanning over three decades, she has directed numerous award-winning films, including “Compensation” and “Cycles,” which explore themes of identity, history, and culture. Davis’s work has garnered critical acclaim and has been showcased at prestigious film festivals and venues worldwide. As a passionate educator, she has also nurtured emerging talent in filmmaking. Zeinabu irene Davis continues to be a trailblazer in the world of independent cinema. Her film PANDEMIC BREAD will make its homecoming debut on November 4 at 2:55PM as part of the CLOSE CONTACT shorts program. 
  • Kayla Abuda Galang: A filmmaker born in Olongapo, Philippines, and raised in San Diego and Houston, Kayla Abuda Galang draws inspiration from her communities and environment. Her latest film, When You Left Me On That Boulevard, received acclaim at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and the 2023 SXSW Film & TV Festival. Her film WHEN YOU LEFT ME ON THAT BOULEVARD will play on November 9 at 8:35PM for the ULTRA BAD OBJECTS shorts program.
  • Emory Chao Johnson: Emory Chao Johnson (they/them) is an artist exploring the forces shaping queer trans lifeworlds. Their short film 默 (To Write from Memory) premiered at Berlinale 2023, winning the Golden Reel: Best Documentary Short at the 2023 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Their prior work F1-100 earned accolades, including the Loni Ding Award at CAAMFest and the Linda Mabalot Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Chao Johnson also contributed to the Netflix Original Documentary Disclosure and holds an MFA from UCLA. Their film 默 (To Write from Memory) will play on November 4 at 2:55PM as part of the CLOSE CONTACT shorts program. 
  • Joseph Mangat: SDAFF Alum Joseph is an emerging filmmaker known for his compelling storytelling and unique cinematic vision. With a background rooted in the Filipino-American experience, his work often explores themes of identity, immigration, and cultural heritage. Mangat’s dedication to the craft has earned him recognition and awards at various film festivals. His storytelling prowess and commitment to shedding light on important issues make Joseph Mangat a rising talent to watch in the world of independent cinema. His latest film, DIVINE FACTORY, will make its US premiere during SDAFF 2023 on November 7 at 6:15PM.
  • Nathan Xia: A Chinese-American artist from San Diego. His BFA in Film and television Production from Loyola Marymount University paved the way for films featured at Academy Award-qualifying festivals and platforms like Apple TV and Amazon Prime. His work delves into mental health, coming-of-age, and the Asian-American experience, marked by emotionally rich performances and humor. As a freelance director/editor, Xia has partnered with Universal Music Group and Hollywood Records. His film ADAM’S SONG will play on November 3 at 4:00PM as part of the KINTEREST shorts program.

These local talents exemplify the vibrant and diverse filmmaking community in San Diego, contributing to the festival’s rich tapestry of voices and perspectives.

Festival-goers can look forward to a dynamic program that includes screenings of outstanding films,  34+Q&A sessions with filmmakers, and opportunities to meet cast and crew for  an immersive cinematic experience.


  • Organization: Pacific Arts Movement
  • Dates/ time: November 2 through 11, 2023
  • Location: San Diego Natural History Museum, Regal Edwards Mira Mesa, Museum of Photographic Arts, UCSD Price Center Theater, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
  • Tickets: Available October 3 at 
  • Interviews available: For interviews with filmmakers, actors, or festival staff and a list of available screeners, please fill out a media accreditation form and contact
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