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Spring Showcase 2024

Announcing The 13th SDAFF Spring Showcase Audience Award Winner

April 29, 2024

San Diego, CA – April 29, 2024 – Congratulations to Ashima for winning the 13th SDAFF Spring Showcase’s Audience Award. The win continues a long tradition of documentary films taking the Spring Showcase’s sole prize. Previous documentary winners include Finding Her Beat (2023), Free Chol Soo Lee (2022), Try Harder! (2021), Minding the Gap (2018), Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2017), The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble (2016), To Be Takei (2014), and Harana (2013).

The Closing Night film screening on Thursday, April 25, 2024 featured a Q&A with director Kenji Tsukamoto and producer Minji Chang.

This screening was co-Presented by Bionic Sisters Productions and Women’s International Center.

About the film: 14-year-old Ashima Shiraishi seems to have nowhere to go but up. Already hailed a rock-climbing prodigy, she is the idol of other young climbers and spends most of her time competing with – and beating – adult men. Perhaps inevitably, she has her eyes on the next summit: the V14 boulder, a climb so difficult, only 0.01 percent of climbers have surmounted it.

With her inspiring, but at times demanding, father-coach Poppo, Ashima circles the spot for her biggest challenge yet: a rock in South Africa far from the noise of civilization, where she will attempt what nobody her age has done before.

Director Kenji Tsukamoto is with Ashima and Poppo in this cocoon of silence, alone in their element. That Ashima is a small Japanese American teenager dwarfed by this giant, intimidating expanse is undeniable. Whether her conviction is greater than her fears is the test on display in this breathtaking, nail-biting documentary of a young woman who climbs boulders while shouldering the weight of mighty expectations.

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