Seattle Asian American Film Festival 2024: Documentary, Narrative & Experimental Short Films

The 12th Annual Seattle Asian American Film Festival 2024 returns virtually and in-person, with an extended online streaming window from February 26 to March 3. Below are narrative, documentary, and experimental short film picks by AANH+PI filmmakers worthy of your immediate attention, with asterisks (*) denoting the standout works.
Screen the films over at before it’s too late!

Sundance Film Festival 2024

Short Film Picks for Seattle Asian American Film Festival 2024

100 USDA Certified Organic Homemade Tofu

100% USDA Certified Organic Homemade Tofu *

(Gbenga Komolafe, 2022, United States, Narrative, in English and Korean)
Have You Eaten Yet? Shorts Program

Gender-affirming care and breast implants are top of mind for a transgender woman who just wants to feel more comfortable in her body. Her restaurant owner mother and her boyfriend — who’s married, by the way — aren’t against her needs, but they certainly aren’t as supportive as they could be. While cooking and eating classic Korean dishes, she gets lost in daydreams of sexily serving food and being who she wants to be.


Art21 - Christine Sun Kim

Art21: Christine Sun Kim

(Chiemi Karasawa, 2023, Documentary, in English and American Sign Language)
Doc Block: Documentary Shorts Program

In a documentary focused on multidisciplinary Deaf Korean-American artist, Christine Sun Kim, she offers insights into being heard and seen as a non-hearing person. As she traverses the world with international shows, she herself discovers the importance of taking up space — quite literally — with her work, as well as how social struggles, collaboration, and family continue to evolve her craft.


BENKYODO - The Last Manju Shop in J-Town

BENKYODO: The Last Manju Shop in J-Town

(Tadashi Nakamura & Akira Boch, 2023, United States, Documentary, in English)
Have You Eaten Yet? Shorts Program

Many Asian food documentaries exist, but BENKYODO is different for its silly and approachable sense of humor. Sure, the family is proud of their heritage and multi-generational manju business — where they create chewy Japanese wheat and rice flour confectionaries — but they are also jokesters. The elderly owners laugh that they wouldn’t wait in line for as long as their customers, don’t know the importance of their craft, and are unlikely to ever raise their prices, because Benkyodo means “House of Bargains.”


From Kingston Jamaica to Jamaica Queens

From Kingston, Jamaica, to Jamaica, Queens

(Titu Yu, 2023, United States, Documentary, in English)
Doc Block: Documentary Shorts Program

From Kingston, Jamaica, to Jamaica, Queens tells the story of the reggae giant and co-founder of the largest independent reggae record label in the world, Patricia “Miss Pat” Chin, who had a father from the West Indies and a Chinese mother who arrived in Jamaica alongside a wave of immigrant workers between the 1920s and 1930s The documentary uses important cultural and historical touchpoints to offer a colorful musical portrait of a not-often-thought-about intersection of cultures. It follows the 4’11” creative powerhouse from her upbringing in Jamaica to her immigration to Jamaica, Queens, in the late ’70s.


Happy Ending

Happy Ending *

(Élodie Yung, 2023, United States, Narrative, in English, Thai, Central Khmer)
(RE)CLAIM: Shorts Program

After a Cambodian massage parlor worker has immigrated to the U.S. in search of financial opportunities for her family, a distant family member relays over the phone, “I know it’s not easy to be in a new country. But remember, you’re in America, the land of dreams.”

The scene is immediately disrupted by the glow and loud buzz of an erratic neon sign, which reads, “Full Body Massage.”

Like its title implies, Happy Ending is a narrative tale about massage parlors and all of the skeezy attempts for workers to give into unsavory customer demands, as well as the familiar comforts from home that they must sacrifice.




(Justin Hiromi Pascua, 2023, United States, Documentary, in Lao)
Have You Eaten Yet? Shorts Program

In Hawaii, a hard-working elderly Lao immigrant primarily farms in the fields alone, but she occasionally relies upon family members to assist her. Homestead observes as a younger generation Lao American improves his language skills and assists her grandmother; they reminisce over their shared pasts and potential futures while preparing and harvesting vegetables side-by-side. The language gap seems notably large — but judging by grandmother’s reaction, perhaps it is long overdue for her to share details about her life to her grandson.


I Was There Part III

I Was There, Part III

(Chi-Jang Yin, 2023, United States, Documentary, in English and Japanese)
“AFTERIMAGES: Experimental Shorts Program”

Presented in an experimental video collage format and overlaid with the testimonial of a Hiroshima citizen who made it through the WWII nuclear catastrophe, I Was There, Part III is somber and noisy in how it presents the discomforts of history. As the last in a trio of short films, the film builds on narratives from the previous two around radiation and atomic bombs.



MSG: Mysteriously Savory Grains

(Kyle Finnegan, 2023, United States, Documentary, in English)
Have You Eaten Yet? Shorts Program

Despite its deliciousness and reputation for being a primary source of umami savoriness, MSG has gotten a bad rap through the years. The documentary, MSG: Mysteriously Savory Grains speaks to chefs and looks at history, medicine, and sociology to show that perhaps monosodium glutamate actually is not the foe it was made out to be… at least, for some people. Perhaps the lesson is: to each their own.


Riding Han

Riding Han (한)

(Eugene Pak, 2023, United States, Documentary, in English and Korean)
“Bring It Home: Pacific Northwest” Short Film Block

Following the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, three Korean Americans decide to ride their bikes cross-country from the Sonoran Desert, moving from south to north, across the Continental Divide and into Canada. While they are not fully sure what they are searching for, the participants in Riding Han (한) document the revelatory moments they experience through themselves and others. They sit in awe as they are magnetized to Korean elders in rural Western cities, and as they ride, they dive deep into the meaning of han, a term that unifies much of Korean society through ideas of sacrifice and, to a degree, burden.


Sorry Grandpa Hsiao

Sorry Grandpa Hsiao *

(Candace Ho, 2023, United States, in English and Mandarin Chinese)
“Insert Title Here: An Absurd Shorts Program”

All hell breaks loose when a food influencer utilizes her dead grandfather and inauthentic Chinese cultural touchpoints to celebrate Asian American Heritage Month on a livestream. As she flounders in failure, everyone on the internet seems to have an opinion — and from beyond the grave, so does Grandpa Hsiao.


Spit It Out

Spit It Out *

(Melina Kiyoumi, 2023, United States, Experimental Documentary, in English)
(RE)CLAIM: Shorts Program

In Spit It Out, abstract images of the body, nature, and domestic spaces are paired with a discombobulated voice, to tell the story of one’s complex relationship with speech and the capabilities of their body. Shot on film.



Stitched *

(Lorena Lourenco, 2023, United States, Narrative, in English, Hindi, and Tamil)
“Insert Title Here: An Absurd Shorts Program”

Stitched begins by highlighting the uncomfortable inconvenience of dating as a South Asian artist, who, depending on the partner, is seen as not responsible enough, spiritual enough, normal enough, or so on. The solution? Allow your massive artistic weirdness to take you to extreme, Frankensteinian lengths to actually make love work.




(Kenneth Pulgar-Vidal, 2023, Japan, Narrative, in Japanese)
“Channel Surfing” Short Film Program

Sometimes, the perfect boyfriend and most electrifying life experiences are paid for with electronic credits and virtual reality headsets, and normal life pales by comparison. In Synapse, one Japanese woman navigates the blurred lines between realities, getting lost in technology, where she finds happiness in domestic life and scratches her murderous itch to be an assassin.


What Do You Want

What Do You Want?

(Al Chang, 2023, United States, Narrative, in English)
“Insert Title Here: An Absurd Shorts Program”

In What Do You Want?, relationship indecision and day-to-day predictability come into play every time a couple tries to decide what they want to eat. One claims she doesn’t have an opinion, but no matter what the other says, he can’t seem to get it right.


White Grass

White Grass

(Justin Kim WooSŏk, 2023, Mongolia, Documentary, in Mongolian)
Doc Block: Documentary Shorts Program

For many Mongolians, horse racing is not just a sport, but a spiritual ritual and a cultural touchstone of great social and communal importance. In White Grass, a family centers much of their existence around horse-related festivals, training, and competitions — but changing weather patterns and modernization potentially threaten a future of herding, riding, and surviving in close connection with the animals.



Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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