New York City, NY

The 20th Edition of the New York Asian Film Festival Is Opening on August 6

Synthia Stark
Poster for the 20th New York Asian Film Festival.Courtesy of 13 Little Pictures / New York Asian Film Festival

In New York City, the 20th edition of the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) will take place from August 6, 2021, to August 22, 2021, with in-person programming happening at Film at Lincoln Center (formerly known as the Film Society of Lincoln Center) and SVA Theatre - School of Visual Arts.

There will also be some options to view specific films virtually at Film at Lincoln Center's Virtual Cinema.

A Brief History of NYAFF

NYAFF was North America's first film festival to promote and champion films found in Asian cinema. To date, it attracts over 12,000+ locals, tourists, and industry experts from around the world. Inspiring a new generation of creators, consumers, and inventors, NYAFF strives to immerse New York with a wonderful Asian film experience.

Since 2010, the festival has been co-produced with the Film at Lincoln Center. Film at Lincoln Center is America’s most prestigious film institution and they are best known for the New York Film Festival and New Directors/New Films.

The NYAFF has an accompanied non-profit organization called the New York Asian Film Foundation, and it appreciates and showcases Asian film culture to those in America.
Photo by Pietro Jeng from Pexels

Why The NYAFF is Great

It makes sense to have events like the NYAFF because there are plenty of Asian-American diaspora who are curious to learn more about their respective cultures. There are also curious Americans (of other cultures) who would like to see more movies involving the various parts of Asia. Finally, there are people from other parts of the world (including those from Asia) who would like to learn more about American and Asian-American cultures, too.

In sum, movies are a great way to bridge gaps between many different cultures.

Last Year's NYAFF

Last year, the NYAFF was fully virtual. This year, they will present almost half of this year's titles in person. There will roughly be 60 of these titles or more.

As Samuel Jamier, executive director of NYAFF and president of the New York Asian Film Foundation, reportedly stated:

“It’s been tough all over, but after last year’s unprecedented all-virtual edition, we’re thrilled to be back in person."

NYAFF Emerging Voices: Narrative Shorts Submissions

NYAFF is always looking to showcase some narrative shorts from emerging Asian/Asian American voices for upcoming festivals from film programs across local New York area universities. If you're an undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate, or recent graduate of a university program in New York, you are eligible to apply.

Generally, it's best to complete your submission at least one month before the festival date. Since we're very close to the festival's August 6th start date, it may be better to apply next year.

If you end up applying, they're asking for the following criteria:

  • Films that represent, highlight, showcase the lives and experiences of Asian/Asian American people (can be people from Asia or even Asia diaspora)
  • Films that are produced, directed, and/or written by Asian/Asian American filmmakers (can be filmed inside or outside the US)
  • Films that feature actors or subjects that are Asian or Asian American
  • Shorts that are only 5-15 minutes in length

To clarify, NYAFF has specified that Asia can include countries/cultures from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and Western Asia.

Films are also allowed to be any language, but English subtitles are a must.
Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

Tentative 2021 Festival Lineup (Subject to Change)

The festival lineup at the NYAFF will include several critically acclaimed films from South Korea (and other countries and cultures). However, we will focus on the stuff from South Korea (for now).

Some of these include:

  • 10 Months, directed by Nam Koong-sun
  • Book of Fish, a black and white film directed by Lee Joon-ik
  • Fighter, directed by Jero Yun
  • I Don’t Fire Myself, directed by Lee Tae-gyeom
  • Midnight, a thriller directed and written by Kwon Oh-seung
  • Samjin Company English Class, a 2020 comedy-drama directed by Lee Jong-pil
  • Snowball, directed by Lee Woo-jung
  • Three Sisters, written and directed by Lee Seung-won

Of course, the festival schedule may possibly change, especially if more films are added.


The Film at Lincoln Center is located at 70 Lincoln Center Plaza #4, New York, NY, 10023. You can see the map below:

SVA Theatre is located at 333 W 23rd St, New York, NY, 10011.

Final Thoughts

Finally, it's great that more and more things are opening up in New York City, including the New York Asian Film Festival. As time goes on, we can hope that there will be a high turnout. I mean, the people of New York deserve some fun times, including the time to watch some fantastic movies.

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