In a celebration of the unique voices of Filipino-American and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) filmmakers, the FilAm Creative Film Festival held their premiere festival at Occidental College during the first weekend of November.
The FilAm Creative Film Festival is produced by FilAm Creative Inc., a nonprofit organization that advocates for the Filipino-American entertainment community. The organization aims to empower and advance the presence of Filipino-Americans in media and entertainment. FACFF represents a space of cultural welcome for AAPI filmmakers and actors in film, an industry that has predominantly been Caucasian-led.
The inaugural festival was hosted and sponsored by Oxy Arts, the community arts hub of Occidental College. The festival hosted screenings of several films and short films, directed by both established and student filmmakers alike.
The three-day long festival was filled with amazing films that showcased the diverse perspectives and voices of Fil-Am creatives, with films including Mahal by Michaela Ternasky-Holland, and award-winning documentary Every Day After by Elisa Gambino and Neal Broffman.
Through discovering the existence of Filipino mythology, Ternasky-Holland finally felt her ethnicity represented in the media. “For the first time I could truly see myself, my family, and fellow Philippines as Gods and Goddesses,” Ternasky-Holland said. Much like mythological tales, seeing one’s self in film allows audiences to see themselves belonging to something larger – further emphasizing the need for creative representation in underrepresented groups.
With the topic of diversity rising in entertainment, events such as FACFF represent major points for Asian-Americans.”Working on the festival, being in community with everyone, and reconnecting with my language, my culture, was a beautiful thing to experience,” said FACFF coordinator and Occidental student Moira Tañedo.
Although Hollywood has made strides in incorporating diversity on a larger scale, to some audiences, it is still an uphill climb. “I’m grateful for all the strides that have been made, but I think it’s still a monolithic experience…[FACFF] shows how hungry Filipinos are for more diverse representation,” Tañedo said. “I’m sure we’re not the only ones that feel this way”.
Diversity in media may still be a struggle, but audiences today are able to begin seeing more and more diverse representation on their screens. FACFF, and events similar, present creatives with the ability to represent themselves both in front of and behind the camera.
“It’s important to me now more than ever that Filipino American stories are not only at the forefront of mainstream media, but are also setting the precedent [for these] industries. We all deserve to have our stories told” said Ternasky-Holland.