Thomas Schubert will serve as executive director this year and Paul Theiss as the festival’s lead programmer. Special guest programmers Justina Yuriko Walford, who is the programming director at Oxford Film Festival and the Billy the Kid Film Festival, and Frank Yan, co-director of programming for CineCin, will be at the helm for the festival’s innovations.
The nonprofit festival has showcased over 400 Asian films in the 15 years since it was founded. The organizers are thrilled to be able to resume regular programming after the pandemic had forced them to sit out the last two planned events.
“Our board and staff are excited about the prospects of returning to our regular July time slot,” said Schubert in a statement, “and we are taking advantage of this edition of the film festival to look at what we do through a different lens and a fresh approach. AFFD has always been a signature event for Dallas film lovers, introducing exciting films and cinema to DFW, and this year we hope to shake up the event aspect of the film festival in our return, as well.”
The festival’s previous executive director, Cecilia Lai, remains on the festival’s board as legal counsel. Alicia Chang, who has also held the title of executive director in the past, is now head of the festival’s advisory council.
Additionally, John Wildman, founder of online film publication FilmsGoneWild, is helping with the film festival’s marketing, and making the four-day event a "festival" in every sense of the word.
“This year, a great effort was made to bring in some of the filmmakers,” Wildman says. “We have Tom Huang, who directed Dealing With Dad, and we have Christine Chen, who directed Erzulie, and several others.”
The festival will open with the Wenxiong Xing-directed Too Cool To Kill at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 21. The following days, other films will screen at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas.
"In addition to the filmmakers on the lineup, we’ve also invited all of the prominent female filmmakers based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to walk that red carpet on Sunday. That’s a big deal to me.” – John Wildman
One of the festival’s most anticipated films is Dealing With Dad, which will screen on Saturday, July 23, at 4 p.m. It tells the story of Margaret Chang (Alli Maki), who returns to her hometown along with her brothers (Hayden Szeto, Peter S. Kim) to deal with her father’s diagnosis of clinical depression.
“The problem is, they kind of like him better [depressed],” Wildman says of the film. “So it's a question of, ‘Do we try to fix him or do we leave it alone because he's kind of nicer this way?'”
Throughout the four days, the Asian Film Festival of Dallas will host red carpet appearances of the filmmakers. On Sunday, July 24, the closing day of the festival, the lineup will consist exclusively of films written, produced and/or directed by women filmmakers. One of the films is Erzulie, which tells the story of four women who accidentally summon a water goddess during a camping retreat in south Louisiana. Wildman describes the film as a “feminist mermaid thriller.”
“I think the festival has always had great women filmmakers throughout the program,” Wildman says, “But to actually make it a point to showcase them for an entire day of programming — that’s a big deal. In addition to the filmmakers on the lineup, we’ve also invited all of the prominent female filmmakers based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to walk that red carpet on Sunday. That’s a big deal to me.”