Tag Archives: Film

‘Yai Nin’ Explores Powerful Thai Matriarch Ninlawan Pinyo

by Beverly Aarons


Stern and powerful matriarchs are central to most Thai families — they’re not big on hugs, but they will “yell at the people that need to be yelled at in your defense,” filmmaker Champ Ensminger said during a telephone interview. Ninlawan Pinyo, Ensminger’s grandmother and the central character in his short documentary Yai Nin, is a matriarch who defies all Western stereotypes of what it means to be an Asian woman — she’s feisty, confident, and the owner of the successful Naem Pinyo sausage factory in Chiang Mai, Thailand. But it wasn’t until after Ensminger moved back to Chiang Mai in 2013 that he began to witness the breadth of Pinyo’s personal power and her willingness to wield it to protect her family.

“The neighbors [thought] I was with a bunch of white backpacker folks trying to grow weed,” Ensminger said of the day his grandmother rescued him from Thai immigration police. The truth was that he was working with the nonprofit Documentary Arts Asia to build a theater and exhibition space. But nonetheless, he found himself and the other volunteers covered in dirt from the construction site and sulking in front of the immigration office. Pinyo arrived at the office and demanded to see the manager. 

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Kristin Leong’s #AZNxBLM Project Draws Together Black and Asian American Artists

by Roxanne Ray

(This article was originally published by International Examiner and has been reprinted with permission.)


By now, most people have heard — or at least heard of — TED Talks. More recently, this Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) nonprofit foundation launched The Mystery Experiment, which granted $10,000 to 300 inspired participants, and in February, local KUOW community engagement producer Kristin Leong was awarded one of these grants.

The funding was a big surprise to Leong. “When TED shared their call for people to apply to be part of their Mystery Experiment, they were very vague about what the project was all about or what it would require of participants,” Leong said. “There was no mention of money at all.”

But that didn’t stop Leong from applying. “I replied to their mysterious call because I’ve had such a supportive and inspiring experience over the last four years as a TED-Ed Innovative Educator and because I believe in TED’s mission to amplify innovative and audacious ideas,” she said. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into!”

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Multidisciplinary Artist Shontina Vernon and the Power of Story

by Beverly Aarons


Some birds aren’t meant to be caged — not by tiny steel bars and not by tiny forced narratives woven around their lives like intricate vines with pointy sharp thorns. As I listened to multidisciplinary artist Shontina Vernon tell me about her art — and by extension her life — during our telephone interview, I thought about how society’s carefully woven metastories threaten to confine us all like beautiful but trapped birds with very few of us daring an escape. Shontina Vernon is the one who got away.

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Vivian Hua, Northwest Film Forum Receive 2021 Mayor’s Award for Achievement in Film

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Executive Director of the Northwest Film Forum (NWFF) Vivian Hua 華婷婷 (she/they interchangeably) is someone who doesn’t have the stereotypical background of an executive director, but during a year marked by disruptive change caused by a pandemic, that turned out to be a good thing. Throughout last year, the NWFF streamed 25 online film festivals and continued to increase access to resources for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ filmmakers. The creative solutions Hua and the NWFF brought to Seattle’s film communities garnered the 2021 Mayor’s Award for Achievement in Film earlier this month. 

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26th Annual Seattle Jewish Film Festival Brings Audiences ‘Virtually Together Again’

by Mark Van Streefkerk


The Seattle Jewish Film Festival (SJFF) kicked off Thursday, March 4, featuring 19 films from around the world that celebrate Jewish and Israeli culture. Streaming online March 4 through March 18, the 26th SJFF focuses on themes of levity, laughter, and intercultural sharing, as well as complex topics that are sure to spark conversation. Including at least seven Zoom conversations with filmmakers and guests, as well as several culinary partnerships, this year’s festival is curated to inspire togetherness, even though it’s through a screen.

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9th Annual Seattle Asian American Film Festival Will Be the Biggest Yet

by Mark Van Streefkerk


This year’s Seattle Asian American Film Festival (SAAFF) will take place online, and feature more short- and feature-length films, documentaries, and animated films than ever before in the festival’s history. Streaming with the help of partner Northwest Film Forum from March 4 to 14, SAAFF will virtually screen 123 films by or about Asian Americans in the U.S., grouped into 15 programs, and will hold one drive-in movie event.

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New Managing Director Justin Pritchett Has Big Plans for the Ark Lodge

by Mark Van Streefkerk


When COVID-19 forced Columbia City’s Ark Lodge Cinemas to shutter their doors in March, the sudden loss in revenue dealt a staggering blow to the South End’s few independent movie theaters. Owner David McRae quickly launched several fundraising strategies, and now new managing director Justin Pritchett brings Popcorn Weekends to the Ark. Pulling from his expertise in movie theater food and beverage operations, Pritchett has big plans for keeping the Ark afloat, now and long after the pandemic.

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South End Stories Helps Youth of Color Build Storytelling Skills

by Vivian Hua 華婷婷


Two years ago, amid shifting trends towards standardized, “one-size-fits-all” approaches to testing and curriculum development, parents, students, and staff at Orca K-8 School brainstormed and launched a program called South End Stories. A dynamic and multi-faceted experience, South End Stories (SES) works within Seattle Public Schools to create safe spaces for students to share their own stories through film, dance, writing and performance. 

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“The Heart of the Dragon” Tells the Story of Taky Kimura, Bruce Lee’s Best Friend and Senior-Most Instructor

by Sharon H. Chang

Editor’s Note: We want to acknowledge that there remains disagreement in the martial arts community over who is properly credited as Bruce Lee’s senior-most student. In light of that fact, we’ve chosen to refer to Taky Kimura as Bruce Lee’s senior-most instructor.


Taky Kimura, Bruce Lee’s best friend and senior-most instructor, has been lovingly safeguarding Lee’s memory and legacy in Seattle for almost five decades. Many people know and admire legendary martial artist Bruce Lee, but few know about the close friend who helped Lee start his first martial arts school in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (CID) and carried on Lee’s legacy after he tragically passed. Kimura turned 96 last month and Thursday, May 7, a new short film about his life and relationship to Lee, “Taky Kimura: The Heart of the Dragon,” will premiere online for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

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New Beacon Cinema Grows Out of Shared Love of Film

by Carolyn Bick

Tommy Swenson and Casey Moore were obsessed with movies as kids. Growing up in Seattle’s University District in the 1990s only served to further that obsession.

“There were, like, five or six different movie theatres, and Scarecrow Video, and Cinema Books,” Swenson said. “I was really plunged into this movies incubator, where I had access to see so much and got such an education, just by watching a lot of movies.”

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