After 10 long days and nights of film, music,and after parties and nearly 2 and a half months of preparation, my internship with Asian Cinevision for the 37th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) is sadly coming to a close.
This week is wrap up week, which means staff reflects on what went well and what didn’t go well. For me, the social media manager, that means gathering statistics of the AAIFF Facebook, Twitter, and ConstantContact engagement. It also means reporting on the teamwork and logistics of the festival.
AAIFF is completely run by unpaid college students and recent graduates. We work 3 days a week from 10:30AM to 5:30PM, many times overtime. AAIFF is actually the oldest Asian/Asian American film festival in the USA, but the Asian/Asian American film festivals out in California do much better than us. I think it has to do with demographics. To start, CAAMFest, San Diego Asian Film Fest, and the LA Asian Pacific Film Fest all have at least 7 year round paid staff. AAIFF only has 1. California is also the hub for Asian America and the film industry. About half of the AAIFF staff team speaks fluent Mandarin. While we are traditionally an Asian American film festival, New York still has a very Asian demographic. Therefore, it was a necessary skill at times when there were ticket buyers who could only speak Mandarin. We also benefitted from the Chinese and Taiwanese press.
While we all have our assigned “positions,” there is lots of overlap in work and I ended up doing other things like spreading posters around New York City and driving to the airport to pick up filmmakers. Our tangible presence via postcards and flyers really matters just as much as our online social media presence.
Our “reward” comes in the form of dinner covered by Asian Cinevision during the festival, a meager travel stipend, and lifelong friends and connections in the Asian American community. It was instant gratification to have my tweet I wrote through the Asian Cinevision Twitter account be retweeted and favorited by Angry Asian Man and other high profile Asian American activists.
Working for any nonprofit, especially an Asian American arts organization, really takes a certain level of dedication and passion that, many times, transcends money incentive. The way Chinese American rapper Awkwafina puts it, “The skinny ones are artists, it’s obvious they starving.”