By Meghan Power
In 2022, thanks to funding received through Calgary Arts Development’s (CADA) Project Grant for Organizations, FascinAsian hosted its first in-person film festival in Calgary during Asian Heritage Month in May. “Whether in front of or behind the camera, our film festival aims to create a stage for Asians to have their works and talent showcased,” says Judy Eng-Hum, Director of FascinAsian Calgary.
“We were inspired by Vancouver and Toronto as examples of cities that have hosted Asian film festivals successfully for over 25 years,” says Eng-Hum. “This inspiration has provided us with the drive and rationale for potential success, and acceptance with the growing diversity in a city like Calgary to be open to such a festival.”
As part of the festival’s gala event, FascinAsian awards films they feel represent the best of emerging Asian filmmakers. “Films were selected by our jury of film and related industry professionals and went to films the jury felt offered audiences impactful and universal stories. The winners for 2022 included: Best Prairie Short Film (Mansanas, Erin Hembrador), Best Canadian Short Film (Container, Erin Hembrador and Quan Luong), and Best International Short Film (Rising Lotus, Gurinder J Singh).
For their first year of running in-person programming after the challenging years that the film industry has experienced during the pandemic, Eng-Hum felt like they did well. “We presented two short programs — a total of 15 films and four feature films and we had over 200 people attend. For me, a highlight of the festival was the opening night. We invited filmmaker Catherine Hernandez to open the festival with a screening of her film, Scarborough, followed by a Q&A.” Also featured at the festival were many cultural performances and a dessert gala event.
“It’s wonderful that an organization like CADA exists to support arts organizations like FascinAsian. Being able to properly pay artists for their work is essential,” says Eng-Hum. “It’s important to us, as a festival, to make sure we are properly supporting the many artists, filmmakers, and creative talent in the community, by providing them a platform and outlet to elevate and share their talents with Calgary audiences. FascinAsian is inclusive and open to audiences of all backgrounds, and as a festival we look forward to sharing more stories and experiences with all Albertans and around the world.”