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The International House was abuzz this weekend as the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival kicked off its second year of community-focused cinematic sponsorship.

Philadelphia community members and university students alike flocked to the Ibrahim Theater to view and participate in film screenings and panel discussions focusing on the issue of Asian American identity in the world of modern film and theater.

PAAFF “is about supporting Asian American filmmakers and giving them a venue to hone their craft,” according to Engineering ‘03 alumnus Franklin Shen, co-founder and co-director of sponsorship and marketing for the festival.

This year, PAAFF featured a number of new selections from Asian American filmmakers across the country.

Formosa Betrayed, the festival’s centerpiece presentation, spins the tale of an American FBI Agent whose investigation of the murder of an Asian American professor entangles him in a web of government-sponsored assassinations. The film is having “a great run around festivals” nation-wide, Shen said.

Other films that premiered this weekend include independently produced Second Moon, the quirky tale of an anti-monogamous cult and the woman that tests the loyalty of one of its most senior members.

Meilan Ou, one of the festival’s attendees, described the film as “an interesting social commentary on Asian American women,” but was upset by the frequency with which women in the film were equated to slaves.

The festival also served as a forum for the discussion of issues that face Asian American actors in the world of modern cinema. Themes of institutionalized discrimination were prevalent among discussion groups.

On Saturday, the festival hosted a panel entitled “A Conversation with Aaron Yoo,” in which the young Asian American actor of Disturbia discussed his experiences in Hollywood.

Yoo urged young Asian American actors interested in pursuing his line of work to “study the craft for the right reasons.”

“I hear young Asian American actors saying they do it because they want to be successful — that’s someone else’s job,” he said. “You should do it because you want to try to be great.”

The festival ran from Friday until yesterday and will likely occur again next year.

“We’re hoping to become part of the community at large,” Shen said, “We feel that we’re on our way to accomplishing that.”

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