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From the 2003 Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City: former Visual Communications executive Director Linda Mabalot plays “hostess with the mostest” to filmmaker Greg Pak (originator of this year’s activist hashtag #AsAmCreatorRollCall), and Eddie Wong and Toni Tabora-Roberts of the National Asian American Telecomunications Association (rechristened in 2004 as the Center for Asian American Media). (Photo: Abraham ferrer/Visual Communications Photographic Archive)

I should be on the way right now to Salt Lake City, with plenty of time to get a full night’s sleep before getting prepared to execute final preparations in advance of the #APAParkCity Reception and programs in Park City. Instead, I am sitting in an airport terminal, enduring the latest in a string of delays that is dragging a 6:30 PM flight out of LAX into a waiting game. With the latest flight delay just announced, I can’t see myself arriving now until after 2 AM. Much-needed sleep in advance of a morning site visit to our event venue may now not be a possibility. With that, I wake up the laptop, and I write…

Anyone who knows me will know that since the year 2002, I’ve teamed up with a small but nimble group of dedicated, manic, and just plain awesome APA media arts activistas to organize the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City. The motivation was apparent: both the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals barely acknowledged our presence at their little festivals, much less a place in American society. With a year in which a vanguard class of APA filmmakers as Bertha Bay-Sa Pan, Roger Fan, Julia Kwan, Justin Lin, Gene Eugene Rhee, and others would otherwise be ignored by the Park City intelligencia squad, forward-thinking folks led by my man David Magdael organized the first Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience at the old and sadly-missed China Panda restaurant right behind the Yarrow Hotel. A swarm of over 300 people who were attracted by a 17-course Chinese buffet and the opportunity to network with a community of friendly strangers proved that such a gathering was not only welcome, but necessary.

On the eve of this, my fifteenth trip up to the cold cold (and white) Wasatch Mountain range, my mind stays these days on the two fierce wimmin who drove this enterprise into the hotly-anticipated happening it has become: our former executive director, the dynamic and greatly-missed Linda Mabalot, who was holding it down from jump street and was the guiding presence for our first two years; and Irene Cho, who stepped in to guide us when we re-launched the Experience in 2013. I think: thirteen editions, nearly seven-hundred directors, producers, screenwriters, and a posse of scrambling arts administrators and cultural workers holding it down — this is NOT being invisible. It is, in fact, #AllUsWe, carving our space out to get heard, recognized, and SEEN both on the movie screens and behind the scenes. I looks at these images I’ve made over the years — Linda in 2003, with veteran filmmaker Greg “#AsAmCreatorRollCall” Pak, Eddie Wong, and Toni Tabora-Roberts; and Irene in 2016 with Laarni Rosca Dacanay — and I can’t help but think that, yah, we’ve done so much…but there’s still so much to do.

I WILL get to Salt Lake City tonight. Bleary-eyed or not, I WILL make it to my morning site visit to see what our so-called “unlisted” venue will look like. And come the weekend, we WILL turn this shit out up there on Main Street Park City. As Linda would famously say when shit doesn’t ever go right, “It’s SHOWTIME!” Time to put on that show. Time to go all out for our APA filmmakers. Time to let everyone know that WE — as we have for the previous thirteen editions — #belong and are gonna bring it. #yup #YahKnowIt

From the 2016 Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City: public relations guru Laarni Rosca Dacanay greets Irene Cho, who served as a prime organizer of our event from 2013 through 2017. The organizers of this year’s #APAParkCity happenings are dedicating our slate of programs to Irene and her energy, passion, and vision. (Photo: Abraham Ferrer/Visual Communications Photographic Archive)

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