At Saturday’s star-studded gala awards ceremony, San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF) announced the winning filmmakers and celebrities from this year’s festival. Hosted by actors Leonardo Nam and Tamilyn Tomita, the awards celebrated the best in Asian and Asian American cinema from the past year. Winner of Best Feature Narrative Andrew Ahn received his 3rd SDAFF award in the last decade. More than 500 people attended and raised money towards Pacific Arts Movement’s youth filmmaking program, Reel Voices.

SDAFF has served as a space not only for watching movies, but as a way to connect and nurture communities through storytelling. Many filmmakers who have received awards in the past launched their careers at SDAFF. These often underrepresented voices are paving the way for the next generation of filmmakers.

Andrew Ahn’s Driveways was the winner of the best feature narrative. His short Andy won best narrative short in 2011. He has since won the 2016 Emerging Filmmaker Award for his first feature Spa Night. Ahn has promoted diversity in the arts by mentoring youth filmmakers through programs like Reel Voices.

In a recent article from NBC News, Ahn said without these festivals, he might not have had enough confidence to make his feature Spa Night. “These festivals launch careers,” he said.

SDAFF 2019 Awards Winners:
Grand Jury – STRAIGHT UP, (director James Sweeney)
Feature Narrative – DRIVEWAYS (director Andrew Ahn)
Feature Doc – THE CANCER JOURNALS, REVISITED (director Lana Lin)
Special Jury Award – JADDOLAND (director Nadia Shihab)
Short Narrative – FIRST (directors Micaela Durand and Daniel Chew)
Short Doc – MY AMERICAN SURROGATE (director Leslie Tai)
Short Animation – UMBILICAL (director Danski Tang)
George C. Lin Emerging Filmmaker Award – Miko Revereza for NO DATA PLAN