masashi niwano is the new director of sfiaaff

Received word about this a while, but with the press release going out last week, it's officially official: Masashi Niwano, formerly of the Austin Asian American Film Festival, is the new Festival and Exhibitions Director for the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Here's the official press release from the Center for Asian American Media:
Center of Asian American Media Proudly Introduces New Festival and Exhibitions Director Masashi Niwano

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) welcomes Masashi Niwano, Festival and Exhibitions Director for the SF International Asian American Festival (SFIAAFF). Masashi comes to CAAM with an extensive background in festival management and film production. Masashi's new position at CAAM is a return home, as his festival experience and passion for Asian American cinema began at CAAM several years ago. In 2002, he started as an archival intern. Later, he was a festival volunteer and then joined the Theater Operations staff.

"CAAM is thrilled to welcome Masashi Niwano as its Festival and Exhibition Director. Masashi ran the Austin Asian American Film Festival with distinction and returns to the Bay Area an exciting vision for the festival that reflects a broader range of contemporary Asian American cultural expression," says Stephen Gong, Executive Director.

Most recently, from 2006-2010, Masashi was the Executive Director of the Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF), one of the largest and most successful Asian American film festivals in the South/Southwest. In 2010, AAAFF received the prestigious “Best Community Event” award from the Association of Asian American Studies. And, for the past three years, the Austin-American Statesman has listed Masashi as one of Austin's “Fortunate 500” for his work in bringing awareness of Asian American cultures and issues to Austin.

Masashi is also a graduate of San Francisco State University. In 2003 he earned his bachelor's degree in film production and since that time has continued to make films, both as an individual director and collaborator. His films have screened at festivals across the United States, including at South by Southwest and NewFest. His narrative short, Falling Stars, was an official selection of the 2006 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.

With almost a decade of Asian American film festival accomplishments under his belt, he brings a wealth of experiences and knowledge to CAAM, as well as an enthusiastic energy, playful sense of humor and commitment to Asian American empowerment. Working along side Masashi is Christine Kwon, Managing Director, who will be organizing her third Festival with CAAM. She continues to bring experience in journalism, film criticism, and short-form filmmaking to enhance the Festival programming.

"My return to SFIAAFF has been so warm and welcoming; I know that I am among family. I hope to bring this spirit of camaraderie to SFIAFF along with a renewed, creative energy and my enthusiasm for all things Asian American. Mark your calendars for the 29th SFIAAFF taking place March 10-20, 2011."
This is very cool news. I actually knew Masashi when he was an intern at CAAM way back in the day. It's awesome to see him step up to take the reins of SFIAAFF. For more information about the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, which is currently accepting entries for next year, go to the CAAM website here.

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