Vilcek Foundation program puts spotlight on immigrant filmmakers at HIFF 2021


The New American Perspectives program celebrates immigrant artists in contemporary film and cinema at the Hawai’i International Film Festival

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 9:44 AM CDT

NEW YORK, Oct. 19, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Vilcek Foundation will present the New American Perspectives program at the 41st Annual Hawai’i International Film Festival (HIFF) in Honolulu. The festival opens on November 4 and will conclude on November 28, 2021. The New American Perspectives program shines a spotlight on foreign-born filmmakers, celebrating the contributions of immigrant artists to contemporary cinema and media in the United States.

New American Perspectives: Celebrating Immigrant Contributions in Cinema. Image courtesy of the...
New American Perspectives: Celebrating Immigrant Contributions in Cinema. Image courtesy of the Vilcek Foundation.

“The New American Perspectives program highlights the value of diversity in artistry.”

The New American Perspectives program provides support for a series of events at HIFF, underwritten by a grant from the foundation. The program’s key events include screenings of five films by foreign-born filmmakers, curated by festival staff, and events and talks with seven of the immigrant filmmakers whose work was integral in the development of this year’s selected films. Programs include film screenings (both in person and online) and filmmaker Q&A sessions.

“The New American Perspectives program highlights the value of diversity in artistry,” says Vilcek Foundation President Rick Kinsel. “Just as there is no single way to tell a story, there is no singular immigrant story or narrative. In centering the voices of foreign-born filmmakers with this program, we seek to build dialogue about the importance of immigration for the arts, culture, and society.”

In 2021, the New American Perspectives program includes five films led by foreign-born filmmakers, including:

  • 7 Days (2021)
    Director and screenwriter Roshan Sethi (b. Canada), screenwriter and actor Karan Soni  (b. India), and actor Geraldine Viswanathan (b. Australia) will present their pandemic-era romantic comedy, 7 Days, at the festival.  The three filmmakers will also present a master class on their collaboration and their work in film and television on Saturday, November 13. 7 Days marks the directorial debut of Sethi, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay with Soni in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Americanish (2021)
    Written by actor, screenwriter, and comedian Aizzah Fatima (b. Saudi Arabia), Americanish tackles and celebrates the complex intersectionalities of womanhood by welcoming audiences into the world of three women living in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, New York.  In this lighthearted reimagination of (and critical divergence from) the classic romantic comedy, career-driven Pakistani American sisters Maryam and Sam (played by Fatima), and their newly immigrated cousin, Ameera, must navigate the consistent and conflicting demands of romance, culture, work, and family. 
  • Red Rocket (2021)
    The 2021 drama Red Rocket marks the latest collaboration between producer Shih-Ching Tsou (b. Taiwan) and Sean Baker. Following on themes explored in Tsou’s films with Baker to date (including 2015’s Tangerine and 2017’s The Florida Project), Red Rocket plumbs the experiences of people living at the fringes of society. The foundation previously worked with Tsou in 2009, when she was named a Vilcek Foundation Creative Promise Prize honoree. 
  • Users (2021)
    Natalia Almada (b. Mexico) is a 2012 MacArthur Fellowship recipient and two-time recipient of the Sundance Documentary Directing Award. Almada’s latest documentary, Users, highlights the tensions between technology and the world we live in. In Users, Almada frames a wider discussion on technology and the environment around personal questions that came to Almada on her own journey into motherhood. In this visually arresting film, urgent global issues like climate change and privacy are explored through the intimate lens of a mother’s love for her children.
  • Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched (2021)
    Kier-La Janisse (b. Canada) is a producer with Severin Films, an author and film historian, and the founder of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. The 2021 documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched marks her directorial debut. The film explores the genre of folk horror from its beginnings through culturally specific manifestations from around the globe.

All seven of the New American Perspectives filmmakers will participate in a panel discussion which will be live-streamed on Saturday, November 13, at 1 p.m. HST. The panel discussion will center on diversity, access, and representation in film and media.

In the coming weeks, the Vilcek Foundation will publish profiles of each of the films and filmmakers on the foundation’s website, and share content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn about New American Perspectives filmmakers and events. Read more about this year’s filmmakers: New American perspectives in Filmmaking at HIFF 2021.

Journalists interested in covering the New American Perspectives program, and individuals interested in learning more about this year’s programs should reach out to Vilcek Foundation Communications Manager Liz Boylan at or 212-472-2500.

The Vilcek Foundation

The Vilcek Foundation raises awareness of immigrant contributions in the United States and fosters appreciation of the arts and sciences. We accomplish our mission through our prizes program and through partnerships like the New American Perspectives program at HIFF.  The innovation and perspective of foreign-born artists have made an indelible impact on filmmaking in the United States—expanding the boundaries of the medium as an art form and inspiring the next generation of artists and storytellers.

Since 2000, the foundation has awarded over $6.4 million in prizes to foreign-born individuals, and has supported nonprofit organizations with more than $5.5 million in grants.

Elizabeth Boylan
The Vilcek Foundation

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SOURCE The Vilcek Foundation

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