Sundance welcomes the first official AAPI House to Main Street
The Sunrise House is the Pan-Asian American Pacific Islander House at Sundance this year. Its organizers are sharing the significance of representing their community at the festival.
Daniel Dae Kim is an Asian American actor and producer best known for his roles on “Lost,” “Hawaii Five-O” and “Raya and the Last Dragon.” He’s a vocal activist for the AAPI community and is one of the founders of the Sunrise House, the first official Pan-Asian American Pacific Islander House at Sundance.
Kim said the Sunrise House will offer a think tank during the day with speakers from various industries talking about issues pertinent to the Asian American community.
It will be a different story after hours.
“At night, we transition to some fun, and the celebrations where Sundance happens to fall over Lunar New Year this year," Kim said. "It's a perfect reason to celebrate, you know, a number of different things. And then, one of the things we're really proud of also is that Saturday night we will be hosting an event where all the houses of color will be coming together and celebrating as one. It's a multicultural party that will include MACRO, Latinx House, Black House, Color of Change 1497, a number of people who are doing great things in their respective areas.”
Kim said he got the idea for an AAPI house the last time he attended the festival.
“I've been at Sundance a few times and in 2020 at the Sundance right before the pandemic hit, I was going to events at MACRO Lodge and Latinx House and Black House and I thought to myself, why isn't there something like this for the Asian American community? We have other communities of color represented. We have a growing presence at festivals like Sundance but there's nowhere to celebrate what we do. And so that's when I started talking to the organizers and I wanted to bring some friends along because there is strength in numbers.”
Bing Chen made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2014. He is the CEO of Gold House, a media and entertainment company that promotes AAPI creative projects and is a partner in the Sunrise House. He said Kim’s idea to have an AAPI house at Sundance was exciting and he jumped at the chance to help make it happen.
“He recognized in sort of the 30-plus years or 40-plus years of Sundance that there just had never been an official Asian or Pan-Asian house. And we thought it was particularly surprising because since then, there's been over 300 Asian Pacific films and filmmakers of the festival this year alone, there's over 14. Moreover, we all know very creatively what our community is capable of, whether it's from films like ‘The Farewell’ or ‘Be Water’ to ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once.’ And so it felt auspicious to create sort of a physical convening ground for really everybody.”
Kim said the purpose of the Sunrise House is to bring together the AAPI community for reflection and celebration.
“Because we'd like this effort to be the first year of many years, this is not meant to be a one-and-done effort. So the idea that is just really to honor the films the people, the community that has that have brought us this far. And then to celebrate how far we've come. You know, our community has faced a lot of challenges over the past few years in particular. And so it's important that we also accentuate the positive elements of the things that we're doing and the ways that we're making progress in our society at large.”
Norman Chen is CEO of The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) which launched in 2021 to create a better future for the AAPI community. He is another partner in the Sunrise House. Chen said there are many stereotypes of Asian Americans his organization is working to overcome.
“You know, these stereotypes of Asian Americans being foreigners or this model minority myth that all Asian Americans are rich and successful. And the invisibility. You know, we've done surveys where we ask people to name a prominent Asian American and half of Americans can't name a prominent Asian American. And the names that come up after that are Jackie Chan, who's not American, and Bruce Lee. So, you know, stereotypical right people that, you know, we heard, that we knew as children, frankly, but are still widely prevalent in the minds of Americans. And that shows you the power of media, right, and shaping these perceptions but also how dated and how stereotypical.”
Kim said his hope for the future is where lines are no longer drawn and distinctions are a thing of the past.
“I'd like our society and the world to get to a place where inclusion is such a given that there is no need to celebrate community by community and that we all understand the importance and significance of the contributions of every community to our media and our society.”
All programming of Sunrise House will take place at Riverhorse at 540 Main Street.
Registration is free and open to festival attendees for daytime programming.