Dragon Boat Film Festival Goes Virtual, Boats May Still Grace Sloan’s Lake Later This Year

Denver Film and Colorado Dragon Boat are teaming up to bring the Dragon Boat Film Festival into viewer’s homes. Colorado Dragon Boat, which hosts the popular annual festival at Sloan’s Lake, has been running a film festival since 2016 — “the only all Asian and Asian-American festival in Colorado,” according to Sara Moore, Executive Director of the organization. It’s the second year they’ve been working with Denver Film, but this year feels different in a number of ways, Moore explained, noting there’s “a lot of anti-Asian sentiment in the country and the world” right now.

Sara Moore speaks at the 2020
Dragon Boat Film Festival; this year
she’ll be speaking virtually.
Photo courtesy of Colorado Dragon Boat

“We chose the theme of ‘representASIAN’ for this year’s film festival because now more than ever it is important to boldly highlight the amazing accomplishments coming out of our community. The amount of talent coming from the Asian and AAPI community is vast and too often hidden from the mainstream media. We are working to change that.” 

Moore said with films like “Parasite”’s popularity there’s more awareness than before of Asian films. “Parasite” won best picture in the 2020 Oscars, the first non-English language film to win.

Denver Film has been working to adapt their events to create more COVID-friendly options, recently turning Red Rocks Ampitheater’s parking lot into a giant drive-in for the Denver Film Festival which was traditionally held downtown. They’re excited to continue their partnership with Colorado Dragon Boat and adapt the Dragon Boast Film Festival to a virtual event. Kevin Smith, Director of Marketing and Partnerships for Denver Film, said the two organizations “took time to get to know each other” before diving in, wanting to ensure the best arrangement for both, creating lists of things each did well and expanding from there.

One aspect Smith is especially excited about is the community engagement portion that can be done online now, explaining most films will have a community panel related to the film. By hosting these virtually, it allows viewers the ability to watch the film and panel on their own schedules. For the live events, their web interface allows dialogue between panelists and the community.

While the festival has an impressive lineup of films and both organizations’ spokespeople said they didn’t have favorites, Moore did highlight “Mu and The Vanishing World” as a film not to miss when asked, including the panel with the film’s directors.

“Mu and the Vanishing World is an 86 minute documentary feature that immerses us in the journey of a young single mother and her tribe over the course of 10 years. Ever since fleeing Myanmar as a child, Mu lives confined as a refugee and tourist attraction in a Long Neck Village in Northern Thailand. Soon after she becomes a single teenage mother, the U.N. initiates a resettlement plan for the refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border creating an opportunity for many to start new lives in the USA. Determined to pursue freedom for herself and her baby, Mu ruptures ties with her traditional mother, her culture and tribe to fulfill the requirements of the rigorous vetting process. Once she finally arrives in America, her romanticized ideas are challenged by the reality that unfolds. As Mu strives to give her son a better future, she struggles to find out where her true identity lies.” (language from Dragon Boat Film Festival)

North Denverites missing the in-person Dragon Boat Festival may not have to wait until 2022 either. Moore said they have a tentative date for the end of September and will still be in the park and on the lake if appropriate. Scott Gilmore, Deputy Manager of Parks for the city, shared a cautious optimism about some larger events this fall, saying the city was “heading in the direction we need to be heading.” He stressed that for major events to come back, Denverites need to continue mask wearing, social distancing, and other practices now to keep the spread of COVID-19 down while vaccines are distributed.

Full festival passes are $55 for Denver Film Members/$65 Non-Member and Individual film tickets are $12 for Denver Film Members/$15 Non-Member. Individual tickets are currently on sale and full festival passes are available at denverfilm.org. The festival runs March 4 – 7.

For information on Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, visit cdbf.org.


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