Since 2016, the Colorado Dragon Film Festival has highlighted and promoted the culture, contributions, and accomplishments of Asian and Asian Pacific American communities through film—largely due to the vision and initiative of Elaine Yang.
“Elaine spearheaded the development and implementation of the very first Colorado Dragon Boat Film Festival in 2016,” said Daranee Teng, film festival committee co-chair.
“Eight years later, the film festival continues to be the only one of its kind celebrating Asian and Asian American filmmaking and stories and Elaine continues to ensure its success as a committee co-chair.”
2023 Colorado Dragon Film Festival Committee
The film festival has exemplified themes such as: Women in Film, RepresentAsian, Celebrating Our Resilience and most recently in 2023, Celebrating Our Stories. Through the lens of cinema, artists explore with the audience the humanity and integrity of Asians and Asian Americans. The power of storytelling within film encapsulates experiences.
Yang said: “Each year, I have memories of audience members leaving the film and reliving parts of the film through dialogue with other audience members. The space for community engagement that films provide are an important vision of the Colorado Dragon Film Festival.”
Yang with her husband Charlie and daughters
Before moving to Colorado in 2012, Yang was a clinical pharmacist in North Carolina. In Colorado, she shifted gears to focusing on being a mother.
“My daughters, Elise and Bea, were young at the time, six months and two years old. I ultimately had the ambition of becoming a parent and learning and sharing the enormous gift of raising a family.”
Changing career paths allowed her to explore Colorado and to find belonging within the community.
This led her to serving on the Colorado Dragon Boat board and to later join the Asian Girls Ignite (AGI) board as well.
Growing up in a small, rural town in North Carolina meant that her family was the only Asian family in town. When she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she was fortunate to be welcomed into the Asian Students Association.
She said: “It was only the beginning of recognizing my Asian-American identity and embracing a larger understanding of empathy. At times, I felt disconnected from my Asian Americanness.”
“Such recognition as a young adult sparked a gradual energy to seek out areas of life related to my Chinese-American identity: friendships, organizations, and community.”
This is why she has been grateful to be a part of the founding Board of Directors of Asian Girls Ignite.
Asian Girls Ignite students and leaders
AGI recognizes that AAPI youth deserve lives inclusive of positive self-belief, belonging and representation. The organization believes that every girl and storyteller is empowered and guided by the values of courage, compassion and curiosity.
“I feel extremely grateful to join AGI’s passionate team to help support Colorado AAPI girls in their self-growth and identity exploration.”
Yang currently lives in Englewood with her husband Charlie, their two daughters Elise (13) and Bea (11), and Bernedoodle, Tai. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, hiking, and crafting.