Oct 25, 2021
SFFILM’s leadership roster received a special addition this fall with Masashi Niwano joining as the Director of Artist Development. Niwano will lead the team elevating and supporting filmmakers from around the world in both fiction and non-fiction realms through direct artist grants, fellowships, residencies, and tailored mentorship. Under the banner of SFFILM Makers, he will help to advance the health and diversity of the independent film arena with a focus on the vibrant community of filmmakers in the Bay Area.
“I am thrilled to welcome Masashi, who brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to SFFILM. He is a thoughtful champion for emerging voices and a passionate advocate for building connection and community with and among filmmakers,” said SFFILM Executive Director Anne Lai. “We look forward to having his invaluable perspective in our commitment to the regional and national film landscapes.”
For over a decade, Masashi Niwano was the Festival & Exhibitions Director at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), the US’s largest media arts organization that amplifies Asian and Asian American storytelling. Prior to his time with CAAM, he was the Executive Director of the Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF). He is a Bay Area native who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Film Production from San Francisco State University.
“SFFILM is truly the gem of the San Francisco Bay Area film scene, and I’m so honored to join them,” said Niwano. “I look forward to collaborating directly with filmmakers to accomplish their visions and dreams, and have their work seen all over the world.”
Masashi has been a jury member or panelist at dozens of prestigious festivals including Sundance Institute, The Gotham (formerly IFP), International Development Association (IDA), New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF) and FRAMELINE LGBTQ+ Film Festival. He has also participated in various industry conversations with leading media entities including AT&T, XFINITY, WarnerMedia, and HBO. He is an active advisory board member for Firelight Media’s William Greaves Fund. Masashi’s life mission is to support diverse media-making communities, especially filmmakers from historically under-served communities.
He has been featured on NPR, CBS Sunday Morning, SF Chronicle, Deadline, and Colorlines. He lives in San Francisco with his partner and adorable cat, Morvey. In his spare time, he enjoys sewing bow ties, tending to his veggie garden, and cooking Japanese-inspired dishes.