All I Did Was Smile and Say Hello is an animated documentary created by King Yaw Soon (My Mother, Myself & I). The story follows Michelle, who is Asian American, and her bizarre encounter at the airport in Feb of 2020, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
All I Did was Smile and Say Hello is the premiere film of the first annual KQED Homemade Film Festival. New films will be released daily all week long.
I first heard the airport story from Michelle when she shared it over a group zoom call. It was before the Bay Area announced “shelter-in-place”, before any of us knew how bad this pandemic would hit us, and before the rise of Anti-Asian racism across the country.
Michelle is an Asian American pharmacist. She shared how it’s a weird tension to be an Asian American while working in health care in these current times. There’s a difference in treatment when she has her white coat on versus when it’s off.
I was moved by her story - by how she responded to the discrimination with first, self-contemplation, and then the spirit of love and forgiveness. There was no hate nor fear.
I wanted to make an art piece with that spirit too, to document her story. This film is not a jab against racism and the fear of this virus, but rather, a gentle reminder that we’re all human, and it’s okay to be scared but we can still be good to one another.
Comment from KQED Homemade Film Festival guest judge, film critic Randy Myers: Soulful and poignant with its first-rate animation and a moving voice-over narration, King Yaw Soon’s gentle re-creation of a crippling, telling true event sadly typifies recent encounters many Asian-Americans have endured during this pandemic. King Yaw Soon reminds us to celebrate our best intentions rather than focus on others’ reactions to them
Director Bio: Award-winning filmmaker and graphic designer, King Yaw Soon was born in Tawau, Malaysia in July 1992. His creative journey began in 2011 when he won the Malaysia Top 10 Young Artists Awards and received a full scholarship to study art at The One Academy, in Malaysia. After majoring in digital animation for three years, he decided to pursue film in the United States of America. King graduated summa cum laude from San Francisco State University with a BA in Cinema in 2018. King has produced and directed several short films. His first documentary "Something Carved And Real" won the National Best Picture at Campus MovieFest 2016-2017 Season, as well as an opportunity to represent the organization in the Campus MovieFest showcase at the Cannes Court Métrage 2017. Later that same summer, he was chosen to represent the USA as one of 24 filmmaker teams from around the world to compete in the Thailand International Destination Film Festival. His undergraduate thesis film "My Mother, Myself & I" premiered at the Academy-qualifying Cinequest Film Festival 2019. He currently resides in San Francisco.