#APAParkCity Capper “Expanding the Asian American Narrative…” Closes Out “Sweet 16” Edition

A packed house at the Kickstarter Lodge listens in to panelists at the 2019 Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City. (Photo: Andrew Ge)

“And in the end, we all meet up on Main Street.” #APAParkCity’s MAIN EVENT is the culmination of a full weekend of activities and events that CELEBRATE and FOREGROUND our Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Asian international cinematic artists. JOIN US at Wellhaus/Old Town Cellars, 408 Main St. in the heart of Park City, UT as we present panels that expand the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) experience beyond genre, language, and borders. Hear from filmmakers and media executives as they delve into this new era of AAPI storytelling that is reaching wider audiences. The afterwards, STAY for our “Meet the Filmmakers” reception and toast our AAPI cinematic artists in the heart of Park City!

Preceding the first panel, we will honor producer Nina Yang Bongiovi with the 2020 Irene Cho Pioneer Award. And in a special pre-Reception performance, Bay Area hip hop artist Ruby Ibarra will spit mad rhymes featured in director Ramona Diaz’ Sundance Competition Documentary A THOUSAND CUTS. You would NOT want to miss any of this!

Let’s meet our esteemed panelists, shall we?


CHRISTINA CHOU is an agent at leading entertainment and sports talent firm Creative Artists Agency. She works across the Motion Picture, Literary and Corporate Development departments to identify opportunities for CAA and its clients globally, with an emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region. Based in Los Angeles, Chou represents leading Chinese writers and directors, including Chen Kaige, Chen Man and Cathy Yan, among others. She began her career at the Economic and Trade Policy office at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, DC. She then worked at Plan C Group, a boutique talent management company, before joining CAA in 2011. Chou graduated from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a dual Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science.

MAHIN IBRAHIM is the Director of Multicultural Audience Engagement for The Walt Disney Studios, currently managing its brand-new short film incubator for underrepresented directors, Launchpad. She was previously at Refinery29 in development/production, and spent the majority of her career at Google and YouTube, where she helped run production programs with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion at its flagship studio for YouTube creators. In addition, she writes creative non-fiction, and holds an M.F.A. in Production from USC and a B.A. in Mass Communication and Business Administration from UC Berkeley.

TILANE JONES has worked with award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay for over ten years. Beginning with public relations and promotional company the The DuVernay Agency as well as production entity Forward Movement, then leading DuVernay’s grass-roots film distribution collective ARRAY as Vice President. In 2019 she was appointed President of ARRAY. Jones now leads Array Alliance, the non-profit dedicated to social impact and education, as well as The Array Creative Campus, a three-building compound for production and public programming focused on marginalized filmmakers. She will continue to oversee Array Releasing, the company’s film distribution arm, where she has been responsible for the acquisition, booking and marketing of the collective’s 25+ films.

DEREK NGUYEN is an award-winning writer, director, and independent producer. He wrote and directed THE HOUSEMAID (Cô Hầu Gái) (HKFilm Vietnam & CJ Entertainment), which was released theatrically by IFC Films in 2018 as well as in 22 different territories around the world. Derek is one of the producers of an American adaptation of the film currently in development at CJ Entertainment America and co-written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious). Derek was a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab for the screenplay adaptation of his play, MONSTER (East West Players, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, Public Theatre New Work Now, Edgar Allen Poe Best Play nomination) and a 2004 Screenwriting Fellow at the New York Foundation for the Arts. Derek’s short, THE POTENTIAL WIVES OF NORMAN MAO narrated by George Takei (Star Trek), screened at the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival, LA Shorts Fest, and the Asian American International Film Festival (NYC) among others. Derek co-wrote SEEING RED (directed by Liselle Mei), which was a part of the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival’s All-Access Alumni Program and the 2007 IFP Market’s No Borders Program. He was creative consultant on Sundance project STONES IN THE SUN (directed by Patricia Benoit, Tribeca Film Festival). Derek was the Associate Producer of MISTER GREEN (directed by Greg Pak), ADDICTED TO FRESNO (directed by Jamie Babbit), LOVESONG (directed by So Yong Kim, Strand Releasing), BUSTER’S MAL HEART (directed by Sarah Adina Smith, starring Rami Malek, Well Go USA), Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated THE TALE (directed by Jennifer Fox, starring Laura Dern, Ellen Burnstyn, and Common, HBO), and THE LONG DUMB ROAD (directed by Hannah Fidell, Universal). Derek has worked at the Tribeca Film Institute and was the Director of Operations & Creative Affairs for Gamechanger Films, where he developed and financed LAND HO! (directed by Martha Stephens & Aaron Katz, Sony Pictures Classics), THE INVITATION (directed by Karyn Kusama, Drafthouse Films & Netflix), Sundance-winner NANCY (directed by Christina Choe, Samuel Goldwyn Pictures), among others. He recently co-founded The Population, a film production company with Mynette Louie and Mollye Asher that focuses on producing feature films by or about women, people of color, LGBTQIA+, and other underrepresented groups. Derek is producing SECRET SKY, a feature film written by Abdi Nazemian and Micah Schraft with producers Carol Polakoff, Daniel Marc Dreifuss, and Jason Taylor. Derek is a proud member of the WGA East.

MICHELLE K. SUGIHARA is the Executive Director of CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment). She is also an entertainment attorney, film producer, and adjunct professor for the Claremont Colleges’ Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies. She is on the leadership team of Time’s Up Entertainment AAPI, a founding member of the Asian Pacific American Friends of the Theater and a member of PBS-Southern California Asian Pacific Islander Community Council. She is also an associate member of Cold Tofu, the nation’s premier Asian American comedy improv and sketch group. An avid public speaker, Michelle speaks and teaches across the country on various topics including Representation in Media, Women in Entertainment, Diversity and Inclusion, Leadership, and Improv for Non-Actors. IG: @cape_usa.

DAVID MAGDAEL (Moderator) has 20 years of experience in public relations, strategic planning, development, marketing, community outreach and entertainment and media relations in North America, Europe And Asia. As founder and President of David Magdael & Associates, Inc., Magdael specializes in documentaries, indie films, directors and public affairs. From developing Oscar® campaigns, festival strategies, theatrical, and broadcast press unit publicity, his company has emerged as an important entertainment communications firm boasting a client roster including numerous Oscar® winning and nominated documentary, animated and short films and festival standouts. Magdael’s firm works with all distributors, content creators and broadcast networks along with representing award-winning directors including Morgan Spurlock, Justin Lin, Brian Knappenberger, Lucy Walker, Jehane Noujaim, Kief Davidson, Steve James and others. A co-director of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival since 1997, Magdael founded, with Visual Communications’ Executive Director Linda Mabalot, entertainment publicist Winston Emano, and core founding members Abraham Ferrer, Risa Morimoto, Toni Tabora, and Irene Cho, the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City in 2002. @DMagPR


RAMONA DIAZ is an award-winning Asian American filmmaker best known for her compelling character-driven documentaries that combine a profound appreciation for cinematic aesthetics and potent storytelling. Ramona’s films have demonstrated her ability to gain intimate access to the people she films – be they rock stars, first ladies, dissidents, or teachers — resulting in keenly observed moments and nuanced narratives that are unforgettable. She has received funding from major agencies such as the Independent Television Service (ITVS), the Sundance Documentary Fund, MacArthur Foundation, Tribeca Institute, the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Prior to pursuing a career as an independent filmmaker, Diaz was an associate producer for CADILLAC DESERT, a major PBS documentary series about the quest for water in the American West. In 2005, Diaz broadened her repertoire to include television commercial directing and producing. Diaz is a graduate of Emerson College, Boston and holds an MA in Communication from Stanford University. Ramona’s production company, CineDiaz, currently has a slate of feature documentaries and feature films at various stages of production and development.

SHALINI KANTAYYA is the director of the documentary feature CODED BIAS in the 2020 Sundance U.S. Documentary Competition. She recently directed an episode for the National Geographic series Breakthrough. Broadcast June 2017 with Executive Producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, the series profiles trailblazing scientists who will transform our future. Her debut feature film, CATCHING THE SUN, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was named a New York Times Critics’ Pick. The film released globally on Netflix on Earth Day 2016 with Executive Producer Leonardo DiCaprio, and was nominated for the Environmental Media Association Award for Best Documentary. Kantayya finished in the top 10 out of 12,000 filmmakers on Fox’s ON THE LOT, a show by Steven Spielberg in search of Hollywood’s next great director. A William J. Fulbright Scholar, Kantayya is a Sundance Documentary Film Fellow, a TED Fellow, and a finalist for the ABC Disney | DGA Directing Program.

BAO NGUYEN is a Vietnamese American filmmaker whose past work has been seen in the New York Times, HBO, NBC, Vice, ARTE, and PBS. He has directed, produced, and shot a number of short films, which have played internationally in numerous festivals and museums including MoMA and the Smithsonian. He has worked with prestigious commercial clients such as Google, McDonald’s, US Department of State, Microsoft, Hugo Boss, Hewlett Packard, Amnesty International, Disaronno, Intercontinental Hotels, among many others. He was the producer and cinematographer of NUOC 2030, a feature narrative set in near future Vietnam that opened the Panorama section of the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival and was a recipient of the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Award. His feature doc directorial debut, LIVE FROM NEW YORK opened the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and went onto screen at prestigious festivals such as Hot Docs, BFI London, and IDFA. He is a 2011 PBS/WGBH Producers Workshop Fellow and an alumnus of the 2012 and 2014 Berlinale Talent Campus. He earned his BA in Politics/International Relations at NYU and his MFA in Social Documentary Film at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is currently based in Saigon, Vietnam.

     “People often say documentaries don’t look cinematic and that narrative/scripted projects don’t feel real and authentic enough. As a filmmaker, I don’t find beauty and authenticity to be mutual exclusive. My goal as a filmmaker is to find the harmony between the two; making the reality in front of us cinematic and beautiful. Working with real locations, real people, and bringing those true-to-life stories and worlds into my film aesthetic is my passion.”

ANDREW AHN (Moderator) is a Korean American filmmaker born and raised in Los Angeles. His debut feature film SPA NIGHT premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Ahn participated in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, the Film Independent Screenwriting Lab, and the Film Independent Directing Lab for the project. With his producing team, Ahn raised over $62,000 on Kickstarter to fund production. The project also received a Sundance Institute Cinereach Feature Film Fellow grant, Panavision New Filmmaker grant, and FilmLA grant. Ahn’s latest feature, DRIVEWAYS, premiered at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival and will premiere theatrically in the Spring. Ahn was also recently named a 2020 Sundance Institute Momentum Fellow.

     Ahn’s short film DOL (First Birthday) premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and has screened at numerous other festivals and venues around the world, including the Lincoln Center, REDCAT, and the Los Angeles Film Festival. The film received the Outfest Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Short Film and the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival Jury Award for Best Narrative Short. Ahn is an alum of Film Independent’s Project Involve and has promoted diversity in the arts by mentoring youth filmmakers through programs like Pacific Arts Movement’s Reel Voices and Outfest’s OutSet. He is also a board member of Los Angeles Performance Practice. He graduated from Brown University and received an MFA in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).

For complete details on all the events comprising the Sweet 16 edition of the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City, go to: apaparkcity2020.splashthat.com

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