Here They Are…The #APAParkCity Class of 2021!

Miya Cech appears in MARVELOUS AND THE BLACK HOLE by Kate Tsang, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Nanu Segal.

For those attending the (virtual) Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals at wherever in the world you plan to be from January 28 through February 3 (Sundance) and February 12 through 25 (Slamdance), the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience team wants to let you all know who we’re celebrating, centering, and spotlighting. A mix of past #APAParkCity honorees and bright-eyed newcomers portends much excitement and promise for the coming year. Be sure to catch these filmmakers’ films and new media productions. As always, we think this group is very special. And we know you’ll agree with us, too!

Sundance (Directors unless otherwise indicated; * are #APAParkCity returnees)

JAVAAD ALIPOOR (Co-Creator) – RICH KIDS: A HISTORY OF SHOPPING MALLS IN TEHRAN

* NINA YANG BONGIOVI (Producer) – PASSING

SONNY CALVENTOEXCUSE ME, MISS! MISS! MISS!

NATALIE CHAOTO KNOW HER

SHERON DAYOC (Producer) – EXCUSE ME, MISS! MISS! MISS!

JULIAN DOANRASPBERRY

SUSHMIT GHOSH (Co-Director) – WRITING WITH FIRE

CASSANDRA JABOLA (Producer) – AMY TAN: UNINTENDED MEMOIR

YOUMIN KANGAVA FROM MY CLASS

SERHAT KARAASLANTHE CRIMINALS

* KANG-MIN KIMKKUM

SARAH KIM (Producer) – I WAS A SIMPLE MAN

CIARA LACYTHIS IS THE WAY WE RISE

* GRACE LEE (Co-Creator) – BEYOND THE BREAKDOWN

SASHA LEEMISERY LOVES COMPANY

DEBBIE LUMTRY HARDER!

CAROLYN MAO (Producer) – MARVELOUS AND THE BLACK HOLE

ALISHA MEHTALATA

KO MORI (Producer) – PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND

NOEMIE NAKAITEARS TEACHER

ERICK OHNAMOO

ALAP PARIKH (Co-Creator) – PRISON X – CHAPTER 1: THE DEVIL AND THE SUN

JASON PARKBJ’S MOBILE GIFT SHOP

PHẠM NGỌC LÂNTHE UNSEEN RIVER

BAZ POONPIRIYAONE FOR THE ROAD

LKHAGVADULAM PUREV-OCHIRMOUNTAIN CAT

AJITPAL SINGHFIRE IN THE MOUNTAINS

SION SONOPRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND

RINTU THOMAS (Co-Director) – WRITING WITH FIRE

KATE TSANGMARVELOUS AND THE BLACK HOLE

* NANFU WANGIN THE SAME BREATH

CHRISTOPHER MAKOTO YOGII WAS A SIMPLE MAN



Slamdance (Directors unless otherwise indicated)

All links go to the Slamdance Program page; click on the respective categories to access info on the following films:

SHELDON CHAUFLYING EGGS

DANIEL CHEIN (Co-Director) – ABOUT A HOME

SHAINA GHURAYAHUMAN HELPER; I WISH I NEVER

SHOKO HARAJUST A GUY

YUE HUANG (Co-Director) – RETURN TO THE PEACH BLOSSOM WONDERLAND

KEFFTAIPEI SUICIDE STORY

TRISTAN KIMRUN THAT SHIT!

TAKESHI KOGAHARABIRDLAND

YOH KOMAYALIKE IN MOVIES

ANNAPURNA KUMARSOMETHING TO TREASURE

YIHAN LININSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE WALL

ELIZABETH LO (Co-Director) – ABOUT A HOME

COURTNEY LOO (Co-Director) – POST OFFICE

YUCHAO LUO (Co-Director) – RETURN TO THE PEACH BLOSSOM WONDERLAND

MOHAMMAD MOHAMMADIANLIFE

NAM JIHEEKNIFE HANGING FROM A TREE

ERICK OHOPERA

HAOMIN PENG (Co-Director) – RETURN TO THE PEACH BLOSSOM WONDERLAND

SUNEIL SANZGIRILETTER FROM YOUR FAR-OFF COUNTRY

NAVID SINAKIRUMI AND HIS ROSES

JOCELYN TAMAYAOTHE BIN

JORDAN WONGMOUNTAIN LODGE

WU YU FENTHERE

ALISA YANGSLEEPING WITH THE DEVIL

YUJIE XUWHITE HORSE         

#APAParkCity Wraps “Sweet 16” Edition in Style

And That’s A WRAP From Wellhaus/Old Town Cellars! The entire organizing team and volunteers of the “Sweet 16” edition of the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City can finally exhale. (Photo: Andrew Ge)

By Abraham Ferrer

Three days. Five events. Two parties. And a whopping eight filmmaker panels, comprising over thirty speakers for a total audiences of nearly 800 cinematic and media artists, activists, and casual movie-goers. The “Sweet 16” edition of the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City certainly did not lack for participants. Indeed, since 2002, the Experience — a coalition-style collaborative effort among APA media arts and artist organizations that included Visual Communications, David Magdael & Associates, Kollaboration, the Center for Asian American Media, Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, Asia Society/Southern California, Gold House, the Asian American Documentary Network, and Asians in Hollywood — has sought to create a space whereby filmmakers with works premiering at the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals are foregrounded and celebrated by the ever-increasing APA communities that annually make the trek to Park City, Utah for the first and arguably the most-anticipated celebration of independent cinema on the film festival calendar.

The plethora of speaker panels was no accident: with the increasing profile of works by filmmakers of color in recent years, the need to expand the range of activities that #APAParkCity organizers create for Sundance and Slamdance filmmakers has morphed from an annual dinner buffet and mixer, to a series that affords a critical opportunity for Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Asian international creatives to celebrate their achievements while addressing the systemic obstacles that continue to inhibit the APA cinematic communities’ enfranchisement in the entertainment industry.

“To have a space where our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) filmmakers, storytellers, creatives, and industry supporters are celebrated and recognized at Sundance and Slamdance is essential,” said Laarni Rosca Dacanay, an #APAParkCity organizing member and chairperson of the PBS SoCal Asian Pacific Islander Community Council. “By highlighting their work, we add another layer of focus to the stories representing all people of color and other underrepresented communities.

“The AAPI lens is an integral part of the human experience,” added Dacanay. “With events like the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience, we are able to support telling all our diverse stories and showing the world how vibrant our AAPI community is.”

Anchored by a pair of filmmaker panels that punctuated the #APAParkCity “Main Event” programs on Park City Sunday at the Wellhaus/Old Town Cellars along Main Street, the stellar line-up of panel events and speakers throughout this year’s edition spoke not only to the broad range of artistic expressions showcased at both Park City festivals, but offered a chance to offer strategies on how to be competitive and successful in this entertainment “new normal.”

That ongoing struggle for enfranchisement provided the underpinnings for the gaggle of boisterous actors who shared their thoughts with NBC News reporter Kimmy Yam in “Unfolding Narratives: Our Stories to Tell,” the HBO/TBS panel in partnership with #APAParkCity that kicked things off on Friday, Jan. 24. Karan Soni, a co-star with fellow panelist Geraldine Viswanathan of the TBS anthology comedy MIRACLE WORKERS, recounted his struggles as an actor of color out of USC before gaining a crucial foothold through independent streaming series and commercials (a mainstay of the raunchy DEADPOOL blockbuster films, Soni is also known as a Diet Coke pitchman). Geraldine, a comedic actor in her native Australia, along with fellow actors Suzy Nakamura (DR. KEN) and Alexander Hodge (INSECURE) likewise amplified the improved climate for Asian American and Asian actors to land more nuanced roles in Hollywood, though they cautioned that the path to a rewarding, sustained career remains fraught with challenges as being offered stereotypical parts and a lack of imagination on the part of producers and writers to create more significant characters for them and their peers. #APAParkCity organizer Minji Chang, who can be seen in the upcoming feature LISA MANIA, foregrounded her role in the long-running talent incubator Kollaboration as one way through which Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders can access and even create meaningful onscreen roles in the mainstream.

Day Two, January 25, saw a dizzyingly rapid-fire trio of panels at the Kimball Arts Center organized by the Asia Society’s Northern and Southern California chapters and Harbour, and hosted by longtime producer Janet Yang. While the cumulative effects of sitting in on a whopping three panels in the space of a mere two hours barely afforded any of the panelists to really cut loose and fully express themselves, the overflow crowd were nevertheless presented with a broad range of issues and challenges addressed by the panelists. In the lead-off panel “Producers: Women Hold Up Half the Sky at Sundance”, festival perenniels Nina Yang Bongiovi (FRUITVALE STATION; ROXANNE, ROXANNE; SORRY TO BOTHER YOU), Mynette Louie (I CARRY YOU WITH ME), and Naja Lockwood (co-founder, Game Changer Films; executive producer, GOOK; LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM) shared how each of them got their start as producers as well as the setbacks each of them experienced as they worked to gain a foothold in the independent producing sphere.

In the equally succinct ensuing panel entitled “Directors: Telling Original Stories”, Los Angeles-based director Edson Oda and documentary director/producer Bao Nguyen ranged over the myriad choices each of them made in creating a narrative feature that works more like a piece of personal cinema (Oda’s NINE DAYS, a Sundance Narrative Competition selection), and a documentary that relied heavily upon historical and home-movie footage (Nguyen’s BE WATER, which screened in Documentary Competition). In the end, it seemed that it was the actors that everyone came to see, and in the final panel “Actors: Cutting It On The Big Screen”, the audience pretty much got what they wanted — that is, if an exclusively all-male panel sans women was what they wanted to see. Moderator Yang played host to Chris Pang (PALMS SPRINGS), Benedict Wong (NINE DAYS), and Daniel Dae Kim (BLAST BEAT) in a conversation that inevitably circled back around to re-hashing past exploits — for Pang, entreaties to comment on the lingering after-effects of starring in Jon M. Chu’s 2018 CRAZY RICH ASIANS; and for Wong, recounting the long-term benefits of his association with the Marvel Comic Universe. For his part, Kim glossed over his departure from the television series HAWAII 5-0 over pay equity issues, though it seemed clear that he would rather have wanted to talk about his multiple roles as executive producer and co-star of the highly-lauded period piece BLAST BEAT, which was generating some “buzz” during the Sundance opening weekend.

The jamb-packed Day Three activities on Sunday, January 26 saw the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience return to the Kimball Arts Center for the CAAM-sponsored panel “Shouldering the Future.” #APAParkCity co-founder David Magdael moderated a panel composed of women film professionals whose influence on independent media has been, in a word, profound. Effie Brown, CEO of the recently-formed Gamechanger Films, regaled the capacity audience with her experiences facing institutional racism throughout the mainstream entertainment industry, and how those struggles informed her sense of determination in being an agent of change on behalf of cinematic artists of color (see: Matt Damon, PROJECT GREENLIGHT — that sordid chapter of her career was referenced, to the collective disgust of the audience). Noted film/television editor and producer Jean Tsien recounted her rise as the “go-to” editor and mentor of many independent productions over a nearly twenty year career to observe the emergence of a new generation of APA cinema artist, while relative newcomer Sheroum Kim recounted her journey from a staffer at a Hollywood talent agency to her current position as Director of Original Independent Film at Netflix. The trio encouraged media makers in the audience to always lend a helping hand to the next generation of artists who will follow them, and cautioned that not only their skills, but their sense of value and self-worth will always be challenged.

From Kimball Arts Center, it was a quick dash up to the Firelight House and the panel “Power To The POC”, which was organized by the Asian American Documentary Network. Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker Grace Lee led a talk spotlighting the burgeoning role of people of color in production, distribution, and policy-making on behalf of minority filmmakers. Grace was joined by Gina Duncan, Associate Vice President of Film and Strategic Programming at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Laura Kim, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Participant Media; Carrie Lozano, Director of the International Documentary Association’s Enterprise Fund and Pare Lorentz Fund; and Cynthia López, Executive Director of New York Women in Film & Television.

Finally, the action shifted back up to Main Street Park City, where #APAParkCity’s “Main Event” activities kicked off a pair of panels assessing the need for APA filmmakers and entertainment professionals to “up” their game in this nascent decade. As part of the first panel, “Changemakers,” Magdael sprinted back from Kimball Arts Center to the overflow Wellhaus/Old Town Cellars to host a gathering of media professionals and, in some cases, old friends in a frank discussion of the ways in which APAs are creating space for artists of color to succeed in the independent and mainstream arena. The panel, including Mahin Ibrahim of The Walt Disney Company, Christina Chou of Creative Artists Agency, ARRAY President Tilane Jones, filmmaker and producer Derek Nguyen, and Michelle Sugihara – executive director of the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment touched on a number of issues that centered around strategies for comprehensive support and talent incubation from within the APA creative communities. Jones, no stranger to past #APAParkCity panels, referenced the intentionality of establishing multi-award-winning director/producer Ava DuVernay’s distribution/production company ARRAY within Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown as a means of centering their company within an ethnic creative hub; while Chou elicited “oohs” and “ahas” in mentioning that as part of her efforts to make an impact on behalf of the APA cinematic community, she shepherded the creation of Lee Isaac Chung’s Sundance Grand Jury Award-winning narrative MINARI. Ibrahim, director of The Walt Disney Company’s Multicultural Audience Engagement initiative, described her efforts to establish Launchpad, a Disney incubator program for filmmakers from underserved communities, while Nguyen shared news of his role in launching The Population, a film production company in collaboration with fellow #APAParkCity alum Mynette Louie and Mollye Asher. Sugihara, who in five years transformed CAPE from a movie professionals group largely satisfied with organizing networking opportunities into a vibrant talent incubator and advocate on behalf of Asian American and Pacific Islander cinematic talents, amplified her fellow panelists efforts to catalyze their collective resources and experiences for the benefit of our creative communities.

Of course, the longtime backbone of Asian Pacific American cinema lay in non-fiction cinema, and in the final #APAParkcity panel “Truthtellers,” organizers honored that enduring tradition through the collective power of longtime documentarians Bao Nguyen (BE WATER), Ramona Diaz (A THOUSAND CUTS), and Shalini Kantayya (CODED BIAS). While Sundance Film Festival darling and 2020 Momentum Fellow Andrew Ahn (SPA NIGHT) was seemingly the odd one out — an exclusively narrative storyteller, his latest long-form narrative DRIVEWAYS is slated for a Springtime theatrical release — he proved adept at eliciting nuanced and valued insights from the threesome as they shared their perspectives on the urgency of their stories, and the reactions they were preparing to receive from Park City audiences that weekend. And, a pair of absolutely fierce Pinoiz — Bay Area hip-hop artist Ruby Ibarra, who lent serious rhymes to Diaz’ A THOUSAND CUTS; and journalist Dino-Ray Ramos, who implored the audience to support and help sustain the storytelling instincts of APA filmmakers —underscored the themes coursing throughout the weekend-long series of events. In assessing the overall impact of #APAParkCity 2020, co-organizer Minji Chang noted the commitment of the combined Sundance/Slamdance communities. “It’s further proof that diversity in film is not a passing trend, but a much needed reflection and expression of our true experiences and authentic realities,” said Chang. “By creating spaces for underrepresented voices to be heard, we are opening up minds and opportunities for progress to happen swiftly and effectively.”

In the end, the events of the “Sweet 16” edition of the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience are inspired by our creative communities’ storytelling and ability to foreground our experiences and perspectives, and that we cannot count on others to tells those stories accurately and honestly. Perhaps that was why the celebratory tone of the weekend events took a suddenly solemn and contemplative turn when, in the midst of the “Shouldering the Future” panel, cellphones throughout the Kimball Arts Center blew up with the shocking news that NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other colleagues perished early Sunday morning in a helicopter crash against a Calabasas hillside. The loss of a famed, though complicated, sports hero who was on the verge of transitioning into the entertainment field elicited a passionate, nuanced response from Nina Yang Bongiovi, the recipient of #APAParkCity’s second Irene Cho Pioneer Award. Bongiovi, a Sundance-hardened producer starting with her 2013 FRUITVALE directed by Ryan Coogler, acknowledged Bryant’s passing in the midst of recounting the many hits and misses of a nearly 20-year-long career while admonishing the rapt audience that “tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone,” and that not waiting for anyone to confer “permission” to realizing one’s vision is what matters most of all. More prescient sentiments could not have been expressed for an otherwise celebratory weekend.

___________________

The “Sweet 16” edition of the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City was generously co-hosted by The Walt Disney Company, Home Box Office, Inc., Comcast/NBCUniversal, the Center for Asian American Media, and SAG/AFTRA.

And finally, a Special Thanks to the #APAParkCity Organizing team, panelists, and volunteers: Linda Mabalot, Founding #APAParkCity member (Posthumous); Irene Cho, Sustaining #APAParkCity member (Posthumous); Andrew Ahn; Nina Yang Bongiovi; Effie Brown; Minji Chang; Janet Chen; S. Leo Chiang; Christina Chou; Roshini Chuganey; Margaret Conley; Tricia Coonrad; Francis Cullado; Laarni Rosca Dacanay; Susan Jin Davis; Gina Duncan; Henry Eshelman; Abraham Ferrer; Ellen Huang; Ruby Ibarra; Mahin Ibrahim; Tilane Jones; Jess; Shalini Kantayya; Chris Kim; Daniel Dae Kim; Laura Kim; Sheroum Kim; Ileana Lagares; Megan Lau; Grace Lee; Ed Lew; Kyra Lewis; Naja Lockwood; Cynthia López; Mynette Louie; Carrie Lozano|; David Magdael; Verna Myers; Masashi Niwano; Bao Nguyen; Derek Nguyen; Edson Oda; Chris Pang; Tyng Pan; Raymond Perkins; Deborah Renteria; JoSaen Ronquillo; Sapana Sakya; Rachelle Samson; Stephanie Shih; Michelle Sugihara; Jean Tsien; Nicole Tsien; Rexille; Janna Wang; Panney Wei; John Wirfs; Benedict Wong; Jo-Ann Wong; Dorothy Xiao; Janet Yang; Donald Young; and Marvin Yueh

Nina Yang Bongiovi to Receive #APAParkCity’s Irene Cho Pioneer Award

Producer Nina Yang Bongiovi was recently named the recipient of the 2020 Irene Cho Pioneer Award by the organizers of the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City. The award, which recognizes Bongiovi’s two decade-long career as a producer and executive producer of over 20 feature-length narrative, documentary, and TV series, is named after the late radio producer and filmmaker advocate Irene Cho, who stepped into a leadership role with #APAParkCity in 2013 and elevated the event’s profile in its second decade.

The Award will be presented during #APAParkCity’s “Main Event” activities on Sunday, January 26, 2020 at Wellhaus/Old Town Cellars, 408 Main St. in the heart of Park City, UT.

“The organizers of the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience are honored and thrilled to present this special award to Nina Yang Bongiovi,” said David Magdael, a founding member of #APAParkCity. “Nina truly exemplifies the term, ‘pioneer,’ and what truly makes her unique is her support of cinematic artists whose stories reflect the experiences of all marginalized and underserved communities. She recalls the spirit and determination of our dear colleague Irene Cho, and we are excited to recognize Nina’s dedication and support of authentic filmmaking voices.”

With two decades of experience in the motion picture industry, Nina Yang Bongiovi has gained a positive reputation for having an in-depth knowledge of film financing, creative and physical producing, and a knack for discovering talent, like that of Ryan Coogler (Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER), whose first film, FRUITVALE STATION (2013) was produced by Nina and her producing partner, actor and producer Forest Whitaker. 

Together under their banner, Significant Productions, Nina and Forest have produced a number of critically-acclaimed films by auteur filmmakers of color, including DOPE (2015) by Rick Famuyiwa, SONGS MY BROTHERS TAUGHT ME (2015) by Chloe Zhao, ROXANNE ROXANNE (2018) by Michael Larnell and SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (2018) by Boots Riley. Currently, they are in post-production on PASSING, Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut based on Nella Larsen’s novel of the same name. They also serve as executive producers on EPIX’s hit TV show, GODFATHER OF HARLEM. 

Nina is a board member of Film Independent, The Oscar Grant Foundation, Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE), The Producers Guild of America (PGA), as well as a member of The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences’ (AMPAS) Producers Branch. She is fluent in Mandarin, Chinese, and received her graduate degree in Entertainment Management from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California.

For complete details on all the events comprising the Sweet 16 edition of the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City, go toapaparkcity2020.splashthat.com

#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?

At 3:20 PM: CHANGEMAKERS

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

At 4:20 PM: TRUTHTELLERS

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

Let’s Not Forget Those #APAParkCity Actors!

Evelyn (Aina Dumlao) is about to make a shocking discovery that will affect two broken families in Xia Magnus’ SANZARU, premiering Jan. 26 in Narrative Competition at the Slamdance Film Festival. (Photo: courtesy Undercurrent Media)

Although a smaller contingent than the filmmakers we are honoring, we are pleased to recognize the actors whose work grace select films as part of the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals. Hit the respective links to get details on the films they appear in, and be sure to watch their films during Park City 2020:

SHIRLEY CHENBEAST BEAST

TERRY CHEN — FALLING

NOEL KATE CHOMINARI

JON VIKTOR CORPUZSANZARU

AINA DUMLAOSANZARU

YERI HANMINARI

YOUN YUH JUNGMINARI

ALAN KIMMINARI

DANIEL DAE KIMBLAST BEAT

SUNITA MANISAVE YOURSELVES!

DANIEL RASHIDBEAST BEAST

BENEDICT WONGNINE DAYS

STEVEN YUENMINARI

Consult the program guides of the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals for dates, venues, and showtimes.

Introducing: The #APAParkCity Class of 2020!

A still from Bao Nguyen’s Sundance Documentary Competition film BE WATER, about iconic martial arts pioneer Bruce Lee. (Photo courtesy Dorothy St. Pictures)

Whew, this list is kinda long (a whopping 76 artists — an unoffical record!), but for those attending the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festival’s in Park City, Utah, the #APAParkCity team wants to let you all know who we’re celebrating, centering, and spotlighting this year. A mix of past #APAParkCity honorees and bright-eyed newcomers portends much excitement and promise for the coming year. Be sure to catch these filmmakers’ films and new media productions. We think this group is very special. And we think you’ll agree with us wholeheartedly!

Sundance (Directors unless otherwise indicated; * are #APAParkCity returnees)

SHOHREH AGHDASHLOO (Producer)RUN SWEETHEART RUN

ZHANNAT ALSHANOVAPAOLA MAKES A WISH

* KARIM AMERPERSUASION MACHINES

JOKO ANWARIMPETIGORE

MASSOUD BAKHSHIYALDA, A NIGHT FOR FORGIVENESS

WREGAS BHANUTEJANO ONE IS CRAZY IN THIS TOWN

VERA BRUNNER-SUNGCHARACTER

CEDRIC CHEUNG-LAUTHE MOUNTAINS ARE A DREAM THAT CALL TO ME

CHUNGYEAN CHOSCARECROW

* LEE ISAAC CHUNGMINARI

* RAMONA S. DIAZA THOUSAND CUTS

KIMO EASTERWOOD (Co-Director) – HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY-THE REN & STIMPY STORY

QINYA (JENNY) GUOLIVING DISTANCE

ALEXA LIM HAAS (Co-Director) – OMNIBOAT: A FAST BOAT FANTASIA

SONIA K. HADADEXAM

SHANTY HARMAYN (Producer) – IMPETIGORE

SANGHUN HEOSCARECROW

QURRATALAIN HYDER (Screenwriter) – ALL THAT PERISHES AT THE EDGE OF LAND

TAEWAN JEONGSCARECROW

JIHYUN JUNGSCARECROW

KABUKI SAWAKOTAKOYAKI STORY

SHALINI KANTAYYACODE FOR BIAS

KATHREEN KHAVARI (Creator) – EMBRACE

LANA KIM (Producer) – THE NOWHERE INN

YEONJEE KIMSCARECROW

* DANIEL KWAN (Co-Director) – OMNIBOAT: A FAST BOAT FANTASIA

DANNY LEEJUNIOR BANGERS

ROY LEE (Producer) – HIS HOUSE

SNGMOO LEESCARECROW

SIMON LIUE-TICKET

XIN LIULIVING DISTANCE

* MYNETTE LOUIE (Producer) – I CARRY YOU WITH ME

VINNIE MALHOTRA (Executive Producer) – LOVE FRAUD; THE TRADE

MIWA MATREYEKINFINITELY YOURS

HIRA NABIALL THAT PERISHES AT THE EDGE OF LAND

BAO NGUYENBE WATER

* DIFFAN SINA NORMANBENEVOLENT BA

EDSON ODANINE DAYS

CHRISTINA OH (Producer) – MINARI

RANDALL OKITATHE BOOK OF DISTANCE

JEFF ORLOWSKITHE SOCIAL DILEMMA

ANKIT POUDELSONG OF CLOUD

HENRICUS PRIA (Screenwriter) – NO ONE IS CRAZY IN THIS TOWN

ZAHRA RASOOLSTILL HERE

RISHI RIJANI (Producer) – THE 40-YEAR-OLD VERSION

FARNOOSH SAMADI (Screenwriter) – EXAM

* JESSICA SANDERSEMBRACE

TANYA SELVARATNAM (Producer) – AGGIE

TAYLOR SHUNG (Co-Producer) – OMNIBOAT: A FAST BOAT FANTASIA

HING WENG ERIC TSANGA THOUSAND SAILS

MILAD TANGSHIRVR FREE

DERRICK TSENG (Producer) – THE EVENING HOUR

* CHRISTINE TURNERBETYE SAAR: TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

AI WEIWEIVIVOS

PING WONGWONG PING’S FABLES 2

COOPER YOOSCARECROW

Sundance Screenwriters’ Laboratory ( * are #APAParkCity returnees)

ANDREW THOMAS HUANGTIGER GIRL

* BING LIUCHINK

XIXI WANGSISYPHUS

Slamdance (Directors unless otherwise indicated; * are #APAParkCity returnees)
All links go to the Slamdance Program page; click on the respective categories under “Narrative” and “Short” to access info on the following films:

BEHNAM ABEDICEREMONY NIGHT

* JOANNA VASQUEZ ARONGTO CALM THE PIG INSIDE

EUNJU ARA CHOIHAPPY ENDING

AINA DUMLAO (Co-Producer) – SANZARU

DEEPTI GUPTAPROOF

* SHUNSAKI HAYASHILEAKING LIFE

ISAMU HIRABAYASHISHELL AND JOINT

CHAERIN IMMATE

NISHTHA JAINPROOF

RENUKA JEYAPALANTHE 410 “EPISODE TWO”

AMIN KAFASHZADEH (Screenwriter) – GRAY BODY

BRIAN YULO NG24

KENNY RICHES (Executive Producer) – SANZARU

PARDEEP SAHOTABLEEDING ART “EPISODE ONE”

RAJEE SAMARASINGHETHE EYE OF SUMMER

HAMAD HOSEINI SANGARI (Screenwriter) – CEREMONY NIGHT

CASSIE SHAOTHERE WERE FOUR OF US

SAMANEH SHOJAEIGRAY BODY

DANSKI TANGUMBILICAL

SUPINDER WRAICH (Creator/Screenwriter) – THE 410 “EPISODE TWO”

ZHANG AND KNIGHTSWEEP AWAY HUNGRY GHOSTS

More details on #APAParkCity events and gatherings coming soon!

Welcome to #APAParkCity!

We’ve finally done and did it…we, the Organizing Team of the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City have pored over fifteen years of hosting our annual Park City Receptions for Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Asian International cinema artists and assembled a new online destination to celebrate our artists as we move forward to the week starting January 23, when the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals take over Park City, Utah. Since 2001, when an ad hoc team of APA media arts activists including former Visual Communications Executive Director Linda Mabalot and publicists David Magdael and Winston Emano contributed to a memorable launch for director Rod Pulido’s THE FLIP SIDE (the very first feature-length film directed by a Filipino American to screen at Sundance), we recognized the need to foreground and recognize APA cinematic talents in Park City who have brought their stories to this annual gathering of independent cinema. As it turns out, the very first Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience gathering at China Panda Restaurant proved to be a preview of things to come.

As #APAParkCity co-founder Winston Emano once proclaimed, “The first year, it was a party. The second year, it was a happening. Now, this is an annual event. You know what we call that? We call that a tradition.” We invite one and all who champion and support the creative vision and storytelling talents of our APA and Asian international artistic community to JOIN US in January as #APAParkCity presents its Sixteenth Edition. Follow this blog for breaking news and other developments, and follow us throughout the year — the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience “tradition” has begun to extend far beyond the snowy hamlet of Park City, all the better to recognize and celebrate our amazing cinematic community. Stay tuned! More great stuff to come in the coming weeks…