The NBCUniversal Short Film Festival has announced 16 original short films and webisodes as semi-finalists for its 12th annual event. The festival, which includes notable alumni Randall Park (Fresh Off The Boat) and Hasan Minhaj (The Daily Show), celebrates diverse stories while finding the next generation of storytellers.
This year, there were more than 4200 submissions, which doubled from 2016’s entries, making it the most in the festival’s history. The collection of shorts feature stories about people of ethnically diverse backgrounds, the LGBTQ community, women and people with disabilities. Out of the 16 semi-finalists, 10 were written or directed by women, setting a new record for female representation at the festival. Additionally, half of the shorts selected feature Asian-American stories or writer-directors, which is also a first for the festival. Karen Horne, SVP of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion, NBC Entertainment and Universal Television said in a statement, “this is proof of the wealth of stories about underrepresented people.
“I’m proud that our Short Film Festival along with our other NBC Talent Infusion Programs will continue to serve as a home to highlight those stories and their creators,” adds Horne.
The webisodes and shorts, which include a mix of comedies and dramas, will be showcased at public screenings in New York on August 15 and 16 before the finalists are chosen. The finalists will be chosen by a panel of entertainment industry professionals and NBCUniversal executives. Winners will be chosenfor Best Writer, Best Director and Best Actor, among others. The finale screening and awards ceremony will be held in Los Angeles on October 18 at the Directors Guild of America.
The complete list of semi-finalists are listed below:
Akashi, Writer & Director: Mayumi Yoshida
Kana, a young Japanese woman, receives news that her grandmother has passed away. During her trip to attend the funeral, she recalls intimate conversations with her grandmother that lead her to examine her own life.
Audible Static, Writer & Director: Sai Selvarajan
Thaddeus, a clever teenager with a speech impediment, creates a new way to communicate his feelings to his crush.
Brothers, Writer & Director: Emmett Lundberg
Four transgender male friends explore life and love in Brooklyn. This episode of the web series focuses on Max as he opens up to his new girlfriend that he is transgender.
Couples: Movie Night, Director: Ryan Sulak, Writer: Chris Sturgeon
A quiet night-in for couple, Sara and Adam, turns into an epic thrill-ride to find the perfect movie in a race against time before Sara falls asleep.
Cul-De-Sac, Director: Damon Russell, Writer: Shawn Christensen
Parents living at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac discover a listening device inside their son’s teddy bear. The film stars Phoebe Tonkin (The Originals, The Vampire Diaries).
Emergency, Director: Carey Williams, Writer: K.D Davila
A group of Black and Latino college students carefully weigh the pros and cons of calling the police when faced with an emergency situation.
Groundhog Day For A Black Man, Writer & Director: Cynthia Kao
A Black man continually relives the same day until he can survive an encounter with the police.
Joy Joy Nails, Writer & Director: Joey Ally
Sarah manages a Korean-owned nail salon with an ever cheerful iron fist. New manicurist Mia, who is Chinese, starts working at the salon and attracts the affections of Sarah’s love interest. Threatened, Sarah becomes increasingly antagonistic toward Mia and later discover truths about herself and Joy Joy Nails.
Lost Dogs, Director: Cullan Bruce, Writers: Cullan Bruce and Chris Lee
A woman ridiculed by her family longs to escape. Striking a deal with her brother to clear his illegal debt, she delves deeper into darkness.
Madaran, Writer & Director: Rayka Zehtabchi
An Iranian mother decides whether to end or spare the life of her son’s killer.
Misery Loves Company 1: “Pussy,” Director: Gloria Calderon Kellett, Writers: Sara Amini and Emily Chang
Two friends navigate being women of color in a post-election world, while trying (and failing) at a #blessedlife in LA. In this episode, Sara and Emily deal with cat-callers on the street.
Misery Loves Compay 3: “Racist,” Director: Nadine Truong, Writers: Sara Amini and Emily Chang
Two friends navigate being women of color in a post-election world, while trying (and failing) at a #blessedlife in LA. In this episode, Sara and Emily encounter micro and macro aggressions.
Mr. & Mrs. Kim, Director: Jaehuen Chung, Writer: Josh Aichenbaum
Joshua Kim makes up a glamorous story about his Korean immigrants parents for his fourth grade class. He later discovers that their real-life backstory is more extraordinary than what he could have ever imagined.
Mrs. Drake, Director: Caitlin FitzGerald, Writer: Kyle Warren
Laura is a single mother struggling to raise her son Jack. She is thrown into a spiral of confusion and guilt when Jack comes home from school claiming his teacher locked him in a closet.
Night Call, Director: Amanda Renee Knox, Writer: Joseph Sousa
During a routine patrol, a Black female cop (Marlyne Barrett, Chicago Med) is called to a disturbance that leads to her making a life-altering decision.
Pop Rox, Director: Nate Trinrud, Writer: Alyssa Lerner
Jesse, an Iranian-American teenage girl, decides to tell her best friend, Roxanne, that she’s in love with her.