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Press Release

October 19, 2017

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – October 19, 2017 – Last night, the 12th Annual NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL honored its nine finalist films and filmmakers with a finale screening and awards ceremony at the Directors Guild of America in Hollywood. Comedian-actor Kym Whitley (“Young & Hungry”) began the evening with a screening of the finalist films, Akashi, Audible Static, Couples: Movie Night, Cul-De-Sac, Emergency, Groundhog Day for a Black Man, Lost Dogs, Misery Loves Company: Pussy and Pop Rox, in front of an audience of 700 industry professionals including film, network and cable executives as well as managers, agents and producers.

Presenters, Essence Atkins (“Marlon”), Stephen Bishop (“Imposters,” “Being Mary Jane”), Ester Dean (Pitch Perfect 3), Chrissie Fit (Pitch Perfect 3), Akbar Gbajabiamila (“American Ninja Warrior”), Manny Jacinto (“The Good Place”), Jameela Jamil (“The Good Place”), Hana Mae Lee (Pitch Perfect 3, Love Beats Rhymes), Allen Maldonado (“Black-ish,” “The Last O.G.”), Chris Sullivan (“This Is Us”), Victor Turpin (“Shades of Blue”), HARNESS co-founder Ryan Piers Williams and Kelvin Yu (“Master of None”) handed out awards in eight categories to the finalist filmmakers including the HARNESS Social Impact Award, inaugural Critics’ Choice Award, Outstanding Drama and Outstanding Comedy. 

“Last night was an incredible celebration of our finalist filmmakers who represent the best in the next generation of storytelling.” said Karen Horne, SVP of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion, NBC Entertainment and Universal Television. “The films showcased last night offer great hope and optimism that not only are there fresh new voices ready to take the helm, but that audiences are also hungry to hear their stories.”

The winners of the eight categories are:

HARNESS Social Impact: Emergency

The creative team behind Emergency, director Carey Williams, writer K.D. Davila and producer Joenique Rose, received a $10,000 cash grant. The award was presented by the Comcast NBCUniversal Social Responsibility division and HARNESS, an advocacy organization founded by America Ferrera, Ryan Piers Williams and Wilmer Valderrama that connects artists, influencers and grassroots leaders to inspire action and change. 

Outstanding Comedy: Groundhog Day for a Black Man

Groundhog Day for a Black Man writer-director Cynthia Kao received a $5,000 cash grant for her socially relevant short about a black man continually reliving the same day until he can survive an encounter with the police.

Outstanding Drama: Lost Dogs

Lost Dogs writer-director Cullan Bruce and writer Chris Lee received a $5,000 cash grant for their Korean language film.

Outstanding Writer: Mayumi Yoshida – Akashi

Universal Filmed Entertainment Group’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion division awarded writer Mayumi Yoshida with a $10,000 cash grant, a script consultant and career coach valued at $2,000, as well as meetings with Universal Pictures and Focus Features creative executives. Yoshida has also secured final round placement in NBC’s acclaimed Writers on the Verge program. 

Outstanding Actor: Chris Lee – Lost Dogs 

Writer-actor Chris Lee received a one-year talent holding deal with NBC, a $1,000 wardrobe gift certificate to Bloomingdales and a premiere headshot package with JeanPaul SanPedro.

Outstanding Director: Damon Russell – Cul-De-Sac

Director Damon Russell received a $5,000 cash grant, $60,000 camera package from PANAVISION, and an NBCUniversal studio operations group awards professional studio services package.

Critics’ Choice Award: Groundhog Day for a Black Man

Outstanding Comedy winner and writer-director Cynthia Kao received a $1,000 cash grant for winning the festival’s inaugural Critics’ Choice Award. The award was adjudicated by an 18-member jury of film and television critics and entertainment writers from BuzzFeed, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Hearst Digital Media, Kore Asian Media, Los Angeles Times, Moviemaker Magazine, Paste Magazine, Refinery29, the San Francisco Chronicle, Screen International, TV Guide Magazine, USA TODAY and TheWrap, among others.

Audience Award: Audible Static

The audience at the finale screening voted Audible Static as its favorite film amongst the nine finalists. The film’s creative team including writer-director Sai Selvarajan received a $1,000 cash grant.

Semifinalists of the festival received an array of prizes including the opportunity to stream their film on the NBCU SHORT FILM FESTIVAL Hulu Channel, a limited run on COMCAST’S XFINITY to 29 million viewers across the world starting December 1, as well as a special feature on EVERYBODY DIGITAL, a new mobile app exclusively for short film content created by actor-writer Allen Maldonado.

The awards were determined by the festival’s first-ever ambassadors, America Ferrera (“Superstore”), Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: SVU”), Chrissy Metz (“This Is Us”) and Lena Waithe (2017 Emmy® Award winner for “Master of None”), as well as the judging panel which includes NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke, Universal Television President Pearlena Igbokwe, Debra Martin Chase (The Princess Diaries, Just Wright), Sakina Jaffrey (“Timeless,” “The Mindy Project”), Allen Maldonado (“Black-ish,” “Survivor’s Remorse”), Victor Turpin (“Shades of Blue”) and Masi Oka (“Hawaii Five-0,” “Heroes”).

The NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL is presented by NBCUniversal and NBC Entertainment with title partners: Universal Pictures, Panavision, Xfinity and the NBCUniversal Division for Social Responsibility. Additional 2017 festival partners include Focus Features, Oxygen, USA Network, Bravo, Syfy, Fandango, E! Entertainment, Telemundo and Hulu, as well as industry partners including Creative Artists Agency (CAA), SAG-AFTRA, Tandem Productions, Everybody Digital, Room & Board, Writers Guild of America – East, Writers Guild of America – West, DGA and PGA. 


Founded in 2006, the NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL is the first and only film festival created and run by an entertainment studio solely dedicated to celebrating the importance of diversity in entertainment and discovering the next generation of storytellers. The annual bicoastal program is a nationwide search for diverse talent, both in front of and behind the camera, including those from ethnically diverse backgrounds, members of the LGBTQ community, artists with disabilities and female content creators. Winners are awarded with prizes ranging from development meetings and holding deals with NBCUniversal to cash grants and NBC-lot professional services. Festival alumni include Randall Park (“Fresh Off the Boat”) and Hasan Minhaj (“The Daily Show”). The festival is part of the NBC Talent Infusion Programs (NBC TIPS) that discover and nurture on screen and behind-the-camera talent of diverse and inclusive backgrounds. For more information, visit NBCUshortsFEST.com #NBCUshortsFEST

About the NBC Talent Infusion Programs (NBC TIPS)

Since 2000, NBC has been dedicated to discovering and nurturing on screen and behind-the-camera talent of diverse and inclusive backgrounds through the NBC Talent Infusion Programs (NBC TIPS). NBC TIPS are amongst the most extensive and robust diversity and inclusion programs in the television industry. They feature more than 20 programs including Writers on the Verge, the Diverse Staff Writer Initiative, Female Forward, Emerging Director Program, StandUp NBC nationwide search for stand-up comedians and the NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL that celebrates diverse stories and the filmmakers who create them. Program alumni are celebrated producers, writers, directors and actors in the entertainment industry who have gone on to win Emmys, Golden Globes and SAG Awards and include Alan Yang, Mindy Kaling, Deon Cole, Lil Rel Howery, Keto Shimizu, Natasha Rothwell, Danny Pudi and Danielle Sanchez-Witzel. For more information, visit NBCUniTIPS.com.


Dupe Bosu
NBC Entertainment

Daniel Chun
NBC Entertainment