HBO thas announced finalists of the fifth annual Asian Pacific American Visionaries, a short film competition which showcases cinematic storytellers of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. The three winning films exemplified this year’s competition theme of “Taking the Lead.”

Filmmakers Jess X. Snow (Little Sky), Jesse Gi (Neh), and Urvashi Pathania (Unmothered), will premiere their films during the 2021 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, presented by Visual Communications, on September 25. In addition to the festival premiere, HBO Max will debut the films on September 27.

“I’m very proud of this year’s contestants. The filmmakers were able to showcase authentic stories with such intimacy, and oftentimes humor, exploring complex family dynamics, and overcoming personal and generational trauma,” said Jamie Chung, APA Visionaries 2021 Ambassador. “Through these shorts we are left feeling inspired and hopeful. Congratulations to this year’s contestants and winners!”

The finalists were selected from hundreds of submissions and were judged by a distinguished panel of HBO executives, industry leaders and fellow APA filmmakers.

Read more info about the finalists below

Jess X. Snow (Little Sky) is a non-binary film director, artist, poet and community arts educator who creates queer Asian immigrant stories that transcend borders, binaries and time. Based in Lenapehoking (Brooklyn, NY), currently, they are currently an MFA thesis student at NYU Graduate Film as an Ang Lee Scholar. Through narrative film, large-scale murals, virtual and augmented reality, and community art education, they are working toward a future where migrant and BIPOC folks may witness themselves heroic on the big screen and city walls & discover in their own bodies; a sanctuary for safety. They bring their background in social movement art, poetry and trauma-informed healing into their film work which has been supported with grants and fellowships from the Tribeca Film Institute, BAFTA, Canada Council of the Arts, the Smithsonian, and the National Film Board of Canada.

Jesse Gi (Neh) born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Jesse Gi is a second generation Korean-American writer, director whose stories focus on extraordinary endurance, sacrifice, and unflinching ambition influenced by his immigrant family and community. Jesse graduated from USC’s film program and has worked across studios from Lucasfilm, Warner Bros, and CBS. Jesse wrote, produced, and directed festival selected short films, Beam, a grounded sci-fi, action drama about a teleporting thief, and Neh, a comedy-drama about a Korean-American with no fluent Korean language skills. Jesse is currently preparing his next project, The Show, a suspenseful drama about a rivalry between two high school baseball players.

Urvashi Pathania (Unmothered) is a writer/director based in Los Angeles. She received her B.A. with Honors in Film Studies from Columbia University and her M.F.A. in Film Production from USC. Her films explore emotions as pathways to knowledge. In 2021, Urvashi was selected for the Google Assistant Storytelling Fellowship in partnership with The Black List. She is also currently in Lena Waithe’s Writers’ Lab. Urvashi’s pilot script, Taj Mahal Restaurant, was recommended and tweeted by The Black List.