The Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience (APFE) committee has set its 18th edition of its Sundance Film Festival event that celebrates Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander first-time and veteran filmmakers and storytellers. The even takes place today, January 23. starting at 12:30 p.m. PST.

The virtual event features notable directors and producers, including, Alika Tengan (Every Day in Kaimukī), Shalini Kantayya (TikTok, Boom), Ham Tran (Maika), Martika Ramirez Escobar (Leonor Will Never Die), Rayka Zehtabchi (Long Line of Ladies), Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan (The Headhunter’s Daughter), Tanu Gago (ATUA), Julie Ha, Eugene Yi (Free Chol Soo Lee) and Su Kim, Jean Tsien, Sona Jo (Free Chol Soo Lee), the event will include filmmaker panels and discussion along with artist resource building and networking.

APFE kicks off with a special opening welcome by industry leaders Michael Y. Chow, Co-Founder of XRM Media and Producer Nina Yang Bongiovi – producer and partner at Significant Productions with Forest Whittaker. Bongiovi and Chow worked together on past Sundance hits Passing, Sorry to Bother You, and Fruitvale Station

This year’s APFE (or #APAParkCity) will feature a special fireside chat with acclaimed director Destin Daniel Cretton who first stood out at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival with his short film, Short Term 12 which won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking and became Cretton’s next feature film. He will be in conversation with DIASPORA’s own Dino-Ray Ramos.

The APFE Sundance 2022 is proud to present this year’s Irene Cho Pioneer Award to the award winning editor/producer Jean Tsien. She is a recipient of an Emmy Award (76 Days) and received an Oscar nomination for Scottsboro: An American Tragedy.

The award is named in honor of one of the original founders of the APFE event – Irene Cho – who passed away unexpectedly in 2017.  The award is given in Cho’s memory to an artist, creator or industry leader who exemplifies the mission of the organization in supporting API filmmakers in all aspects from resource building, networking, consulting and inspiration.  Past recipients include Kim Yutani (Director of Programming – Sundance Film Festival) and Nina Yang Bongiovi (Producer/Partner – Significant Productions).

Tsien is also a producer on the aforementioned Free Chol Soo Lee premiering at Sundance in the U.S. Documentary competition. She was also a producer on PBS five-part documentary series, Asian Americans which received the Peabody Award in 2021. As a strong believer in mentorship and nurturing emerging talents, Tsien has served as an editing advisor at many workshops and labs around the world. She is a recipient of Mentor Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, a member of American Cinema Editors, and is a Governor of the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“Jean is a great example of one who has truly supported our API creative community,” says APFE organizer Laarni Rosca Dacanay. “She embodies the spirit of the mission of the group with her mentorship and support of the many filmmakers she works with including both API and non-API filmmakers. Her commitment to inspiring excellence and providing much needed guidance to our growing community of filmmakers telling our stories goes beyond. And at the same time, she is a leader in the industry as an Academy Governor.  She is an excellent choice for this year’s Irene Cho Pioneer Award.  Irene would be proud and so are we.”

Established in 2002 through the efforts of former Visual Communications Executive Director Linda Mabalot and entertainment publicists Irene Cho, Winston Emano, David Magdael and programmers Abraham Ferrer, Risa Morimoto, and Toni Tabora, the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City (or #APAParkCity for short, and now #APFE) has become the vehicle through which cinematic artists of Asian and Pacific Islander descent are afforded a space to be spotlighted and to make their presence felt each January in Park City, Utah. Initially supported by the Utah State Film Commission and individual donors, the very first Experience Reception in 2002 attracted over 300 guests to the China Panda Restaurant along Park Avenue. Subsequent editions continued to attract supporters of Asian Pacific American and Asian international cinema, whose profile has steadily increased over the course of over seventeen years.

“When we started this annual gathering 20 years ago, our goal was to celebrate our API filmmakers here in Park City,” said Magdael. “There were a few years during the last two decades when there were none and we’re thrilled to be back for our 18th edition with more new voices and those who have been here before. Plus, to partner with Michael Y. Chow and XRM Media and to honor the imitable Jean Tsien, this year’s edition is another history making event. This APFE SUNDANCE CLASS OF 2022 gives me hope that our API stories will be told correctly and honestly by our own creators.”

Adds Minji Chang, Producer, Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience and Board Member, Kollaboration, “As an artist myself and former mentee of Irene Cho, it is an honor and an act of love to recognize my fellow artists each year in Park City in Irene’s memory. Our community continues to grow and our voices continue to elevate with thanks to veterans like Jean Tsien.”

Having recognized over 800 directors, producers, and screenwriters, #APFE brings artists, creators and industry insiders together in celebration of our experiences and resources as we recognize our amazing talents who tell our stories and create compelling media projects that shift the landscape, change hearts and minds, and announce our presence. In past years, API luminaries including Justin Lin, Jon M. Chu, Lulu Wang, John Cho, Lisa Nishimura, Cary Fukunaga, Justin Chon, Ramona Diaz, Evan Jackson Leong, Gingger Shankar, Bertha Bay-Sa Pan and Andrew Ahn – are just a handful who have made their mark at the Sundance Film Festival.

Produced in partnership with community-based organizations Visual CommunicationsCoalition for Asian Pacifics in EntertainmentKollaborationAsians in Hollywood, and Center for Asian American Media and David Magdael & Associates – #APFE is free and open to the public. Registration is available here.