NBCUniversal Short Film Festival Unveils Finalists, Sets Record For Female Representation

The finalists for the 13th Annual NBCUniversal Short Film Festival were announced Monday with the fest setting a record for female representation in front of and behind the camera. The finalists will be recognized at an awards ceremony Oct. 24 at the Director’s Guild of America in Hollywood where their short films will be screened.

Known for celebrating diverse storytelling and storytellers, the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival finalists explore race relations, women’s rights, as well as gender and sexual identity. The finalists include a variety of perspectives — both dramatic and comedic — from diverse communities including B.U.T.S: Spanish Class, Kyenvu, Masks, Monday, Rani, and We Know Where You Live.

The finalists were selected from 15 semi-finalist shorts after being showcased at public screenings in New York City this past August. They have already earned acclaim at prominent festivals including CAAMFest, the New York Television Festival, Outfest and the Pan African Film Festival.

This finalists went on quite a selection process as they were chosen from more than 3,400 submissions. Four out of the six finalists were written and/or directed by women, and female characters are at the center of four of the shorts. While each short film depicts stories exploring today’s social and cultural issues in its own way, they are all rooted in universally relevant themes of love, acceptance and compassion. Festival alumni include Steven Caple Jr. (Creed 2), Hasan Minhaj (The Daily Show), Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) and Simone Missick (Luke Cage).

The awards ceremony will recognize the fest’s award winners including Best Writer, Best Director and Best Actor. They will be determined by a panel of entertainment industry professionals, members of the press, and NBCUniversal executives. The event is free and open to the public.

Read the synopses and watch trailers of the finalists below:

Episode Director: Brendan Colthurst
Writers: Emma Ramos, Irene Lucio, Bernardo Cubria and Timmy Wood
Nominated twice for an Imagen Award for Best Web Series, B.U.T.S is a sketch comedy web series created and starring Irene Lucio and Emma Ramos making fun of themselves and their surroundings through a Latina lens. In each episode, they portray different characters that parody and satirize the many ‘afflictions’ of the modern-day woman. In the “Spanish Class” episode, a couple, Lucy and Timmy, get way more than they bargained for when they set out to learn Spanish in a week.

Writer & Director: Kemiyondo Coutinho
An independent young Ugandan woman lives through the taunts of using public transport on a daily basis. As she struggles to find her footing in a patriarchal society that entitles men to women’s bodies, she finds love in a bittersweet moment. The film won at the Pan African Film Festival and Zanzibar International Film Festival.

Writer & Director: Mahaliyah Ayla O
A closeted medical student risks being outed to her family on the same evening a masked gunman opens fire at a gay nightclub. Masks won the AT&T Audience Award for Best Short Film at the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival.

Writer & Director: Dinh Thai
Kwan is everyone’s one-stop shop for anything stolen or illicit, but his reasons for hustling are not as clear-cut as they seem. While maneuvering between disparate cliques and facing racism, he’ll be forced to question the immorality of his occupation. “Monday” was a first place winner at the HBO APA Visionaries and won Best Direction at the New York Television Festival.

Writer & Director: Hammad Rizvi
In the streets of Pakistan, a socially outcast transgender woman sets out to take care of an abandoned child. “Rani” won the Fox Inclusion Award at Outfest Los Angeles.

Director: Honora Talbott
Writers: Bill Posley and Honora Talbott
When a newlywed Latinx couple moves into a trendy, gentrifying LA neighborhood, two hipsters invite themselves over to offer a “warm welcome.” But as the night goes on, it’s clear these neighbors are not what they seem: cold pressed, cold brewed and cold-blooded.

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