13TH Annual NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL Selects 15 Original Shorts Celebrating Diverse Storytelling to Advance to Semi-Finals

Majority of Semi-Final Shorts Written and Directed by Women

Stand-Up Comedians Godfrey and Zainab Johnson to Host Semi-Final Screenings in New York on August 14 and 15

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – August 1, 2018 – The NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL has named 15 original short films, pilots and webisodes as semi-finalists for its 13th annual festival that celebrates diverse stories while finding the next generation of storytellers.

Chosen from more than 3,400 submissions, the semi-finalists feature stories about people of ethnically diverse backgrounds, the LGBTQ community and women. The award-winning shorts have been featured at top festivals including the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, TIFF Kids International Film Festival, Austin Film Festival and New York Television Festival, among others.

This year, 11 of the 15 semi-final shorts were written or directed by women, exceeding last year’s record-breaking female representation at the festival. Additionally, half of semi-final shorts feature stories centered on female protagonists.

The films will be showcased at public screenings in New York on August 14 and 15 before the finalists are chosen for a finale screening and awards ceremony in Los Angeles on October 24.

“In a time where female storytellers are powerfully calling on the industry for more opportunities and recognition, it is fitting that our Short Film Festival has set a new record for female writers and directors represented in our semi-final shorts,” said Karen Horne, SVP of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion, NBC Entertainment. “I’m proud that our festival not only puts more female storytellers into the spotlight, but also features an array of impactful shorts about diverse people. The festival always strives to reflect current sociopolitical, economic and cultural perspectives, and this year we’ve again captured an incredible collection of viewpoints and stories.”

The semi-finalist filmmakers will be flown to New York for two days of events and screenings starting with a SAG-AGTRA champagne kick-off reception. They will also have roundtable discussions with directors and writers from the DGA and WGA-East and participate in workshops with NBCUniversal TV casting directors and actors. Their films will be screened over two evenings hosted by Godfrey (Showtime’s “Godfrey: Regular Black,” “The Godfrey Complex” on SiriusXM) and NBC “Last Comic Standing” alumna Zainab Johnson (“American Koko,” HBO’s “All Def Comedy”) before audiences of industry professionals including film, network and cable executives as well as managers, agents and producers. The screenings are free and open to the public. Tickets can be reserved here.

This year’s semi-finalists include dramas, comedies, pilots and web series episodes:


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. (trailer)


Director: Ashleigh Stanczak | Writer: April Mouton

Brunch goes awry when that guy she's dating doesn't text back after ONE minute. Panic NATURALLY ensues inside her Girl Brain.


Director: Suzanne Andrews Correa

Writers: Suzanne Andrews Correa and Mustafa Kaymak

An undocumented Turkish pedicab driver unwittingly draws police attention, endangering his brother, his community and himself. (trailer)


Director: Monica Santis

Writers: Elie Choufany and Monica Santis

Under the looming threat of deportation, an unaccompanied minor at an immigrant children's shelter in Texas learns to express herself through the power of art. The film was an official selection at the Palm Springs International ShortFest, TIFF Kids International Film Festival and Santa Barbara International Film Festival. (trailer)


Writer & Director: Katie Locke O’Brien

A finalist for the HBO Insider Comedy Short Challenge at the Women in Comedy Festival, “Have It All” is the true story of one meeting, one baby and one big myth.


Director: Thomas Nolle | Writers: Chad Goldich and Kris Rubio

“Hush Hush” is a horror-comedy about Dan, his friends and their terrifying experience with his murderous little sister, filmed in the vein of Edgar Wright's “Shaun of the Dead” and Sam Raimi's “The Evil Dead.” The film won Best Horror Comedy from Hollywood Comedy Shorts Film Festival. (trailer)


Directors: Rüya Koman, Robin Rose Singer | Writer: Robin Rose Singer

A couple traveling on a deserted country road find themselves the sole witnesses to a violent altercation between a police officer and an African-American man that has left one person dead. The short was nominated as a semi-finalist for the 2016 Nantucket FF Showtime/Tony Cox Award. It was a finalist for the Screencraft production grant and at the 2017 WeScreenplay Shorts Competition.


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. (trailer)


Director: Louis Yin | Writers: Louis Yin and Aditya Rawal

A Chinese immigrant makes contact with his grandson in the future via a mailbox. Together they have to deal with their mutual enemies. (trailer)


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. (trailer)


Director: Tricia Lee | Writers: Simu Liu and Tina Jung

Zoe has never questioned her mother's absence from her life. However, on her sixth birthday, Zoe begins to wonder why she can only see mommy once every year.


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. (trailer)


Writer & Director: Hammad Rizvi

In the streets of Pakistan, a socially outcast transgender woman sets out to take care of an abandoned child. (trailer)


Director: Michael Horwitz | Writer: C. Ashleigh Caldwell

“Tzeva Adom: Color Red” tells a story from both sides of the border and ultimately presents a message of peace, tolerance, and hope within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The film was a finalist in The American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival, winner of Best Narrative Short at the San Diego and Los Angeles Jewish Film Festivals and the Best Narrative Short winner at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood. (trailer)


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. (trailer)

A smaller group of finalists will be chosen from these films and a panel of entertainment industry professionals and NBCUniversal executives will choose winners for Best Writer, Best Director and Best Actor, among others. The winners will be announced at a finale screening and awards ceremony in Los Angeles on October 24 at the Directors Guild of America.

The NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL is presented by NBCUniversal and NBC Entertainment.


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 and female content creators. Winners are awarded with prizes ranging from development meetings and holding deals with NBCUniversal to cash grants and industry standard software and camera packages. Festival alumni include Randall Park (“Fresh Off the Boat”) and Hasan Minhaj (“The Daily Show”). For more information, visit #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, Alternative Directors 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 Deon Cole, Donald Glover, Lil Rel Howery, Mindy Kaling, Danny Pudi, Natasha Rothwell, Danielle Sanchez-Witzel, Keto Shimizu and Alan Yang. For more information, visit


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