2021 HBO APA Visionaries Winners

Each year, HBO Asian Pacific American Visionaries provides emerging directors of Asian and/or Pacific Islander descent the opportunity to showcase their short films. Judged by a panel of HBO executives, industry leaders, and fellow APA filmmakers, the competition seeks to identify cinematic storytellers who offer unique perspectives of the Asian Pacific American experience.

This year's theme was Taking the Lead, with films encouraged to portray Asian Pacific Americans being at the forefront of a given narrative, embracing the spirits of trailblazers, heroes, and luminaries through a unique lens.

In addition to receiving cash prizes, the two winning films made their premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival this month and are now available on HBO Max.

See a trailer for this year's winners above and learn more about the films below.


Writer/Director: Jesse Gi

About Neh: Neh follows a young Korean-American on a date who attempts to hide an embarrassing secret that may very well ruin the night.

About the filmmaker
: 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.


Writer/Director: Urvashi Pathania

About Unmothered: Unmothered is a tragicomedy about the lies we tell the ones we love. When Priyanka, a rebellious American, goes back to India to immerse her mother's ashes, she discovers her wacky family has kept a serious secret.

About the filmmaker: Urvashi Pathania 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.

For more information about the HBO APA Visionaries Short Film Competition, check out the website here.

Watch the Trailer0:34
2020's APA Visionaries

Meet the winners of the 2020 APA Visionaries Short Film Competition, who explored identity, grief, and assimilation in their pieces.


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