2021 LA Asian Pacific Film Festival Awards Jury Announced!
September 27, 2021
We are delighted to announce members of our 2021 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Awards Jury, composed of distinguished members from the film and creative industries. The Festival Award Winners will be announced after Saturday, October 2. Stay tuned for more information!
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
Alison De La Cruz
Alison M. De La Cruz (she /he/ they/ DeLa) is an executive arts leader, cultural space instigator, contemporary ritualist, gathering practitioner, producer, facilitator, educator, creative, host, and multi-disciplinary theatre artist. De La Cruz has created original solo and collaborative performance work since 1999, sharing intersectional stories of bigger-bodied queerness of color. She has performed at over 60 colleges and universities as a keynote speaker, performer or guest lecturer. De La Cruz has been facilitating for over 30 years and has led trainings for the National Conference of Communities and Justice, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Center Theatre Group, and more. De La Cruz has been facilitating local and national dialogues about new theatrical work development and how race, culture and place impact art-making and community building. Over the last 14 years, De La Cruz has nurtured new artistic voices within queer, immigrant, student and multicultural communities of Los Angeles. She has produced regional conferences; multi-disciplinary Festivals, readings, fundraisers, and performances and helped non-profit arts organizations raise over $3.5 million towards projects and places of cultural significance.
Neha Aziz is a Pakistani-American writer. You can read her work at Texas Monthly, SXSW, The Austin Chronicle, and Substack, to name a few. She produced COME & TAKE IT, a documentary short about the #CocksNotGlocks and Gun Free UT movements with acclaimed filmmakers PJ Raval and Ellen Spiro, which has gone on to win numerous accolades. From 2017 – 2020, Neha worked at SXSW as a member of the Communications team, and as a Screener. She currently works as a Film Programmer and Education Coordinator for the Austin Asian American Film Festival, as well as, a Feature Programmer for Cleveland International Film Festival. She was recently named an iHeart Radio NextUP fellow for their inaugural podcast program. Neha’s scripts have advanced in numerous competitions and she hopes to make her directorial debut in the near future.
Soham Mehta is a writer, director, and editor who thrives on telling stories that provide intersections for different communities to better understand each other. He got his start in theater, founding and running SHUNYA, a theater troupe based in Houston dedicated to the South Asian American experience. From the success of his plays, he was recruited to write the feature film WHERE’S THE PARTY YAAR?, a comedy starring Kal Penn which premiered at SXSW. Soham’s short film FATAKRA won the Student Academy Award, the Directors Guild of America Student Award, and others. His debut narrative feature RUN THE THE TIDE was produced by Academy Award nominee Pilar Savone and stars Taylor Lautner, Constance Zimmer, Kenny Johnson, and Johanna Braddy. On the documentary side, Soham’s short REVENGE OF THE DESIS explores the hilariously paradoxical culture of South Asian American fraternities. He also edited the feature documentary BEYOND ALL BOUNDARIES, narrated by Kunal Nayyar of the BIG BANG THEORY, which won both the jury and audience awards at the Indian Film Festival of LA.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Melodie Turori is a multidisciplinary Pasifika artist, cultural practitioner, and educator, connected to the lands of Aitutaki, Pukapuka, Aotearoa, and Payomkawichum territory. She has worked as a freelance multimedia producer for twelve years, including experience in documentary filmmaking and audio storytelling. Melodie’s research and art practice explores the intergenerational realities of the Pacific diaspora, with a focus on identity, relationships, and spirituality. She is also adjunct faculty at Saddleback College.
Sue Ding is a filmmaker and artist based in Los Angeles. Her work explores identity, storytelling, and visual culture, particularly through the lens of diaspora and physical space. She directs and produces nonfiction projects for platforms including The New York Times and PBS. Her recent work includes the short film THE CLAUDIA KISHI CLUB, which premiered at South by Southwest and was acquired by Netflix. She also directed and produced the Emmy award-winning documentary ARTBOUND: LIGHT AND SPACE. Sue also consults on interactive, immersive, and multiplatform projects, writes about documentary storytelling, and leads the XR/emerging media program at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. She is an alum of MIT’s Open Documentary Lab and Comparative Media Studies program, and a Senior Civic Media Fellow at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
In addition to serving as the current Executive Vice President and co-owner of Schilling Media, Inc. a Native American owned media and media relations corporation, Vincent Schilling is an enrolled member of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe, an award-winning Native American author and Producer, an award-winning photojournalist, editor and a public speaker. Vincent has been a Native journalist for approximately 15 years and is a certified Rotten Tomatoes film critic. In 2011, Vincent was given a human rights award in the city of Virginia Beach for programs created about Native American issues. Vincent Schilling’s Mohawk name is Tsio:kwaris, (roughly pronounced Joh-Gwa-Leese) which translates to Black Raven.
Gerald Faitala-Ramsey is a Samoan-American actor, dancer, and teacher born in Tacoma, Washington and raised between Aunu’u, American Samoa and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. A proud graduate of the University of Hawaii – Hilo, he can currently be found playing Mufasa on the North America Tour of Disney’s THE LION KING. Former credits include My Name Is Gary Cooper (Kumu Kahua Theatre), Ha: The Breath of Life (Polynesian Cultural Center) and Tupulaga O Samoa Mo A Taeao Dance Company (Hilo, HI). Representation in storytelling has been the driving force on this winding road.
Judy is an actor, performer, writer, producer, filmmaker, and Voting Rights Organizer at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she works with the Democracy Team to organize the nation’s largest Asian American Exit Poll. She wrote/performed two one-woman shows – The World’s Greatest (dir. MC Jin) and 28: Still Fucked Up. She is finishing her first feature film, THE WORLD’S GREATEST. She hopes to spend the rest of her life telling stories about the NYC Asian American experience through comedy, television, and film.
Mallorie Ortega is a writer, director, and producer best known for the musical feature film THE GIRL WHO LEFT HOME. The film won many awards, including the Audience Award at CAAMFest FORWARD, the Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Best Picture and Best Director from the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival. Mallorie independently produced the film after gaining the courage from her mentors in the Television Academy Foundation Directing Program in 2016. She shadowed directors from JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE, NCIS, GREY’S ANATOMY, and HAIRSPRAY LIVE. Mallorie was a finalist of the Disney | ABC Directing Fellowship of 2018, and is slated to direct a feature film for Viola Davis’ production company, JuVee Productions. She was in the Spring 2020 cohort of the THEatre ACCELERATOR, developing THE GIRL WHO LEFT HOME as a staged musical under the mentorship of the Tony Award winning Broadway Producers responsible for An American in Paris and Memphis.