Skip to Content

2024 VC Film Fest Awards Jury Announced!

April 29, 2024

We are excited to announce our 2024 VC Film Fest Awards Jury – composed of distinguished members from the film and creative industries. We’re glad to be in community with these artists! Get to know our individual jurors below:


Masami Kawai
Masami Kawai is a Los Angeles-born filmmaker who lives in Eugene, Oregon. She’s of Ryukyuan descent from the island of Amami. Her work integrates issues of race, indigeneity, class, gender, and what it means to be an immigrant/settler in the United States. Kawai’s work has screened at various venues, including the Rotterdam Film Festival, LACMA, and Indie Memphis. Her film TIDES won Best Narrative Short at the Northwest Film Forum’s Film Festival and the Eastern Oregon Film Festival. Her film ZONA won Best Narrative Short at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

She is currently an Assistant Professor of Filmmaking at the University of Oregon. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Hampshire College, where she focused on Visual Arts, Radical Pedagogy, and Post-Colonial Studies. After graduation, she devoted herself to community organizing before pursuing filmmaking again. She received her MFA in Directing from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television. Currently, she’s working on a feature film that follows an old TV/VCR combo set as it circulates through the lives of working-class indigenous characters of color in an Oregon town. The project has garnered support from institutions such as the Sundance Institute, Flies Collective, Film Independent, Gotham Film & Media Institute (previously IFP), Cine Qua Non screenwriting lab, PAMCUT (previously NW Film Center), and the University of Oregon. She was also a fellow at the 2023 Sundance Directors & Screenwriters Lab in Utah.

Yuliya Kim
Yuliya Kim is a Paris-based producer originally from Kazakhstan, born in 1986. She began her career in the film industry in 2011, where she initially worked on promoting Kazakh film projects to various film festivals and markets. After several years of experience in the industry, she transitioned into a producer role. In 2015 she founded East Wind Production to impulse international cooperations and coproductions with Kazakhstan. She accompanied many internationally acclaimed directors as Darezhan Omirbayev and Yerlan Nurmukhambetov. Yuliya also supports young promising directors as Aisultan Seit with his debut “QAS”.

She participated as a jury member in various film festivals, organized retrospectives and screenings of Kazakh films abroad.

In 2023 Yuliya created an international and intellectual space to unite filmmakers from Central Asia through the Post Space Film Camp for fostering collaboration and creative exchange in the region’s film industry.

Kristen Lee Balagtas
Kristen Balagtas serves as Senior Office Manager at LA Promise Fund headquarters and Executive Assistant to President/CEO Veronica Melvin.

Balagtas joined the nonprofit industry with a Masters in Asian American Studies from UCLA and Bachelors in Broadcast Journalism from Michigan State University. In 2011, she produced a short film documentary about multiethnic Asian Americans in cyberspace, “MiXeD mE.” Balagtas premiered at several film festivals including Visual Communications’ Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

Balagtas has served as an archival intern to short film festival programmer at Visual Communications from 2011-2017. She spent a fall tutoring K-12 with PowerMyLearning and holds a certification in Trauma-Informed Counselling from the Center for Pacific Asian Families. She has also volunteered with Planned Parenthood LA & 826LA.

Rahat Mahajan
Rahat’s very first film Memoirs of an Apple, won the first prize at the IDPA film festival in 2006 and was aired on Indian national television. Shortly after, he started working in the Mumbai film industry, starting out as an assistant director to Vishal Bhardwaj and ultimately spearheading Visual Promotions for several acclaimed feature films including Kaminey, Ishqiya and Udaan. To hone his filmmaking skills further, Rahat enrolled for an M.F.A. at the Art Center College of Design in 2012. His short film Istifa/Resignation produced through the Armed With A Camera Fellowship, was selected as a National Finalist under the narrative category for the 41st Student Academy Awards (2014). His debut feature film Meghdoot/The Cloud Messenger was in the Tiger Competition at The International Film Festival of Rotterdam 2022 and further travelled to BFI London Film Festival, São Paulo International Film Festival and several other festivals across the globe. The film recently won the Special Jury Mention at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2023.


Miida Chu
Miida Chu is a writer-director of trans experience in parallel universes. Her work often uses imaginative thought experiments to challenge assumptions about body and soul. Her short film EUREKA won the Golden Reel Award at the 38th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, qualifying the film for consideration for the 2023 Academy Award. She was a finalist in the Warner Brothers 100 Short Film Initiative. Her feature script SOUND OF MY DREAMS was a quarterfinalist in the Academy Nicholl Fellowships. Her feature script OBLIVION was a semifinalist at the 2021 Outfest Screenwriting Lab. Miida holds a BA with high honors in philosophy from New York University and an MFA in directing from the American Film Institute. She was accepted to UCLA’s PhD program in philosophy, but we’re glad she didn’t fall into that parallel universe.

Olivia Stark
Olivia YiSu Stark is a mixed-race Asian American filmmaker from Los Angeles, California. She currently works in Creative Development at Skydance Animation, where she helps develop four-quadrant animated features. She is passionate about all forms and genres of storytelling and wants to help tell stories that resonate with people by making them feel represented and inspired. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in Asian American Studies, Olivia founded the non-profit organization, Asians in Animation, alongside three of her friends, with the goal to provide a space for people in her community to share resources and support as they begin their careers in animation. Olivia was a 2020 Armed With a Camera (AWC) Fellow at Visual Communications; there she produced her first animated short, JOOK, which premiered at LAAPFF in 2022.

Lauren To’omalatai
Lauren To’omalatai is a Sāmoan screenwriter, director, and film programmer from West Valley City, Utah. She served as Director of the Utah Pacific Island Film Series for four years where she organized free community screenings showcasing films by and about Pacific Islanders throughout Salt Lake County. In 2021 she co-established the Māsima Film Tour with the Salt Lake Film Society to amplify this work and bring it to a wider audience. She is a proud alumni of imagineNATIVE’s Screenwriting: Features Intensive (2021) and Visual Communications “Armed With a Camera” Fellowship (2022-2023) under which she wrote and directed her debut short film “Snack”.


Udval Altangerel
Udval Altangerel is a filmmaker based between Ulaanbaatar and Los Angeles. In her work she explores the themes of personal and national histories, language, and (home)land. She received her MFA in Film Directing from California Institute of the Arts.

Patrick Dolemite Green
Patrick Green is an award-winning filmmaker and co-founder of Someone Great Pictures (SGP), who tells inspiring and thought-provoking stories through a genre film lens.The SoCal native and proud hapa (Vietnamese/Italian/Irish) has written and/or directed projects for Tony Scott, Ebony, Falkon, NBPA, RING TV, and ID Agency. His narrative and documentary films have screened at over 100+ film festivals worldwide. His debut feature film, “Sincerely, Los Angeles,” is a colorful and heartfelt love letter from the City of Angels to Kobe Bryant, told through the city’s most inspiring artists and beloved cultural icons (Oscar De La Hoya, Lamar Odom, Killer Mike, Chloe Kim, and more!). The highly-anticipated film from Ebony Studios will be released in 2024. He’s also currently filming an SGP-produced docuseries about the past, present, and future of Dodgers Stadium featuring Xolo Mariduena and Estevan Oriol.

Evelyn Hang Yin
Evelyn Hang Yin is an interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Working with photography, video, text, and installation, Yin investigates how her experience moving between China and the U.S. informs her cultural identity, and is invested in issues of race, history, (dis)placement, and collective memory. She is an avid hiker and badminton player. She is also an occasional dog sitter and party thrower.

Pulkit Datta
Pulkit Datta is a producer, director, and film programmer, based in New York. Over fifteen years, he has worked on a wide range of scripted films, documentaries, commercials, short films, music videos and multimedia campaigns. His films have screened at festivals such as Toronto, Tribeca, Atlanta, Cinequest, Fantasia, LAAPFF, Cleveland, and OutFest. As a producer with Tikkun Olam Productions, he has co-produced the feature documentary ISRAELISM (Big Sky, CPH:Dox, Brooklyn Film Festival), and is currently producing climate activism doc series VS. GOLIATH. Pulkit is also a producer on INVISIBLE, a feature documentary about fibromyalgia (Amazon Prime, Tubi), the gun-violence themed short documentary DO WE BELONG? (The Atlantic, 2018 IDA Doc Award shortlist), and has produced the upcoming fiction feature JERSEY BOY. Other scripted films include BEAST, a magic realism film executive produced jointly by Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions and Indeed, and co-produced COMING OUT WITH THE HELP OF A TIME MACHINE, which has screened at over 60 festivals, won several awards, and recently got licensed by Jio Cinema, one of India’s largest streaming platforms. Pulkit has been a Producing Fellow at Center for Asian American Media as well as Impact Partners. He is also active in the filmmaking community, having established initiatives that nurture South Asian talent for careers in American film and television, building alternative strategies for distribution and impact, as well as programming and curating for film festivals.

Erin Li
Li chased what she thought was the American dream in finance before pursuing her passion for filmmaking. This journey informs her work, which often explores the dark side of ambition through drama, fantasy, and sci-fi. Li’s films have screened at SXSW, TIFF, Comic-Con, Slamdance, and LACMA, and her scripts have sold to 20th Century Fox and Turner Networks.

Li also directed spots in a commercial campaign that launched Adidas’ Community platform. Her Citi #StopAsianHate commercial garnered 6.8MM+ views.

More News