Skip to Content


Our intrepid team of Festival Programmers reassembled to put together a nimble and diverse slate of programs that celebrate the communities that we serve. Meet our Festival Programmers below.

Christina Fong is a Whittier College graduate with a BA in Chinese. She’s passionate about the stories and representation of Asian and Pacific Islanders. She started as a shorts programmer in 2022 with LAAPFF. Volunteering and serving her community is a core value of hers. The college service organization she led, Food Recovery Network, won Student Organization of the Year for 2 consecutive years. Under her leadership, Food Recovery Network won 3 awards, Student Organization of the Year, Service Organization of the Year and Social Justice Coalition Organization of the Year. An avid reader, she loves happy endings and urban fantasy.

Danny Kim was born in Seoul and raised in Seoul, Illinois and New York but also spent time living in LA before relocating permanently to Seoul. Kim is a filmmaker, lecturer and founder of Docu+, an impact film studio based in Seoul. This is his first year as an LAAPFF Features Programmer. Kim is an alumni filmmaker of LAAPFF with this documentary feature film ZERO WASTE (2023) and won the 2023 Emerging Filmmaker Award. He is an active member of A-DOC and IDA.

Emma Pek‘s passion for storytelling has taken her to various film festivals, including LAAPFF. She began as a volunteer seven years ago and has since assumed various roles within the festival. One of her dreams is to shape the culture of entertainment and media, which she actively pursues through her work as a programmer and producer. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her communities and indulging in reading.

Emily Hoang (she/her) is Visual Communications’ Development and Communications Coordinator. She attended CSUF and graduated with a degree in Entertainment and Hospitality Management. Emily enjoys connecting with her community and has been working in the nonprofit industry since 2020. She has an unconditional love for animated movies, k-dramas, Taco Bell, and Pedro Pascal.

Eric Hsiao is in his second year as a programmer for LAAPFF. His career is dedicated to nurturing and amplifying the next generation of filmmakers and storytellers, most notably through his work with The Gotham Film & Media Institute and Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television. Eric previously served as a development executive at Perfect Storm Entertainment, the Film & TV production company of LAAPFF alum Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow). A proud Bay Area native, Eric got his start in the film industry as an agent trainee at United Talent Agency after graduating from NYU’s Graduate Film program.

Eseel Borlasa (she/her) loves mixtapes, films & community…2024 marks her nth year with LAAPFF. She is still rocking the white flower under a couple of different hats. Shout out to Chance who co-pilots at her desk.

Kiki Rivera (he/they) is an internationally produced theatre artist, educator, and arts activist. They hold a BA in Theatre and MFA in Playwriting from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM). Original plays include Faʻalavelave: The Interruption. Published plays includePuzzy” (featuring New Zealand Playwright Victor Rodger) in the anthology Samoan Queer Lives, To “Our Black and Brown Babies of Ocean and Islandsin the anthology We’re Not Neutral, and “Kumu Kukui” in Lighting the Way: An Anthology of Short Plays About The Climate Crises. Kiki’s work focuses on the intersections of cultural, sexual, and gender identity within the context of post-colonial society  and is one of many Pacific Islander voices in the diaspora who believes in the value of self-reflective storytelling from a contemporary indigenous perspective.   

As the former storyteller for Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), Kiki Rivera helped fulfill EPIC’s mission to advance social justice by developing and implementing narrative change strategies. They used creative skills to build political will for the organization’s advocacy agenda and expanded its reach in the Pacific Islander community. Kiki is currently a Lecturer for the Asian/Asian American Studies and the Chicanx & Latinx Departments at California State University Los Angeles.

Kirby Peñafiel is a veteran LAAPFF Shorts Programmer. His love for film is only matched by his love for community. Rooted in LAAPFF, he started as a volunteer and has worn many hats since. A steadfast media archivist, he sits upon hours of digitized footage and an ever-growing amount of unfinished projects – which he’ll finish, eventually. Someday. He also loves his dogs. Forever standing on the shoulder of giants.

Jason Tiangco (he/him/his) is a Filipino-American creative from Harbor City, CA. Serving as the Archives Manager at Visual Communications Media, Jason works towards the long-term preservation and accessibility of Asian American materials housed in the VC Archives. Jason also aspires to create safe spaces for underrepresented communities such as individuals with disabilities, deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals, and those dealing with mental illnesses. In 2021, Jason graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a BA in Film and Electronic Arts, and specializes in the Theory and Practice of Cinema. With a deep-rooted passion for cinema and dreams of changing the world through arts, Jason hopes to inspire generations of all ages to channel their personal stories and internal struggles into healthy, artistic creative outlets. For rest and renewal, Jason enjoys going to shows, traveling the world, and getting lost in new spaces with a camera.

Jeremy Aguilera-Gaudette was born and raised in Maine but has called Los Angeles home for the past 20 years. After 17 years managing movie theatres, Jeremy now works at Film Independent in the International Programs department. This is Jeremy’s 9th year with LAAPFF and he’s still thrilled to be part of this amazing team.

Marvin Yueh is Canadian born and SGV raised. He is an award-winning podcast producer, as well as a seasoned producer of events for the Asian American community. In addition to producing, he also hosts the podcasts Books & Boba and the Good Pop Culture Club. This is his 4th year programming for LAAPFF.

Melanie Ramos was born and raised in Northern California. She is a filmmaker, who loves British murder mystery television and farming veggies. She is very excited to join the features programming team for another year of the festival.

Ryan Fukuda is a film and event producer, teacher, and emerging writer. He also maintains a teaching and consulting practice that incorporates intuition, meditation, and energy healing methodologies to support creatives on their path. When he’s not working with his amazing colleagues across multiple industries, you might find him eating Detroit-style pizza, catching up on TV shows, or hiding in his office on a Saturday morning writing a screenplay.

Ryan H. Wu has served as an LAAPFF Features Programmer since 2016. During periods of non-quarantine, Ryan can be spotted indulging in his love for Classic Hollywood or mid-20th Century international cinema at the Billy Wilder or the New Beverly. In between watching movies, Ryan practices law as a partner at a leading class action firm, earning numerous professional accolades for his work. 

Sultan Pirzhan is an experienced film professional with a decade-long career in producing and consulting on feature films, TV shows, and commercials. He began his career as a film festival programmer, where he gained valuable experience in selecting and building programs that showcased films from underrepresented countries.

Veialu Aila-Unsworth (she/her) is a writer/director, originally from Papua New Guinea and Aotearoa New Zealand.  She’s a graduate of Aotearoa’s national drama school, Toi Whakaari, and most importantly, an Armed with a Camera Fellowship alum and one of the mentors for this year’s cohort!  When she’s not watching movies, she’s making blanket forts for her cat to play in.

Weldon Wong Powers directed the 2020 Showtime® film IT’S A PARTY, the ensemble comedy about a surprise party gone wrong. In 2015, he received the AWC Fellowship for Asian-American Filmmakers and directed the hit short film THE CUT THROUGH, starring Tony Baker. Weldon grew up in Atlanta, GA and graduated from the City University of New York with a degree in Film Studies.