TAAF and Sundance Institute Announce Second Cohort of AAPI Artists for Fellowship and Collab Scholarship
The Asian American Foundation
WASHINGTON, DC, October 12, 2023 — The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) and the Sundance Institute are proud to return for the second year of the “Sundance Institute | The Asian American Foundation Fellowship and Collab Scholarship” to provide AAPI artists working in film and television with professional development opportunities and community building with like-minded creatives and mentors. This program supports artists across the spectrum of their career from emerging artists to more established ones with the goal of meaningfully increasing AAPI representation in independent media.
TAAF’s support for the program is part of its ongoing commitment to narrative change, an initiative focused on portraying AAPIs authentically to build belonging in America. “In order to see genuine depictions of AAPIs that reflect the nuances of our experiences and our intersectionalities, the diversity of talent behind the camera is as integral as that of those on screen,” said Norman Chen, CEO of TAAF. “TAAF is grateful to our philanthropic partners The MacArthur Foundation and Panda Express, whose support ensures that AAPI artists have the resources and mentorship to bring their stories to life.”
The fellowship offers six AAPI artists per year a year-round learning experience to advance their professional development in the arts. Through the fellowship, each artist receives creative and tactical support along with a $20,000 unrestricted grant. Six emerging AAPI creatives receive Collab Scholarships, which include a self-paced course on Sundance Collab, bespoke feedback on their current project, and engagement opportunities with Sundance staff and the creative community. Artists can be working in film or television across fiction or nonfiction.
“We’re so excited to continue uplifting Asian American and Pacific Islander voices through this collaboration with TAAF,” said Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs, Director, Artist Accelerator at Sundance Institute. “Last year’s fellowship and Sundance Collab scholarship bolstered our support of fresh diverse AAPI voices, and we look forward to discovering where these opportunities will lead another group of talented storytellers from the community.”
The artists selected for the year two cohort of fellows are:
About the artist: Daniel is a director and cinematographer based in Berlin, California, and Taipei. His films have screened in dozens of festivals, and he has received support from Ford Foundation, Sundance Institute, Field of Vision, ITVS, Princess Grace Foundation, and Points North Institute. Time Hunter is his debut feature-length film.
Project: Time Hunter. A revolutionary agent is dispatched to steal technology from his colonial oppressors to use against them. Can he help his people without losing himself in the maze of the diaspora?
About the artist: Justin is a writer-director whose work focuses on loss, displacement, and our changing relationship with the natural world. His short films have played in festivals and museums around the world, including Tribeca, HotDocs, and Busan MoCA. He was previously an IndeedxHillman Grad Rising Voices, Sundance Ignite, and Fulbright fellow.
Project: Dancing with Cranes is a feature film that follows three characters in Korea, China, and Mongolia whose lives are connected by the migration of the critically endangered red-crowned crane. The film asks in the presence of potential extinction, what are the things that keep us going?
About the artist: Naomi is a Korean American filmmaker based in Minnesota and Los Angeles. Her pilot, Nice, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. She also co-founded an Asian female-identifying comedy group called Funny Asian Women Kollective. Naomi is a 2022 Sundance Episodic fellow and a 2021–2022 Sundance Art of Practice fellow.
Project: The 20-Year Curse is a TV series about Eunji, who is in a 20-year generational family curse. To break it, she embarks on a journey with her father, Hae Su, that spans both the material and spirit world.
Tee Jaehyung Park
About the artist: Tee is a filmmaker originally from Seoul, Korea. Her films have screened at festivals including Tribeca and Slamdance. Her work explores alienation, unconventional bonds, and flawed female protagonists. She’s a USC film school graduate and a proud SoCal girl.
Project: Cece’s Interlude. Documentary filmmaker Sophie-Anne has found an ideal subject in Cece. She is transgender, BIPOC, nightlife royalty — and 9 weeks pregnant.
About the artist: Urvashi is a writer-director based in Brooklyn. Her films explore gender, sexuality, and cultural bereavement. Urvashi was selected for the 2023 Sundance Screenwriters Intensive with her feature Skin. She is also a recipient of the 2023 Sundance Horror Fellowship.
Project: Skin. An elevated horror-thriller about two dark-skinned Indian American sisters tempted by an addictive and dangerous experimental skin bleaching machine.
Jiayan “Jenny” Shi
About the artist: Jenny is a documentary filmmaker and video journalist who is passionate about stories that find shared humanity and compassion. Her debut documentary, Finding Yingying, premiered at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival and received an Emmy nomination. Jenny is a Firelight fellow and an IDA Getting Real fellow.
Project: Untitled Scientist Project. When a respected Chinese American scientist is arrested for national security concerns, the scientific community and the Asian American community fight back. How should science be conducted amid geopolitical tensions?
Additionally, this year’s six Collab scholarship recipients are:
About the artist: Kristine is a Filipina American filmmaker and actor. Her work was featured by The United Nations Population Fund, WhoHaha, TIFFxInstagram Shorts Fest, Amazon Fire TV, ALTER, Shudder, and Vulture. She is a grant recipient of The Future of Film is Female and the 2022 Sundance Institute Uprise Grant Fund.
Project: Lamok. A cursed Filipino woman begins to perform underground abortions to repent for the killing she commits as a fetus-eating creature known as the manananggal.
About the artist: Born in Dhaka and raised in Queens, Rahi is passionate about justice and wellness. With a master’s in Jurisprudence and training in Kathak, Rahi’s storytelling offers critical analysis on social issues and experimental aesthetics. Rahi was a Firelight fellow, NC Arts Council grantee, CAAM grantee, and DOC NYC New Leaders awardee.
Project: Dhupshikha. Two artists — filmmaker Rahi Hasan and their mother, Shahanuka Hasan “Shikha,” a poet — seek liberation from the forces of societal and interpersonal oppression and place their faith and their family’s future in the redemptive power of storytelling and artistic creation.
About the artist: Nong Nhat Quang is a documentary director and editor based in Hanoi, Vietnam. He started out making shorts on queer experience and is now working on his debut feature. His work has received support from American Film Showcase, IDFA, Docs by the Sea, SGIFF, DMZ, and numerous film institutions.
Project: Baby Jackfruit Baby Guava. When an unplanned baby enters the lives of a conservative mother, mentally ill daughter, and detached gay son, the dysfunctional trio travels back in time through their diaries to mend ruptured bonds and prepare for a new cycle of motherhood.
About the artist: Miles is a mixed Fil-Am writer and filmmaker whose work explores place, love, and identity. His most recent play, Lola, was developed at the 2023 GPTC New Play conference and is a 2023 Bay Area Playwrights Festival finalist. Miles has an MFA in Playwriting from The New School for Drama.
Project: Death of the Great American Mall is a limited series that follows 17-year-old Fil-Am Queens transplant Joseph Hilaro, whose broken family is forced to relocate to a distant relative’s upstate home. Blamed for bringing home the COVID that took their restaurant, home, and Lola, Joseph finds a temporary family: the struggling employees of a dying suburban mall.
About the artist: Betsy produced Confucian Dream (Special Jury Prize, Karlovy Vary 2019) and directed Émigrés (Doc Edge 2022). Co-producing credits include Emmy nominee Our Time Machine and Hidden Letters (2023 Oscars shortlist). Betsy is an alumna from UCLA, where she studied film directing and Conflict Resolution in Israel-Palestine and Northern Ireland.
Project: A Land of Long Shadows. An aspiring journalist from working-class Belfast investigates the real epidemic suicide rate among her millennial peers when it hits close to home. She exposes how and why in 2010s Northern Ireland, violence still persists, but is turning inward.
About the artist: Jackie! is nonbinary and ageless. They are a Los Angeles–based multidisciplinary artist, director, and sound designer who strives to blur lines between formats and genres. They are Emmy-nominated, a 2023 Rising Voices fellow (Hillman Grad/Indeed), and have presented work through Sundance, Tribeca, POV, and (a personal achievement) WorldStarHipHop.
Project: Rumspringa. In semirural Pennsylvania, an underachieving Asian American teenager and her precocious younger brother are recruited by a pair of Amish misfits to throw the greatest party of their life.
The fellowship and Collab scholarship started in 2022 and are made possible by support from TAAF through a $400,000 grant provided by its AAPI Giving Challenge partners Panda Express and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, who have committed $140,000 to support the program. The funding will provide artists with grants and year-round resources to support the artists and program activities.
TAAF serves the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in their pursuit of belonging and prosperity that is free from discrimination, slander, and violence. Founded in 2021 in response to the rise in anti-Asian hate and to address the long-standing underinvestment in AAPI communities, TAAF funds best in class organizations working to mobilize against hate and violence, educate communities, and reclaim our narratives through our core pillars of Anti-Hate, Education, Narrative Change, and Resources & Representation. Through our grants, high-impact initiatives and events, we’re creating a permanent and irrevocable sense of belonging for millions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. For additional information about TAAF, please visit www.taaf.org.
About the Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories, the nonprofit Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists across storytelling media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Collab, a digital community platform, brings a global cohort of working artists together to learn from Sundance advisors and connect with each other in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Through the Sundance Institute artist programs, we have supported such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Big Sick, Bottle Rocket, Boys Don’t Cry, Boys State, Call Me by Your Name, Clemency, CODA, Drunktown’s Finest, The Farewell, Fire of Love, Flee, The Forty-Year-Old Version, Fruitvale Station, Get Out, Half Nelson, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hereditary, Honeyland, The Infiltrators, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Little Woods, Love & Basketball, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Mudbound, Nanny, Navalny, O.J.: Made in America, One Child Nation, Pariah, Raising Victor Vargas, Requiem for a Dream, Reservoir Dogs, RBG, Sin Nombre, Sorry to Bother You, The Souvenir, Strong Island, Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Swiss Army Man, Sydney, A Thousand and One, Top of the Lake, Walking and Talking, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and Zola. Through year-round artist programs, the Institute also nurtured the early careers of artists such as Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Gregg Araki, Darren Aronofsky, Lisa Cholodenko, Ryan Coogler, Nia DaCosta, The Daniels, David Gordon Green, Miranda July, James Mangold, John Cameron Mitchell, Kimberly Peirce, Boots Riley, Ira Sachs, Quentin Tarantino, Taika Waititi, Lulu Wang, and Chloé Zhao. Support Sundance Institute in our commitment to uplifting bold artists and powerful storytelling globally by making a donation at sundance.org/donate. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and YouTube.