“Masks” by Mahaliyah Ayla O
“Masks” by Mahaliyah Ayla O

The six finalist films and filmmakers of this year’s 13th Annual NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, were honored with a finale screening and awards ceremony at the Directors Guild of America in Hollywood.

Comedian-actor Zainab Johnson (“Late Night with Seth Meyers,” HBO’s “All Def Comedy”) kicked off the evening with screenings of the six finalist shorts, “B.U.T.S: Spanish Class,” “Kyenvu,” “Masks,” “Monday,” “Rani” and “We Know Where You Live,” before an audience of industry professionals including network, cable and film executives as well as managers, producers and agents.

“I’m proud that over the past 13 years, our short film festival has not only celebrated those voices, but advocated for them beyond the festival to provide them with opportunities in the industry,” said Karen Horne, SVP of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion, NBC Entertainment and Universal Television.

13th Annual NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL Awards

HARNESS Social Impact Award: “Kyenvu”

“Kyenvu” writer-director Kemiyondo Coutinho was awarded a $10,000 cash grant for her short film about a young Ugandan woman who struggles to find her footing in a patriarchal society that entitles men to women’s bodies .

 

Outstanding Comedy: “B.U.T.S: Spanish Class”

“B.U.T.S: Spanish Class” co-creators Irene Lucio and Emma Ramos were presented with a $5,000 cash grant and a DJI OSMO+ Handheld Gimbal 4K camera with full accessory kit for an episode from their sketch comedy web series that parodies and satirizes the many ‘afflictions’ of the modern-day woman told through a Latina lens. In “Spanish Class,” a couple gets way more than they bargained for when they set out to learn Spanish in a week.

Outstanding Drama: “Masks”

“Masks” writer-director Mahaliyah Ayla O was presented with a $5,000 grant and a DJI OSMO+ Handheld Gimbal 4K camera with full accessory kit for her film about a closeted Persian woman’s experience after surviving a mass shooting.

Outstanding Writer: Hammad Rizvi, “Rani”

Writer-director Hammad Rizvi was awarded a $5,000 cash grant in addition to final round placement in NBC’s Writers on the Verge program that prepares talented writers for staff writing positions on scripted series. He also received the newly released Final Draft 11 software on all platforms and a Fire TV Cube, the latest hands-free streaming media player with Alexa voice command.

Rizvi’s short film “Rani” centers on a socially outcast transgender Pakistani woman who sets out to take care of an abandoned child. The short stars trans activist Kami Sid as the titular character in her first acting role.

Outstanding Actor: Kevin David Lin, “Monday”

Actor Kevin David Lin from the short film “Monday” was awarded a talent holding deal with NBC, a premiere headshot package with JeanPaul SanPedro, a fund for unlimited private audition coaching and advanced acting classes and a $1,000 wardrobe allowance. Lin starred as the central character in “Monday” about a conflicted young hustler who’s forced to confront the immorality of his occupation.

Outstanding Director: ­Dinh Thai, “Monday”

“Monday” writer-director Dinh Thai received a studio production services package courtesy of Universal Operations, including one day of shooting on the Universal Studios back lot and an $8,500 valued package including lighting, grip, props and costumes as well as one day of sound mixing. He was also awarded a $60,000 camera package from Panavision’s New Filmmaker Program, a longtime festival sponsor, and final round placement in NBCUniversal’s Emerging Directors Program that provides a pipeline for ethnically diverse directors to break into television by offering shadowing opportunities and an in-season commitment to direct an episode of an NBCUniversal scripted series.

Next Generation Filmmaker Award: Dinh Thai, “Monday”

Writer-director Dinh Thai won the festival’s inaugural Next Generation Filmmaker Award for his short film “Monday” about a conflicted young hustler who’s forced to confront the immorality of his occupation as he ‘code-switches’ through various cliques in his daily dealings throughout Los Angeles .

 

Critics’ Choice Award: “Masks”

“Masks” was chosen as the most impactful short by a jury of 25 film and television critics and entertainment writers. This year’s jury included journalists from The Advocate, Brown Girl Magazine, Essence, CNN, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Her Campus, The Hollywood Reporter, Huffington Post, Kore Asian Media, Latina, the Los Angeles Times, Moviemaker Magazine, NewNowNext, Screen International, Slate, The Teal Mango, TVGuide, USA Today, and Vanity Fair, among others.

Los Angeles Film Critics Association President Claudia Puig presented the award to “Masks” writer-director Mahaliyah Ayla O. She received a DJI Phantom 4Series Quadcopter Drone with 4K Digital Camera and corresponding accessories.

Audience Award: “Masks”

The audience at the finale screening voted “Masks” as its favorite film amongst the six finalists. Writer-director Mahaliyah Ayla O received a $1,000 cash grant and a 4 TB external hard drive for her next project.

The festival’s finalists and semifinalists also received an array of prizes including a limited run on COMCAST’S XFINITY to 29 million viewers across the world starting December 1 as well as the opportunity to stream their film on the NBCU SHORT FILM FESTIVAL Hulu Channel and EVERYBODY DIGITAL, a mobile app exclusively for short film content created by actor-writer Allen Maldonado (“The Last O.G.”). They also all received a copy of newly released Final Draft 11 on all platforms from the festival’s returning sponsor.

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