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2018 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

2018 LA Asian Pacific Film Festival Awards Jury Announced!

Posted May 2nd, 2018 by Visual Communications in Updates


We are delighted to announce members of our Awards Jury, composed of distinguished members from the film and creative industries. The 2018 LA Asian Pacific Film Festival Awards Winners will be announced after the Awards Ceremony on May 10th, 2018.



Mariquita Micki Davis is a Chamorro video artist based in Los Angeles. She produces videos, books, performances and sculptures as part of installations within the gallery and beyond, experimenting with and expanding the notion of artistic collaboration. She has recently presented her work at the inaugural Honolulu Biennial and had the honor of representing Guam for the Festival of the Pacific Arts.




Lucy Mukerjee is the Director of Programming at Outfest and NewFest LGBTQ Film Festivals as well as a passionate advocate for trans and queer media visibility.  As the Director of Programming at Outfest, Lucy oversees the curation of three of the country’s most prominent LGBTQ film festivals, Outfest Los Angeles, Outfest Fusion and NewFest, and also helms various year-round educational programs dedicated to increasing the visibility of the queer community within the entertainment industry. Lucy’s extensive industry background includes having produced two dozen theatrical feature films, predominately for Lionsgate and Warner Bros. She is a two-time Film Independent fellow, and a member of BAFTA and the Producers Guild of America. She can regularly be found moderating discussions about queer cinema and speaking at panels and events for various media outlets, organizations and colleges. Lucy’s most recent feature film JACK OF THE RED HEARTS won the Grand Jury Prize at Geena Davis’ inaugural Bentonville Film Festival.


Dean Yamada is a filmmaker and film professor.  His short film JITENSHA (Bicycle) won the Golden Reel at the 2010 LAAPFF and his feature film CICADA won the Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2014 LAAPFF.  His work has also screened at the Venice Film Festival and Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival. He and his wife Leilani are currently in post-production on their second feature film called ANJING (The Dogs).  






Christine Bacareza Balance is Associate Professor of Asian American Studies at UC Irvine. She has taught courses on: Asian Americans and popular culture/media, performance studies, and community leadership & social change. Her first book Tropical Renditions: Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America (Duke University Press, 2016) examines how the performance and reception of post-World War II Filipino and Filipino American popular music compose Filipino identities, publics, and politics. Balance’s previous writings on Asian American YouTube artists, Bruno Mars, Glee’s karaoke aesthetics, Imelda Marcos, and spree killer Andrew Cunanan have been published in various academic and online journals. She continues to collaborate with Prof. Lucy San Pablo Burns (UCLA) on the artistic/scholarly anthology, California Dreaming: Movement & Place in the Asian American Imaginary. She proudly serves as a board member for KulArts, a San Francisco-based Filipino arts organization, and as a humanities consultant for VC’s Digital Histories program.


A.J. Calomay, a UCLA graduate with a Psychobiology and Cognitive Science degree, found passion in film and media while producing videos for UCLA’s Filipino organization. In 2001, the West L.A. native established Xylophone Films, and along with Kid Heroes Productions, produced a decade’s worth of high profile independent projects, including music videos for the Black Eyed Peas, “the Apl Song,” “Bebot,” Bambu “Old Man Raps,” “the Debut” featurettes and the feature film “Lumpia.” Xylophone and Kid Heroes are currently in production for “Lumpia 2”. Calomay has also directed full-length documentaries for hip hop artists Dudley Perkins and Wildchild from Stones Throw Records. In addition to running Xylophone Films, Calomay runs a Filipino food pop-up called You Eat Now! and works as an editor/assistant editor in the post-production industry. He has worked with MTV News,, XBox, M3 Creative, mun2, Fandango,, NBC Universal/USA Network (“Covert Affairs”, “Mr Robot”), and Warner Bros (“Speed Racer,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”).


Yu Gu is a filmmaker born in Chongqing, China and raised in Vancouver, Canada. She works in both narrative and documentary film, using a lyrical approach to explore marginalized characters attempting to transform themselves and the world around them. Yu’s hybrid personal documentary A MOTH IN SPRING premiered at Hot Docs and was distributed by HBO. Her first feature documentary, WHO IS ARTHUR CHU?, following the rise and fall of an Asian American Jeopardy! Champion turned viral celebrity, premiered at the 2017 Slamdance Film Festival. The film will be broadcast on acclaimed series American Reframed, followed by digital distribution in May 2018. Her second film, A WOMAN’S WORK, is supported by the Sundance Institute, ITVS, Tribeca Film Institute and the Rockefeller Foundation. Yu was a 2017 Firelight Media Directing Fellow and Film Independent Documentary Lab Fellow.




Tanuj Chopra is a filmmaker from the Bay Area with projects stretching to Uganda, New Delhi, New York and Los Angeles where he currently lives. His first feature film PUNCHING AT THE SUN about South Asian teenagers coming of age in post 9/11 Queens premiered at the 2006 Sundance and Tribeca film festivals and won the grand jury prize at the San Francisco International Asian American Film festival. Variety called the fiery debut “a display of talent that’s distinctive, original and iconoclastic.”



Freeson Wang works at Pixar Animation Studios, and is passionate about writing, filmmaking, and technology. His credits include technical director on the Oscar-winning film COCO, credits on FINDING DORY and CARS 3, and technical director on the upcoming animated short SONDER. Additionally, he has worked at Dreamworks Animation and Apple, and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. With a brain split between tech and art, he loves exploring the intersection of the two disciplines.



Brian Yang is an actor / producer who spends his time working between the US and Greater China markets.  Current films include the indie drama I CAN I WILL I DID which won Best Feature at the Sunscreen Film Festival and LATE LIFE, a documentary about Chien-Ming Wang, the Taiwanese pitcher from Taiwan.  Previous films include a Chinese biopic called MY OTHER HOME about former NBA player Stephon Marbury’s life in China, LINSANITY which premiered at Sundance in 2013 and documentary specials for both ESPN and Fox Sports.  As an actor, he has appeared in 5 seasons of HAWAII 5-0 as criminologist Charlie Fong, and episodes of THE PATH, THE BLACKLIST, and WESTWORLD on TV and in the films SAVING FACE and THE JADE PENDANT.




Alex Demyanenko has created, developed, and produced over 50 series and specials totaling over 500 hours of television. Among those are a dozen hit shows, many them successful formats which have sold all over the world. Demyanenko has the unique experience of having been a seller, buyer, documentary filmmaker, and has created content for a variety of mediums, including print, television, film, and digital. He has also developed series and documentaries with talent such as Kiefer Sutherland, Drew Barrymore, Melissa McCarthy, Eva Longoria, and P Diddy. Currently he is Vice President at the global studio Gunpowder & Sky.


Hayley Pappas is the Head of RYOT Films, the film and television development division of groundbreaking media brand RYOT. As Head of RYOT Films, Pappas runs all content and creative strategy – overseeing industry partnerships, content development, packaging and distribution, and all ancillary marketing campaigns. With RYOT, Pappas has produced a slate of critically acclaimed documentaries, including two Oscar-nominated shorts: Body Team 12 and Watani: My Homeland. Additionally, Pappas has produced over a dozen virtual reality films with partners such as NPR and the Associated Press. Pappas—whose work covers topics including sexual assault, solitary confinement and mass executions—has sold projects to HBO, MTV, Hulu and Apple, among many others, and premiered her work at prestigious festivals including Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW, and Hot Docs.


Blessing Yen is a multi-disciplinary designer, photographer, producer, and director based in Los Angeles, California. She serves as Chief Design Officer for the crowdfunding and streaming platform, Seed&Spark, and teaches Design for User Experience at USC. As a filmmaker, in collaboration with her partner, James Kaelan, she has co-directed and produced, amongst other works, the VR narrative “The Visitor” (Slamdance ’16, SFIFF ’16, AFI FEST ’16) and the feature film, EEL (AFF Wroclaw ’14, Sarasota ’15). She is also a writer and director for the award-winning adult sex ed series “F*ck Yes.”





Marie Jamora is an award-winning filmmaker born in Manila and currently based in LA. She wrote, directed, produced, edited, and supervised the music for her first feature, WHAT ISN’T THERE, which premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival, won the Audience Award at the Cinemalaya Film Festival. Her short film, FLIP THE RECORD, won the Grand Jury Awards at the 2017 Urbanworld Film Festival and St. Louis International Film Festival, and was submitted for consideration at the 90th Academy Awards. Jamora is in pre-production for FAMILY STYLE, a food show with WB’s Stage 13, YOMYOMF, and executive produced by Justin Lin. She has been a narrative features programmer at the Slamdance Film Festival, a programmer and juror at the LA Philippine International Film Festival, and a judge for Women in Film. She was recently named one of Five Visionary Asian-American Female Filmmakers in Kore magazine’s “New Hollywood” issue.


Kennedy Kabasares is an actor and aerial circus performer. He has performed with East West Players, Playwrights Arena, Center Theater Group, Singapore Repertory Theater, and other theater companies in the U.S. He is a founding member of PULLproject Ensemble with artist traci kato-kiriyama, and is half of a trapeze duo act with aerial artist Lynn Janovich. Kennedy is also a former long-time staff member of Visual Communications.




Ada Tseng is a journalist who has written for Public Radio International, NBC Asian America, and the Washington Post, and she hosts the Asian American pop culture history podcast Saturday School. She’s the former editor and writer of numerous Asian American publications including Asia Pacific Arts, Audrey Magazine, KoreAm Journal, and XFINITY Asia, and she created the six-episode podcast series Bullet Train. She was also featured in OC Weekly’s 2016 People Issue for her tongue-in-cheek hot Asian man and poetry calendar project Haikus With Hotties.