2021 Short Film Competition

Congratulations to our 2021 finalists
Jesse Gi, Urvashi Pathania, and Jess X. Snow!
The winning films will be available to stream on HBO Max on Monday, September 27.

The 2021 APA Visionaries films will be available on HBO and HBO Max on Monday, September 27.
#HBOVisionaries #HBOMax


Winners of the 2021 HBO APA Visionaries Competition

Jesse Gi

Jesse Gi


Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Jesse Gi is a second generation Korean-American writer, director whose stories focus on extraordinary endurance, sacrifice, and unflinching ambition influenced by his immigrant family and community. Jesse graduated from USC's film program and has worked across studios from Lucasfilm, Warner Bros, and CBS.

Jesse wrote, produced, and directed festival selected short films, Beam, a grounded sci-fi, action drama about a teleporting thief, and Neh, a comedy-drama about a Korean-American with no fluent Korean language skills. Jesse is currently preparing his next project, The Show, a suspenseful drama about a rivalry between two high school baseball players.

Urvashi Pathania

Urvashi Pathania


Urvashi Pathania is a writer/director based in Los Angeles. She received her B.A. with Honors in Film Studies from Columbia University and her M.F.A. in Film Production from USC. Her films explore emotions as pathways to knowledge. In 2021, Urvashi was selected for the Google Assistant Storytelling Fellowship in partnership with The Black List. She is also currently in Lena Waithe’s Writers’ Lab. Urvashi’s pilot script, Taj Mahal Restaurant, was recommended and tweeted by The Black List.

Jess X. Snow

Jess X. Snow

Little Sky

Jess X. Snow is a non-binary film director, artist, poet and community arts educator who creates queer Asian immigrant stories that transcend borders, binaries and time. Based in Lenapehoking (Brooklyn, NY), currently, they are currently an MFA thesis student at NYU Graduate Film as an Ang Lee Scholar.

They bring their background in social movement art, poetry and trauma-informed healing into their film work which has been supported with grants and fellowships from the Tribeca Film Institute, BAFTA, the Smithsonian, and the National Film Board of Canada. Their short films Afterearth, Safe Among Stars and Little Sky screened internationally at over 45 film festivals. Currently they are writing their first feature.




HBO Asian Pacific American Visionaries is a short film competition sponsored by HBO that provides emerging directors of Asian and/or Pacific Islander descent the opportunity to showcase their work.

Judged by a panel of HBO executives, industry leaders, and fellow APA filmmakers, the competition seeks to identify cinematic storytellers who offer unique perspectives of the Asian Pacific American experience. The theme for the 2021 APA Visionaries Short Film Competition is “Taking the Lead.” Films should portray Asian Pacific Americans as being at the forefront of a given narrative, embracing the spirits of trailblazers, heroes, and luminaries through a unique lens.

In addition to receiving cash prizes, the three films will be selected to make their premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in September 2021 and offered the opportunity to license their film to premiere exclusively on HBO and stream on HBO via HBO Max.

Film premieres will be at HBO's sole discretion.


1. Director and Co-director(s) must be a resident of one of the 50 United States or Washington, D.C.

2. Films must have been directed by a person of Asian or Pacific Islander descent [i.e., descendants of the people of the Far East, Southeast Asia, Indian subcontinent or Pacific Islands (China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands and Samoa)].

3. Director and Co-director(s) must be at least 18 years of age and of the age of majority in their state of residence (i.e., 19 years of age in Alabama and Nebraska; 21 years of age in Mississippi) as of 4/1/21.

4. Films must be an original live action narrative (no documentaries or animation).

5. Running time (inclusive of credits): 10-15 minutes. Film must be a minimum of 10 minutes in length; submissions shorter than 10 minutes in length will be disqualified. Films must be a maximum of 15 minutes in length (inclusive of title sequence and closing credits); if a submission is longer than 15 minutes in length, only the first 15 minutes of the Film will be judged. Videos longer than 17 minutes will be disqualified.

6. Films must be in the English language or contain accurate English subtitles (common foreign words/phrases are acceptable without subtitles).

7. Film must not be publicly available online through September 30, 2021.

8. Film must have commenced principal photography on or after January 1, 2020.

9. Film must not have had any previous exhibition on broadcast or cable (by means of any method or medium) or online.

10. Employees of Home Box Office, Inc. (“Sponsor”), Warner Media, LLC., Don Jagoda Associates, Inc. (“Administrator”), The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (“CAPE”), Visual Communications, FilmFreeway, Vimeo, Inc., YouTube, and their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies (collectively, the “Promotion Entities”) and the immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of each are not eligible.

11. Once completed, submit your film to the HBO APA Visionaries Short Film Competition via FilmFreeway. Follow the on-screen directions to create an account on FilmFreeway and complete your entry. An acknowledgment of the Official Short Film Rules and Official Short Film Competition Release is required to be entered into the Competition.

Submissions for the Competition officially open on January 1, 2021 at 9:00 AM PST and will be accepted until April 1, 2021 at 11:59 PM PST.

12. Limit one entry per person.

Please review the complete Official Rules.

Visit our FAQs page for more info.
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