CAPE and Janet Yang Productions Announce Winners of the Julia S. Gouw Short Film Challenge


EXCLUSIVE: The Coalition of Asia-Pacific Countries in Entertainment and Janet Yang Productions announced the four winners of the inaugural competition Julia S. Gouw Short Film Challengewhich awards a $15,000 production grant to four female AAPI or non-binary filmmakers.

Selected from a pool of more than 400 applicants, four winners will be offered networking opportunities with Emmy and Golden Globe-winning producer Janet Yang and the CAP network, as well as the ability to submit films to potential buyers and platforms.

Julia S. Gouw, board member of East West Bancorp, Inc. and East West Bank, helped fund the Short Film Challenge to elevate AAPI and non-binary filmmakers.

“There was no better team than Janet [Yang] and the all-female-led team at CAPE to achieve my vision of creating more representation in the AAPI community,” Gouw said. “I hope this Film Challenge provides more opportunities, especially for AAPI women and non-binary filmmakers, to continue telling stories about us and by us.”

Yang added that she also noticed a shortage of certain voices in Hollywood and wanted to provide a platform for their creative visions.

“I had a theory that many incredibly dignified, non-binary Asian female directors weren’t getting enough notice. When we received an overwhelming number of wonderful submissions, this theory turned out to be true,” Yang added. “It’s thrilling and rewarding to amplify the voices of this talented group, but also heartbreakingly difficult to pick just four winners.”

Biographies of the winners of the Julia S. Gouw Short Film Challenge 2022 are as follows:

Banban Cheng (they/them): Banban Cheng is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker who spent his childhood performing Chinese comedies in Houston, Texas. Since then, they have traded the stage to write, make films and podcasts. They co-wrote the feature film, lucky grandma, a dark comedy starring Tsai Chin about aging, luck and a cut-price bodyguard, set in the cramped streets of Manhattan’s Chinatown. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019 and is currently distributed by Good Deed Entertainment.

Liz Sargent (She/She): Liz Sargent is a Korean American adoptee and NY Emmy-winning writer/director working in New York and Cyprus. In her work, Sargent brings honesty and nuance to themes of adoption, disability and family. His short film, “Stranger’s Reunion”, was chosen by Ritz-Carlton and Hearst to be directed with mentorship by Mike Figgis and production by RSA Hong Kong. The film won Best Director at Diversity at Cannes and Best Screenplay at the Brand Film Festival in London. Sargent incorporates his extensive experience as a choreographer into his commercial and experimental work. She was a 2022 Top 3 finalist for the Shondaland Directing Mentorship.

Ragini Bhasin (her): Ragini Bhasin is a South Asian filmmaker currently residing in Los Angeles. A graduate of Chapman University, she directed award-winning films like “Ghazaal” and “Las Escondidas,” which played at numerous Oscar-qualifying festivals. His work has been distributed by ARTE, ShortsTV and Argo Channel. She is also a recipient of the Meredith Macrae Memorial Award from Women In Film, the Maya Deren Short Film Innovation Prize from Femme Filmmakers, a recipient of the 2021 BAFTA LA Newcomers Program and a 2021 Alliance For Women In Media Mentee. Currently, she directs series unscripted digital media for Jubilee Media’s YouTube channel.

Soma Helmi (her): Born to an Indonesian father and a Polish mother, the Bali native began her career as an art director for J. Walter Thompson in Jakarta and later worked as a creative consultant for Catherine Hardwicke. Helmi Directed Snapchat Original Series Season 3 the Dead Girls Detective Agency, and his work has screened at Sundance, Outfest, and Amazon’s New Voices Film Festival, among others. She is a member of the ViacomCBS Paramount Directors 2021 program, editor of the 2021 CAPE list and was named one of the “8 Directors to Watch” by the Alliance of Women Directors.

This year’s jury included Trinh Tran (Executive Producer, Marvel Studios), Ianeta Le’i (Sundance Institute), Munika Lay (VP, Film, Miramax), Angela C. Lee (Film Independent), DanTram Nguyen (Searchlight Pictures) , Mirsada Abdool Raman (Sri & Company), Producer Naomi Scott (Gettin’ Rad Productions), Karen Chau (The Walt Disney Company), Adele B. Lim (Writer, Crazy Rich Asians), Samie Kim Falvey (President, Picturestart), Kelly Marie Tran and Niti Shah (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences).

Gemma Chan (Eternals), actress and executive producer Kelly Marie Tran (Raya and the Last Dragon), actress Richa Moorjani (Never Have I Ever) and director Lulu Wang (The Farewell) served as ambassadors for the Short Film challenge.


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