KCETs 23rd Fine Cut Festival of Films Announces Student Finalists, Industry Judges

KCET, the Los Angeles public broadcaster, announced the student finalists and eight industry judges who will take part of the 23rd Fine Cut Festival of Films. The festival will broadcast as a series of six one-hour episodes starting Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 10 p.m. on KCET in Southern California and on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV nationwide.

In addition to the student films making their broadcast debut, all winners will have their short films screened as part of a student showcase at the 2022 Newport Beach Film Festival on Oct. 20. Three winners in the categories of Documentary, Animation and Narrative short films will receive a variety of prize packages valued to be over $30,000, and the Jack Larson Southern California Student Filmmaker Award will recognize one student winner’s strength as a storyteller.

An industry panel of eight esteemed experts determined the finalists and winners, including director and producer Lynne Southerland (“Mulan II: The Final War,” “Bebe’s Kids”), animator, creator and director Elizabeth Ito (“City of Ghosts,” “Adventure Time”), writer Joya McCrory (“Abbott Elementary”), director and documentary filmmaker Evan Jackson Leong (“Linsanity,” “Level Up with Stephen Curry,”), executive producer Adam Borba (“A Wrinkle in Time”), director and producer Daniela Alatorre (“A Cop Movie,” “Midnight Family”), actor and director Lou Diamond Phillips (“Prodigal Son,” “Easter Sunday”) and director Penelope Spheeris (“Wayne’s World,” “Little Rascals”).

The short films were required to be 25 minutes or under to qualify for the festival. Winners in each of the three categories — animation, narrative and documentary — and the winner of the Jack Larson Southern California Student Filmmaker Award will be announced during a private awards ceremony event in September at The Montálban in Hollywood. The awards ceremony will be co-hosted by Variety TV editor Michael Schneider and Variety senior entertainment writer Angelique Jackson.

More than 300 films were submitted this year by filmmakers enrolled in more than 40 Southern California schools. Final films selected include themes focusing on mental health awareness, struggles with racial identity and belonging as well as LGBTQ issues. 70% of the finalist filmmakers were people of color and 76% of the finalist’s films were produced by a woman.

Here is the schedule for the 2022 Fine Cut finalists:

“Where Do I Fit?”- Weds., Sept. 21 on KCET at 10 p.m. and Thurs., Sept. 22 at 11 p.m. on Link TV

A USC filmmaker documents her personal journey with ADHD in “Neurodivergent.” An animated shop mannequin explores the city at night in “Morry” from ArtCenter. An 11-year-old boy decides to offer himself up for adoption in “Wei-Lai,” a comedy from USC. “For the Love of the Game” from Occidental follows with CalArts animated short “Volador.”

Filmmakers: “Neurodivergent” – directed by Afton Quast Saler – USC / “For The Love of The Game” –directed by Annie Dolan – Occidental College / “Morry” – co-directed by Kotta Katsuda, Chris Chang, Samar Chen – Art Center / “Wei-Lai” – directed by Robin Wang – USC / “Volador” – directed by D Morales – CalArts

“Pairs”- Weds., Sept. 28 on KCET at 10 p.m. and Thurs., Sept. 29 at 11 p.m. on Link TV

A young girl tries to make herself different from her identical twin in “Amelia (the Twin),” a comedy from Biola Univ. A successful screenwriter stumbles his way through filming a MasterClass in “Phil Gunderson Teaches Screenwriting” a comedy from LMU. CSULB films “I Love You, Your Kamo” and “Twin Aces” follow with animations “The Twins” and “mr. sun” from CalArts and “Other Plans” from Woodbury.

Filmmakers: “Amelia (The Twin)” – co-directed by Luke Montgomery and Ethan Montgomery – Biola University / “Phil Gunderson Teaches Screenwriting” – directed by Nishanth R. – Loyola Marymount University / “The Twins” – directed by Michelle Tang – CalArts / “I Love You, Your Kamo” – directed by Isaac Kau – Cal State Long Beach / “mr. sun” – directed by Christina Wu – CalArts/ “Twin Aces” –directed by Jozeven June – Cal State Long Beach / “Other Plans” – directed by Aspen Leavitt – Woodbury University

“Family Struggles”- Weds., Oct. 12 on KCET at 10 p.m. and Thurs., Oct. 13 at 11 p.m. on Link TV

A Slovakian woman cannot shake the demons of her horrific past as they come back to haunt her in “Magdalena” from AFI. A high school wrestler struggles for acceptance after his sexual identity is exposed in “Headlock” a drama from USC. Followed by Chapman drama “Hide and Seek” featuring a suspicious young babysitter. Plus, animations “Mommyland” from USC and “Something Fishy” from CalArts.

Filmmakers: “Magdalena” –directed by Michael Lazovsky– American Film Institute / “Headlock” –directed by Damon Laguna– USC / “Hide and Seek” –directed by Ragini Bhasin– Chapman University / “Mommyland” –directed by Aijian Chen– USC / “Something Fishy” –directed by Christina Woo– CalArts

“Live With It”- Weds., Oct. 19 on KCET at 10 p.m. and Thurs., Oct. 20 at 11 p.m. on Link TV

Five Black women explore healing through art in USC documentary “Healing in Color.” A dragon chef has a mysterious problem in CalArts animation “Horned Cook, Gola.” A Native American country singer’s court ordered wellness therapy goes awry in drama short “Blackwater” from NYFA. Followed by “Shadow,” an animated short from Woodbury and “Ontario, CA: A Long Road to Hoe,” a Scripps documentary.

Filmmakers: “Healing in Color” –directed by Nana Adwoa Frimpong– USC / “Horned Cook, Gola” –directed by Adam Musa Othman– CalArts / “Blackwater” –directed by Boise Esquerra– New York Film Academy / “Shadow” –directed by Lauren Gregorio– Woodbury University / “Ontario, CA: A Long Road to Hoe” –directed by Olivia McGrath– Scripps College

“I’ve Got This”- Weds., Oct. 26 on KCET at 10 p.m. and Thurs., Oct. 20, at 11 p.m. on Link TV

A former beauty queen joins a rebellion in “Beauty Queen” a drama from UCLA. Two LA theatre companies fight to recover from the pandemic in “Waiting in the Wings” a documentary from USC. Followed by documentary short “The Forbidden Call” and animation “The Donut of Discord” (both from CSULB) and animated short “Blast Off” From CalArts.

Filmmakers: “Beauty Queen” –directed by Myra Aquino– UCLA / “Waiting in the Wings” –directed by Josie Andrews– USC / “The Donut of Discord” –directed by Denisse Hernández– Cal State Long Beach / “The Forbidden Call” –directed by AnaMichele Morejon– LMU / “Blast Off” –directed by Kelly Wang– CalArts

“You’re Still Out There”- Weds., Nov. 2 on KCET at 10 p.m. and Thurs., Oct. 27, at 11 p.m. on Link TV

A mother embarks on a dangerous journey in search of her newborn baby in “Mother in the Mist” from USC. A scarecrow attempts to save a family from foreclosure in “Straw Man,” a short from USC. A secret lover arrives looking for help in “Havana,” a drama from UCLA. Followed by animated short “Bigfoot Took my Photo!” from Chapman University and CalArts animations “Night Cruise” and “Birdsong.”

Filmmakers: “Mother in the Mist” –directed by Kay Niuyue Zhang– USC / “Straw Man” –directed by Alex Casimir– USC / “Night Cruise” –directed by Claire Seckler– CalArts / “Havana” –directed by Faith

Strongheart– UCLA / “Bigfoot Took my Photo!” –directed by Sasha Espinosa– Chapman University / “Birdsong” –directed by Michelle Cheng– CalArts

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