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Short Film Results

2023 Short Film Competition Results


Written & Directed by Jo Steinhart

Jo Steinhart is a writer and director from San Francisco living in Los Angeles. She received her MFA in Directing from The AFI Conservatory in 2022 and her BA in Film & Gender Studies from Sarah Lawrence College.

Her AFI thesis film DADDY stars Emily Robinson (Eighth Grade, Transparent) and is currently on its festival run, screening at such notable festivals as AFI Fest, Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival and Tallgrass Film Festival. While working toward a career in feature filmmaking, she also directs music videos, shorts, and commercials.

Jo’s work focuses on complex characters and taboo topics explored through darkly humorous character-driven stories.

Follow on: IG | Film IG | Vimeo


Written & Directed by Christianne Cruz

Christianne Cruz is a queer Filipinx writer/director and producer born in Toronto and based in LA with her husband and two
young daughters, Mia and Jordan.

Christianne was a child actor for 12 years in TV, commercials, and theater. She is a graduate of Queen’s University’s Drama Department. After working at Canada’s largest media company in advertising, specializing in branded content, she immigrated to the US, and reignited her entertainment career at ICM Partners supporting partners in TV/Film departments.

She penned a rom-com/dance film with Leslie Grace (In The Heights, Batgirl) starring and the illustrious Billy Porter producing alongside Oscar-winner, Jamie Foxx, Christianne Cruz, and Alex Ott (Fury, Suicide Squad). Iconic dancers, choreographers, and Broadway directors, Mari and Keone Madrid, are attached to direct in their feature debut.

Christianne’s directorial debut horror short, Aftertaste, premiered in Lisbon at MotelX with honored guests such as Alejandro Jodorowsky, Dario Argento, and Eli Roth. It has since played a dozen prestigious genre and Academy-qualifying fests. Her debut has won numerous awards including Best Horror. She has served as Producer, Head of Wardrobe and Production Designer on several shorts starring Sara Paxton, Jaz Sinclair, Dana Lee, and Eugene Cordero.

Christianne is committed to telling diverse stories that permeate pop culture—from the heart, for the screen.

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Written & Directed by Darren Haruo Rae

Darren Haruo Rae, a Japanese American producer/director based in Los Angeles, co-founded the boutique production company Roann Films. He has directed high-profile commercials and branded content for clients such as Western Digital, Airbnb, and Cisco.

Rae’s directorial debut, Park Arcadia, garnered Best Screenplay at the 2014 International Film Festival Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles. His latest film, Nisei, inspired by his Japanese-American grandfather’s WWII experiences in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, earned Best Drama at Cinequest and Audience Choice & Best Drama at the 2023 Poppy Jasper Film Festival and continues it’s festival circuit, screening at Indy Shorts by Heartland Film, LA Shorts International Film Festival, HollyShorts Film Festival, and Catalina Film Festival.

Rae is the series producer for the MasterClass G.O.A.T. Original Series and is producing the feature film Surrender, starring Andrea Bang. Surrender was selected as one of Film Independent’s Fast Track fellowship program’s top 10 narrative fiction features and is slated for production in 2023.

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North Star
Written & Directed by P.J. Palmer

P.J. Palmer, an award-winning filmmaker, was raised in the rural mountains of Northern California and has always loved telling stories with motion picture.

P.J.‘s work includes working as series producer for the award-winning LGBTQ+ drama series, “Anyone But Me,” and has written an award-winning pilot titled “On Cannery Row.” P.J. wrote and directed the Oscar-Qualifying short North Star, starring Colman Domingo and Kevin Bacon. He is now preparing to direct his feature script, Son of a Preacher Man.

P.J. lives in New York City and Los Angeles.

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