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Southern California Student Short Film Television Series FINE CUT Announces Finalists and Episode Lineup for New Season Premiering Sept. 29 on KCET

Student filmmaker finalists selected by nine acclaimed entertainment industry judges; Winners receive a variety of valuable prize packages from Drone Dudes, The Camera Division, International Documentary Association and more; Plus, virtual career-building workshops sponsored by Sony Pictures Entertainment.
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Pictured from left to right, top to bottom: Kimberly Dennison, Faridah Gbadamosi, Kelly Younger, Weiko Lin, Tanya Meillier, Karimah Westbrook, Varda Bar-Kar, Michael Schneider and Emily Cohen Ibañez. (Images courtesy of KCET). Download

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Los Angeles, Calif. Aug. 31, 2021KCET, showcasing the best of PBS and the leading source for arts, culture and news in Southern California, announced today the student finalists and the nine industry judges responsible for the short film lineup for the 22nd season of the FINE CUT Festival of Films, a collection of short films from Southern California student filmmakers. While all finalists will have the opportunity to have their short films screened as part of the television series, a variety of prize packages valued up to $12,000 will be awarded to three winners in the categories of Documentary, Animation and Narrative short films as well as one winner of the prestigious Jack Larson Southern California Student Filmmaker Award, recognizing one student’s strength as a storyteller. Fine Cut is made possible by a generous grant from The Bridges / Larson Foundation. The FINE CUT Festival of Films will be broadcast in 2021 as a series of four one-hour broadcast episodes starting Wed., Sept. 29 at 10 p.m. on KCET in Southern California and on Thurs., Sept. 30 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV nationwide (Dish Network 9410 and DirecTV 375), with many films available for streaming at

Panel of Judges. Finalists and winners in each category were determined by an industry panel of nine esteemed experts that included Variety Senior Editor/KCRW “Screengrab” Host Michael Schneider, Director Varda Bar-Kar (Fandango at the Wall, Big Voice, 9-1-1 on Fox), Director Emily Cohen Ibañez (PBS’ Fruits of Labor, Bodies at War), Screenwriter and Producer Weiko Lin (100 Days, Miki, Crazy Screenwriting Secrets), Producer and Editor Tanya Meillier (Gather, Capitalism: A Love Story, 3100, Run and Become), Writer Kelly Younger (Muppets Now, Ralph Breaks the Internet and Frozen 2), Actress Karimah Westbrook (The CW’s All American), Artistic Director of Outfest Fusion and Outfest Now Faridah Gbadamosi and SVP Creative Executive, Animation & Family for Gaumont Television Kimberly Dennison.

Awards Event. Finalists were chosen by the judging panel from short films that were 25 minutes or under. 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 taking place in late September that will screen each of the winning films.

Prizes. Each of the four winners will receive valuable prize packages, including a one-day drone rental package valued at $12,000 from Drone Dudes, a $10,000 camera package from The Camera Division, a membership to the International Documentary Association (with exposure to 3,500 IDA members), a $1,000 Quixote Production supplies rental, four versions of the Final Draft 12 professional screenwriting software and tickets to KCET Cinema Series when the next season resumes in theaters. Honorees will also receive prizes donated from some of the industry’s most reputable names including Dragonframe, New Filmmakers LA, Pixologic, Toon Boom Animation and Wacom.

Virtual Workshop Events. All semi-finalists and finalists of the 22nd Annual FINE CUT Festival of Films will be invited to one of three virtual mentor workshop events sponsored by Sony Pictures Entertainment that will take place on September 25 and September 26. The small group format is designed to provide tomorrow’s generation of filmmakers with opportunities to engage with various entertainment industry experts in the film, television, animation and documentary fields.

This Year’s Statistics. Over 350 films were submitted during April and May of this year by filmmakers enrolled in over 30 Southern California schools. Final films selected included themes of climate change, mental health, and LGBTQ relationships. Almost 70% of the finalist filmmakers were people of color and almost 70% of the finalist’s films were directed or produced by a female.

The 2021 FINE CUT finalists are listed below and episodes will air as follows

(*schedule subject to change):

“Life Disrupted”- Weds., Sept. 29 on KCET at 10 p.m. and Thurs., Sept. 30 at 11 p.m. on Link TV

A 94-year-old Glacier National Park ranger reflects on his life in “Your Friend, Ranger Doug,” a documentary from Chapman Univ. Occidental College’s “Well, It Wasn’t Supposed to be This Way” documents young couples during the pandemic. UCLA documentary “The Beautiful Colors of Jeremy Sicile-Kira,” follows with CalArts animated shorts, “Wolf and Cub” and “JUMBO,” as well as CSULB's “Lamppost."

Filmmakers: “Your Friend, Ranger Doug,” co-directed by Claire Jantzen/Sara Rose Nell – Chapman University / “Well, It Wasn’t Supposed to be This Way”directed by Naomi Miyamoto– Occidental College / “The Beautiful Colors of Jeremy Sicile-Kira”directed by Aaron Lemle– UCLA / “Wolf and Cub” directed by Marvin Bynoe– CalArts / “JUMBO” directed by Jennifer Nie– CalArts / “Lamppost" directed by Chinh Mai– Cal State Long Beach

“Games, Competition, Rivalry”- Weds., Oct. 6 on KCET at 10 p.m. and Thurs., Oct. 7 at 11 p.m. on Link TV

An overzealous man obsessed with a competition game show risks it all in “American Champion,” a dark comedy from Chapman University. A former Olympian delves into the mysterious phenomenon of “Target Panic” in a documentary from CSULB. CalArts animations "FRANKIE THE HOT DOG: Gymnastics Star" and "Hopper's Day" follow with CSULB drama "I Didn't Mean It," and Chapman University documentary "Abuelita's Puzzle."

Filmmakers: “American Champion,” directed by Jimmy Alcorn– Chapman University / “Target Panic”directed by Madeleine Braun– Cal State Long Beach / “FRANKIE THE HOT DOG: Gymnastics Star”directed by Lee Witz– CalArts / “Hopper's Day” directed by Jingqi Zhang– CalArts / “I Didn't Mean It” directed by Adriana Morales– Cal State Long Beach / “Abuelita's Puzzle" directed by Christian Hurley– Chapman University

“What Went Wrong”- Weds., Oct. 13 on KCET at 10 p.m. and Thurs., Oct. 14 at 11 p.m. on Link TV

When a college freshman inadvertently witnesses a drunken encounter, she is compelled to investigate whether it was consensual in “Cassandra” from UCLA. After adopting a girl from the orphanage, a Chinese lesbian couple is forced to search for the meaning of family in “When the Tide Rises,” a drama from USC. Followed by “Parallel Barking,” “Stolen,” and “Beyond the Drama,” animations from CalArts.

Filmmakers: “Cassandra,” directed by Lia Lenart– UCLA / “When the Tide Rises”directed by Alex Jiang– USC / “Parallel Barking”directed by Christina Woo– CalArts / “Stolen.” directed by Christina Giordano– CalArts / “Beyond the Drama” directed by Siti Lu– CalArts

“It Shaped Me”- Weds., Oct. 20 on KCET at 10 p.m. and Thurs., Oct. 21 at 11 p.m. on Link TV

USC documentary “Not Just a Name” explores the stigma and racial bias experienced by African Americans with unique sounding names. A high school girl must choose to leave a physically abusive father or stay to protect her siblings in "Paz,” a drama from Chapman University. Follow by CSULB documentary “The Home I Never Had” and “Il Bello Di Nonna,” an animated short from Woodbury University.

Filmmakers: “Not Just a Name,” directed by De'Onna "Tree" Young-Stephens– USC / “Paz”directed by Andrew Gutierrez– Chapman University / “The Home I Never Had”co-directed by Jourdan Amen/Yuliana Franco– Cal State Long Beach / “Il Bello Di Nonna” directed by Lauren Gregorio– Woodbury University

The festival is a tribute to FINE CUT founder Jack Larson who was an American actor, librettist, screenwriter and producer who may be best known for his portrayal of photographer/reporter Jimmy Olsen in the 1952-1958 television series “Adventures of Superman.” In the late 1990s Larson approached Southern California’s KCET with the idea of creating a student film series that would provide talented students with the much-needed visibility through television. Larson understood how difficult it was for young filmmakers to get broad exposure for their work because, typically, student work is only seen at special screenings and film festivals. Larson thought that public television was an excellent platform for providing critical visibility to emerging filmmakers. KCET shared Larson’s enthusiasm and together they created FINE CUT, which continues to be a flagship program for KCET today.

Funding for FINE CUT is generously provided by The Bridges/Larson Foundation

Join the conversation on social media using #FineCut

About KCET

KCET is part of the donor-supported community institution, the Public Media Group of Southern California, which was formed by the merger of PBS SoCal and KCETLink Media Group. As one of Southern California’s two flagship PBS stations, KCET is on-air, online as well as in the community, and plays a vital role in the cultural enrichment of Southern California. KCET offers a wide range of award-winning local programming as well as the finest public television programs from around the world. Throughout its 55-year history, KCET has won hundreds of major awards for its local and regional news and public affairs programming, its national drama and documentary productions and its website, For additional information about KCET’s original productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit KCET Originals and PBS programming are available to stream on the FREE PBS App on iOS and Android devices, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, and Chromecast. KCET is also available to watch live on YouTube TV.

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