Justin Lin’s Foundation Relaunches Asian-American Short-Film Contest

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Justin Lin

The Interpretations Initiative, sponsored by Comcast and NBCUniversal, challenges filmmakers to create three-minute shorts based on the same four-line script.

How many different ways can you shoot the same four lines?

That's what Justin Lin and his colleagues at the Asian-American entertainment organization You Offend Me You Offend My Family (YOMYOMF.com) are looking to find out. The Star Trek Beyond director is bringing back the Interpretations Initiative, his short-film contest for Asian-American filmmakers that was previously held in 2010. As with last time, the unique twist for this competition is that all entrants are tasked with shooting the same four lines of dialogue (in the same order), although everything else — genre, setting, tone — is up to each contestant.

This year's script was penned by none other than Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang and will be revealed Thursday night online and in person at the opening night of CAAMFest, formerly known as the San Francisco Asian American International Film Festival. "It's not as easy as one would think to just come up with four lines of dialogue," Hwang said in a statement. "The script needs to be broad and fluid enough so that one director could craft a comedy from it, another a speculative fiction story, another an action film, another an experimental work of animation and so on."

Comcast and NBCUniversal are lead sponsors of the contest, which will accept entries from March 31 through June 17. After judges (which will include Lin; the rest to be announced) winnow the field to 15 finalists, online voters will have the opportunity to weigh in between Sept. 6 and Oct. 6, with three winners announced on Oct. 10. That trio will have their work presented at the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival on Oct. 19 and also have the opportunity to be mentored by Lin and other industry members on a project for a Comcast or NBCUniversal platform.

"The first Interpretations Initiative was such a success that I am very excited to be launching it again with a stronger fortitude to make this an opportunity to incubate potential careers for budding filmmakers," Lin said in a statement. "Interpretations 2016 is a part of the bigger picture of YOMYOMF 2.0, where we want to establish and nurture an Asian-American creative community of content creators and enthusiasts where we can see what projects we can develop with emerging talent."

The inaugural Interpretations Initiative, presented by Toyota, generated more than 275 submissions, some of which (including several commissioned samples by established Asian-American talent) can be viewed in a playlist at YOMYOMF's YouTube channel.

Here is one of the commissioned samples from 2010, starring Community's Danny Pudi: