Comedian-actor Kym Whitley has been tapped as the host of the 12th annual NBCUniversal Short Film Festival. The finale screening and awards will take place October 18 at the Directors Guild of America in Hollywood.

Over the past decade, the annual NBCUniversal Short Film Festival has celebrated up & coming directors, writers, producers and actors, introducing them to top industry tastemakers, and has become the industry’s premiere diversity short film festival; a nationwide search for talent both in front of & behind the camera, focused on discovering the next generation of storytellers. This bicoastal festival hosts a series of events, including acclaimed filmmaker workshops, semi-finalist screenings in NYC and a red carpet awards finale at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles.

“I’m honored to be part of the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival,” said Whitley. “Platforms like this are so important to make sure we as a community find, encourage and support artists who tell stories about underrepresented people that are relatable to all of us regardless of ethnicity, creed, gender and sexual orientation.”

The festival is also furthering its emphasis on social change this year by presenting the HARNESS Social Impact Award to the filmmaker whose short best represents an important social issue. The award stems from a first-time partnership with HARNESS, an advocacy organization founded by America Ferrera, Ryan Piers Williams and Wilmer Valderrama that connects artists, influencers and grassroots leaders to inspire action and change. HARNESS will present the award in conjunction with the NBCUniversal Social Responsibility division.

“The passionate response from artists such as Kym and our amazing presenters, organizations like Harness and respected journalists to be part of our festival signifies how widespread the desire is to increase representation in entertainment,” said Karen Horne, SVP of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion, NBC Entertainment and Universal Television. “We are proud that our short film festival is not only a platform for diverse stories, but also a place to develop up and coming storytellers who are already creating work that reflects our society.”

The festival will be awarding filmmakers in the Outstanding Drama, Outstanding Comedy, Outstanding Director, Outstanding Writer, Outstanding Actor and the Audience Award categories.

The awards will be determined by the festival’s first-ever ambassadors, America Ferrera (Superstore), Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU), Chrissy Metz (This Is Us) and Lena Waithe (2017 Emmy® Award winner for Master of None), as well as the judging panel which includes NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke, Universal Television President Pearlena IgbokweDebra Martin Chase (The Princess DiariesJust Wright), Sakina Jaffrey(Timeless, The Mindy Project), Allen Maldonado (Black-ish, Survivor’s Remorse), Victor Turpin (Shades of Blue) and Masi Oka (Hawaii Five-0, Heroes).

As mentioned above, the films and filmmakers will be recognized at the finale screening and awards ceremony on October 18, 2017 at the Director’s Guild of America in Hollywood. The event is free and open to the public.

If you are interested in attending, be sure to reserve your tickets from the festival website.

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About The Author

Founder, HBR Media

K. Nicole Mills is the Founder of HBR Media. She transitioned from Wall Street to television and film development, and has worked at NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, and Showtime Networks. She currently develops digital programming for premium networks. Reach out anytime! info@hbrmedia.org

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