The 13th annual NBC Universal Short Film Festival has named the semifinalists for its film competition, a selection of 15 original short films, pilots and webisodes geared toward expanding diversity in the medium and showcasing the voice of the current generation.

There were more than 3,400 submissions covering arrange a number of topics pertaining to ethnically diverse backgrounds, women and the LGBT community. The film have been featured at festivals like the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, TIFF Kids International Film Festival, Austin Film Festival and New York Television Festival, in addition to many others. Women have written 11 of the 15 semi-final submissions shorts with half of semi-final shorts feature stories centered on female protagonists.

The semi-finalists will be flown to New York for two days of events and screenings where they will be a part of roundtable discussions with directors and writers and participate in workshops with NBCUniversal TV casting directors and actors. The films will be screened over two evenings before audiences of industry professionals including film, network and cable executives as well as managers, agents and producers. The films will be shown at public screenings in New York on August 14 and 15 after which the finalists will be chosen for a finale screening and awards ceremony in Los Angeles on October 24.

This year’s semi-finalists includes female directors with dramas, comedies, pilots and web series episodes on a variety of topics:

Director: Ashleigh Stanczak

Ashleigh Stanczak is a comedy writer and director who has worked for Refinery29, Discovery Channel, History Channel, MTV, and A&E. She is currently producing and directing a digital series for Funny or Die. Her feature script, “The Life of Fat Girls,” placed in the Austin Film Festival. Several of her film shorts have been featured in the LA Funny Women’s Festival, the Austin Short Comedy Fest, the Colorado Short Comedy Fest, the Philly Short Comedy Fest, and the Houston Short Comedy Fest.

Director: Suzanne Andrews Correa

Suzanne Andrews Correa is the writer and director of several film shorts including Election Day Guatemala, Max and Sam, Yes… Motorcycles and Güero. She has Bachelor’s degrees in Film and Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and has worked in the New York film and television industry for almost a decade. She is currently working toward an MFA in Directing and Screenwriting at Columbia University.

Director: Monica Santis

Monica Santis’ is currently writing her first feature script inspired by the award-winning short film,‘Hacia el Sol’ (Towards the Sun),  that she directed & co-wrote. Santis’ first screenplay was ‘Birthday Wishes’and she studied filmmaking at The London Film School. In 2017, ‘Hacia el Sol’ (Towards the Sun)  won the Hiscox Jury and Audience awards for ‘Best Student Narrative Film’ at the 2017 Austin Film Festival.

Writer & Director: Katie Locke O’Brien

Katie Locke O’Brien is a writer, producer and actress, who has appeared on such shows as Justified, Community, Chuck, Weeds, Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life, or I’m Dying Up Here. Brien discovered film and TV after training with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York. Her comedy series, The Hub, was bought and developed by the Independent Film Channel. Brien’s short films Lone Douche, Discard, Help, and Baby Bird are currently on the festival circuit, and her comedy feature, Sounds Like Orange, in which she’s starring and producing, is looking for investors.

Director: Rüya Koman
Ruya Koman is a film producer, director and actress and the founder/president of Koman Filmworks. Ruya co-directed, produced and starred in “Interference”, which had its World Premiere at the New Voices in Black Cinema Festival. She made her directorial debut in 2016, with a short film that she wrote, directed and produced, “Reunion.” Ruya has also produced a number of award-winning short films such as Najmia, One Second Changes Everything, Before We Lose, and The Poem of A Memory; as well as a feature film: “Convicted.” Ruya is currently playing the role of “Mother” on Gotham. She is also developing her feature film, a biopic of a historical American female figure.

Writer & Director: Kemiyondo Coutinho
Kemiyondo Coutinho has been writing and acting since she was 16. She toured in a one-woman show that focused on gender inequity in Swaziland and created a second one-woman show that focused on HIV in Uganda. She is the founder of Kemistry Klass, a company devoted to producing content for film and TV that changes the narrative of stories about the continent of Africa. Kemiyondo, is currently based in Los Angeles, and the recipient of the prestigious E11 Green Card awarded to individuals of extraordinary ability who demonstrate that they are at the top of their chosen field in their home country.

Writer & Director: Mahaliyah Ayla O
After earning a B.A. from UC Berkeley, Ahyla was accepted into USC’s School of Cinematic Arts where she received the Samuel and Lorenza Gary Memorial Award. She earned her MFA in Film & Television Production in December 2017 and is currently based in Los Angeles, California.“Masks” won the AT&T Audience Award for Best Short Film at the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival.

Director: Tricia Lee

Tricia Lee has directed 3 award-winning feature films, 2 webseries and 11 shorts. The horror film Blood Hunters  sold to Hulu and saw a North American release in 2017. The film was presented in Cannes  and had its world premiere at Horror Channel’s Frightfest in London. Her fil Silent Retreat, won Best Canadian Feature -Toronto After Dark, and was theatrically released across Canada with a 2-week run in Toronto. Other recent dramatic short films include Affection and Meeting Mommy.

Director: Honora Talbott

After studying comedy at Upright Citizens Brigade and I.O. West Theater, Talbott started creating her own work, directing, co-writing and starring in her first short film We Know Where You Live, a comedy thriller about gentrification in LA. Her feminist and socio-political sketches have featured on Huffington Post, Bustle, Funny or Die, US Magazine, the A.V. Club, The Nerdist, Jill Soloway’s, Laughing Squid, LA Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Daily Dot, Pop Sugar, Cosmopolitan, the LAist, and more. On screen, Talbott has appeared in national commercials and Master of None. She also performed and coached sketch comedy for five years at the former I.O West Theater and wrote for the 2017 CBS Diversity Showcase.