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Justin Lin Revives 'Interpretations' Asian-American Short Film Initiative

"Interpretations," the short-film initiative led by "Fast and the Furious" director Justin Lin, will be held for the second time this year.
Image: Justin Lin
Director/producer Justin Lin speaks onstage at the "Scorpion" panel during the CBS Network portion of the 2014 Summer Television Critics Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 17 in Beverly Hills, California. Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images file

Aspiring Asian-American filmmakers will get a chance to showcase their creativity at the second iteration of the “Interpretations” initiative, a short film contest hosted by culture website YOMYOMF and sponsored by Comcast and NBC Universal.

“There might be a talented filmmaker living out someplace like the Midwest and they just don't have any industry contacts or know how to get started but they love to make films and videos,” Justin Lin, "Star Trek Beyond" director and YOMYOMF co-founder, told NBC News. “This is a way to find those filmmakers who we may otherwise never stumble upon and who may not know how to take their career to the next level. We believe the talent is out there and we want to provide them with access”

The initiative was announced Thursday at CAAMfest, the annual festival held by the Center for Asian American Media to celebrate Asian-American film, music, and food.

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All participants will receive the same four-line script — penned this year by Tony-Award winning playwright and screenwriter David Henry Hwang. The filmmakers can interpret the script in any way they choose.

“It’s not as easy as one would think to just come up with 4 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.”

In 2010, “Interpretations” commissioned shorts from industry leaders such as Far East Movement, Wong Fu Productions, and Danny Pudi. Lin noted that most of the winners from that year continue to work in the industry, and that he remains in touch with some for future collaborations.

Lin, who is currently in post-production on “Star Trek Beyond,” expects this year’s initiative to be even more impactful for participants and winners.

“I think the big difference is because of the amazing support of Comcast and NBCUNI, we will actually get to produce a project for the three winners to direct with myself and other industry professionals as mentors,” he said. “It will allow us to take it to the next level. It gives resources and opportunity for a talented filmmaker to make something with myself, Comcast/NBCUni and YOMYOMF's support.”

The official call for entries will begin March 31, and participants will be able to submit their short films until June 17. The three winners will have the opportunity to showcase their work at the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival on Oct. 19 and will be able to work with Lin and other mentors on a project. The initiative is open to U.S. residents over the age of 13.

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“As much progress as there has been in TV, where we have shows like ‘Fresh Off the Boat,’ ‘Dr. Ken,’ or ‘Master of None,’ the recent Oscars showed us diversity is still often a black and white issue and Asian Americans are left out,” Lin said. “That's why we're doing an initiative like Interpretations. We want to do what we can to make sure that ALL talented filmmakers and content creators out there have a shot and get a chance to have a voice when we often don’t.”

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