Finalists will air on KCET every Wednesday at 10 p.m. starting Sept. 30, followed by every Thursday at 11 p.m. nationally on LinkTV, starting Oct. 1. Over 400 films were submitted during May and June from filmmakers enrolled in 40 Southern California schools; finalists were chosen in the categories of documentary, animation and narrative shorts (under 25 minutes).
Winners in each of the three categories will be announced during a pre-taped virtual awards ceremony event on Sept. 29. Prizes are valued at between $2,500 and $10,000, with one student also selected for The Jack Larson Southern California Student Filmmaker Award — which sends them to the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker showcase at the Cannes International Film Festival next May (pending travel restrictions).
Finalists and winners in each category were chosen by judges including Deadline film critic Pete Hammond; actress/director Yolonda Ross (“The Chi,” “How to Get Away With Murder”), Six Point Harness creative producer/head of development Wendy Willis (“Hairlove”), Variety senior editor/KCRW “Screengrab” host Michael Schneider, DC Entertainment creative affairs senior VP Dan Evans, producer Renee Tajima-Peña (“Asian Americans,” “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”), Film Independent president Josh Welsh, Frogbot Films producer/CEO Monica Lago-Kaytis (“Zootopia”) and director Tim Cruz (“Murder in the Suburbs”).
The 2020 “Fine Cut” finalists and episodes:
“California Now and Then” (Wednesday, Sept. 30)
Friends and family recount the life and death of Latasha Harlins, the forgotten spark that ignited the ‘92 L.A. riots in “The Dope Years: The Story of Latasha Harlins,” a documentary from USC. UCLA’s “Frog Catcher” is inspired by the true story of a transgender man in 1876. The episode ends with “Doña Julia,” a documentary from Cal State LA and two animated films, “Two” and “Sprout,” from USC and Cal Arts respectively.
Filmmakers: “The Dope Years: The Story of Latasha Harlins” (Allison Waite, USC); “Frog Catcher” (Reina Higashitani, UCLA); “Doña Julia” (Dilan Garcia Lopez, Cal State LA); “Two” (Lindsay Scanlan, Cal Arts); “Sprout” (Georgina Cahill, USC)
“Outsider” (Wednesday, Oct. 7)
A freelance taxi driver can’t stand big taxi company 5-Star snatching customers so he forms a protest in “A-Tien,” a comedy from New York Film Academy. Then, an orphanage is invaded by a shadowy creature in “Milk Teeth,” a horror-fantasy from USC. Also included is Cal State Long Beach documentary “Faith Alone” and USC’s animated film “Low-Key.”
Filmmakers: “A-Tien” (Yueh Tzu Sun, NYFA); “Milk Teeth” (Felipe Vargas, USC); “Faith Alone” (Jess Kung, Cal State Long Beach); “Low-Key” (Collin Schuster, USC)
“Different Path” (Wednesday, Oct. 14)
A woman travels back to India upon her mother’s sudden death while navigating her family in “Unmothered” from USC. The American Pavilion film “Black Hat” uncovering the double life of a pious Hasidic man on a night out in L.A. “Nothing Down About It” is a documentary from Loyola Marymount University followed by “The Kitchlets” and “Melted”, two animated films from Cal Arts.
Filmmakers: “Unmothered” (Urvashi Pathania, USC); “Black Hat” (Sarah Smith, American Pavilion Selection); “Nothing Down About It” (Skyler DeYoung, LMU); “The Kitchlets” (Clarisse Chua, Cal Arts); “Melted” (Shuting Zhong, Cal Arts)
“Don’t Panic” (Wednesday, Oct. 21)
Chapman University offers a comedic retelling of the time Johnny Carson started the first toilet paper crisis in the short film “Out of Stock.” A young woman married to a paranoid survivalist must escape in “The Art of Survival,” from UCLA. Finally, the short film “Hey Neighbor” from Chapman University, is followed by two animated shorts “Mr RuRu’s Adventure” from Cal Arts and “A HOLE” from USC.
Filmmakers: “Out of Stock” (Bryan Taira, Chapman); “The Art of Survival” (Greg Armstrong, UCLA); “Hey Neighbor” (Emu Haynes, Chapman); “Mr. RuRu’s Adventure” (Siti Lu, Cal Arts); “A HOLE” (Molly Murphy, USC)
Here’s a preview of the series: