In 2021, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles and Warner Bros. Discovery 150 partnered to launch the inaugural edition of NewNarratives. This initiative identifies exciting new global storytellers by accessing NFMLA’s extensive pool of artistic talent. The program advances, funds and amplifies unique new voices whose narratives, stories and characters transcend borders and dismantle convention.Thanks to a new partnership with the Rhulen Family Foundation in honor of the late independent film producer Anthony Rhulen known for projects such as The Butterfly Effect, the NewNarratives program continues to provide annual grants that support short, feature and episodic series, documentary, experimental and/or animation projects in any stage of production. This includes concept, early development, pre-production, production, post-production and/or audience strategy.



Jess Dang – funding to support the development of her narrative feature film SURRENDER.

Jess Dang is a Chinese-American writer and director based in Los Angeles. She values the process of collaboration and hopes to continue telling stories that can work as visual conversations. Jess holds an MFA in Film & Television Production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and a BFA in Communication Design from Parsons School of Design. In November of 2022, Jess was selected as a Film Independent Fellow.  Her films have played at more than fifty film festivals worldwide, including NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, The LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, DOC NYC, and received distribution with The Documentary Channel, Hallmark, Gaim TV, and Prime video.

In addition, Dang has created content for prominent lifestyle, tech, and entertainment brands such as Intel, Audible, Google, Snapchat, Target, MTV, Cartoon Network, Gold’s Gym, I Love NY, the University of Pittsburgh, Verizon, and The Islands of The Bahamas. Her work continues to reach multiple audiences due to her use of color and forms. Jess is committed to amplifying Asian voices and centering underrepresented communities in her work – exploring narrative themes of social justice, moral & humanitarian progress, and mental health.

SURRENDER follows Naomi, a young Asian American female, who falls into the world of blackjack to regain a sense of control but finds herself addicted to the game.

“The NFMLA community has been an invaluable source of support for me and my filmmaking career since graduating from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in 2012. From screening my first documentary short film many moons ago to my most recent participation in the 2023 NFMLA Film Festival, I’ve found New Filmmakers to be a safe space for me to grow and develop as an artist, finding my voice of authenticity and gathering, engaging with other artists to learn about perspectives outside of my own life experience.  As an Asian American female, my family background has undoubtedly impacted my filmmaking work. My parents immigrated to the US in the 70s from Taiwan and Indonesia, so I inherently think about humanity, sacrifice, and transformation themes,” says Jess Dang.

Jahmil Eady – funding to support the development of her narrative short film HAINT. 

Jahmil is an award-winning filmmaker who blends genre and social impact storytelling. She earned her BA in Media Studies from Pomona College and studied at the Prague Film School in the Czech Republic. Jahmil began in documentary, as an associate producer on projects for Oprah Winfrey Network, Viceland, and Discovery Networks. Her work has screened at Academy Award and BAFTA-qualifying film festivals around the world. She is Princess Grace Foundation’s Inaugural Sir Roger Moore Honoree in Filmmaking and UCLA’s Inaugural Class Artist, representing over 14,000 Bruins in the class of 2023. Jahmil’s other distinctions include the New York Times Award, Teri Schwartz Award, and the Four Sisters Award from writer-directors Gina Prince-Bythewood, Sara Finney Johnson, Mara Brock Akil, and Felicia D. Henderson. Jahmil holds an MFA in Directing from UCLA.

HAINT follows a Gullah Geechee house painter struggles with rage, isolation, and a strained relationship with her daughter. When gentrifiers begin dying of supernatural causes, she overcomes schadenfreude to save the family who moved into her house—ultimately saving her own family and soul.

Winnie Cheung – funding to support the pre-production of her narrative animation short film LAST CALL.

Winnie is a Hong Kong-born, New York-based artist and filmmaker at the intersection of experimental video, non-fiction, horror, and arthouse cinema. In 2019, Winnie’s animated short Albatross Soup premiered at Sundance Hong Kong and went on to tour festivals internationally, winning the coveted Vimeo Animation of the Year award. Her first feature film, Residency, which she co-wrote, directed, shot, and co-edited, premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2023 and will premiere in Australia at SXSW Sydney. Winnie is also a highly skilled film editor, with a proven ability to shift seamlessly between documentary, narrative, and impressionistic styles. In 2021, she co-edited the critically acclaimed horror documentary Woodlands Dark & Days Bewitched, which won Best Documentary at the Fantasia International Film Festival and an audience award at SXSW. 

LAST CALL follows Claudia Chow, a fast riding motorcycle rebel, who indulges in her worst vices to avoid confrontation with a mysterious serpent woman who taps into Claudia’s grotesque fantasies.

Victor Velasco – funding to support the pre-production of his narrative short film I HAVE WINGS BUT I CANNOT FLY.

Victor Velasco is an LA-based Venezuelan director with a passion for weaving raw dramas with strong visuals. Victor’s approach to filmmaking is informed by his experiences growing up in a single mother household in Venezuela, where he developed a deep appreciation for the importance of diverse voices and perspectives in the media. Victor’s latest film Angélica was selected for the Oscar®-Qualifying LA Shorts Film Festival as well as NewFilmmakers Los Angeles. His previous short film, Spoon, has been selected for more than 30 film festivals, including Oscar®-Qualifying Festivals SITGES, Interfilm Berlin, and USA FILM FESTIVAL. The film was sold to Canal Plus in French territories. His cyberpunk short film, Shinobi, has been accepted into multiple festivals, including the Oscar®-Qualifying Cleveland Film Festival. The film features Maximiliano Hernandez (The Walking DeadSicarioCaptain America: Winter Soldier).

I HAVE WINGS BUT I CANNOT FLY follows Patricia, a financially struggling Latina single mother who discovers her son is growing wings.


Merced Elizondo – funding to support the pre-production of his narrative short film THE MOURNING OF.

Merced Elizondo is a Mexican-American filmmaker based in Texas. In 2017, he launched his career as a writer/director and has gone on to be nominated for an Imagen Award and shortlisted for a Young Director Award at Cannes Lions. In 2021, he was selected as a fellow for the Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Today program, presented by HBO and the HFPA, where he won “Best Short Film”. He was also honored as “Person of the Year” by the National Hispanic Institute in 2021. His latest film, MANOS DE ORO, is a black-and-white short film that stars Julio César Cedillo, who can be seen in Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico, Sicario, and the Cannes-winning drama The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. The film has screened at festivals such as the Oscar®-qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival, LA Shorts International, LALIFF, the Miami Film Festival, Bentonville Film Festival, and the “InFocus: Latinx & Hispanic Cinema” event, hosted by NFMLA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 2022, Merced was selected a Directing Fellow for Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative, a program dedicated for emerging directors in the TV space.

THE MOURNING OF is the story of a woman who grieves the tragic loss of her mother by secretly attending the funerals of strangers

“The Mourning Of is the project that I’ve wanted to bring to life more than any other since I began my career as a filmmaker, and to have the opportunity to do so with the support of NFMLA is truly the honor of a lifetime. This NewNarratives grant not only moves the needle for us in a significant way to get our film into production, but it also represents the continued commitment to champion original stories like ours that are led by diverse talent. I’m incredibly grateful to NFMLA for creating a program that gives filmmakers such as myself a seat at the table, and I’m thrilled to have at least some part in the rich history of Warner Bros. Discovery and all of its properties that have consistently inspired me for so many years (HBO, New Line Cinema, DC, etc.),” says Merced Elizondo.

Meghan Ross – funding to support the release for the proof of concept of the half-hour episodic series HERE TO MAKE FRIENDS. 

Meghan Ross is an Austin-based writer/director/comedian who was selected for 2022 Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellowship and Sundance Episodic Lab 2021-2022 for her comedy Here to Make Friends (also her personal tagline). Her shorts made The New Yorker’s Best Shouts of 2020 list, she was nominated for The Webby Awards for If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth, featuring narration by Jon Hamm, and her writing has appeared in Reductress, VICE’s Broadly, TV Without Pity, The Toast, and other defunct but beloved sites. She hosted the late night show That Time of the Month for 5 years and is currently Head of Creator Success at Seed&Spark. Most importantly, Meghan’s an aspiring stage mom to her rescue pit-lab, Dreidel.

HERE TO MAKE FRIENDS follows an anxious, aging millennial, Arab-American Austin transplant who goes on a mission to find the platonic love of her life after realizing she’s never had one lasting female friend.

Mandy Fabian – funding to support the post-production of the narrative feature film JESS PLUS NONE.

Mandy has been committed to doing female-driven comedy for years, creating The Young Hillary Diaries, Lifetime’s first digital series, and co-creating the Emmy award winning short-form series “Dropping the Soap.” She’s a Sony Television Directing Program Fellow, was named “Best New Filmmaker of the Year” by NewFilmmakers LA, and was one of six directors chosen to lead an all-female crew for the 2020 Women’s Weekend Film Challenge.  Her screenplay, Late Bloomer, was an chosen for the NYWIFT Meryl Streep/Oprah Winfrey Writers Lab, and she also co-hosts the podcast “Mandcave” with Mandy Kaplan for TruStory FM. Jess Plus None marks her feature directorial debut. Mandy lives in LA with her husband Patrick Fabian, their daughters, Abbey and Delilah, and an impressive collection of reusable water bottles.

JESS PLUS NONE follows Jess, the reluctant maid-of-honor at her best friend’s off-the-grid wedding in the woods, where she’s forced to confront her ex-girlfriend, all her more successful college friends, and every horrible choice she’s made in her life so far. The film’s cast includes NFMLA alum Scout Durwood, who also contributes original music to the project.

Thales Corrêa – funding to support the post-production of the episodic short series DOGGY BANK.

Brazilian-born Thales Corrêa is a queer writer and director based in Los Angeles. His latest episodic project, Poly People was considered for an Emmy nomination as Best Short-Form Series. Corrêa’s first feature film, Breaking Glass Pictures’ BATHROOM STALLS & PARKING LOTS was a big hit at the qFlix Philadelphia Film Festival, captured awards at other LGBTQ+ film festivals, and hit the charts as a best-selling DVD on Amazon and key queer retailer TLA upon its release. His award-winning short films Parents and Milvio, have premiered at festivals around the world, including two separate appearances at Cannes Short Film Showcase. Corrêa studied film at UCLA, worked on The Second City Writing program and was awarded a scholarship by NALIP’s Emerging Content Creators Inclusion Initiative. Corrêa strengthens his commitment to social-political change by telling layered queer stories and amplifying the voices of those that are systemically silenced.

DOGGY BANK follows a broke, dim-witted slacker who strikes an unusual friendship with a mad philosopher who’s about to die and leave all his wealth to his canine companion.


Jim Vendiola – funding to support the development of his narrative feature film ARGUS.

Vendiola is a Chicago-based writer/director and development exec whose work frequently explores ideas of heartache, longing, liminality, eros and pathos. A three-time Newcity FILM 50 honoree, 3Arts “Make a Wave” grantee, NFMLA alum and Best of NFMLA Awards Nominee, he gravitates towards characters and scenarios that subvert genre conventions, tropes, and the gaze historically defined by cishet men and exclusionary models of masculinity. As a Filipino-American with immigrant parents, his work also ponders themes of identity, otherness and alienation.
ARGUS is the story of a disaffected private eye who is hired to reinvestigate the case of a missing teen long thought to have run away “I’m truly ecstatic and grateful to NFMLA for this incredible opportunity. For years I’ve taken meaningful risks with the form and content of my work, which has been a double-edged sword of maintaining my artistic integrity while being largely ignored by the usual gatekeepers, for telling stories that do not offer tidy conclusions nor lend to homogenous franchises bled of freshness and nuance. I can’t wait to bring this project to audiences hungry for something different, with the support of this amazing program,” says Jim Vendiola.
Nora Mariana Salim and Rami Kodeih – funding toward the development of a project to be announced.

Salim is an LA-based writer who studied English Literature at Stanford University. Recently, she worked on the Peacock miniseries ANGELYNE, produced by Sam Esmail, and was a 2020 Fellow at the Jewish Film Institute.

Kodeih is an LA-based writer/director who first fell in love with movies as a child of war visiting a local VHS-stocked bodega. He has since written and directed award-winning narrative shorts and feature documentaries that have screened at the Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, Clermont-Ferrand and BFI, among others. His most recent work, ALINA starring Alia Shawkat, won the Best Short Film, Drama Award at the Best of NFMLA Awards and screened at 250 festivals worldwide.

Kodeih and Salim are both writers for Apple TV’s LITTLE AMERICA, which explores the lives of immigrants in the US, and are working on an original series with Participant Media, inspired by Kodeih’s own experiences as an immigrant and displaced child of war. They are alumni of the Sundance Feature Film Program and Berlinale Talents and focus on elevated, dynamic genre stories that explore social themes related to gender, class and immigration.

“We are deeply honored to be recognized by NFMLA to be given the opportunity to start bringing our next story to life. It means so much to be a part of an incredible program that helps lift essential, underrepresented voices to the forefront,” say Nora Mariana Salim and Rami Kodeih.

Gabriela Ortega – funding toward the development of the narrative feature film HUELLA.

Ortega is an award-winning writer/director from the Dominican Republic. She is a USC alum based in LA. In 2021, Ortega was selected to be a part of the Lena Waithe created “Rising Voices” initiative. Through the program, she produced her short film HUELLA, which premiered at Tribeca and is currently on its festival run. She has won awards at Sundance Ignite, NFFTY, LALIFF and is a Sundance Lab, NFMLA, NALIP Latino Media Market, HBO Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Today and IAMA under30 lab alum. Her film PAPI was nominated for a 2021 Best of NFMLA Award and is set to premiere on HBO in 2022. Ortega has been hired to write a feature film for Sony Pictures International, has a half-hour dramedy in development with Wilmer Valderama’s WV Entertainment and is also a staff writer for the much anticipated Bioschock 4 game franchise and Season 2 of Netflix’s GO OFF with Jess and Julissa. 

HUELLA follows Daniela Garcia, a restless flamenco dancer resigned to a desk job at a call center and constantly running away from her past is preparing for a life-changing audition. However, when she receives the unexpected news that her grandmother has died, she breaks a family ritual that unleashes a generational curse she’ll have to reckon with.

Set Hernandez Rongkilyo – funding toward the development of the documentary feature film UNSEEN.

As a queer, non-binary, undocumented immigrant, Hernandez dedicates their filmmaking to expand the portrayal of their community on screen. Their recent short documentary “COVER/AGE” (2019), about healthcare expansion for undocumented adults, was named a 2021 Social Impact Media Awards Finalist. Hernandez served as Impact Producer for projects such as “IN PLAIN SIGHT” (2020) and the award-winning “CALL HER GANDA” (Tribeca, 2018) by PJ Raval. Hernandez is the co-founder of the Undocumented Filmmakers Collective which advances equity for undocumented immigrants in the media industry. Hernandez has been supported by the Sundance Institute, among others and is a member of NFMLA.

UNSEEN is a multi-platform documentary that follows the story of Pedro, an aspiring social worker who happens to be a blind, undocumented immigrant. Through Pedro’s personal journey, this “audio-based” film reimagines the accessibility of cinema, while exploring the systemic intersections of immigration, disability, and mental health.

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