‘Dinner is Served’ Director on Trying to Fit in and Finding Himself in the Process

Hao Zheng is no stranger to creating stories that touches on the human spirit. The award-winning director, who was recently named a 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree and recognized at countless film festivals, has been recognized for his work with the 2019 First International Film Festival Directing Lab and now as a 2020 Disney Launchpad Director and 2020 HBO Access Directing Program Fellow, where he continues to explore themes of identity and belonging.

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‘Let’s Be Tigers’ Director on Being Vulnerable and Processing Grief

One of the directors, Stefanie Abel Horowitz previously directed theater for nearly a decade before pivoting to film. She was determined to tell important stories through her work like her previous short film, sometimes, i think about dying, a story about a woman’s existential crisis with death, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

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‘The Little Prince(ss)’ Director on Femininity, Toxic Masculinity, and Finding Acceptance

Growing up in a conservative town like Hunan, China, Peng was met with discouragement from the neighborhood over their femininity. As a queer and non-binary filmmaker who grew up in China, their focus has always been to address the working class and the intersectionality of the queer community. Peng was fortunate to have supportive parents who love them and always encouraged Peng to be who they were. The same could not be said of the parents of their friends. This is how The Little Prince(ss) was developed.

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‘Growing Fangs’ Director Anne Marie Pace on Finding Your Place in the World

Growing up Mexican American and bisexual in a family of anthropologists, Pace wanted to showcase what it meant to be an outsider and finding your place. She also is a huge fan of the supernatural. So, why not put the two and two together? That’s exactly what she did.

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‘American Eid’ Director Aqsa Altaf on the Importance of Muslim Stories and Finding Her Voice

Disney’s Launchpad: Shorts Incubator — a filmmaking program dedicated to amplifying underrepresented voices — celebrates six directors in its inaugural year to create a story centered on the theme of ‘Discover.’

One of the voices came from Los Angeles-based filmmaker Aqsa Altaf who wanted to capture what it meant to be a Muslin American. Growing up in Kuwait by Pakistani and Sri Lankan parents in a Muslim home, Altaf realized there were not many stories surrounding Muslim stories, especially positive ones that celebrates the culture. Instead, Altaf only saw negative stereotypes of Muslims in the media. She wanted to change all of that and became fascinated with telling diverse stories that reflected on subject matters that are universal.

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The Middle Geeks Episode 27: ‘We Are Lady Parts’ Review

We are SO excited to discuss Nida Manzoor’s We Are Lady Parts, a British series featuring a punk rock band of all Muslim women of color, including MENA women, premiering today on Peacock TV! What did we love particularly about this series, and how well does it handle representation? We also discuss the news of the additional Sandman for Netflix, including the Lebanese Razane Jammal, American Eid debuting on Disney+, and much more!

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Disney’s ‘Launchpad’ Inspires Filmmakers to Tell Their Stories to Disney+

When you first hear the words Disney’s Launchpad, fans immediately think of the famous pilot from Disney’s DuckTales, Launchpad McDuck. It pops up in the Google search when you look up Disney’s Launchpad, but now, Disney is using the word for something greater (sorry, DuckTales fans) and something that will have a lasting impact on diversity and inclusion in filmmaking and storytelling in Hollywood. 

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