SEA Filmmaker Showcase: Screening and Discussion

Join us for an evening screening films by Southeast Asian filmmakers tackling subjects of gender from a range of viewpoints. We'll start our program screening four films, followed by a short Q&A with the distinguished filmmakers.

The Films and Filmmakers

Apartment 605  (length 7:02): Miké is interrupted by the loud sound of the apartment buzzer. Over the course of a conversation with a stranger separated by the building's intercom, we learn of the connection they have with the owner of the apartment, Miké's estranged father.

Apartment 605's director, Bianca Catbagan, is a Filipino director and photographer based in Los Angeles. She heads devlopment at the independent film collective Indi Pop Films. Her screenplay, 2AM in Tokyo, has been chosen as one of the projects for the Torino Film Lab's Next Feature program. She was a Cinematography Fellow at the CHANEL X BIFF Asian Film Academy and a participant at the Reykjavik International Film Festival’s Talent Lab where her film was nominated for a Golden Egg. She won a production grant from the inaugural Cinematografo Film Festival where her film premiered as a festival centerpiece, screening to a sold out audience in San Francisco. She was most recently the Audio Series and Originals Coordinator of The Gotham Film & Media Institute. 

Full Service (length 10:01): When an Indonesian woman is invited to her cousin's engagement party, she decides to hire an escort to keep her aunties, and their persistent questions about her dating life, off her back.

Full Service's director, Soma Helmi, was born to an Indonesian father and a Polish mother. She hails from Bali, and she directed all 20 episodes of Season 3 of Snapchat's original series "The Dead Girls Detective Agency." Her work has screened at Sundance, Hollyshorts, Outfest and Amazon's New Voices Film Festival among many others. Helmi began her career working as an art director for J. Walter Thompson in Jakarta, where her clients were Unilever and Pfizer. She would go on to direct commercial spots for Google, Klondike, Nike, Chevrolet, and Campbell's. She is a 2021 Paramount Viewfinder Directors Program fellow and was named one of the “8 directors to watch” by Alliance of Women Directors. Soma is on the 2021 CAPE List x Blacklist and was recently the recipient of the inaugural CAPE Julia Gouw and Janet Yang short film challenge grant. 

Astonishing Little Feet (length 8:58): Afong Moy, the first documented Chinese woman to come to the United States, realizes the men who separated her from her family only have interest in profiting off the peculiarities of her bound feet. 

Astonishing Little Feet's director, Maegan Houang, is a writer/director who has written on shows such as "Counterpart" (Starz), "Shogun" (FX) and "The Sympathizer" (HBO). She is currently writing Panos Cosmatos' (Mandy) next feature Nekrokosm (A24). Her short film In Full Bloom premiered on Short of the Week, and she has also directed music videos for artists such as Mitski, Hana Vu, Vagabon and Charly Bliss. 

Soul Food (length 21:28): A mother and daughter must reconcile the love and hurt in their relationship before time runs out in a place between our world and the next.

Soul Food's director, Emily Teera, is a Thai Chinese writer/director born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. Earlier this year, Emily wrapped production on her short film Soul Food, a Thai language film about loss and reconciliation starring Praya Lundberg that premiered at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in Spring 2023. Most recently, Emily graduated from Hillman Grad’s writing mentorship lab led by Lena Waithe as one of their hour-drama writers. As a self-identified "third culture kid," Emily's drawn to telling stories about identity and miscommunication between generations and cultures.

And our moderator, Toni Wang, is a Shanghai-born independent artist and producer whose background spans IT/consulting, web management, and music. She is a co-host for SEA Creatives, a collective of Southeast Asian filmmakers and artists in Los Angeles and an advocate for AAPI representation in media.  In addition to several feature film projects in development, she has helped to produce a handful of short films as well as the indie feature A Great Divide, starring Ken Jeong, which opened the 2023 Bentonville Film Festival.  Learn more at


See more  Michelle Meow Show programs at The Commonwealth Club of California.

Houang photo by Bao Ngo; additional photos courtesy the speakers.

Image - Bianca Catbagan

Bianca Catbagan

Filmmaker; Director, Apartment 605

Image - Soma Helmi

Soma Helmi

Filmmaker; Director, Full Service

Image - Meagan Houang

Meagan Houang

Filmmaker; Director, Astonishing Little Feet

Image - Emily Teera

Emily Teera

Filmmaker; Director, Soul Food

Image - Toni Wang

Toni Wang

Artist; Producer; Co-host, SEA Creatives—Moderator