Jennifer Phang

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Jennifer Phang
EducationPomona College (B.A.), American Film Institute (M.F.A.)
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter

Jennifer Phang is an American filmmaker most known for her feature films Advantageous (2015) and Half-Life (2008). Advantageous premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, winning a Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision, and was based on her award-winning short film of the same name. Half-Life premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and won "Best Film" awards at a number of film festivals including the Gen Art Film Festival, the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (now known as CAAMFest) as well an "Emerging Director Award" at the Asian American International Film Festival.

Early life[edit]

Phang (pronounced "Pong") grew up in the Bay Area and is currently based in San Francisco.[1] She was born in Berkeley, California and is of mixed Chinese Malaysian and Vietnamese heritage.[2] She graduated from Pomona College with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies, and also graduated from the American Film Institute with a Masters of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Film Directing.[3] She has also participated in the San Francisco Film Society Women Filmmaker Fellowship.[4]

In 2008, Phang was named as one of the "25 new Faces of Independent Film" by Filmmaker Magazine.[5]


Feature films[edit]

Phang's debut feature film that she directed and wrote was entitled Half-Life (2008) and it starred Sanoe Lake, Julia Nickson-Soul, Leonardo Nam, James Eckhouse, Susan Ruttan and Alexander Agate. The film premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in the New Frontiers section, and also screened at the Gen Art Film Festival (where it won a Best Feature award), the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (where it won a Best Narrative award), the Asian American International Film Festival (where Phang won the "Emerging Director Award"), the Fairy Tales International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (where it won the Visionary Award), the Tokyo International Film Festival (where it was in-competition and was nominated for the Tokyo Grand Prix), the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival (where it was also in competition and nominated for the Main Award), and the International Women's Film Festival in Seoul, Korea (where it was opening night film). The film received a limited theatrical release on December 1, 2009.

Phang's follow up film that she directed, wrote and edited was Advantageous (2015), which was based on her award-winning short film of the same name. The film starred Jacqueline Kim, Ken Jeong, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams and Samantha Kim. The film also premiered in competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival (nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic films), where it won the Grand Jury Prize for Collaborative Vision given to both Phang and star Jacqueline Kim with the inscription: "We are honoring two individuals for their unique collaborative vision. Two women that between them wrote, starred and co-edited a beautiful parable about a mother's love, sacrifice and society's worship of youth."[6][7] At the 2015 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, the film won, under the Narrative Feature category, Best Director (Jennifer Phang), Best Editor (Jennifer Phang and Sean Gillane), Best Musical Score (Timo Chen), and star Jacqueline Kim also won the Linda Mabalot Renaissance Spirit Award for her performance.

Short films[edit]

Phang directed, wrote and edited a short film entitled Advantageous (2012) - the basis of the 2015 feature film of the same name - for the PBS series "Futurestates", which imagined various scenarios and stories that took place in the future. The film won a Best Science Fiction Film award at the Rhode Island International Horror Film Festival and also the Golden Reel Award for Best Short Film at the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival. It was also nominated for "Best Short Film" at Fantastic Fest, the Cleveland International Film Festival, the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, the Philadelphia Film Festival, the Asian American International Film Festival, the San Diego Asian Film Festival, the San Diego Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, and the Urbanworld Film Festival.

Other short films that Phang directed include Midnight Boycow (2007) starring Rex Lee and Love, Ltd. (2000), which Phang also co-wrote with Jeff Kirschenbaum.


Phang has guest-directed on episodic series television, including for Cloak & Dagger, Quantico, The Expanse, Riverdale, Major Crimes, and The Exorcist. She remarks that it is interesting to work in an established universe with characters already defined, and to direct a wide variety of actors who are already familiar with their characters. She particularly notes that it is a challenge to learn whether the showrunner wants her to work within the parameters of the series, or to add personal touches that give the series a new spin. In her opinion, TV directing work, in addition to the extra income, improves her versatility and adaptability in her film projects.[8]

Music videos and other media projects[edit]

Phang also directed and wrote a piece entitled Glass Butterfly, a narrative music video featuring intensive visual effects, currently being completed via San Francisco's Studio 400A.


For her screenplay Look for Water, which she co-wrote with Dominic Mah, she was invited to the Sundance Screenwriters' Lab in June 2008. The screenplay has also received the Tribeca Film Festival L'Oreal Woman of Worth Vision Award, a Sundance CineReach grant, and a Sundance Institute Annenberg Feature Film Fellowship Grant.

Editing and producing[edit]

Phang has also edited and produced the feature film Target Audience 9.1 (2007), written and directed by Dominic Mah, produced the short film Sitter (2004) also written and directed by Dominic Mah, and served as executive producer for the short film Crazy Beats Strong Every Time (2011), directed and written by Moon Molson, and which was an official selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.


  1. ^ Casey Cipriani, "Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #5: Why 'Age of Innocence' Inspired Jennifer Phang's Sci-Fi Tale 'Adventageous'", indieWire
  2. ^ Erin Ivie, "Q&A with SF Filmmaker Jennifer Phang", 7x7 Magazine
  3. ^ Laura Berger, "Sundance Women Directors: Meet Jennifer Phang - 'Advantageous'", indieWire
  4. ^ "Jennifer Phang", San Francisco Film Society
  5. ^ 25 New Faces of Independent Film, Filmmaker Magazine
  6. ^ 2015 Sundance Film Festival Award Winners, Sundance Film Festival
  7. ^ 2015 Sundance Film Festival Announces Feature Film Awards, Sundance Institute
  8. ^ Christopher Bell (24 July 2017). "Indie Beat: Jennifer Phang". (Podcast). The Playlist. Retrieved 26 July 2017.

External links[edit]