Filmmakers Anida Yoeu Ali and Masahiro Sugano have taken public their accusation that the White House discounted their short video from winning a contest because of subject matter that it may have found controversial. Ali and Sugano entered their three-minute “My Asian Americana,” which looks at Cambodian-Americans raised in the States but recently deported, in a “What’s Your Story” video challenge sponsored by the Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
While their short was chosen as one of the 11 finalists, it did not win the contest and the filmmakers were not invited to the White House as a result. According to the LAT and Reel Chicago stories, Ali and Sugano make the claim that based on web traffic their film was the most popular and that the White House interfered because the administration wanted to avoid further criticism about its deportation policies.
"We've shown there's a huge interest in this issue," Ali, a 2010-11 Fulbright Fellow, says in the LAT piece. "We're just appalled that we've been completely dismissed in the process."
The filmmakers claim that the White House refuses to divulge its vote counts or selection process, leaving them unable to prove that they are right about political concerns corrupting the contest’s true results.
Paloma Esquivel of the Los Angeles Times picked up on an April 18 post by Ed M. Koziarski of Reel Chicago. Ali and Sugano are both from the Windy City.