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Winner - Silver

Sorry You Have To See This

Josh Leong

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I joke that SORRY YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS was an exercise from therapy that somehow became real. This film is largely inspired by a time in my life that I used to hate thinking about. Right before the pandemic, I experienced a really scary period of anxiety attacks and depression. It felt like a monster was living inside my head – pushing people away, hurting them, scaring them, and abusing relationships. I fought a war every day just to wake up and act like I was okay. All I wanted was to feel like myself, again. Even with the support of people who refused to let me go, there were countless moments I wanted to give up on everything; to fall asleep and never wake up. I was exhausted more than I was in pain, and I couldn’t understand why any of this was happening to me. To this day, I’m still unsure why it happened or how I got better. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that making a film about it would be part of my journey to healing. SORRY YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS is ultimately an imperfect attempt to put my raw emotions, memories, and nightmares on screen – told through broken, messy people – with the intent of affirming someone else who might be enduring something, similar. I was once told by a professor of mine, Alrick Brown, that filmmakers have a responsibility to “put our demons on screen.” Our stories fight our battles for us. And from the moment I started writing this film, I felt God beginning to transform an incredibly broken time in my life into something irrationally beautiful – something that wouldn’t just be a blessing to me, but to others, as well. Simply put – when someone watches this film, I hope they can feel seen. During my own season of depression, I seemed to do everything to convince myself that I was alone. I was addicted to piling pity on myself, and it felt like I could never feel normal, again. In a way, this film stands to prove that it’s possible to smile again. It’s possible to look back and mourn what was lost while being grateful for what happened. It’s possible to transform something that was broken into something new. For years, this part of my life was filled with shame and fear. Yet though this film, I’ve consistently received a vision of overflow – of people emerging from the woodwork, being touched and feeling seen by work that came from a painful place of vulnerability. To those hurting and to those sharing their burden – please don’t give up. I’m not promising a fairy-tale ending or a five-step solution, but if this film teaches you anything, know that you’re not alone. Know that you’re not defined by rock bottom. In the words of my friend Lauren Franco, “it is the will of a good God to make us better than we once were.” And even if it took years – making this film was proof for me. (Excerpted from "Fighting Forward: The Story Behind 'Sorry You Have To See This'" – a BTS look with Filmsupply. To read the full interview, please visit

Josh Leong is a Webby Award®-winning writer, director, and producer from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. His film CHICKEN world premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, won the NFFTY Jury Award, and was shortlisted for a Cannes Young Director Award. Josh was also spotlighted by NBCUniversal’s Scene in Color Film Series (presented by Target), receiving a blind script deal by Universal Television and acclaimed film producer, Will Packer. Having screened at ten Academy Award®-qualifying festivals and been awarded by President Obama, Josh also directed the Webby Award®-winning short, THE OTHER SIDE in Ethiopia, streaming on Peacock. The film was featured on The TODAY Show and stars Ethan Herisse from Ava DuVernay’s Emmy®-winning Netflix series, WHEN THEY SEE US. LOST BOYS, his upcoming feature debut, was a semifinalist at the Sundance Creative Producing Lab and Development Track. He was also an Academy Nicholl Fellowship and DGA Commercial Directors Diversity Program semifinalist. His latest film, TRENTON: TO THE MOON & BACK, premiered at DOC NYC. He actively consults in development and designs treatments for commercials, film, and television at Sony Pictures, Apple TV+, Paramount, and more. Currently, Josh serves on the Scout Film Festival Filmmaker Advisory Board and holds membership in the Gold House Futures Network and International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.