The Top Asian United States of American Narrative Feature Filmmakers

by michael-930-915046 | created - 16 Jan 2012 | updated - 9 months ago | Public

For your edutainment, here is a list of all the Asian Americans who have made a narrative feature film. The list is limited to people of Asian decent who are at least 1.5 or 2nd generation US resident/citizen and who have made at least one narrative feature film that can be verified (e.g. IMDB, official website, festival screening, etc.)

Examples of filmmakers not included in the list:

ex. 1: Ang Lee (The Incredible Hulk) is not included because he spent his formative years in Asia. ex. 2: Julia Kwan (Eve and the Firehorse) is not included because she is Canadian. ex. 3: Rena Tajima (Who Killed Vincent Chin) is not included because she makes documentaries. ex. 4: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) is not included because he is not Asian nor American.

If we combined all the co-directing efforts and hapas, we hover around 100 total. Pretty inspiring. These are the pioneers. The Film Committee of 100 so to speak. BTW many of these films are available on DVD -- get to know your history and support Asian American film!

Help me if I missed anyone. I compiled this list a couple years ago so it is probably missing some folks. Also, FYI for putting the list together, I am putting myself at the top.

1. Michael Kang

Director | The Motel

Michael Kang is a Korean American filmmaker based in New York. He was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island but has been in New York since attending New York University Tisch School of the Arts' Dramatic Writing Program where he was a Founder's Day Honors Scholar. His feature film directorial...

Michael Kang is an independent filmmaker currently in recovery from a three year stint in Los Angeles.

Before becoming a filmmaker, Michael had the highest batting average on his little league team and scored 750 on the math section of the SATs -- two skills which never come into play in his current daily life.

His feature film directorial debut "The Motel" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and an internationally premiered at the Pusan Film Festival. The film is currently available on DVD through Palm Pictures. “The Motel” is the recipient of the Humanitas Prize as well as three top jury prizes from the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, The San Diego Asian Film Festival and The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival . The film was also nominated for “Best First Feature” at the Independent Spirit Awards.

In addition, Michael was a fellow at the Sundance Filmmakers Lab in 2002. He also received the 2002 Geri Ashur Award in screenwriting through the New York Foundation for the Arts. Michael was also honored with a National Endowment for the Arts Artist’s Residency at the prestigious MacDowell Colony. Michael also recieved a fellowship with the ABC/DGA New Talent Television Directing Program.

His second feature film "West 32nd" premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film made its international premiere at the Pusan International Film Festival where Michael received the Overseas Korea Foundation Filmmaker Award. The film is available on DVD through Pathfinder Pictures.

Michael's latest feature "Knots" made its world premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival.

2. Narhee Ahn

Writer | Purity

Narhee Ahn is a writer and director, known for Purity (2006), The Unbidden (2016) and It's Asian Men! (2016).

3. Steve Akahoshi

Actor | Fatal Beauty

To be a "series regular" on a primetime network television show is a plateau of success to which many actors aspire. For Steven, who starred as "Doc" Randy Matsuda on the critically acclaimed Emmy Award winning CBS Vietnam drama series Tour of Duty (1987) (1987-88; and currently in syndication on ...

4. Michael Aki

Actor | Strangers

Michael Aki is an actor and director, known for Strangers (2012), Sunsets (1997) and Daylight Savings (2012).

5. Francisco Aliwalas

Cinematographer | Blue Hour

Francisco Aliwalas is a cinematographer and director, known for Blue Hour (2005), Disoriented (1997) and 5 Takes: Pacific Rim (2006).

6. Gregg Araki

Writer | Mysterious Skin

Gregg Araki was born on December 17, 1959 in Los Angeles, California, USA. He is a writer and director, known for Mysterious Skin (2004), White Bird in a Blizzard (2014) and Kaboom (2010).

7. Bernard Badion

Writer | Sounds We Have No Letters For

Bernard Badion was born on August 16, 1983 in Santa Clara, California, USA as Bernard Vallejo Badion. He is a writer and director, known for Sounds We Have No Letters For (2015), Leave It to Chance (2005) and Aswang Next Door (2017).

8. Darshan Bhagat

Actor | Karma Local

Darshan Bhagat is an actor and director, known for Karma Local (1998), No Thanks Not Sure Yes Please (1993) and A Night in New York (2002).

9. Ramin Bahrani

Producer | 99 Homes

Ramin Bahrani was born on March 20, 1975 in North Carolina, USA. He is a producer, known for 99 Homes (2014), Fahrenheit 451 (2018) and Chop Shop (2007).

11. Dante Basco

Actor | Hook

Dante Basco, born 29th of August 1975 in Pittsburg, California, is an actor and producer, perhaps best known as the voice-actor for Prince Zuko in the beloved animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Also known for his roles in the live-action films Hook (1991), But I'm a Cheerleader (1999) and ...

12. Darion Basco

Actor | Cesar Chavez

Darion Basco was born on March 26, 1974 in Pittsburg, California, USA. He is an actor and producer, known for Cesar Chavez (2014), The Debut (2000) and The Brady Bunch Movie (1995).

13. Derek Basco

Actor | The First Purge

Derek Basco was born on August 29, 1970 in Pittsburg, California, USA. He is an actor and producer, known for The First Purge (2018), Six Days Seven Nights (1998) and This Is 40 (2012). He is married to Emily Cho.

14. Dionysio Basco

Actor | Dahmer

Dionysio Basco was born on January 29, 1977 in Pittsburg, California, USA. He is an actor and director, known for Dahmer (2002), The Head Thieves (2018) and The Fabulous Filipino Brothers.

15. Prashant Bhargava

Director | Patang

Prashant Bhargava was born on January 12, 1973 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Prashant Kumar Bhargava. He was a director and editor, known for Patang (2011), Sangam (2004) and Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi (2014). He died on May 16, 2015 in New York City, New York, USA.

Prashant was born and raised on the southside of Chicago - land where them Cadillacs got big rims, the chicken is better known as Harold's and the beats hit hard like the wind.

Prashant began his career as a graffiti artist tagging up on desks in seventh grade. His favorites include Hanuman, films by Terence Malick and deep dish pizza. He is an international science fair award winner and surprising agile on the dance floor. He can also cook. He was last seen fishing for his golf ball on the 11th hole.

Prashant studied computer science at Cornell University and theatrical directing at The Actors Studio MFA program.

Seven years in the making, his feature film debut PATANG premiered this year at the Berlin Film Festival and in the World Narrative Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival and was the Best Narrative Feature at the Hawaii Film Festival and at the DC APA Film Festival.

His short film SANGAM premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, garnering several awards and distinctions. The film was distributed by Film Movement and MUBI and broadcast on Arte/ZDF, The Sundance Channel and PBS.

For the past fifteen years, Prashant has directed and designed commercials, promos, title sequences and music videos for such clients as HBO, IBM, PBS and Accenture.

16. Roddy Bogawa

Director | Some Divine Wind

Roddy Bogawa is a director, known for Some Divine Wind (1992), Taken by Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis (2013) and Junk (1999).

17. James Boss

Actor | Eternity

James Boss, eldest of two children, was born in Hollywood, California and raised in Hacienda Heights, California by Korean American parents Sun Kim, and Young W. Kim.

He began martial arts training at the age of 6. Upon graduating high school, he attended The Art Institute of Los Angeles studying ...

18. Q. Allan Brocka

Writer | Rick & Steve the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World

Q. Allan Brocka's work as a director and screenwriter spans a range of genres in television, animation, live action, documentary, commercial, and feature film. He is best known as the creator, director and showrunner of Rick & Steve the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World, a prime time animated ...

19. Tony Bui

Writer | Ba mùa

Arrived in US at age 2, and raised in Sunnyvale, California. His father ran a video store and he soon was inspired to make his own Super8 movies. Studied film at LA's Loyola Marymount University. Visited Vietnamese several times before making first short film, Yellow Lotus (1995). His 2nd film, ...

20. Timothy Linh Bui

Writer | Green Dragon

Timothy Linh Bui was born on April 13, 1970 in Saigon, Vietnam. He is a producer and writer, known for Green Dragon (2001), Powder Blue (2009) and Live Fast, Die Laughing.

21. Eric Byler

Director | Charlotte Sometimes

Chinese American writer/director Eric Byler grew up in California, Virginia, and Hawaii before graduating from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Eric was nominated for a 2003 Independent Spirit Award for his debut feature film Charlotte Sometimes (2002), which also earned nominations for producer ...

22. Gene Cajayon

Producer | The Debut

Attended University California Irvine

23. Christopher Ad. Castillo

Writer | In Darkness We Live

Christopher Ad. Castillo was a writer and director, known for In Darkness We Live (2014), The Diplomat Hotel (2013) and The Sky Is Falling (2002). He died on August 18, 2018 in Quezon City, Philippines.

25. Jay Chandrasekhar

Director | Super Troopers

Jay Chandrasekhar was born on April 9, 1968 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Jayanth Jumbulingam Chandrasekhar. He is a director and actor, known for Super Troopers (2001), Club Dread (2004) and Beerfest (2006). He has been married to Susan Clarke since September 18, 2005. They have three children.

27. Huy Chheng

Producer | Sweet and Sour

This shy Angelino grew up in the outskirts of Chinatown, Echo Park. As a child, Huy Chheng knew she wanted to pursue arts, which developed into a passion for filmmaking after taking her first course at the University of California, Los Angeles. Since then, filmmaking and finding funding for her ...

28. Timothy A. Chey

Producer | Fakin' Da Funk

One of the faith-based writer/directors in the U.S. of over 13 feature films, Timothy Chey, has an extraordinary number of commercially successful and critically acclaimed credits to his name, including 'Freedom' (Cuba Gooding, Jr., Sharon Leal, William Sadler), 'David and Goliath' (Jerry Sokolosky...

29. Adam Chin

Director | Maladaptive

Adam Chin is a director and writer, known for Maladaptive (2005), Graham's Tales (2014) and The Cleaning Lady (2005).

31. Tanuj Chopra

Director | Grin

Completed his Master of Fine Arts in Film degree from the Columbia University School of the Arts in New York City (May 2007).

32. Jon M. Chu

Director | G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Jon is an alumni of the USC School of Cinema-Television. There, he won the Princess Grace Award, the Dore Schary Award presented by the Anti-Defamation league, the Jack Nicholson directing award, and recognized as an honoree for the IFP/West program Project: Involve.

After making his student short, ...

33. Tze Chun

Writer | Children of Invention

Short film "Windowbreaker" played in 2007 Sundance Film Festival.

34. Lee Isaac Chung

Director | Munyurangabo

A son of Korean immigrants, Chung grew up on a small farm in rural Arkansas and then attended Yale University, majoring in Ecology. During his senior year, Chung dropped his plans for medical school and turned to filmmaking. He studied film at the University of Utah, earning his MFA in 2004.


35. Juwan Chung

Director | Baby

Juwan Chung is a director and writer, known for Baby (2007) and Cake (2004).

36. Mark Decena

Writer | Dopamine

Mark Decena is a writer and director, known for Dopamine (2003), e2: The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious (2006) and The Light (2005).

37. Neill Dela Llana

Sound_department | Cavite

Neill Dela Llana is known for his work on Cavite (2005) and 2006 Independent Spirit Awards (2006).

39. Dayyan Eng

Producer | Du zi deng dai

Dayyan Eng (known as Wu Shixian to audiences in China) is a Chinese-American writer-director with a uniquely international background. Growing up in several countries, he studied film at the University of Washington and transferred to the prestigious Beijing Film Academy where he completed ...

40. Patrick Epino

Producer | Awesome Asian Bad Guys

Patrick Epino is a producer and director, known for Awesome Asian Bad Guys (2014), Mr. Sadman (2009) and Void (2005).

41. Cary Joji Fukunaga

Producer | Beasts of No Nation

Cary Joji Fukunaga was born on July 10, 1977 in Oakland, California, USA. He is a producer and director, known for Beasts of No Nation (2015), Sin Nombre (2009) and It (2017).

42. Ian Gamazon

Director | Cavite

Ian Gamazon is a director and writer, known for Cavite (2005), Living in Seduced Circumstances (2011) and Freud's 2nd Law (2001).

43. Nisha Ganatra

Director | Chutney Popcorn

Nisha Ganatra was born in Vancouver, Canada, and raised in California in a traditional household.

Ganatra is a graduate of the prestigious New York University (NYU) film school, where she studied with Martin Scorsese, Barbara Kopple, and Spike Lee. Chutney Popcorn (1999) was her feature film debut. ...

44. Stephane Gauger

Cinematographer | Cú và chim se se

Stephane Gauger was born on August 30, 1969 in Saigon, Vietnam. He is known for his work on Owl and the Sparrow (2007), Saigon Electric (2011) and Six-String Samurai (1998). He died on January 11, 2018.

45. Patricio Ginelsa Jr.

Director | Lumpia with a Vengeance

Patricio is originally from Daly City, California, where he started making video movies with his neighborhood at the age of 13. After graduating with a BA in cinema production at the University of Southern California, Patricio became the Associate Producer of the award-winning film The Debut" and ...

46. Cellin Gluck

Director | Sugihara Chiune

Cellin Gluck is a director known for Persona Non Grata (2015), Oba The Last Samurai (2011), Sideways - aka Saidoweizu (2009) and Lorelei (2005). As an assistant director/production manager he is known for Godzilla (2014), Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Transformers (2007), Remember the Titans (2000) ...

47. Michael Goi

Cinematographer | Mary

Michael Goi, ASC, ISC

Michael Goi, ASC, ISC was born and raised in Chicago, where he established himself in the fields of documentaries and commercials. As a cinematographer, he has compiled over 70 narrative credits, including films for cinema and television screens such as "American Horror Story,"...

48. Philip Kan Gotanda

Director | Life Tastes Good

Philip Kan Gotanda is a director and actor, known for Life Tastes Good (1999), The Kiss (1993) and The Wash (1988).

51. Steven Hahn

Director | Pretty to Think So

Steven Hahn is a director and actor, known for Pretty to Think So (2008) and Party (2006).

52. Gregory Hatanaka

Producer | Choke

Gregory Hatanaka is a film distributor and producer.

Hatanaka has overseen and/or been affiliated with the distribution of over 200 films including: John Woo's iconic film The Killer starring Chow Yun-Fat; The Coen Brothers' Blood Simple; Until the Night starring Norman Reedus; The Stranger, directed...

53. Woody Han

Director | Link

Woody Han is known for his work on Link (2011), Asian Pride Porn (2000) and Mouse (1997).

54. Kayo Hatta

Director | Picture Bride

Kayo Hatta was born on March 18, 1958 in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA as Lori Kayo Hatta. She was a director and writer, known for Picture Bride (1994), Fishbowl (2005) and Independent Lens (1999). She died on July 20, 2005 in San Diego, California, USA.

55. James Wong Howe

Cinematographer | Seconds

Master cinematographer James Wong Howe, whose career stretched from silent pictures through the mid-'70s, was born Wong Tung Jim in Canton (now Guangzhou), China, on August 28, 1899, the son of Wong How. His father emigrated to America the year James was born, settling in Pasco, Washington, where ...

56. George Huang

Director | Swimming with Sharks

Writing the screenplay based on the comic book "Madman" by Mike Allred. The movie is to be co-directed by Allred and Huang's friend, Robert Rodriguez.

57. James Huang

Actor | Starting from Scratch

James Huang resides in Melbourne, Australia where he teaches acting with his company the Hollywood Actor Lab and works as a filmmaker with his production company Yellow Sun Films. His feature film 'Starting from Scratch' was acquired and distributed worldwide after a successful film festival run. ...

58. Tom Huang

Writer | Find Me

Tom Huang is a writer and director, known for Find Me (2018), Why Am I Doing This? (2009) and Unusual Targets (2014).

60. Cecilia Hyoun

Editorial_department | Vanilla Sky

61. Sara Hyoun

Visual_effects | The Chronicles of Riddick

Sara Hyoun is known for her work on The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), Con Air (1997) and Score! (2002).

62. Diana Lee Inosanto

Actress | The Mandalorian

Diana Lee Inosanto is the daughter of martial arts legend, Dan and his wife Sue Inosanto. She is also known as the goddaughter of global icon, the late Bruce Lee (hence, Diana Lee). As an American actress, director, writer, martial artist, stuntwoman, and children's book author, Diana paved a way ...

63. Amyn Kaderali

Director | Little Man

Amyn grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and got his bachelor's degree at UCLA before finding his sweet spot in New York. He got his MFA in Directing at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program, where he made his mark with "Little Man," which garnered awards worldwide, including Best ...

64. Joseph Kahn

Director | Bodied

Joseph Kahn was born on October 12, 1972. He is a director and cinematographer, known for Bodied (2017), Detention (2011) and Torque (2004).

65. Nikhil Kamkolkar

Director | Leaving Priyanka

Nikhil Kamkolkar was born in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. He is a director and writer, known for Leaving Priyanka (2020), Currency (2018) and Ghost Source Zero (2017).

66. So Yong Kim

Director | Na-moo-eobs-neun san

She originally comes from Korea but also grew up in Los Angeles, USA.

68. Chil Kong

Producer | The Mikado Project

Chil Kong is an actor and producer, known for The Mikado Project (2010), The Gambler (2014) and The Oh-Malleys in Daddy's My Mercedes (2008). He has been married to Erin Quill since October 8, 2005.

70. Jackie Kong

Director | Night Patrol

Jackie Kong is a director, producer, and screenwriter known for irreverent comedy and over-the-top horror films. In 1983, she made her feature film debut as director with the low-budget drive-in horror film The Being, which starred Martin Landau and Jose Ferrer. In 1984, she followed up by ...

71. Shawn Ku

Director | Beautiful Boy

Shawn Ku is a producer and director, known for Beautiful Boy (2010), Feel the Beat (2020) and Pretty Dead Girl (2004).

72. Nathan Kurosawa

Director | The Ride

Nathan Kurosawa was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. He is a director and writer, known for The Ride (2003), Kadomatsu (1996) and 6B: An Anthology of Hawaii Films (2011).

73. Karyn Kusama

Director | The Invitation

Karyn Kusama was born on March 21, 1968 in Brooklyn, New York, USA as Karyn K. Kusama. She is a director and producer, known for The Invitation (2015), Girlfight (2000) and Æon Flux (2005).

74. Johnny Kwon

Director | Always Be Boyz

Johnny Kwon is an actor and director, known for Always Be Boyz (2008), Master of Divinity (2019) and Blue Fire (2002).

75. Stan Lai

Writer | An lian tao hua yuan

Born in Washington D.C., he holds a PhD in Dramatic Art from Berkeley. He taught at Taiwan's National Institute of the Arts and helped established the Graduate School of Theatre. Founder of renowned theatrical troupe, Performance Workshop, he is one of Taiwan's leading playwright and theatre ...

77. Benson Lee

Director | Seoul Searching

Benson Lee is a director and producer, known for Seoul Searching (2015), Miss Monday (1998) and Planet B-Boy (2007).

78. Chris Chan Lee

Director | Yellow

Chris Chan Lee is an editor and director, known for Yellow (1997), Undoing (2006) and Jasmine (2015).

79. Dennis Lee

Writer | Jesus Henry Christ

Dennis Lee is a writer and producer, known for Jesus Henry Christ (2003), Jesus Henry Christ (2011) and Imperium (2016).

80. Grace Lee

Producer | American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee was born in Columbia, Missouri, USA. She is a producer and director, known for American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (2013), Barrier Device (2002) and Janeane from Des Moines (2012).

81. Jieho Lee

Writer | The Air I Breathe

Jieho Lee was born in 1973 in New York City, New York, USA. He is a writer and director, known for The Air I Breathe (2007), A Nursery Tale (1999) and Kane & Lynch. He has been married to Min Kim since April 29, 2006.

82. John H. Lee

Director | Nae meorisokui jiwoogae

John H. Lee's films are imbued with top-notch cosmopolitan sensibilities. He has become one of the most sought after directors in all of East Asia and is a member of the rising generation of international directors from the region, having both a distinct voice as an auteur and wide commercial ...

83. Fay Ann Lee

Actress | East Broadway

Fay Ann Lee is an actress and writer, known for Falling for Grace (2006), Set It Up (2018) and The Betrothed (2018).

84. Georgia Lee

Producer | The Expanse

Award-winning writer/director Georgia Lee has directed five short films. Her first two shorts, "The Big Dish" (B&W, 16 mm 1998), and "Bloom" (Color, 16 mm, 1999), have shown at numerous film festivals. "Bloom" was also acquired and broadcast by PBS as part of the Reel New York series. In 2000 she ...

85. Abraham Lim

Actor | The Boys

Abraham Lim is known for his work on The Boys (2019), Clickbait (2021) and The Fix (2019).

86. Justin Lin

Producer | Furious 6

Justin Lin is a Taiwanese-American film director whose films have grossed $2 billion worldwide. He is best known for his work on Better Luck Tomorrow, The Fast and the Furious 3-6 and Star Trek Beyond. He is also known for his work on television shows like Community and the second season of True ...

88. Dom Magwili

Actor | 50 First Dates

Dom Magwili was born on December 8, 1949 in Alameda, California, USA as Domingo Albert Magwili. He is an actor and director, known for 50 First Dates (2004), American Streetfighter (1992) and Much Adobo About Nothing (1999). He is married to Saachiko.

89. Edward J. Mallillin

Producer | Brown Soup Thing

Edward J. Mallillin is a producer and actor, known for Brown Soup Thing (2008), Flipped Switch (2008) and Anniversary (2014).

90. Steven E. Mallorca

Director | Slow Jam King

Steven E. Mallorca is a director and cinematographer, known for Slow Jam King (2004), A Peloton of One (2020) and Three to Five & Glassy (2007).

92. Rico Martinez

Producer | Desperate

Rico Martinez is a producer and director, known for Desperate (1991), Angels! (2000) and Damage Control (2005).

93. Paul Mayeda Berges

Writer | Bend It Like Beckham

Paul Mayeda Berges was born on September 11, 1968 in Los Angeles, California, USA. He is a writer and producer, known for Bend It Like Beckham (2002), What's Cooking? (2000) and Paris, je t'aime (2006). He is married to Gurinder Chadha. They have two children.

94. Anurag Mehta

Writer | American Chai

Anurag Mehta is a producer and writer, known for American Chai (2001), The Trident (2007) and Here I Am.

95. H.P. Mendoza

Writer | Bitter Melon

H.P. Mendoza was born on March 13, 1977 in San Francisco, California, USA. He is a writer and composer, known for Bitter Melon (2018), I Am a Ghost (2012) and Colma: The Musical (2006).

96. Brian A. Metcalf

Producer | Adverse

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Brian A. Metcalf (WGA, PGA, DGA, VES, ASCAP) is an Asian-American, award-winning filmmaker (writer, director, producer and actor). His most recent film, Adverse, is a drama/thriller that he produced, directed, wrote and acted in and stars a large ensemble cast with ...

97. Anne Misawa

Producer | Waking Mele

She has studied filmmaking at the University of Southern California's Graduate Film and Television Program and also has a previous Master's degree in Creative Writing from New York University and has studied at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Naropa Institute with its ...

98. Ron Morales

Camera_department | Graceland

99. Jon Moritsugu

Director | Scumrock

Jon Moritsugu was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and graduated from Brown University in 1987. As a writer and director, he has created 7 features and numerous shorts, music videos, and commercials which have screened at MOMA, the Guggenheim, Whitney, Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, Rotterdam, and more. He is a...

100. Jimmy T. Murakami

Director | Breath

Jimmy T. Murakami was born on June 5, 1933 in San Jose, California, USA as Teruaki Murakami. He is known for his work on Breath (1967), Heavy Metal (1981) and When the Wind Blows (1986). He was married to Ethna Murakami. He died on February 16, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland.

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