Age: 31
Notable films: Gimme the Loot (2013)

Leave it to a young white dude to make a film set in the city with young black protagonists that doesn't have any violence or bleakness. No, seriously.

That's precisely what first-time feature filmmaker Adam Leon did with Gimme the Loot, a warm, funny, and charming coming-of-age flick about two Bronx-bred teenage graffiti bombers on a mission to tag up the New York Mets' Home Run Apple, over in Queens. With naturalistic performances and zero artificiality, Leon's debut is a less-raunchy and not-so-sexual Superbad for the projects. And it's also a sign that this native New Yorker has a knack for a different kind of urban realism. —MB