April 2023 News

AFI Alumni Win Big at 95th Academy Awards®

We are excited to announce that NAVALNY producer Diane Becker (AFI Class of 2006) won the Oscar® for Best Documentary Feature at the 95th Academy Awards® on March 12. Please join us in celebrating the following award-winning projects also featuring the incredible work of AFI Alumni.


ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT – Winner of Best International Feature Film, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score and Best Production Design

  • Daniel Dreifuss (AFI Class of 2007), producer
  • Thorsten Schumacher (AFI Class of 2001), executive producer

EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE – Winner of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Editing

  • Zoe Mao (AFI Class of 2017), Assistant Editor
  • Aashish D’Mello (AFI Class of 2017), Assistant Editor
  • Todd Makurath (AFI Class of 2005), executive producer

THE WHALE – Winner of Best Actor, Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Darren Aronofsky (AFI Class of 1992), writer/director
  • Matthew Libatique (AFI Class of 1992), cinematographer



AFI Alumni Score Film Independent Spirit Awards

On March 4, the 2023 Spirit Awards were held, honoring the best in independent filmmaking. Congratulations to John Patton Ford (AFI Class of 2009) who won Best First Screenplay for his dramatic thriller EMILY THE CRIMINAL. Additionally, the Best Feature prize was awarded to EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, which Assistant Editors Zoe Mao and Aashish D’Mello (both AFI Class of 2017) and executive producer Todd Makurath (AFI Class of 2005) all worked on together.



AFI Alumni Honored at SXSW Film Festival

That’s a wrap! The 30th edition of SXSW, one of the largest film and television showcases in the U.S., concluded on March 19 in Austin, TX. Over 40 of our incredible AFI Alumni worked on new projects represented at the festival this year, including several that were recognized with SXSW Grand Jury and Audience Awards.



Remembering Director and AFI Alum Peter Werner

AFI lost a beloved member of the AFI community this week with the passing of TV director and Oscar®-winning filmmaker Peter Werner (AFI Class of 1973) whose AFI thesis film IN THE REGION OF ICE, which he wrote and directed, earned him and Andre R. Guttfreund (AFI Class of 1973) an Academy Award® for Best Live Action Short in 1976. Following his Oscars® win, he served predominantly as a television director, with credits on series including MOONLIGHTING, NASH BRIDGES, THE WONDER YEARS, MEDIUM, JUSTIFIED and many more. In the span of his career, Werner was nominated for four Emmy® Awards and three DGA Awards and won a Peabody Award for NBC’s LBJ: THE EARLY YEARS. Learn more about Peter’s extraordinary life and legacy.



AFI's New DWW+ Guest Artistic Director Shaz Bennett

We’re thrilled to announce that Shaz Bennett (AFI DWW Class of 2012) will serve as AFI DWW+’s new Guest Artistic Director this year. Bennett was a showrunner and executive producer on the final season of QUEEN SUGAR after writing and directing the sixth season. Previously, Bennett – whose other credits include ANIMAL KINGDOM, BILLIONS and BOSCH – was selected as a participant for Ryan Murphy’s HALF program, Sundance Screenwriting Labs and Fox’s Franchise Directing program.



ACE Eddie Winners Announced

Congratulations to the editors behind A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW – Taylor Joy Mason (AFI Class of 2012) and S. Robyn Wilson (AFI Class of 2012) – who took home ACE Eddie Awards for Best Edited Variety Talk/Sketch Show or Special. Additionally, AFI Fellow Jazmin Jamias (AFI Class of 2023) was recognized with the Anne V. Coates Award for Student Editing. Check out the full list of Guild Award winners below.



Ten Movies to Watch to Celebrate Earth Day

A good planet is hard to find – so let’s celebrate it! To honor Earth Day on April 22, AFI is spotlighting films from AFI AWARDS, AFI Lists and AFI Movie Club which explore themes of environmental stewardship, conservation, ecological dystopias and more.



Watch Social Media Branding Seminar

Recently, the AFI Conservatory’s Bridge to the Future program hosted a seminar led by Producing Alum Ashley Hall (AFI Class of 2018) called “In Your Stories: The Science of Social Media for Filmmaking Careers.” If you were unable to attend, you can now watch a recording of the event and learn more about social media branding.



Meet Fellow AFI Alumni on Backlot

Looking for potential collaborators, creative guidance or to mentor other AFI alums in the industry? You can do all of the above and enrich the AFI community on AFI Backlot. Join today!

AFI Emails Available

Would you like an AFI email address to make it easier to contact other Alumni? Or are you a recent graduate who requires assistance with your AFI Alumni Account? If so, please contact our Alumni Affairs team today.

In Other AFI News…




The Sundance Institute unveiled the participants for the second edition of the Trans Possibilities Intensive, including AFI Alum Malik Ever (AFI Class of 2022).


Film Independent revealed the six Fellows and their projects for the 2023 Amplifier Fellowship, including Philiane Phang (AFI DWW Class of 2015).


The Pan African Film and Arts Festival announced their winners, including WE WERE MEANT TO which was awarded Best Short Narrative. The film was directed/co-written by Tari Wariebi (AFI Class of 2020), co-written by Christina Kingsleigh Licud (AFI Class of 2019), produced by Jordan Tyner (AFI Class of 2020), shot by cinematographer Veronica Bouza (AFI Class of 2020), edited by Luodawei Xiao (AFI Class of 2020) with production design by Rhea Solanki (AFI Class of 2020).


ABC News’ SOUL OF A NATION: Andra Day Performance was awarded the Outstanding Lighting Direction and Scenic Design at the News and Documentary Emmy® Awards. Derek Rittenhouse (AFI Class of 2012) served as Lighting Director on the project while director James Adolphus (AFI Class of 2011) and cinematographer Michael Pessah (AFI Class of 2004) both worked on the project.




Production Designer Elena Albanese (AFI Class of 2012) has signed on to the film COLD STORAGE, which will star Sosie Bacon, Joe Keery, Liam Neeson and Georgina Campbell. Oscar® nominee Lesley Manville is in final talks to join the cast.


Writer/director/executive producer Drake Doremus (AFI Class of 2005) is developing an adaptation of “One Day in December” for Netflix with actress Lucy Boynton set to star as well as executive produce.


AFI Alum John Patton Ford (AFI Class of 2009) is set to write and direct HUNTINGTON for StudioCanal and Blueprint Pictures.


Netflix has ordered the limited series ZERO DAY with Robert De Niro set to star in his first regular television role. All six episodes of the series will be directed and executive produced by Lesli Linka Glatter (AFI DWW Class of 1982).


Brady Hallongren (AFI Class of 2010) is set to produce the indie drama WHEN WE GET THERE which will star Alfred Molina.


Writer Brad Ingelsby (AFI Class of 2005) has set his next project ECHO VALLEY, which will star Academy Award® winner Julianne Moore and Emmy® nominee Sydney Sweeney.


Amazon Studios has hired AFI Alum Jeremy Podeswa (AFI Class of 1984) to direct the pilot of the upcoming limited series BLADE RUNNER 2099, which will be executive produced by original BLADE RUNNER (1982) director Ridley Scott.


Amazon Studios is developing an adaptation of THE BETTER LIAR, which will be written and executive produced by Raelle Tucker (AFI DWW Class of 2003) with Daisy Ridley attached to star and also executive produce.


Jordan Willcox (AFI Class of 2020) will produce STEALING PULP FICTION, which is set to star Cazzie David, Jon Rudnitsky, Karan Soni, Oliver Cooper, Taylor Hill and Jason Alexander.




Film Independent revealed the three filmmakers who will participate in its inaugural Imaginar Producers Residency, including AFI Alum Nicolas Blanco (AFI Class of 2021).


The Black List and Women in Film announced their participants for their 2023 Episodic Lab, including AFI Alum Deanna Esposito (AFI Class of 2022) for her screenplay “Dissent.”


Beta Group announced that Eva Husson’s (AFI Class of 2003) “Instagods” script has been selected for Series Mania, a mentoring program for filmmakers making their TV creator debut. The inaugural edition of the program concluded with the announcement of the three winning teams on March 22 at the Series Mania Forum, which runs March 21-23.


NALIP Latino Lens Narrative Short Film Incubator for Women of Color has selected its class of 2022, including Jhanvi Motla (AFI Class of 2017).




Ari Aster (AFI Class of 2010) was interviewed by the New York Times ahead of his new A24 film BEAU IS AFRAID, starring Joaquin Phoenix, being released later this month. Fellow AFI Alum Pawel Pogorzelski (AFI Class of 2010) served as the cinematographer on the feature.


Charlotte Brändström (AFI Class of 1982) will serve as a lead director and a co-executive producer on the second season THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RINGS OF POWER, which just added actors Ciarán Hinds, Rory Kinnear and Tanya Moodie to the cast.


IFC released the first trailer for MONICA, starring Trace Lysette and Patricia Clarkson. The film is produced by AFI Alum Christina Dow (AFI Class of 2015) and also played at AFI FEST 2022.


Eva Longoria’s upcoming movie FLAMIN’ HOT will debut simultaneously on Disney+ and Hulu, marking the first feature film to debut on both platforms. The film’s editor Kayla Emter (AFI Class of 2008) and First Assistant Editor Selinda Zhou (AFI Class of 2018) are both Alumni of the AFI Conservatory.


MSNBC Films released the first trailer for PERIODICAL, which was shot by cinematographer and AFI Alum Lauren Guiteras (AFI Class of 2017). The film recently had its World Premiere in the Documentary Spotlight section at SXSW.


Lionsgate released the first clip of SCRAMBLED ahead of its premiere at SXSW. AFI Alumni Jonathan Levine (AFI Class of 2004) and Jordan Backhus (AFI Class of 2020) both produced the film.


The Wrap interviewed director Yoko Okumara (AFI Class of 2014) about her feature-length directorial debut UNSEEN from Blumhouse Productions.


Variety reviewed Ben Affleck’s fifth feature AIR about the rise of Nike through its partnership with basketball legend Michael Jordan, calling it “a funny, touching Cinderella story about how the third-place sneaker brand wished upon a star, and how that man — and his mother — were smart enough to know their value.” Cinematographer Robert Richardson (AFI Class of 1979) lensed the film while Kelsi Drew Howard (AFI Class of 2021) served as an Art Department Production Assistant on the project.


Magnolia Pictures dropped the first trailer for MASTER GARDENER, starring Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver and Quintessa Swindell and written/directed by AFI Alum Paul Schrader (AFI Class of 1969).


A24 released the first trailer to Nicole Holofcener’s YOU HURT MY FEELINGS, which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and was shot by AFI Alum Jeffrey Waldron (AFI Class of 2005).


AMC released a new trailer for LUCKY HANK, starring Bob Odenkirk. Jude Weng (AFI DWW Class of 1998) served as a director on the new series.




The Hollywood Reporter profiled director/producer/cinematographer James Adolphus (AFI Class of 2011) ahead of the SXSW premiere of his new documentary BEING MARY TYLER MOORE is debuting.


Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival announces its Guest Judges for D2D Round 6, including Karole Armitage (AFI DWW Class of 1991), the Artistic Director of New York-based company Armitage Gone! Dance. The Executive Director of Dance to Dance is a fellow Alum – Sarah Elgart (AFI DWW Class of 1991).


THE TRILOGY OF THISVI, written and directed by Fay Lellios (AFI Class of 1998), took home the Best Fiction Feature Film: Acting Code Awards at the London Greek Film Festival.


Doc10 announced its lineup, including STILL: A MICHAEL J. FOX MOVIE, which was produced by Annetta Marion (AFI DWW Class of 2005).




In honor of Pi Day, Indiewire interviewed writer/director Darren Aronofsky (AFI Class of 1992) about his debut feature film PI which was recently restored and rereleased in IMAX for its 25th anniversary. Cinematographer Matthew Libatique (AFI Class of 1992) also worked on the film.


Variety profiled the Oscar® contenders for Live Action Shorts, including IVALU, produced by AFI Alum Kim Magnusson (AFI Class of 1991).


Maria Ripoll’s (AFI Class of 1990) production company Cahuenga Filmmakers and El Estudio have joined with Sony Pictures International Productions to launch The Love Collection, a series of romantic comedy features which will be written and helmed by women.


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