August 2021 News

Congratulations on Your Emmy® Nominations!

On July 13, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced this year’s Emmy® Award nominations. We’re so proud of all of the AFI alumni who were recognized this year for their inspiring achievements. Check out the full list below and then tune in September 19 to congratulate the winners!



The AFI Conservatory is Ranked One of the Best Film Schools by MovieMaker Magazine

Recently, MovieMaker Magazine announced their list of the Best Film Schools in the U.S. and Canada, including the AFI Conservatory! MARE OF EASTTOWN creator and AFI alum Brad Ingelsby (AFI Class of 2005) also spoke to the publication about his experience at the Conservatory.



AFI Names Karen Schwartzman as Senior Director of Innovative Programs

The AFI Conservatory is excited to announce the appointment of Karen Schwartzman as Senior Director, Innovative Programs. In her new role, Schwartzman will develop short-term programming to support a variety of initiatives, including curriculum-building pilot programs, as well as new and existing community outreach and inclusivity programs for underrepresented storytellers, and oversee program management and strategic planning. The initiatives will complement AFI’s MFA curriculum, as well as create more inclusive programming to champion greater cultural diversity and inclusion in storytelling.



AFI and AGBO Announce Christina Kelly Holmes as the 2021 Development Grant Recipient

Christina Kelly Holmes (AFI Class of 2020) was recently revealed as this year’s recipient of the AGBO/AFI Conservatory Development Grant for her one-hour drama, FOR WOMEN ONLY. Learn more about her remarkable work and this incredible opportunity below.



AFI Alumni Win GSA BAFTA Student Awards

BAFTA LA announced the winners of the 2021 GSA BAFTA Student Awards, including writer/director Olivia Hang Zhou (AFI Class of 2020) for her project APART TOGETHER. The following AFI alumni also worked on the film:


  • Blanca Balleste Perez de Olaguer (AFI Class of 2020), producer
  • Lucia Zavarcikova (AFI Class of 2020), cinematographer
  • Alexander Scarfe (AFI Class of 2020), editor
  • Jess Kohs (AFI Class of 2017), writer
  • Dae Hyun Kim (AFI Class of 2020), steady cam operator
  • Nick Vera (AFI Class of 2020), 1st AC
  • Lily Judge (AFI Class of 2020), assistant editor
  • Moritz Rautenberg (AFI Class of 2020), Gaffer
  • Haley Min Young Kreofsky (AFI Class of 2020), Key Grip
  • Amanda Ferrarese (AFI Class of 2020), Key Grip



Congratulations Duran Jones and Victor Gabriel!

AFI is excited to announce that Duran Jones (AFI Class of 2021) was selected as one of this year’s Sundance Producers Lab and Summit fellows for the project THE INCREDIBLE HEIST OF HALLELUJAH JONES, which was written and directed by fellow alum Victor Gabriel (AFI Class of 2020).



Connect with Fellow AFI Alumni on Backlot!

Looking for mentorship, creative collaborators, or to give other AFI alums the chance to advance in the industry? You can do all this and more on AFI Backlot. Join today!



AFI Emails Still Available

AFI alumni asked, and we have answered! You can still receive an AFI email address to make it easier to contact other alumni. If interested, please reach out to Alumni Affairs at

In Other AFI News…




ViacomCBS announced the participants for its ViewFinder Emerging Directors Program, including DWW alum Parisa Barani (AFI DWW Class of 2019).


The British Film Institute kicked off its U.K. Global Screen Fund, awarding £32,930 ($45,435) to MOTHERING SUNDAY, written and directed by Eva Husson (AFI Class of 2003).


Mel Jones (AFI Class of 2010) has been selected as one of six recipients of the inaugural Amplifier Fellowship. Courtesy of Film Independent, the fellowship is focused on launching the filmmaking careers of Black artists, providing each Fellow with a $30,000 grant as well as mentorship.


WarnerMedia announced its finalists for its inaugural Access Writers Program, which supports writers from underrepresented communities in the U.S. (entry-level) and in Canada (mid-level). One of the participants selected is AFI alum Andrew Burrows-Trotman (AFI Class of 2010).




The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced its new members, including writer Brad Ingelsby (AFI Class of 2005) and editor and AFI Faculty Matthew Friedman.


AFI alum Sara Nassim (AFI Class of 2015) was selected as one of Variety’s 10 Producers to Watch.




Ari Aster (AFI Class of 2010) is set to executive produce an untitled horror feature under his new Square Peg banner, written by Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle winning playwright Michael R. Jackson.


Director/co-writer Jaclyn Bethany and co-writer Sofia Drummond-Moore (both AFI Class of 2018) revealed their new film THE INVISIBLE GIRL, which they are shopping at Cannes.


Hanelle Culpepper (AFI DWW Class of 2002) was hired by Amazon Studios to direct the pilot for ANANSI BOYS, a limited series adapted from a Neil Gaiman fantasy novel.


AFI alum Autumn Durald (AFI Class of 2009) will shoot Ryan Coogler’s BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Durald previously served as cinematographer on all six episodes of LOKI.


Sam Esmail (AFI Class of 2004) is developing “The American Throne” as part of his overall development deal at NBCUniversal’s Universal Content Productions. The series will depict an alternative history of contemporary America.


Apple hired alum Siân Heder (AFI DWW Class of 2005) to write and direct Judy Heumann’s Memoir ‘Being Heumann.”


Arkasha Stevenson (AFI Class of 2015) signed on to direct the first episode of the Netflix series BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR, starring Rosa Salazar and Catherine Keener.




Neon picked up Director’s Fortnight winner A CHIARA, edited by AFI alum Affonso Goncalves (AFI Class of 1993).


Netflix picked up WINDFALL, directed by Charlie McDowell (AFI Class of 2006) and written by Justin Lader (AFI Class of 2008) – the third feature they’ve collaborated on together.




The Hollywood Reporter reviewed LAMB at Cannes, calling out, “the uncanny animal performances and the skill of DP Eli Arenson [AFI Class of 2015] at capturing them in what appear to be attitudes of silent indignation.”


Director Andrea Arnold (AFI Class of 1991), whose documentary film COW premiered at Cannes, talked about the personal nature of her passion project with The New York Times.


MOTHERING SUNDAY debuted in Cannes to rave reviews for director Eva Husson (AFI Class of 2003), Deadline referring to her work as “expert.”


Writer/director Christopher Tenzis’ (AFI Class of 2019) short film BIG TOUCH is screening at the Bentonville Festival and was featured in Variety this week.


The Toronto International Film Festival recently revealed their first slate of films. Congratulations to the following AFI alumni and faculty with films in the festival!

  • BELFAST, cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos (AFI Class of 1994)
  • DEAR EVAN HANSEN, set designer Erik Louis Robert (AFI Class of 2014); Visual FX coordinator Michael Chan (AFI Class of 2016); camera operator Brian Outland (AFI Class of 2006) and stage producer Dante Di Loreto (AFI Class of 1991)
  • ALL MY PUNY SORROWS, casting director and AFI Faculty Heidi Levitt (AFI Class of 1987)
  • THE STARLING, art department coordinator Stephanie Nilles (AFI Class of 2017); 1st assistant camera Julie Donovan (AFI Class of 1995) and AFI Faculty and editor Matthew Friedman


The Venice Film Festival also announced their programming lineup, including the following talented AFI alumni:

  • THE CARD COUNTER⁣, director and writer⁣ ⁣Paul Schrader (AFI Class of 1969)
  • DUNE⁣, visual effects producer⁣ Maricel Pagulayan (AFI Class of 1991); First Assistant Editor⁣ ⁣Mary Lukasiewicz (AFI Class of 2012)
  • MA NUIT, writer Francois Choquet (AFI Class of 2006)
  • MONA LISA AND THE BLOOD MOON⁣, cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski (AFI Class of 2010); executive producer Thorsten Schumacher (AFI Class of 2001)
  • VERA DREAMS OF THE SEA⁣, cinematographer Sevdije Kastrati (AFI Class of 2011)




Focus Features released the first trailer of BLUE BAYOU following its World Premiere at Cannes. The film was edited by AFI alum Reynolds Barney (AFI Class of 2016).


Creators and Executive Producers Jonas Bell Pasht and Jonah Bekhor (both AFI Class of 2007) recently released their new Netflix series, HOW TO BECOME A TYRANT. The series has become a global hit since its launch earlier this month landing in the top 10 of Netflix series in 55 countries around the world. Cinematographer John Rutland (AFI Class of 2007) and editor Jeremy Cloe (AFI Class of 2014) also worked on the project.


Co-directors Jacob Paul Bricca and Lisa Molomot (both AFI Class of 1998) have a new documentary called MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY, which is premiering at the Laemmle Glendale on Friday, August 20.


NPR spoke with director and co-writer Jorge Camarena (AFI Class of 2020) about his AFI Conservatory film SPACESHIP, which tells the story of a Latina transwoman in East LA who is on the verge of losing her daughter to child services.


F9, written by AFI alum Daniel Casey (AFI Class of 2007), crossed the $100 million mark in eight days, making it the fastest movie to cross that mark during the pandemic.


SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY scored the number one spot at the box office with a $31.7 million opening. AFI alum Kristen Correll (AFI Class of 2016) worked as a camera operator on the film.


The trailer for Sabrina Doyle’s (AFI Class of 2012) LORELEI has been released. The filmmaking team includes Stephen Paar (AFI Class of 2012), Cinematographer; Daniel Myers (AFI Class of 2013), Editor; Carole McClintock (AFI Class of 2012), Camera op, LA splinter unit; and Scott Ray (AFI Class of 2016), Gaffer, Sacramento and LA unit.


AMERICAN HORROR STORIES, executive produced by AFI alum Brad Falchuk (AFI Class of 1994), announced new additions to the cast this AMERICAN HORROR STORY spinoff, including Matt Bomer and Danny Trejo.


Deadline interviewed creator and writer Brad Ingelsby (AFI Class of 2005) about his hit limited series MARE OF EASTTOWN, which had HBO’s highest-rated finale for a program of its type.


Producer Lee Metzger (AFI Class of 2000) is set to write and direct the podcast, “Strawberry Spring,” based on one of the stories in Stephen King’s classic 1978 collection of short stories “Night Shift.”


New comic series DARK BLOOD, created by LaToya Morgan (AFI Class of 2005), recently debuted. Watch the trailer.


JERUSALEM: CITY OF FAITH AND FURY, which is narrated by Ewan McGregor, premiered on July 18. Writer Frederic Richter and executive producer Jordan Rosenblum (both AFI Class of 2012) both worked on the series.




Bill Duke (AFI Class of 1978) was interviewed by The Miami Herald about his new film NO SUDDEN MOVE, his experience with Hollywood’s gatekeepers and what it means having his film DEEP COVER recognized by The Criterion Collection.


Rodrigo Garcia (AFI Class of 1986) adds author to his list of accomplishments. He has written a memoir telling of the life and death his parents, “A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes: A Son’s Memoir of Gabriel García Márquez and Mercedes Barcha,”  On July 29, Garcia joined the Los Angeles Times Book Club and Times editor Steve Padilla to discuss the memoir.


“How Can Lawyers Help the Music Industry Green Itself and Respond to the Climate Crisis?”, an article by Priscilla J. (“Sally”) Mattison (AFI Class of 1986), was included as a chapter in the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers 2021 publication, Nationalism vs Globalism: Regional and Transnational Legal Issues Reshaping the Entertainment Industry.


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