December 2023 News

Let us Know if You Got into Sundance!

The 2024 Sundance Film Festival is right around the corner, and we can’t wait to celebrate your extraordinary accomplishments! If you have a project playing at the festival this year, let us know in the confidential link below. We look forward to sharing your latest work with the AFI community once the official lineup is announced.



Make an End-of-Year Gift to the AFI Conservatory

As 2023 comes to a close, make an end-of-year gift to ensure that the AFI Conservatory can continue to recruit, mentor and train the best filmmakers for generations to come. As a non-profit, we depend on the generosity and commitment of the AFI Alumni community to give back. No matter how large or small, every tax-deductible gift makes a difference. Thank you for your unwavering support!



AFI Welcomes New Equity and Access Manager

This fall, our new Equity and Access Manager, Denise TrimbleSmith, joined the ranks of the American Film Institute. Denise holds a master’s degree in special education, an Associate of Arts degree in American Sign Language interpreting and a bachelor’s degree in history. She will be responsible for organizing and executing innovative diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives across the organization. In addition, she will also serve as the Title IX Coordinator and Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator and will be responsible for ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations. Please join us in welcoming Denise to AFI!

Gotham Award Winners Unveiled

On November 27, the Gotham Film & Media Institute, which champions independent film and media creators, announced this year’s Gotham Award winners. Click below to learn which AFI Conservatory graduates were honored this year!



Disney/AFI Underrepresented Storytellers Initiative Screening and Reception

On November 16, the Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center hosted a screening and reception for the 2023 Disney/AFI Underrepresented Storytellers Initiative. Congratulations to this year’s grant recipients – Razzaaq Boykin, Paige Compton, Blake Pickens and Sophia Youssef, and thank you to everyone who was able to attend and celebrate these remarkable filmmakers!

2023 Screenwriting Showcase

On November 29 AFI hosted the AFI Class of 2023 Screenwriting Showcase which featured different writers sharing their completed feature and television scripts in brief pitches. Thank you to our extraordinarily talented writers and all of you who were able to attend the event. You can now learn more about each writer and their projects below.



Meet Fellow AFI Alumni on Backlot!

Looking for collaborative partners, creative guidance or to mentor other AFI Alumni in the film and television industry? You can do all of the above on AFI Backlot. Join today!



Sign up for an AFI Email

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 feel free to contact Alumni Affairs at

In Other AFI News…




The American Society of Cinematographers is set to honor Steve Fierberg (AFI Class of 1995) with its ASC Career Achievement in Television Award and Amy Vincent (AFI Class of 1991) with its President’s Award for contributions to the Society on March 3.


STILL: A MICHAEL J. FOX MOVIE, produced by AFI Alum Annetta Marion (AFI DWW Class of 2005), won Best Nonfiction Film of 2023 at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards. It took home five awards overall, including Best Director for Davis Guggenheim, Best Narration for Fox, Best Biographical Documentary and Best Editing. James Adolphus (AFI Class film BEING TYLER MARY MOORE also won Best Archival Documentary.


WAFFLES + MOCHI’S RESTAURANT, shot by cinematographer Dominque Martinez (AFI Class of 2005), was nominated for the Children’s & Family Emmy Award® for Best Cinematography.


IndieWire interviewed AFI Alum, director and executive producer Melina Matsoukas (AFI Class of 2005) and creator Kelly Marcel who are the recipients of the 2023 Auteur Award for their series THE CHANGELING.


AFI Alum Bronte Payne (AFI Class of 2017) was named one of the Hollywood Reporter’s 35 rising executives who are 35 and under. Payne works as an executive at Margot Robbie’s LuckyChap Entertainment.


Congratulations to AFI Fellow Hadley Rose and AFI Alum Robert Ian Simpson (AFI Class of 2007) for being named 2023 ScreenCraft Animation Competition finalists this year!


Congratulations to DWW+ alum Michelle Steffes (AFI DWW Class of 2006) who won the Austin Film Festival Audience Award for her feature FOR WHEN YOU GET LOST.


The AFI thesis film LA BRUJA, written/directed by Alex Villarreal and co-written by Claudia Rivera-Vazquez (both AFI Class of 2022), won the Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Today Audience Award for Best Short at the Hola Mexico Film Festival. Villarreal was interviewed in People en Espanol about the recognition.


THE ZONE OF INTEREST, produced by James Wilson (AFI Class of 1991), was nominated for Best European Film at the 36th European Film Awards which will take place on December 9 in Berlin.




Freeform is in early development on a new drama series called RUSH, which is set to be directed by AFI DWW Alum Alexis Ostrander (AFI DWW Class of 2014).


Filmmaker John Patton Ford (AFI Class of 2009) is set to write and direct an untitled drama for Netflix centered on a mysterious Union spy during the Civil War.




Variety recently hosted their first-ever Inclusion Gathering “featuring conversations that explore how the entertainment industry is developing and producing storytelling that features characters with disabilities and storylines that tie into the disability community.” Guest speakers included director and Disability Activist Ashley Eakin (AFI DWW Class of 2020).




Vertical has acquired the North American distribution rights to BREAKWATER. The film is written and directed by James Rowe (AFI Class of 1998), shot by cinematographer Kai Krause (AFI Class of 2015) and produced by AFI Faculty Dana Lustig (AFI Class of 1988).


Prime Video has acquired the rights to the Mexican comedy TEQUILA REPASADO, directed by Gabriela Tagliavini (AFI Class of 1995). The film “revolves around a workaholic who finds himself repeatedly transported back in time by a mystical tequila, forcing him to outsmart his multiplying selves as he struggles to mend his relationships with his family.”




A24 has wrapped production on DEATH OF A UNICORN, starring Paul Rudd and Jenna Ortega and executive produced by Ari Aster (AFI Class of 2010). The film was shot over the summer under a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement.


A MURDER AT THE END OF THE WORLD creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij (AFI Class of 2006) were interviewed by Variety about their new series which premiered November 14 on FX.


Deadline reviewed the new thriller AT THE GATES, praising the direction of first-time feature writer/director Augustus Meleo Bernstein (AFI Class of 2017). The film was shot by cinematographer Alan Torres (AFI Class of 2017), produced by Jhanvi Motla (AFI Class of 2017) and executive produced by Rodrigo García (AFI Class of 1986).


BLUE BEETLE screenwriter Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (AFI Class of 2013) is teaming with Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal for THE BOYS: MEXICO, a spinoff of the hit Amazon series.


AMC released the first trailer for MONSIEUR SPADE, co-created, written, directed and executive produced by Emmy Award® winner Scott Frank (AFI Class of 1984).


A new trailer dropped for WILD BEAUTY: MUSTANG SPIRIT OF THE WEST, a documentary that “illuminates both the profound beauty and desperate plight they currently face in the Western United States.” The film was shot by AFI Alum and cinematographer Kai Krause (AFI Class of 2005).


Cinematographer Matthew Libatique (AFI Class of 1992) spoke to Deadline about collaborating with Bradley Cooper on MAESTRO, recreating Leonard Bernstein’s concert in the iconic Ely Cathedral and what it was like interacting with Steven Spielberg, who produced the film.


AFI Producing Alum Kohei Obara (AFI Class of 2012) recently served as an Executive Producer on the following Netflix animation projects: ONIMUSHA, SCOTT PILGRIM TAKES OFF, and GUDETAMA: AN EGGCELLENT ADVENTURE.   


RADICAL, which recently premiered in theaters and was edited by AFI Alum Eugenio Richer (AFI Class of 2012), hit number five at the U.S. box office – taking in $2.7 million at 416 theaters.


Following its premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Variety reviewed THE TUBA THIEVES, shot in part by AFI Alum Meena Singh (AFI Class of 2009), calling it, “A cinematic experience that invites the viewers’ full sensorial engagement.”


A new trailer was released for TERMINATOR: THE ANIME SERIES from Japanese animation studio Production G. AFI Alum Mattson Tomlin (AFI Class of 2014) served as the showrunner, writer and executive producer on the show.


The first trailer for THE BROTHERS SUN, starring Michelle Yeoh, was released by Netflix. The series was co-created, show-run and executive produced by Byron Wu (AFI Class of 2019) and Brad Falchuk (AFI Class of 1994), executive produced by Mikkel Bondesen (AFI Class of 1998) and features the production design of Ray Yamagata (AFI Class of 1998).




The animated series HARLEY QUINN was renewed for season five at Max. The show is co-produced by AFI Alum Vidhya Iyer (AFI Class of 2017).




Deadline recapped a career masterclass at Greece’s Thessaloniki International Film Festival, featuring director and AFI Alum Jeremy Podeswa (AFI Class of 1984) where he spoke about directing episodes of BOARDWALK EMPIRE, working in TV vs. film and what he thinks of the state of television.


THE WALL, written and directed by Philippe Van Leeuw (AFI Class of 1982) and starring Vicky Krieps, was released in Europe last September and is an official selection in the international section of the coming edition of ICAPFF Istanbul.




Filmmakers Connect recently profiled Producing AFI Alum Mon Castro (AFI Class of 2023) whose debut film THE PHYSICIST IN OUTER SPACE has played the film festival circuit. She recently won the prestigious Special Jury Award at Top Shorts.


The first annual Floodlight Summit, which seeks to connect investigative journalists and their reporting with the film and television industry, is underway from November 30 to December 3 in Cartagena, Colombia. AFI Alum, writer and producer Susannah Grant (AFI Class of 1991) is scheduled to be in attendance.


In honor of Filipino American Heritage Month in October, Gold House and United Talent Agency showcased the short films of six upcoming Filipino American filmmakers, including Grace Hanna (AFI Class of 2023), in an exclusive screening followed by a panel discussion


Producing Alum Priscilla “Sally” Mattison (AFI Class of 1986) gave an update on music industry sustainability efforts at the Cool Out 2023 Conference in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.


Filmmaker Guy Maddin spoke with AFI Alum and director Courtney Stephens (AFI Class of 2009) who directed the found-footage essay film TERRA FEMME, a travelog told through women’s home movies from the 1920s-1950s, and The AMERICAN SECTOR, which she co-directed with Pacho Velez, which showcases all the stateside relics of the Berlin Wall.


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