December News

Alumni Matching Challenge Kicks Off

For over 50 years, the AFI Conservatory has trained some of the finest filmmakers who’ve left their mark onscreen and have continued to shape the industry and transform our culture. Despite the challenges of the past year, AFI has made great strides over the last nine months. In order to provide greater scholarship opportunities for incoming Fellows, an anonymous alum is leading the charge with a matching challenge of up to $25,000, agreeing to match donations, dollar for dollar. No matter how large or small, every tax-deductible gift makes a difference. Even in difficult and uncertain times such as these, the long legacy of AFI filmmaking gives us a sense of pride and strength in our community. We hope you will join us in this critical moment and help support the next generation of innovative artists at AFI!



AFI Welcomes New Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

AFI is excited to welcome to our ranks Syreeta Greene, the new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the American Film Institute. Greene holds a Doctor of Education with an emphasis in education psychology and Master’s in Social Work and has devoted her career to amplifying the voices of those who have been historically underrepresented and marginalized. We spoke with her about her favorite films, what a typical day is like as a DEI Director and how she and the AFI community can work together to support greater diversity and inclusivity.



How to be an Ally Panel

On November 19th, the Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center hosted a DEI ally dialogue, facilitated by Dr. Sumun Pendakur. This first discussion was foundational and a starting point to examine learned behavior and evaluate our collective and individual ideologies. Watch the entire conversation on how to be a strong ally!



ICYMI: Filmmaker Chris Eyre Joined AFI Movie Club in Honor of Native American Heritage Month

Throughout Native American Heritage Month, AFI Movie Club featured films curated by award-winning director and producer Chris Eyre (SMOKE SIGNALS), including Sydney Freeland’s impressive feature debut DRUNKTOWN’S FINEST, Arthur Penn’s revisionist Western LITTLE BIG MAN and Sterlin Harjo’s redemptive road trip drama BARKING WATER. You won’t want to miss the in-depth conversation with Eyre and AFI Fellows as the filmmaker discusses Native American identity and the importance of diverse representation onscreen and off.



Harold Lloyd Master Seminars Features Creator of Hit Series THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT

Recently, AFI was joined by Oscar®-nominated writer/director Scott Frank (AFI Class of 1984) for a virtual discussion of his record-breaking new series THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT about a determined chess prodigy (Anya Taylor-Joy) navigating the world of high-stakes, male-dominated professional tournaments in the 1960s. Discussing his extensive career including making the neo-noir OUT OF SIGHT and the Western series GODLESS, Scott also spoke with AFI Fellows about the importance of character-driven cinematography, moral ambiguity and delivering an “emotional payload.”



Camerimage Awards Highlights Accomplishments of AFI Alumni

Congrats to alum Erin Wesley (AFI Class of 2019), recipient of the prestigious Laszlo Kovacs Student Award – Golden Tadpole at the Camerimage Awards for her cinematography on A RODEO Film, and to veteran cinematographer Frederick Elmes (AFI Class of 1972) who was named as the winner of EnergaCamerimage Film Festival’s First Look – TV Pilots Competition for his work on the Amazon series HUNTERS. Elmes recently spoke to Variety about working with fellow alum Alfonso Gómez-Rejón (Class of 1995) who directed the HUNTERS pilot and executive produced the series.



Give the Gift of AFI Membership!

Looking for the ideal gift for the film fan in your life? Share your love of AFI with those nearest and dearest to you by giving the gift of an AFI membership! AFI members receive incredible benefits ranging from discounted tickets and merchandise to exclusive access to master seminars from the AFI Archive, as well as free access to AFI curated films on our on-demand video streaming service. Learn more about our different membership levels, and give a gift that will last all year long!



Commemorating the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election

Last month, AFI celebrated democracy in action with the announcement of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris – the first Black, South Asian and female VP in our nation’s history. To mark the historic occasion, AFI shared a powerful tribute to the country, which includes milestone moments in American filmmaking.



In Other AFI News…


Cinematography alum Tarin Anderson (AFI Class of 2004) and her husband, producing alum Brian Udovich (AFI Class of 2004), shot an ad for Target during COVID in their own house with only them and their kids as the cast and crew on set. As Brian said, “A unique opportunity for the kids to see Mom and Dad at work.”


Writer/director Jaclyn Bethany (AFI Class of 2018) has rounded out the cast of her upcoming film THEFALLING WORLD, the second feature in her pandemic-themed trilogy.


Screenwriter Aadip Desai (AFI Class of 2020) was named as one of BAFTA’s Breakthrough participants.


LORELEI recently won the Audience Award and the Student Jury Award at the Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival in Germany. AFI Alums who worked on the film include writer/director Sabrina Doyle (AFI Class of 2012), cinematographer Stephen Paar (Class of 2012) and editor Daniel Myers (Class of 2013).


Directing Workshop for Women alum Ashley Eakin (DWW Class of 2020) is featured in a New York Times article discussing the importance of how we represent disabilities onscreen. Eakin is also a disability activist who explored this subject in her award-winning DWW short film, SINGLE.


Documentary filmmaker P. David Ebersole (AFI Class of 1991) is named to the 26th annual Out100 list, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community for their impact around the world.


Director Lesli Linka Glatter (AFI DWW Class of 1982) signs on to helm ASHLEY’S WAR about an all-female special ops unit in Afghanistan, with Reese Witherspoon on board to produce.


Variety has an exclusive first look at MOTHERING SUNDAY, directed by Eva Husson (AFI Class of 2003) and starring Josh O’Connor, Odessa Young, Colin Firth and Olivia Colman.


WONDER WOMAN 1984, directed by Patty Jenkins (AFI Class of 2000), will be released on Christmas Day on HBO Max and in select cinemas.


SHARED BALCONY, written and directed by Fay Lellios (AFI Class of 1998) will have its online worldwide premiere at the Bridges Peloponnese International Film Festival that will be held December 11-25, 2020.


Matthew Libatique (AFI Class of 1992) was interviewed on the No Film School podcast, discussing his award-winning career and the 20th anniversary of REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, which marked his second feature collaboration with Darren Aronofsky (AFI Class of 1992).


In a bold, new Beats by Dre ad, director Melina Matsoukas (AFI Class of 2005) celebrates Black joy through her striking visual imagery.


Film2Future, which strives to increase diverse representation in entertainment, recently honored showrunner and writer LaToya Morgan (AFI Class of 2005) at the organization’s first Origins: In the Beginning virtual fundraiser.


Daniella Nowitz (AFI Class of 2014) wins the Best Cinematography Ophir Award – the Israeli Oscar – for ASIA. She is the first woman to ever win the award.


Mystery-thriller THE BLOODHOUND was recently picked up for distribution by Arrow. The film was created by an entire team of AFI alumni from the Class of 2016, including writer/director Patrick Picard, producers Thomas R. Burke and Leal Naim, cinematographer Jake Magee, editor David Scorca and production designer Arielle Ness-Cohn.


Genre Films and Amazon Studios are adapting the illustrated novella DNA (“Death Notification Agency”), which will be produced by John Schoenfelder (AFI Class of 2000).


Congrats to the following AFI alumni who received nominations at the Critics Choice Super Awards:

  • Best Action Movie for THE OUTPOST
    • Paul Merryman (AFI Class of 2010) and Henry Hughes (AFI Class of 2014), producers
  • Best Action Series for HUNTERS
    • Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (AFI Class of 1995), director and Frederick Elmes (AFI Class of 1972), cinematographer
  • Best Horror Movie for RELIC
    • Todd Makurath (Class of 2005), executive producer
  • Best Horror Movie for THE INVISIBLE MAN
    • Beatriz Sequeira (AFI Class of 2003), producer
  • Best Horror Series for LOVECRAFT COUNTY
    • Nelson McCormick (Class of 1985), director
  • Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie for PALM SPRINGS
    • Max Barbakow (AFI Class of 2015), director; Andy Siara (Class of 2015), writer; and Allison Jones (Class of 1981), casting director
  • Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie for SYNCHRONIC
    • Thomas R. Burke and Leal Naim (both Class of 2016), producers
  • Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Series for OUTLANDER
    • Barbara Stepansky (AFI Class of 2005), writer
  • Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Series for STAR TREK: DISCOVERY
    • Hanelle M. Culpepper (AFI DWW Class of 2002), director
  • Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Series for STAR TREK: PICARD
    • Hanelle M. Culpepper (AFI DWW Class of 2002), director/co-executive producer and Todd Cherniawsky (AFI Class of 1993), production designer
  • Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Series for WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
    • Allison Jones (Class of 1981), Casting Director
  • Best Superhero Movie for BIRDS OF PREY
    • Matthew Libatique (AFI Class of 1992), cinematographer and Jay Cassidy (AFI Class of 1976), editor

We want to hear from you. So we created an easy form for you fill out whenever you want to share information or updates about one of your projects or a fellow alum’s project. And then we’ll share it in Alumni Connection. Bookmark this link and keep everyone updated about all of your great work. VIEW FORM


Alumni Fund gifts are solely designated to support the future of the AFI Scholarship Fund.