July 2024 News

AFI Awards Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal to Matthew Libatique

Acclaimed cinematographer and AFI Alum Matthew Libatique (AFI Class of 1992) was recently presented with the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal at the 49th AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute Gala. Experience the moment when he accepted this prestigious honor at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.



AFI Alumni Make Their Mark at the 2024 Moebius Film Festival

Congratulations to our trailblazing AFI Conservatory Alumni who showcased their latest work at the annual Moebius Film Festival hosted by CAA. Join us in celebrating their success as we look forward to more amazing achievements from these rising stars of cinema!



  • MC Plaschke (AFI Class of 2023), Director/Writer
  • Alexander Heller (AFI Class of 2023), Producer
  • Jennifer Leavitt (AFI Class of 2023), Cinematographer
  • Paige Schaeffer (AFI Class of 2023), Production Designer
  • Abbey Letizia (AFI Class of 2023), Editor



  • Xinhao “Violet” Lu (AFI Class of 2023), Director/Writer
  • April Peng (AFI Class of 2023), Writer
  • Zora Zhang (AFI Class of 2023), Producer
  • Zhuoran Xiao (AFI Class of 2023), Producer
  • Shi Hyoung Jeon (AFI Class of 2023), Cinematographer
  • Xiyu Lin (AFI Class of 2020), Production Designer
  • Judith Zhu (AFI Class of 2023), Editor



  • Nicholas Finegan (AFI Class of 2023), Director/Writer
  • Talisha Elger (AFI Class of 2023), Writer
  • Tianyu Yang (AFI Class of 2023), Producer
  • Sharon Pulwer (AFI Class of 2023), Cinematographer
  • Mojo Wen (AFI Class of 2023), Production Designer
  • Richard Bai (AFI Class of 2023), Editor


FISHMONGER directed by Neil Ferron

  • Neil Ferron (AFI Class of 2020), Director/Writer
  • Alexandra Dennis-Renner (AFI Class of 2020), Writer
  • Jordan Willcox (AFI Class of 2020), Producer
  • Jack McDonald (AFI Class of 2020), Cinematographer
  • Xiyu Lin (AFI Class of 2020), Production Designer
  • Augustine So (AFI Class of 2020), Editor



AFI Conservatory Welcomes Renowned Filmmakers to Campus

We’re thrilled to share highlights from AFI’s recent conversations with cutting-edge filmmakers from around the world. Watch writer/creator/producer Lulu Wang and production designer Yong Ok Lee (AFI Class of 2013) talk about collaborating on EXPATS and hear from emerging filmmaker Christy Hall on her directorial debut DADDIO. Plus, go behind the scenes of THELMA with writer/director/editor Josh Margolin and producers Chris Kaye and Zoë Worth.



AFI Conservatory Hosts Alumni Happy Hour at Tribeca Film Festival

Congratulations to all of our AFI Alumni with projects showcased at Tribeca this year and thank you to everyone who attended the annual AFI Happy Hour during the festival! A special shoutout to AFI Alum Ivano Pulito (AFI Class of 2016) for welcoming us to his family’s restaurant Petrarca Cucina e Vino once again and to Dawn Green (AFI Class of 2010) and Frederic Richter (AFI Class of 2012) for helping to organize the event and make it a great success.

AFI Wraps DWW+ May Intensive

The DWW+ May Intensive was a phenomenal success! The groundbreaking program, which champions traditionally underrepresented filmmakers, recently invited acclaimed filmmakers to the AFI campus to share their wisdom and expertise with the current DWW+ Class of 2024. Thank you to Guest Artistic Director, Hanelle Culpepper, who crafted an engaging program with speakers including Adele Lim, Jay Worth, Judith Weston, Michael Fitzgerald, Nzingha Stewart and Salli Richardson-Whitfield, as well as the following AFI Conservatory Alumni who participated this year!


–Tessa Blake (AFI DWW Class of 2014-2015)

–Julian Higgins (AFI Class of 2010)

–Nancy Mejia (AFI DWW Class of 2017-2018)

–Bola Ogun (AFI DWW Class of 2014-2015)

–Amber Sealey (AFI DWW 2018-2019)

–Valerie Weiss (AFI DWW Class of 2005-2006)

Network with Fellow AFI Alumni on Backlot

Looking for potential collaborators, creative guidance or to mentor other AFI Alums in the industry? Or would you like to access weekly updates to learn more about what’s happening in the AFI Community? You can do all of the above and enrich the AFI community on AFI Backlot. Join today!



Request an AFI Email

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



In Other AFI News…




The Hollywood Chamber’s Board of Directors has selected AFI Alum Bill Duke (AFI Class of 1978), alongside Jane Fonda, John Carpenter, Jessica Chastain and more, to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Acclaimed cinematographer Mátyás Erdély (AFI Class of 2005), who shot THE IRON CLAW and FOE, was announced as the newest member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC).


AT&T, in partnership with the Tribeca Film Festival, has unveiled the finalists and jury for its Untold Stories Film Competition which seeks to provide funding and mentorship to underrepresented filmmakers to produce their films. The finalists include Kanani Koster (AFI Class of 2024) and her film SHOOTS.


AFI DWW+ Alum Huriyyah Muhammad (AFI DWW+ Class of 2024) was named the recipient of the HBO Short Film Award for her AFI DWW+ short CHOCOLATE WITH SPRINKLES by the American Black Film Festival.


BAFTA announced the long-listed projects for the 2023 Yugo BAFTA Student Award which include two AFI thesis films: BAJO LA TIERRA and CAROLINE. Congratulations to the AFI filmmakers who brought these short films to life!



  • Pablo Guillen (AFI Class of 2023), writer/director
  • Mon Castro (AFI Class of 2023), producer
  • Daniel Radzinsky (AFI Class of 2023), producer
  • Peter McCollough (AFI Class of 2023), cinematographer
  • Alejandra Armijo (AFI Class of 2023), editor
  • Andrés Domit del Valle (AFI Class of 2023), production designer



  • Jack Highberger (AFI Class of 2023), co-writer/director
  • James Bulluck (AFI Class of 2023), co-writer/producer
  • Findlay Brown (AFI Class of 2023), story by/producer
  • Keith Nixon Jr. (AFI Class of 2023), cinematographer
  • Aaron Dsouza (AFI Class of 2023), editor
  • Rachel Miu (AFI Class of 2023), production designer




Acclaimed cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (AFI Class of 1969) is set to make his foray into stop motion animation with the new film WILDWOOD which features the voice talent of Carey Mulligan, Mahershala Ali, Awkwafina, Angela Bassett, Jake Johnson, Charlie Day, Jemaine Clement, Maya Erskine, Tom Waits, Richard E. Grant and more.


A new animated series BLUE BEETLE series is being developed by Warner Bros. Animation and DC Studios with Garret Dunnet-Alcocer (AFI Class of 2013), screenwriter of the live action BLUE BEETLE film, attached as an executive producer.


AFI Conservatory Alum Adam Finberg (AFI Class of 2004) is in post-production on his feature narrative directorial debut STAR PEOPLE which he wrote, directed and produced.


MGM+’s EARTH ABIDES, based on George R. Stewart’s classic sci-fi novel of the same name, will be written by Karen Janzen (AFI Class of 1990, AFI DWW Class of 1996) and is set to star Aaron Tveit (SCHMIGADOON!).


AFI Alum Alexis Ostrander (AFI DWW Class of 2014) is set to make her feature directorial debut on the thriller FOURTH WALL, penned by Jerry Kontogiorgis and starring Emma Roberts.


AFI Alum Mattson Tomlin (AFI Class of 2014) has signed on to write A VICIOUS CIRCLE, based on his graphic novel series, with Ryan Coogler producing via his Proximity Media banner.




The Directors Guild of America has announced a new class of filmmakers to participate in the 2024 Television Mentorship Program. Congratulations to Claire Fowler (AFI DWW Class of 2015), Gia-Rayne Harris (AFI Class of 2021) and Jean Lee (AFI DWW Class of 2014) for being selected this year! Mentors for this year’s program also include Shaz Bennett (AFI DWW Class of 2012), Tessa Blake (AFI DWW Class of 2014), Maggie Kiley (AFI DWW Class of 2009) and Jeremy Podeswa (AFI Class of 1984).


Director Manuel Villareal (AFI Class of 2022) participated in a Hollywood Reporter panel in conjunction with the mitú x Walmart Filmmaking Mentorship Program. He was one of four filmmakers to receive $50,000 to make a short film – and his short EL COLIBRÍ has screened at LALIFF and the Bentonville Film Festival. View the film here.




MY OLD ASS, which premiered at Sundance and is being distributed by Amazon MGM Studios, revealed a new trailer. The film was shot by cinematographer Kristen Correll (AFI Class of 2016) and executive produced by Bronte Payne (AFI Class of 2017).


Peacock released the first trailer for the eight-episode limited series FIGHT NIGHT: THE MILLION DOLLAR HEIST, created and written by Shaye Ogbonna (AFI Class of 2011).


Apple TV+ revealed the first trailer for LADY IN THE LAKE, starring Natalie Portman and Moses Ingram. The limited series, which is based on a bestselling novel by Laura Lippman, features the writing of AFI Alum Sheila Wilson (AFI Class of 2017).




COTTONTAIL, written and directed by Patrick Dickinson (AFI Class of 2012), was recently released theatrically. Luca Miano (AFI Class of 2018) working with sales agent West End Films and Kate Sheffield (AFI Class of 2017) at Level 33 Entertainment helped bring the film to theaters.


Following its premiere at Sundance earlier in the year, AM I OK?, which features the work of editor Kayla Emter (AFI Class of 2008) and Art Director Mars Feehery (AFI Class of 2010), recently debuted on Max.


Production executive and AFI Conservatory Alum Nicholas Erickson (AFI Class of 2015) worked on the upcoming comedy SUMMER CAMP, which stars legendary actresses Diane Keaton, Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard.


Netflix announced that HIS THREE DAUGHTERS, written, directed, edited and produced by AFI Alum Azazel Jacobs’ (AFI Class of 2001) and starring Carrie Coon, Natasha Lyonne and Elizabeth Olsen, will open in select theaters on September 6 before debuting September 20 on the streamer.


The AFI thesis film DOSH, winner of the 2024 Spirit of Slamdance Award, has been selected to screen at the AGBO + Slamdance DTLA Summer Showcase! The film was directed/co-written by Radha Mehta, co-written by Noorah Al-Eidi, produced by Gabriel Gutierrez, shot by cinematographer Isue Shin, edited by Joseph Murphy, with production design by Sandra Rodriguez (all AFI Class of 2023).


Paramount is set to give BRINGING OUT THE DEAD, directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader (AFI Class of 1969) and Joe Connelly, a 4K Blu Ray release in September to coincide with the film’s 25th anniversary.




Magnolia Pictures has acquired the new documentary THE WORLD ACCORDING TO ALLEE WILLIS, which was shot by cinematographer Nick Higgins (AFI Class of 2002). The film chronicles the life and legacy of Grammy Award winner and AFI Alum Allee Willis (AFI DWW Class of 1991) who is best known for writing the FRIENDS theme song and Earth Wind & Fire’s “September,” as well as co-writing the Broadway musical “The Color Purple.”




Netflix has renewed the series 3 BODY PROBLEM for two additional seasons. AFI Conservatory Alum Jeremy Podeswa (AFI Class of 1984) directed the last two episodes of the first season.




AFI Conservatory Alum Patty Jenkins (AFI Class of 2000) participated in the Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program and advised artists to take more risks, remarking, “Believe in yourself and believe in your voice and partner that with excellence.”


The Berlin Film Festival officially named AFI Alum and former AFI FEST Director Jacqueline Lyanga (AFI Class of 2001) as the new co-director of programming alongside Michael Stütz.


Variety praised the new indie feature JAZZY, writing that the film is “infused with various truthful layers of lived-in experiences…in a script written by [Morrisa] Maltz, Lainey Bearkiller Shangreaux, Vanara Taing [AFI Class of 2012] and Andrew Hajek.” The film played at the Tribeca Film Festival in the spring.




AFI Alum Zal Batmanglij (AFI Class of 2006) and his writing partner Brit Marling have signed a multi-year creative deal with the production company Sister.


Fremantle North America has secured the rights to adapt James Baldwin’s books into film and television series with President of Scripted Programming Dante Di Loreto (AFI Class of 1991) saying, ““We are deeply honored to bring James Baldwin’s timeless works to a new generation. We are committed to preserving Baldwin’s legacy while making his powerful narratives accessible and compelling for contemporary audiences.”


Oscar®-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit (AFI Class of 1977) talks about lighting and shooting a pivotal scene in RIPLEY, starring Andrew Scott and based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith.


AFI Alum David Lynch (AFI Class of 1970) announced a new album with collaborator Chrystabell called “Cellophane Memories,” which will be released August 2 via Sacred Bone records. The label also released a new music video for “Sublime Eternal Love,” featuring Chrystabell and directed by Lynch, which you can watch below.


Sony recently featured AFI Alum Tommy Maddox-Upshaw (AFI Class of 2004) in a commercial where he spoke about how to achieve “color-accurate, exposure-accurate” images as a working cinematographer.


Deadline interviewed creator and writer Lulu Wang and production designer Yong Ok Lee (AFI Class of 2013) about reuniting after collaborating on THE FAREWELL to working on the acclaimed series EXPATS, starring 49th AFI Life Achievement Award honoree Nicole Kidman.


The 2024 Cine Gear Expo took place last month and distinguished speakers at the event included AFI Conservatory Alumni Wally Pfister (AFI Class of 1988), ASC, BSC, DGA and Polly Morgan (AFI Class of 2010), ASC, BSC.


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