June 2024 News

AFI Alumni Set to Triumph at Tribeca

Congratulations to our talented AFI Conservatory graduates whose exceptional projects have been named official selections at the 23rd edition of the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 5-16. Your creativity, dedication and artistry continue to inspire us all. Click below to learn more about the films created by your fellow AFI Alumni that will be featured this year.



AFI Alumni Photos at the 49th AFI Life Achievement Award!

AFI Alumni were front and center at the AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute Gala honoring the legendary Nicole Kidman. Want to catch a glimpse of the star-studded event? Click the link below to view exclusive photos of our talented Alumni in attendance.




Mark your calendars for the broadcast premiere of the AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: A TRIBUTE TO NICOLE KIDMAN on TNT, airing June 17 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, and on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) on June 27 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. Don’t miss out on this cinematic celebration with tributes from Meryl Streep, Keith Urban, Reese Witherspoon and more!

Producer Deniese Davis Boards New Comedy Starring Keke Palmer and SZA

Big congratulations to AFI Alum Deniese Davis (AFI Class of 2012)! Through her management and production company ColorCreative, which she co-founded with Issa Rae, she is set to produce a brand-new untitled buddy comedy starring Keke Palmer and SZA for TriStar Pictures. The project came together from the CoCre lab at Sony Pictures which identifies and champions emerging, diverse screenwriters to develop and write their first studio feature.



New AFI Archive Site Launched

We’re proud to share that we have unveiled a new interactive AFI Archive site featuring rarely seen photos, print collections, videos, oral histories and past issues of American Film. The AFI Archive is an ongoing program which adds countless new items each year, ensuring the stories of today are protected for future generations. Only a small portion of the AFI Archive is presented online. Explore the site and to learn more about the full collection or to obtain permission to use AFI Archive materials, please email Archive@AFI.com.



Alumni Reunite for Captivating COLD COPY Screening at AFI

AFI Alumni gathered recently at the Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center on the AFI Campus for a screening of the new film COLD COPY, followed by an insightful conversation featuring the film’s writer/director Roxine Helberg (AFI Class of 2011) and moderated by acclaimed filmmaker Patty Jenkins (AFI Class of 2000). The event was part of AFI’s Bridge to the Future series, offering a unique opportunity to reconnect and celebrate AFI Alumni achievements. We’re grateful to all who attended and contributed to this memorable event, and we look forward to hosting more events to come!

Peabody Awards Honors AFI Conservatory Alumni

We’re thrilled to announce that the 84th annual Peabody Awards, which recognizes excellence in TV, radio and digital media, have revealed this year’s winners and nominees, including innovative projects by some of our extraordinary AFI Alumni. Check out the full list of inspiring AFI graduates who have been honored by the Peabody Awards for creating compelling and powerful stories.



AFI Conservatory Welcomes Emerging and Veteran Filmmakers to Campus

We’re excited to share highlights from AFI’s recent conversations with filmmakers from around the globe. Explore the Slamdance Award-winning film AFRICAN GIANTS, written/directed/produced by Omar Kamara, shot by cinematographer Jonas Fischer, edited by Lily Judge and produced by Jordan Tyner (all AFI Class of 2020). Plus, hear from acclaimed filmmaker Trần Anh Hùng on THE TASTE OF THINGS, which screened at AFI FEST 2023, and gain insights from up-and-coming director Emma Seligman on her dark comedy BOTTOMS.



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. Sign up today!



AFI Emails Available

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…




Congratulations to AFI Alum Christian Filippella (AFI Class of 2008) who was recently nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award® for Outstanding Drama Series as a producer of Popstar! TV’s THE BAY. Christian also served as a cinematographer on the episodes he produced.


Angénieux announced the 2024 recipient of its Special Encouragement Award – cinematographer and AFI Conservatory Alum Kadri Koop (AFI Class of 2020).


SeriesFest has announced its Pilot Award winners, honoring the film BROKEN TOILETS, directed by Jesse Toldedano (AFI Class of 2008), shot by Kobi Zaig (AFI Class of 2008), edited by Ralph Jean-Pierre (AFI Class of 2012) and produced by Thomas Mahoney and Justin Ambrosino (both AFI Class of 2008).




Writer/director Wesley Wang will adapt his short film NOTHING, EXCEPT EVERYTHING for the big screen and helm the picture, with Darren Aronofsky‘s (AFI Class of 1992) Protozoa Pictures attached to produce.


Ari Aster (AFI Class of 2010) and Lars Knudsen will reunite with Chile’s Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña for their new stop-motion feature film HANSEL & GRETEL as executive producers. They all previously collaborated on Aster’s recent film BEAU IS AFRAID.


Following the world premiere of the horror short film THE LOOMING at Sundance, writer/director Masha Ko will write and direct a feature adaptation set to be produced by Square Peg, founded by Ari Aster (AFI Class of 2010) and Lars Knudsen.


Sophie Turner, Boyd Holbrook and Simona Tabasco are set to star in the sci-fi CLOUD ONE, directed by Goran Dukic (AFI Class of 2001).


Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (AFI Class of 2013) has signed on to pen the film YUCATAN, which was a longtime passion project imagined by the late Steve McQueen. The film is in development at Netflix with Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey attached as producers.


Goodfellas and Utopia will launch sales in Cannes for Gia Coppola’s THE LAST SHOWGIRL, starring Pamela Anderson as a veteran Las Vegas showgirl reinventing her life and featuring the work of cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw (AFI Class of 2009).


Actors Adam Driver, Mayim Bialik, Tom Waits, Charlotte Rampling and more have joined the cast of Jim Jarmusch’s next film FATHER MOTHER SISTER BROTHER, which will be shot by Emmy Award®-winning cinematographer Frederick Elmes (AFI Class of 1972).


Matthew Gentile (AFI Class of 2015) has been tapped to write and direct JUDGMENT RIDGE, a feature adaptation of the novel “Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders.”


Academy Award® winner Siân Heder (AFI DWW Class of 2005) has signed on to direct TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW for Paramount, adapted from Gabrielle Zevin’s New York Times best-selling novel.


Turi Meyer (AFI Class of 1986) is set to showrun the new series EL GATO, alongside creator Eric Carrasco and Alfredo Septién. The series, which is based on the comic book series “El Gato Negro” by Richard Dominguez, is set to star Diego Boneta and Lorenza Izzo.


Chilean filmmaker Juan Pablo Arias Muñoz (AFI Class of 2019) is set to direct the new horror feature THE NECKLACE starring sisters Madeleine and Violet McGraw, who have gained widespread critical acclaim for their performances in M3GAN and THE BLACK PHONE respectively.


Jing Ai Ng (AFI Class of 2019) will make her feature directorial debut with FORGE, with Liz Daering-Glass and Gabrielle Cordeiro (both AFI Class of 2019) producing. The film tackles the myth of the model minority and is set in the underbelly of the Miami art world. FORGE also marks the first project for Ng and Daering-Glass’s label, Florida Man Films.


Paul Walter Hauser will lead the cast of PRESS YOUR LUCK, a feature drama based on a true story of an unemployed ice-cream truck driver who won big on a 1980s game show. The film is directed by Samir Oliveros (AFI Class of 2019) and produced by Amanda Freedman (AFI Class 2019).


At the Cannes Film Festival, writer/director Paul Schrader (AFI Class of 1969) spoke about his next project which will be a film noir currently titled NON COMPOS MENTIS (meaning “not in one’s right mind”) which he described as being about “the stupid things men do for love.”


Greta Lee and Kingsley Ben-Adir are in negotiations to star in the upcoming sci-fi horror film 11817, directed and produced by Louis Leterrier. Lars Sylvest (AFI Class of 1999) and Thorsten Schumacher (AFI Class of 2001) are also on board as producers.


Netflix released first look photos for the new anime series TERMINATOR ZERO which was created and produced by AFI Alum Mattson Tomlin (AFI Class of 2014).


AFI Alum Hanna Västinsalo (AFI Class of 2014) is set to write and direct WILL O’ THE WISP following her breakout debut feature PALIMPSEST which won an HFPA Special Prize at the Venice Film Festival.


The satirical drama SLANTED, written and directed by Amy Wang (AFI Class of 2017), was greenlit this week by Fox Entertainment and Mountain Top Pictures, and will begin production next month.


Oscar® winner Jeff Bridges is set to star in TRON: ARES, alongside Jared Leto, Greta Lee, Evan Peters, Hasan Minhaj, Jodie Turner-Smith and Gillian Anderson, from a script penned by Jesse Wigutow (AFI Class of 1999) and Jack Thorne.


Deadline released a first glimpse of the new series LADY IN THE LAKE, starring Natalie Portman. Writers on the highly anticipated new limited series include Alma Har’el, Sheila Wilson (AFI Class of 2017), Zach Shields, Vanessa Baden-Kelley, Briana Belser, Nambi Kelly, Byron Bowers and Boaz Yakin.




Congratulations to AFI Alum Constanza Castro (AFI Class of 2015) and AFI Fellow Becca E. Davis who were selected by the Producers Guild of America for the PGA Create Lab for emerging and mid-career creative producers.


The Directors Guild of America has announced a new class of filmmakers to participate in the 2024 Television Mentorship Program, including Claire Fowler (AFI DWW Class of 2015), Gia-Rayne Harris (AFI Class of 2021) and Jean Lee (AFI DWW Class of 2014).


AFI DWW Alum Claire Fowler (AFI DWW Class of 2015) and AFI Conservatory Alum Jane Casey Modderno (AFI Class of 2016) were selected as participants for the Sundance Institute’s Directors and Screenwriters Labs.


Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett, producer Coco Francini and Dr. Stacy L. Smith have founded Proof of Concept, an accelerator program supporting women, trans and nonbinary filmmakers. Congratulations to the inaugural class of filmmakers selected including Courtney Hoffman and Gilly Barnes (both AFI DWW Class of 2016).


Film Independent has named the six filmmakers selected for its third annual Episodic Directing Intensive including Huriyyah Muhammad (AFI DWW+ Class of 2024).


Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the European Film Promotion, which “brings together 20 of Europe’s most promising producers,” announced the participants for its Producers on the Move program, including AFI Alum Sara Nassim (AFI Class of 2015).


Stowe Story Labs revealed the participants for this year’s Stowe’s Narrative Lab, including AFI Alum Joshua Nathan (AFI Class of 2021). The logline for his new mystery feature TRAWLER reads: After discovering gold on a fishing expedition, Rayme, a single mother and trawler captain struggling to make ends meet, and her first mate Dogger, must find a way to secure it before government agents and unscrupulous fellow trawlers get to it first.




Kaleidoscope Entertainment has released a new trailer for the upcoming feature TELL THAT TO THE WINTER SEA, directed and co-written by Jaclyn Bethany (AFI Class of 2018).


Apple TV+ revealed the first trailer for FANCY DANCE, starring Oscar® nominee Lily Gladstone and shot by cinematographer Carolina Costa (AFI Class of 2013). The film premieres in select theaters June 21 and will stream on Apple TV+ June 28.


Vertical Entertainment and Roadside Attractions released a new trailer for LEE, written by Liz Hannah (AFI Class of 2009) who also executive produced alongside Thorsten Schumacher (AFI Class of 2001). The film had its U.S. premiere at AFI FEST 2023 and will be released theatrically on September 27.


Participant Media released a new trailer for Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s THE GRAB. The project was executive produced by AFI Alum Rick Rosenthal (AFI Class of 1973).




MUBI has acquired the North American and Turkish rights to BIRD, written and directed by AFI Conservatory Alum Andrea Arnold (AFI Class of 1991). The film just had its World Premiere at the 77th Cannes Film Festival.


Dogwoof has boarded MANDELA: LIFE, a five-part doc series directed by Mandla Dube (AFI Class of 2002) which will explore the life of the late South African President and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela.


VMI Releasing has acquired the North American rights to Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba’s latest film HAUNTED HEART, which he co-wrote with AFI Conservatory Alum Rylend Grant (AFI Class of 2005). Matt Dillon is set to star.


XYZ Films has acquired the U.S. rights to the film WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE, directed by Zeke Hawkins (AFI Class of 2009), written by Dutch Southern (AFI Class of 2004), produced by Brian Udovich (AFI Class of 2004) and shot by cinematographer Jeff Bierman (AFI Class of 2009).


Quiver Distribution has picked up the North American rights to the upcoming psychological thriller DETAINED, directed and co-written by Felipe Mucci (AFI Class of 2014) and Jeremy Palmer.


XYZ Films has acquired U.S. rights to the film WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE, directed by Zeke Hawkins (AFI Class of 2009), written by Dutch Southern (AFI Class of 2004), produced by Brian Udovich (AFI Class of 2004) and shot by cinematographer Jeff Bierman (AFI Class of 2009).




KING COAL, produced by Academy Award® winner Diane Becker (AFI Class of 2006), will open the 37th season of POV on Monday, June 24.


The latest SOUTH PARK film, produced by Anne Garefino (AFI Class of 1988), premiered recently on Paramount+.


COLUMBINE 2024: 25 YEARS OF TRAUMA, directed and produced by AFI Alum Jeff Vespa (AFI Class of 1993), was recently showcased at the Laemmle Glendale and released for the 25th Anniversary of the Columbine School shooting. To learn more, visit the website here. It is also now available to stream on Vimeo.


LAZARETH, starring Ashley Judd and filmed by cinematographer Martim Vian (AFI Class of 2009), premiered recently in theaters and on VOD.




Andrea Arnold (AFI Class of 1991)’s BIRD, starring Academy Award® nominee Barry Keoghan, Franz Rogowski, Nykiya Adams and Jason Buda, was met with critical acclaim and a seven-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival following its World Premiere.


The DreamAgo Film Festival in Switzerland has invited AFI Alum Adam Bailey (AFI Class of 2023) to participate in the Plume et Pellicule Writer’s Lab with his 2023 AFI thesis screenplay.


DEEP INTO THE FOREST has been selected as part of the Moving the Spotlight, a program celebrating poignant short films from emerging, underrepresented filmmakers at the Tribeca Film Festival. Writer/director Xinhao Lu, co-writer April Peng, producers Zhuoran Xiao and Zitian Zhang, cinematographer Shi Hyoung Jeon, editor Judith Yumeng Zhu and production designer Xiyu Lin (all AFI Class of 2023) worked on the project. BLOOMED IN THE WATER, directed by Joanne Mony Park (AFI DWW+ Class of 2024) was also invited to be a part of the program.


The London Indian Film Festival will kick off on June 26 with the European Premiere of PAPER FLOWERS, directed by Mahesh Pailoor (AFI Class of 2006) and starring DEADPOOL’s Karan Soni.


Variety interviewed writer/director Paul Schrader (AFI Class of 1969) about his new film, OH, CANADA, which is based on the novel “Foregone” by Russell Banks and stars Richard Gere, Jacob Elordi and Uma Thurman. The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.


The Bentonville Film Festival, founded by Geena Davis, will open with OUT OF MY MIND, directed by AFI DWW Alum Amber Sealey (AFI Class of 2019). The festival runs from June 10-16, 2024.


The short film GUTS, which was shot by cinematographer Meena Singh (AFI Class of 2009) and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, will play at the Palm Springs Shorts Festival, which will take place June 18–24, 2024.




The 4k restoration of acclaimed director Lee Grant’s (AFI DWW Class of 1974) DWW short film THE STRONGER screened at the American Cinematheque in LA. The short screened alongside TELL ME A RIDDLE, Grant’s directorial debut feature and the first American feature to be written, produced, and directed entirely by women.


The new sales and production company A Higher Standard, founded by Jeffrey Greenstein, has hired Thayer Juergens (AFI Class of 2019) as Head of Development for Film & Television.


AFI Alum Ken Luber’s (AFI Class of 1969) latest book “Saving My Ancient Life” is set to be published on June 4, 2024. In a review of his book, Diane Donovan, an Editor at Bookwatch, wrote, “Libraries and readers interested in a fantasy journey that juxtaposes romance, impossible dreams, intentions of courage and rescue, wormholes that connect disparate worlds, and characters who move into different milieus that test their resources and mettle will welcome Saving My Ancient Life’s journey and diverse themes.” Learn more at his website here.


Following the loss of her husband, AFI Alum Karine Nissim (AFI Class of 2007) partnered with friend Eloise Bune to develop and launch DayNew, a new app that provides with a set of organizational, emotional, and social support tools.


The ON DOCUMENTARY podcast featured an insightful conversation with AFI Alum and Faculty Michael Pessah (AFI Class of 2004), ASC, and host Adam James Smith.


Screenwriter, producer, director and showrunner Michael Petroni (AFI Class of 1994) has signed with Independent Artist Group for representation.


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