March 2024 News

AFI Alumni Projects That are 2024 Oscar® Contenders

The 96th Academy Awards® are right around the corner! We couldn’t be more thrilled to celebrate the work of AFI Alumni whose projects are nominated this year. Leading up to the Oscars® on Sunday, March 10, learn more about the Alumni projects up for Oscar® consideration and where you can watch them ahead of the official ceremony.



SXSW Set to Showcase AFI Alumni’s Latest Work

From March 8-16, storytellers from around the country will gather for the 2024 SXSW Film Festival, one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year. We’re proud to unveil the AFI Conservatory graduates whose innovative new work will debut at the Austin-based festival this month.



AFI Alumni Fêted by Hollywood Guilds

With awards season in full swing, the major Hollywood Guilds have revealed their nominations for the year’s best achievements in film and television, with the Art Directors Guild, Directors Guild of America and Producers Guild of America also announcing their award winners. Congratulations to the remarkable AFI Alumni who have the great distinction of being recognized for their extraordinary creative work this year.



AFI Alumni Ed Zwick and Patty Jenkins Reunite on Book Tour

This past month, AFI Conservatory Alum Ed Zwick (AFI Class of 1975) took part in a nationwide book tour accompanying the publication of his recent memoir “Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions My Fortysomething Years in Hollywood.” Along the way, he sat down with director and fellow AFI Conservatory graduate Patty Jenkins (AFI Class of 2000) at the New Roads School’s Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre in Santa Monica to reminisce about Zwick’s renowned career and the multitude of critically acclaimed projects he has created over the course of his four-decade long career in Hollywood. Find out more about his exciting, new memoir which just hit the presses.



AFI DWW+ Class of 2025 Kicks Off Directing Program

AFI recently welcomed the DWW+ Class of 2025 to the AFI Campus in Los Angeles to begin their training for the acclaimed directing workshop. The participants will be guided through the program by Guest Artistic Director and AFI DWW Alum Hanelle M. Culpepper (AFI DWW Class of 2002). Learn more about each participant and watch a video featuring members of the incoming class below!



Acclaimed Filmmakers Visit the AFI Conservatory

Throughout the academic year, the AFI Conservatory welcomes a wide range of filmmaking talent from across the globe. Now you can view exclusive clips featuring world-class filmmakers including writer/director Justine Triet who came to campus to speak about her Palme d’Or award-winning ANATOMY OF A FALL, producer and AFI Alum James Wilson (AFI Class of 1991) who talked about his harrowing new film THE ZONE OF INTEREST and writer/director Sean Durkin who discussed portraying the real-life story in THE IRON CLAW. Watch the full list of Harold Lloyd Master Seminars at the AFI Conservatory below.



Celebrating the Richard Frank Scholarship Fund for the AFI Conservatory

This year, AFI revealed a new multimillion dollar scholarship made possible by the generous support of Rich Frank, Vice Chair of the American Film Institute, that will provide financial assistance to empower and support current AFI Fellows that demonstrate financial need. Following the announcement, AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale said that, “this extraordinary gift will allow the AFI Conservatory to continue to attract the best and the brightest young storytellers – while celebrating the very best film and television of today.”



Meet Fellow AFI Alumni on Backlot

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Sign up for an AFI Email

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In Other AFI News…




Congratulations to Assistant Art Directors and AFI Conservatory Alumni Roxy Hua (AFI Class of 2019) and Robert Aguirre (AFI Class of 2018) who helped bring to life OPPENHEIMER which won Best Period Feature Film at the 2024 ADG Awards.


The Pan African Film & Arts Festival recognized director and AFI Alum Bill Duke (AFI Class of 1978) with the Ja’Net DuBois Lifetime Achievement Award.


AFI Conservatory Alum Mimi Leder (AFI Class of 1973) was honored with the Art Directors Guild’s 2024 Cinematic Imagery Award.


The 2024 BAFTA Awards were recently unveiled. Congratulations to AFI Conservatory Alum James Wilson (AFI Class of 1991) who won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film and Film Not in the English Language for THE ZONE OF INTEREST. See the full list of Alumni who worked on BAFTA award-winning projects.


The WGA Award nominations were recently announced. We’re proud to recognize the AFI Conservatory Alumni who were honored by their peers this year.




AFI Alum Andrea Arnold (AFI Class of 1991) has signed on to direct the true-crime thriller FEATHERWOOD, which will star Academy Award®-nominated actress Scarlett Johansson.


The romantic drama HARD FEELINGS has cast Naomi Baker and Da’Vinchi to star, with AFI Alum Deniese Davis (AFI Class of 2012) on board to produce for Reform Media Group.


HACKS actress Jean Smart is developing a limited series about the relationship between a grandmother and her grandson in the final months of her life, which is set to be executive produced by Dennis Erdman (AFI Class of 1981).


Zac Efron will star in the new film FAMOUS, which is being shopped at the European Film Market, with AFI Alum Sam Esmail (AFI Class of 2004) attached as a producer.


Kelly Macdonald and Matthew Goode have signed on to star in the new crime series DEPARTMENT Q, with Scott Frank (AFI Class of 1984) attached as showrunner, writer and director.


Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat and The Hideaway Entertainment has hired Emmy® Award and DGA Award nominee Dean Israelite (AFI Class of 2008) to direct the new thriller CAN YOU HEAR ME?


Taraji P. Henson has joined the cast of Peacock‘s limited series FIGHT NIGHT: THE MILLION DOLLAR HEIST, which was created and written by AFI Conservatory Alum Shaye Ogbanna (AFI Class of 2011).


Oscar®-nominated actress Lily Gladstone is set to reteam with many of the crew members from her acclaimed film THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY, including writer/editor/producer AFI Alum Vanara Taing (AFI Class of 2012) for a companion piece titled JAZZY.


Julia Fox will star alongside Marlon Wayans and Tyriq Withers in Monkeypaw’s GOAT which Justin Tipping (AFI Class of 2011) is directing for Universal Pictures.




Film Independent announced the eight writers selected for the seventh edition of its Episodic Lab, including AFI Alumni Giovanni “Gio” Maldonado Chinea and Myles Hawthorne (both AFI Class of 2017) for their script “The Machetero.”




Amazon MGM Studios will release their Sundance acquisition MY OLD ASS, shot by cinematographer Kristen Correll (AFI Class of 2016) and executive produced by Bronte Payne (AFI Class of 2017), on August 2.


Apple TV+ picked up the distribution rights to FANCY DANCE, starring Oscar® nominee Lily Gladstone and shot by cinematographer Carolina Costa (AFI Class of 2013).


CHRONICLES OF A WANDERING SAINT was picked up for North American distribution by Hope Runs High. The film will be released in theaters early this year and showcases the remarkable work of writer/director Tomás Gómez Bustillo (AFI Class of 2018), producer Amanda Freedman (AFI Class 2019), editor Benjamin Gonzales Tolentino (AFI Class 2018), Visual Effects Artist Quinn Else (AFI Class 2019), production designer/executive producer Doriane Desfaugeres (AFI Class 2018), and fellow executive producers Ciro Apicella, R.J. Glass and Samir Oliveros (all AFI Class 2019).


Following its U.S. premiere at AFI FEST 2023, LEE – written and executive produced by Liz Hannah (AFI Class of 2009) and executive produced by Thorsten Schumacher (AFI Class of 2001), has been picked up by Roadside Attractions and Vertical Entertainment.


Juno films has acquired the worldwide distribution rights to AFRICAN GIANTS, written, directed and produced by Omar Kamara (AFI Class of 2020), shot by cinematographer Jonas Fischer (AFI Class of 2020), edited by Lily Judge (AFI Class of 2020), produced by Jordan Tyner (AFI Class of 2020) and executive produced by Yancey Wang (AFI Class of 2020).


Lionsgate has picked up the rights to the thriller AMBER ALERT, which will star Hayden Panettiere and Tyler James Williams and is set to be produced by AFI Alum Leal Naim (AFI Class of 2017).




Bleecker Street has released a trailer for the upcoming absurdist comedy SASQUATCH SUNSET, starring Riley Keough and Jesse Eisenberg, and executive produced by Ari Aster (AFI Class of 2010).


The first trailer for MANHUNT was released by Apple TV+. Director Carl Franklin (AFI Class of 1986) and editor Karoliina Tuovinen (AFI Class of 2007) both worked on the project which portrays the fight to protect the ideals that were the foundation of Abraham Lincoln’s Reconstruction plans.


Focus Features unveiled a new trailer for Ethan Coen’s new film DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS, starring Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan, which features the work of production designer and AFI Conservatory Alum Yong Ok Lee (AFI Class of 2013).


KEMBA, shot by cinematographer and AFI Alum Rasa Partin (AFI Class of 2016), will debut on BET+ on February 22. Check out the trailer.




THE GREATEST NIGHT IN POP, which explores the making of the 1985 charity single, “We Are the World,” recently had its streaming premiere on Netflix. Cinematographer Caleb Heller (AFI Class of 2016), C Camera Operator Nausheen Dadabhoy (AFI Class of 2008) and Associate Producer Joyce Liu-Countryman (AFI Class of 2018) all worked on the documentary.


LISA FRANKENSTEIN, which was shot by cinematographer Paula Huidobro (AFI Class of 2004), recently premiered in theaters nationwide.


Focus Features has released a new trailer for the Amy Winehouse biopic BACK TO BLACK, shot by cinematographer Polly Morgan (AFI Class of 2010). The film will hit theaters on May 17.


The Guardian reviewed MARMALADE, shot by cinematographer Polly Morgan (AFI Class of 2006) and starring Joe Keery (STRANGER THINGS) and Camila Morrone (DAISY JONES & THE SIX), calling the film’s ending “surprisingly poignant.” The new indie film debuts in theaters today.


THE NEW LOOK, a series chronicling the rise of French haute couture in Paris following World War II, recently premiered on Apple TV+. Director Jeremy Podeswa (AFI Class of 1984) and cinematographer Jaime Reynoso (AFI Class of 1994) both worked on the series.



A plethora of AFI Alumni shot a commercial for Little Dynamite Pizza – director Alfredo Rodriguez-Allen (AFI Class of 2022), cinematographer Tu Do (AFI Class of 2023), Production Designer/Actor Brian Spadafora (AFI Class of 2022) and actors Malik Ever (AFI Class of 2022) and Elizabeth T. Vazquez (AFI Class of 2022). Check it out here.




Amber Sealey (AFI DWW Class of 2019), who premiered the groundbreaking new film OUT OF MY MIND centered on a girl living with cerebral palsy, participated in an inclusivity panel at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, titled “Championing Change: The Power of Inclusive Filmmaking.”




Academy Award®-nominated cinematographer Matthew Libatique (AFI Class of 1992) was interviewed by Variety about working on MAESTRO and collaborating with writer, director and star Bradley Cooper.


Producer James Wilson (AFI Class of 1991) spoke to Indiewire about his acclaimed film THE ZONE OF INTEREST, which is nominated for Best Picture as well as Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards.


Vanity Fair featured an excerpt from the upcoming memoir, “Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years in Hollywood,” written by AFI Conservatory Alum Ed Zwick (AFI Class of 1975), in which he recounts making the hit film LEGENDS OF THE FALL, including assembling a star-studded cast featuring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Julia Ormond and more.


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