November 2023 News

AFI FEST 2023 Wraps

This year’s AFI FEST had a wonderful run at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, before officially coming to a close on October 29. We’re incredibly proud to have featured the latest work of so many AFI Conservatory Alumni this year. Go behind the scenes and explore official red carpet photos and exclusive conversations with filmmakers and industry leaders.



AFI FEST Party Brings AFI Alumni Together

Thank you to all AFI Conservatory Alumni who attended this year’s Alumni Party at AFI FEST, presented by Canva. It was a wonderful event, hosted by the Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center, with over 600 alumni and guests in attendance at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. AFI Conservatory Dean Susan Ruskin also announced this year’s Filmmaker Awards. Congratulations to the following AFI filmmakers for your extraordinary work and commitment to your craft!


Richard P. Rogers Spirit of Excellence Award

  • Eli Snyder (AFI Class of 2022) – AVES

William J. Fadiman Award for Screenwriting

  • Hayley Tibbenham (AFI Class of 2022) – SONGS WITHOUT WORDS

Franklin J. Shaffner Fellow Award:

  • Eric Schwager (AFI Class of 2022) – LUCKY MARKET



Stock up on AFI FEST 2023 Merch

Check out this year’s festival merch – fully stocked with all of your favorites from T-shirts and totes to hoodies and more. Bring home a piece of AFI FEST 2023 and savor the screenings and memories made all year long!



AFI Named Top Film School by TheWrap for Second Year in a Row

TheWrap released their annual film school rankings and named AFI the top film school in the nation for the second year in a row! In the article, TheWrap celebrated AFI’s diversity and ethos of “learn by doing,” as well as the school’s leadership role in creating a film school safety pledge to foster safer production environments.



Apply to Attend IndieWire's Art of the Doc

IndieWire is shining a light on several of the best non-fiction film titles in 2023 with a curated documentary screening series, Art of the Doc, presented by National Geographic Documentary Films. The series runs from October through November in Los Angeles. Join us for screenings, complimentary concessions, and talent Q&As. The lineup includes GOING TO MARS: THE NIKKI GIOVANNI PROJECT, STILL: A MICHAEL J. FOX MOVIE, BOBI WINE: THE PEOPLE’S PRESIDENT, THE ETERNAL MEMORY, STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING and more. Apply to attend this series and pick the films you would like to see.



AFI Filmmakers Honored at 50th Annual Student Academy Awards®

On October 24, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted this year’s Student Academy Awards® at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Congratulations to the AFI Conservatory filmmaking team – director, writer and cinematographer Leo Behrens, producer Ilayda Cetinkaya, production designer Mojo Wen and editor Alejandra Armijo Cruz (all AFI Class of 2023), who created the Visual Essay SKIN which won the Student Academy Award® in the Alternative/Experimental Category.



For Your Consideration: Oscar®-qualifying Short Films by AFI Alumni

We are incredibly proud to announce that over a dozen short films by AFI Conservatory Alumni have achieved Oscar®-qualifying status for the 96th Academy Awards®! They have achieved this honor either by winning an award at an Academy Award®-qualifying film festival or completing a weeklong theatrical run. The Oscar shortlists® will officially be announced December 21. Learn which Alumni projects have qualified this year and join us in congratulating them all!



2023 Gotham Award Nominations Announced

The Gotham Film and Media Institute have revealed the nominations for the 2023 Gotham Awards, honoring many of our extraordinarily talented AFI Conservatory Alumni. Learn which graduates of AFI have been recognized this year and tune into the awards ceremony on November 27.



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 Cinema Eye Honors announced its official nominees this week, including BEING MARY TYLE MOORE, directed by James Adolphus (AFI Class of 2011); RESTAURANTS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, shot by cinematographer Petr Cikhart (AFI Class of 2012) and STILL: A MICHAEL J. FOX MOVIE, produced by Annetta Marion (AFI DWW Class of 2005).


The 32nd annual Hot Springs Film Festival bestowed the Impact Award on producer and AFI Alum Diane Becker (AFI Class of 2006). Her new documentary KING COAL also screened at the festival this year.


Congratulations to AFI Conservatory Alum Meg Dudley (AFI Class of 2023) for being named a finalist for the prestigious 2023 Sloan Student Prize bestowed by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Museum of the Moving Image!


The AFI thesis film DOSH was awarded an Honorable Mention at iSAFF (International South Asian Film Festival Canada). 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).


Cinematographer Hannah Platzer (AFI Class of 2023) was honored by the American Society of Cinematographers as this year’s Owen Roizman Student Heritage Award winner for her film IM FINSTERN.


AFI Alum and producer Zofia Sablinska (AFI Class of 2023) was presented with the Debra Hill Fellowship by actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who starred in HALLOWEEN – produced by Hill.


SHOOT Magazine announced the lineup of directors for the SHOOT 2023 21st Annual New Directors Showcase, including AFI Alumni Eli Snyder (AFI Class of 2022) and Stacy Gaspard (AFI Class of 2021).




Shinho Lee (AFI Class of 2004) is attached to write SUNSET PARK for Barunson C&C, a film and TV production subsidiary of Barunson E&A, the Korean company that produced the Oscar®-winning hit PARASITE.


Skydance is developing a movie, with AFI Alum Jonathan Levine (AFI Class of 2004) attached to direct, about John Tuggle, who was given the title “Mr. Irrelevant,” the moniker typically given to the last pick in the NFL draft.




The DGA’s Women’s Steering Committee (WSC) has announced the 2023 class of its WSC Squad Mentorship Program, including Shilpi Roy (AFI DWW Class of 2019). AFI Alumni Amber Sealey (AFI DWW Class of 2019), Tessa Blake (AFI DWW Class of 2014) and Jeremy Podeswa (AFI Class of 1984) are all serving as mentors this year. The WSC Squad Mentorship Program co-chairs include directors Shaz Bennett (AFI DWW Class of 2012) and Valerie Weiss (AFI DWW Class of 2005) and is led by directors including Ashley Eakin (AFI DWW class of 2020) and Marie Jamora (AFI DWW Class of 2020).




The indie distributor Vertical announced that it has acquired COLD COPY, the feature directorial debut of AFI Alum Roxine Helberg (AFI Class of 2011), for distribution. The film was also edited by Arndt-Wulf Peemöller (AFI Class of 2010).


Magnolia acquired the North American rights to CATCHING FIRE: THE STORY OF ANITA PALLENBERG, produced by AFI Alum Jo Henriquez (AFI Class of 2014).


HIS THREE DAUGHTERS, written and directed by Azazel Jacobs (AFI Class of 2001) and starring Natasha Lyonne, Elizabeth Olsen, and Carrie Coon, was picked up for distribution by Netflix.


Cinema Guild has acquired the North American rights to the newly-restored 4K version of Somai Shinji’s 1993 classic MOVING from French sales agent MK2 Films. The restoration was overseen by cinematographer and AFI Alum Toyomichi Kurita (AFI Class of 1981).




AFI Alum Maxwell Addae (AFI Class of 2018) directed the video section while Sam Chatterjee (AFI Class of 2018) shot the cinematography for the new art exhibit THE HOUSE WAS TOO SMALL: YORUBA SACRED ARTS at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, which opened on October 28.


Director Darren Aronofsky (AFI Class of 1992), whose new film POSTCARD FROM EARTH became the first movie to premiere at the Las Vegas Sphere, said of the experience, “It really is a different medium because of the immersive nature of all the images that you create and how it translates to the viewer.”


Zal Batmanglij (AFI Class of 2006) was recently featured in W Magazine, alongside creative collaborator Brit Marling, to discuss their new series A MURDER AT THE END OF THE WORLD.


Picturehouse is set to release AT THE GATES, written and directed by Augustus Meleo Bernstein (AFI Class of 2017), 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), in New York and Los Angeles on November 3.


Director Stan Brooks’ (AFI Class of 1979) latest film BAD ROMANCE: THE VICKY WHITE STORY premiered October 21 on Lifetime. Brooks also was featured on Inside Edition to promote his new movie.


LA’s iconic Egyptian Theatre is set to reopen on November 9 following an extensive renovation. In celebration of the event, David Fincher’s new film THE KILLER will be screened and Netflix will stream a short documentary titled TEMPLE OF FILM: 100 YEARS OF THE EGYPTIAN THEATRE featuring interviews with filmmakers including Autumn Durald Arkapaw (AFI Class of 2009).


AFI Alum Harris Charalambous (AFI Class of 2003) recently colored two feature films that have recently debuted theatrically. THE HILL had a nationwide release, and Sony is set to release it internationally with Universal Studios overseeing the DVR release. The documentary MR. JIMMY, centered on a Japanese guitarist who has dedicated his life to honoring rock musician Jimmy Page, is currently playing in limited theaters worldwide.


Sean Durkin’s new film THE IRON CLAW, which was shot by cinematographer Mátyás Erdély (AFI Class of 2005), released its first trailer and is set for a theatrical release on December 22.


The first trailer for ORPHAN BLACK: ECHOES was released by AMC. Writer Anayat Fakhraie, who attended the AFI Conservatory, and cinematographer Kristin Fieldhouse (AFI Class of 2013) both worked on the sci-fi series.


THE LONG HAUL OF A.I. BEZZERIDES, a feature documentary directed and produced by Fay Lellios (AFI Class of 1998) that is centered on the great proletariat writer, will screen at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center on November 19, along with KISS ME DEADLY, with an intro by the film’s producer George Pelecanos. The film also features the work of cinematographer Marc Leidy, additional camera operator Matthew Buzzell and Larry Strothe (all AFI Class of 1998.)


Blumhouse, Universal Pictures and Atomic Monster’s NIGHT SWIM, directed and co-written by AFI Alum Bryce McGuire (AFI Class of 2013), was featured at Comic Con. McGuire spoke about how he was inspired by JAWS – ranked on AFI’s list of the Top 100 films of all time.


A24 released the first trailer for THE ZONE OF INTEREST, produced by AFI Alum James Wilson (AFI Class of 1991) and winner of the Cannes Grand Jury Prize.




COTTONTAIL, a new film written and directed by AFI Alum Patrick Dickinson (AFI Class of 2012), premiered at the Rome Film Festival on October 26. It also won the BNL BNP Paribas Best First Feature prize which was awarded by a jury chaired by filmmaker Paolo Virzì and formed by French producer and distributor Adeline Fontan Tessaur and playwright and screenwriter Abi Morgan.


At Beyond Fest, Todd Field (AFI Class of 1992) filmed a tribute honoring legendary director Roger Corman – whom he collaborated with several times early in his career, celebrating his “amazing, unparalleled impact on so many in the industry.”




The finance, production and film sales company EST N8 has appointed AFI Producing Alum Tata Chen (AFI Class of 2023) as its sales and distribution manager. She will expand the co-development and co-producing business and unveil new titles at the ACFM market that accompanies next week’s Busan International Film Festival.


Lionsgate Creative Executive Erin Jones-Wesley (AFI Class of 2020) collaborated with the Entertainment Creative Collaborative Outreach Program in D.C. which aims to bring awareness to key issues and initiatives that will have a positive impact at the national, regional, and local levels.


Matti Leshem (AFI Class of 1990) moderated a panel during Variety’s Hollywood & Antisemitism Summit, presented by The Margaret & Daniel Loeb Foundation and Shine a Light.


AFI Alum and Faculty Michael Pessah (AFI Class of 2004), ASC, attended the annual National Film Registry meeting at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. He serves as an ASC representative, alongside Ellen Kuras, ASC, and was the chair of two study groups. Filmmaker Christopher Nolan presented at the gathering, along with other notable filmmakers, scholars and preservationists.


Style This!, a docuseries that showcases Los Angeles interior designers creating spaces inspired by iconic films, featured production designer Argya Sadan (AFI Class of 2017).


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