October 2021 News

Welcome Alumni to AFI Membership!

We’re excited to announce a new initiative from the Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center to ensure that all Alumni are offered an AFI Membership for life – free. Check out the AFI Member Portal today and be sure to update your mailing address by October 5, so we can send you an official AFI Membership Card! If you have any issues logging in, please contact Membership at Membership@AFI.com.


As part of your AFI membership, you also have access to AFI-curated films on Kanopy and exclusive full-length AFI seminar from the Archives. This month, we are sharing a rediscovered master class with the iconic Carol Burnett. WATCH HERE.


To stream Kanopy films, go to AFI.Kanopy.com, then click “Log In” and start streaming! Username: afi / Password: MEMBERSONLY2021



AFI Filmmaker Named 2021 Nicholl Finalist!

Congratulations to all of our Fellows and Alumni who submitted their screenplays to the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship! We are thrilled to announce that out of the 8,191 submissions this year, Haley Hope Bartels (AFI Class of 2019) is a finalist for her script “Pumping Black.” Click on the link below to view the Semi-finalists and Quarter-finalists also recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in 2021.



AFI FEST is Right Around the Corner!

AFI FEST 2021 will open with the World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!, directed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Lin Manuel-Miranda, at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre. The hybrid festival will also present the World Premieres of Oscar® winner Halle Berry’s directorial debut BRUISED and Oscar® winner Benjamin Cleary’s feature directorial debut SWAN SONG, with cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi (AFI Class of 2002) and concept illustration by Lei Jin (AFI Class of 2006). The 35th edition of AFI FEST will conclude with KING RICHARD, shot by cinematographer Robert Elswit (AFI Class of 1977) and starring two-time Oscar® nominee Will Smith. Stay tuned for more information on FEST benefits!



AFI Celebrates Emmy® Award Winners

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Award® recipients were revealed on Sunday, September 19, with the Creative Arts Emmy® Award winners announced on September 11 and 12. Congratulations to all of the outstanding Alumni who worked on Emmy Award®-winning projects this year!



Top Film Festivals Recognize AFI Alumni

Film festivals such as AFI FEST, Telluride, Venice and Toronto can be the key to distribution, future financing and end-of-year awards consideration. Check out the AFI Alumni whose work has been selected to screen at some of the most prestigious film festivals this year.



Help Us Select the Next AFI Class of Innovative Filmmakers

Application season is underway! The Admissions office is looking for Alumni readers and interviewers to help identify the next class of aspiring filmmakers at the AFI Conservatory. To fill out your application to be involved in the process, complete the short form below. Alumni applications are due by Thursday, October 21 at 10 p.m. PST. If you have any questions, please contact Jill Murrin, Senior Manager of Admissions at JMurrin@AFI.com.



AFI Conservatory Screenwriting Showcase

The talented Screenwriting Fellows of the Class of 2021 culminated their AFI journey by presenting their feature film and TV scripts to industry insiders in an exclusive, virtual showcase on September 29. Click on the link below to learn more about the projects featured at this year’s Virtual Pitch.



AFI Spotlight Interview with AFI Faculty and Alum Michael Pessah

This month, AFI spoke to cinematographer, AFI Faculty member and Alum Michael Pessah (AFI Class of 2004) about his experience at AFI and his work as the newest member of the National Film Preservation Board at the Library of Congress.



Honoring Trailblazing Filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles

On September 21, Hollywood lost a legend with the passing of revolutionary filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles, whose groundbreaking films included THE STORY OF A THREE DAY PASS, SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG and WATERMELON MAN. Watch film historian and AFI Faculty member Elvis Mitchell discuss the impact of Melvin Van Peebles’ work and his son and fellow filmmaker Mario Van Peebles speak about the challenges his father faced in Hollywood.

Ask a Film Programmer Panel

This month, Alumni Affairs hosted an illuminating conversation featuring film festival programmers from SXSW, Sundance and more! Learn what festivals are interested in, common mistakes filmmakers make in the submission process and how festivals can be advantageous in the life cycle of your film.



LALIFF Inclusion Fellowship

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival’s (LALIFF) Inclusion Fellowship Series, sponsored by NETFLIX, is focused on building a more inclusive and equitable industry for all members of the Latino community. This year, LALIFF will select five Indigenous Latino directors and five Afro Latino directors and provide each with $20,000 and mentorship from industry professionals. Completed films will premiere at LALIFF 2022.



Campari Red Diaries 2021 | FELLINI FORWARD

Congratulations to AFI Conservatory Directing Fellow Davis Northern (AFI Class of 2022) who was named an apprentice for Campari’s Red Diaries 2021 project: FELLINI FORWARD – the first short film created with Artificial Intelligence. Find out more about this groundbreaking initiative below.



Meet Fellow AFI Alumni on Backlot!

Looking for collaborative partnership, creative guidance or to mentor other AFI alums entering the industry? You can do all of the above and enrich the AFI community on AFI Backlot. Join today!



AFI Emails Still Available

AFI Alumni asked, and we have answered! Request an AFI email address to make it easier to contact other Alumni. If you’re interested, please reach out to Alumni Affairs at AlumniEmailRequest@AFI.com.



Shop AFI Merch Inspired by the AFI Community

Share your pride in being an AFI alum by browsing our AFI Conservatory merchandise! We have individualized apparel for each of the six disciplines, and the AFIxAFI Collection, designed by AFI Fellows. Also, be sure to check out our new line of AFI FEST merch!



In Other AFI News…




Dennis James Clarke’s (AFI Class of 2015) pilot script, SOUL SAMURAI, made the Launch Pad Pilot Competition Top 100. You can learn more about the project here.


AFI Fellow Rafael Diez received the David and Lynn Angell College Comedy Fellowship for his script “Larry Easton Does Not Suck.” HUMANITAS created the Fellowship in honor of David and Lynn Angell.


The Sundance Institute is set to honor director Siân Heder (AFI DWW Class of 2005) with a Vanguard Award during a virtual celebration on October 20.


Disney announced that for the first time ever participants in the Disney Directing Program will be given guaranteed slots to direct episodes of some of the studio’s biggest shows. Cinematographer and director Stephanie Martin (AFI Conservatory Class of 2002 and AFI DWW Class of 2012) who is part of this year’s cohort will direct an episode of THE RESIDENT.


BELFAST, shot by cinematographer and AFI alum Haris Zambarloukos (AFI Class of 1994), won the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.




For October, the Criterion Channel is featuring “Stories of Resistance,” a retrospective of seven documentaries directed by Arthur Dong (AFI Class of 1984 and TVW Alum, Class of 1991), featuring premieres of digital restorations of several of his films by preservationists at the UCLA Film & Television Archive and IndieCollect. The series, which includes SEWING WOMAN (1982), FORBIDDEN CITY, USA (1989), COMING OUT UNDER FIRE (1994), LICENSED TO KILL (1997), FAMILY FUNDAMENTALS (2002), HOLLYWOOD CHINESE (2007) and THE KILLING FIELDS OF DR. HAING S. NGOR (2015), will stream for six months starting October 4, 2021.


AFI Alum Lesli Linka Glatter (AFI DWW Class of 1982) was elected as the new President of the Directors Guild of America, marking the second time a woman has held the post following director Martha Coolidge.


AFI Alum Randy McKinnon (AFI Class of 2017) was named one of Variety’s Screenwriters to Watch. Congratulations!


AFI Faculty and cinematographer Michael Pessah (AFI Class of 2004) was selected to be on the National Film Preservation Board at the Library of Congress. He and Ellen Kuras will serve as the American Society of Cinematographers’ (ASC) representatives on the board, which works to ensure the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s film heritage, including advising the Librarian of Congress on the annual selection of films to the National Film Registry.




Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor boarded the feature film RAYMOND AND RAY, directed by AFI Alum Rodrigo García (AFI Class of 1986).


Todd Haynes’ first documentary THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, which was edited by Affonso Gonçalves (AFI Class of 1993), released its first trailer. The film premiered at Cannes, screened at the Telluride Film Festival and is set to debut on Apple TV Plus and in select movie theaters on October 15.


CANDYMAN, directed by Nia DaCosta with cinematography by John Guleserian (AFI Class of 2005), opened with a strong showing of $20.4 million at the box office. The film marks the first time ever a Black female director has debuted a movie in the number one weekend spot at the domestic box office.


Hulu’s THE GIRL FROM PLAINVILLE tapped directors, including AFI alumni Liz Hannah (AFI Class of 2009) and Pippa Bianco (AFI DWW Class of 2014), to helm episodes of the new limited series – which was also co-created and co-written by Hannah.


Produced by AFI Senior Manager, Second Year Physical Production Thomas Mahoney (AFI Class of 2008), the new feature film WILD INDIAN was featured as a New York Times’ Critics Pick this week.


Four-time Emmy®-winning producer, writer and showrunner Lee Metzger (AFI Class of 2000) recently signed with Verve Talent and Literary Agency. His latest project is “Strawberry Spring” – the first-ever podcast adaptation of a Stephen King short story.


Indiewire profiles STATION ELEVEN, adapted from Emily St. John Mandel’s acclaimed 2014 novel and directed by AFI Alum James Podeswa (AFI Class of 1984), which “tells the story of a society ravaged by a mysterious avian flu” and the irony of how it dovetailed with the pandemic.


AFI alum Paul Schrader’s (AFI Class of 1969) new feature film MASTER GARDENER added actors Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver to its cast.


RESERVATION DOGS, created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi and edited by AFI alum Varun Viswanath (AFI Class of 2012), was picked up for a second season by FX.




The new feature documentary, THE DEVIL’S DRIVERS, co-written and co-directed by Daniel Carsenty (AFI Class of 2021), was recently picked up for international distribution by Films Boutique.


Omeleto acquired the short film GREEN LUCK, written and directed by AFI alum Emanuele Daga (AFI Class of 2019).




AND TOMORROW WE WILL BE DEAD, based on the true story of the abduction of a Swiss couple by the Taliban in Pakistan and written by Urs Buehler (AFI Class of 1999), opened the 17th Zurich Film Festival that is running September 23 – October 3. The film will be released in Switzerland on October 28.


The Oscar®- nominated film WHO KILLED VINCENT CHIN, co-directed by Christine Choy (AFI DWW Class of 1980) and Renee Tajima-Pena, was recently restored by the Academy and will be screened at the New York Film Festival October 2 and 4 in the Revival section.


Pete Hammond reviewed BELFAST, which premiered at Telluride last month, for Deadline, calling attention to the “beautiful but sunny black-and-white images” shot by cinematographer and AFI alum Haris Zambarloukos (AFI Class of 1994).




Ford’s Head of Global Brand Entertainment Alessandro Uzielli (AFI Class of 1992) created the mockumentary JOHN BRONCO RIDES AGAIN, starring Walter Goggins, for the new Bronco that’s coming out.


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