October 2023 News

AFI Filmmaking Team Wins Student Academy Award®

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored the AFI Conservatory Visual Essay SKIN by naming it a winner at the 50th Student Academy Awards®! Congratulations to the AFI filmmakers who brought this captivating film to life including director, writer and cinematographer Leo Behrens; producer Ilayda Cetinkaya; production designer Mojo Wen and editor Alejandra Armijo Cruz (all AFI Class of 2023)!



AFI Fellows Attend Telluride!

The AFI Conservatory Telluride FilmLAB is back! This year’s cohort of AFI Fellows from the Class of 2023 participated in the 50th edition of the prestigious Telluride Film Festival. Fellows had one-on-one conversations with master filmmakers including BIKERIDERS’ writer/director Jeff Nichols, SALTBURN’s writer/director Emerald Fennel and RUSTIN’s director George C. Wolfe, and attended a mid-festival cocktail party hosted by AFI Board of Trustees Chair Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. Thank you to everyone who made it such a memorable experience!

AFI Conservatory Hosts Alumni BBQ

On September 17, AFI Alumni gathered in the courtyard of Whitewater Films for a barbecue that included plenty of community celebration, burgers and beer. We want to thank AFI Alum Rick Rosenthal (AFI Class of 1973) who hosted once again this year and the nearly 300 guests who attended and helped make it an incredible event! If you wanted to donate to the Alumni fund and haven’t had a chance, you can still make a gift today.

Help AFI Admissions Select the Next AFI Conservatory Class

The Admissions Office is looking for Alumni reviewers and interviewers for Fall 2024 applications, particularly in the Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing and Screenwriting disciplines. Reviewers will read applications from Dec. 1, 2023–Jan. 12, 2024, while interviewers participate between Jan. 16–Feb. 28, 2024. Submit your Alumni reader application by Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. PST to be considered. If you have any questions, contact Brian Hostenske, Manager of Admissions, at bhostenske@AFI.edu.



AFI AWARDS Submissions are Open

We are now accepting film and television submissions for AFI AWARDS 2023, which will take place January 12, 2024. Celebrating the collaborative nature of film and television, AFI AWARDS is the only national program that honors creative teams as a whole, recognizing those in front of and behind the camera. The deadline to submit is Thursday, October 19 at 5:00 p.m. PST. Learn more about eligibility rules and requirements and submit your film today!



Watch Editing Workshop by AFI Alum Brian Wessel

The Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center recently hosted a virtual workshop, led by Editing Alum Brian Wessel (Class of 2009), for filmmakers looking to position themselves for a successful editing career. If you missed it, you can now access a recording of the event below.



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!



AFI Emails Available

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 AlumniEmailRequest@AFI.com.

In Other AFI News…




The 25th Emerging Cinematographer Awards is set to honor Sarah Anne Pierpont (AFI Class of 2020) for her film JULIET. AFI Conservatory Cinematography Discipline Head Stephen Lighthill will also be lauded with the ASC Mentor Award and AFI Alum Janusz Kamiński (AFI Class of 1987) will receive this year’s Distinguished Filmmaker Award.


Congratulations to the following AFI Conservatory filmmakers on their ASC Student Heritage Award nominations!

Owen Roizman Student Heritage Award – Graduate Category

  • Hannah Platzer (AFI Class of 2023) for IM FINSTERN
  • Isue Shin (AFI Class of 2023) for DOSH

George Spiro Dibie Heritage Award – Undergraduate Category

  • Ariano Trevino Angelone (AFI Class of 2024) for SAMMY, WITHOUT STRINGS


Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival announced that it will honor AFI Alum Diane Becker (AFI Class of 2006), the Oscar®-winning producer of NAVALNY, with the 2023 Impact Award. Her new documentary KING COAL is set to screen at the festival on October 10.


Director Michael Lazovsky (AFI Class of 2021) was honored with the Jack Larson Southern California Filmmaker Award for his film STALLED, written by Sheheryar Ahsan and Christopher Osterndorf (both AFI Class of 2022). The film will debut as part of the 24th annual “Fine Cut” Festival of Films on October 27.


The 2023 Toronto International Film Festival announced this year’s awards. Congratulations to the following AFI Alumni who were honored this year!

  • People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award: DICKS: THE MUSICAL
    • Michelle Lawler (AFI Class of 2012), Cinematographer
    • Connor O’Brien (AFI Class of 2013), C Camera/Ronin Operator
  • The TIFF 2023 People’s Choice Award,First runner-up: THE HOLDOVERS
    • Terrence Hayes (AFI Class of 2001), Additional Photography
  • The TIFF 2023 People’s Choice Documentary Award, Second runner-up: MOUNTAIN QUEEN: THE SUMMITS OF LHAKPA SHERPA
    • Jo Henriquez (AFI Class of 2014), Executive Producer


The UK has selected THE ZONE OF INTEREST, produced by James Wilson (AFI Class of 1991), for its official Best International Feature Oscar® submission.




AFI Alum Diane Becker (AFI Class of 2006) will produce BLINK OF AN EYE, a National Geographic documentary depicting the true story of the Pelletier family who decided to go on a world tour after learning three of their children would soon lose their vision.


In the midst of his successful festival run in PRISCILLA and SALTBURN, Jacob Elordi will next star alongside Richard Gere in AFI Alum Paul Schrader’s (AFI Class of 1969) new feature OH, CANADA.




Netflix has picked up the worldwide rights to the documentary MOUNTAIN QUEEN: THE SUMMITS OF LHAKPA SHERPA, executive produced by Jo Henriquez (AFI Class of 2014).


Neon picked up the rights to Ava DuVernay’s ORIGIN, shot by cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd (AFI Class of 2009), following its premiere at the Venice Film Festival.


Lionsgate is set to distribute a new reboot of THE CROW, which was written by AFI Alum Will Schneider (AFI Class of 2007) and Zach Baylin.




A24 released the first trailer for DREAM SCENARIO, starring Nicolas Cage and produced by AFI Alum Ari Aster (AFI Class of 2010). The film will be released theatrically on November 10.


FX released the first trailer for A MURDER AT THE END OF THE WORLD, co-created by Zal Batmanglij (AFI Class of 2006) and Brit Marling, which will premiere November 14.


AHSOKA’s first episode scored 14 million views worldwide on Disney+. Director Jennifer Getzinger (AFI DWW Class 2005) and Production Designer Todd Cherniawsky (AFI Class of 1993) both helped bring the show to life.


Netflix revealed a large swathe of South African content including HEART OF THE HUNTER, the first feature from AFI Alum Mandla Dube (AFI Class of 2002).


LAWMEN: BASS REEVES, created, executive produced, and showrun by AFI Alum Chad Feehan and written by AFI Faculty member Jacob Forman (both AFI Class of 2004), is set to premiere November 5 on Paramount+. Check out the first trailer for the epic Western series.


AMC released the first trailer for the upcoming series MONSIEUR SPADE, created, written and directed by Scott Frank (AFI Class of 1984) and starring Clive Owen.


Samuel Goldwyn Films released the first trailer for IN THE LAND OF SAINTS AND SINNERS, produced by AFI Alum Philip Lee (AFI Class of 1993).


NYAD, which features the production design of AFI Alum Kara Lindstrom (AFI Class of 1983) and stars Annette Bening and Jodie Foster, released its first trailer. The biopic premieres in select theaters October 20 ahead of its streaming debut on Netflix beginning November 3.


Lulu Wang’s new limited series EXPATS, starring AFI Life Achievement Award honoree Nicole Kidman and premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, released first-look images. Yong Ok Lee (AFI Class of 2013) worked as the show’s Production Designer, Haley Ho (AFI Class of 2013) as its Art Director and Claire White (AFI Class of 2017) as the Prop Department Graphic Designer.


Magnolia Pictures unveiled the first trailer for INVISIBLE BEAUTY about fashion pioneer Bethann Hardison. AFI Alum Rick Rosenthal (AFI Class of 1973) executive produced the documentary which premiered at Sundance.


A new trailer for THE KILLER, directed by David Fincher and premiering at the Venice Film Festival, was recently revealed. Set Designer Argya Sadan (AFI Class of 2017) and Third Assistant Director Lara Panah-Izadi (AFI DWW Class of 2020) both worked on the film.


Netflix released the first trailer for RUSTIN, centered on civil rights leader Bayard Rustin – the architect of the March on Washington. Executive Producer Daniel Sladek (AFI Class of 1985), Set Designer Nathan W. Bailey (AFI Class of 2010) and Visual Effects Video Assistant David Schmalz (AFI Class of 1984) all worked on the feature.


Summer Xinlei Yang (AFI Class of 2018) produced a four-part docuseries NCT 127: THE LOST BOYS which follows the K-pop boyband. Watch the trailer for the new show here, which is now streaming on Disney+:


The official trailer for GEN V, the spinoff series of the dark superhero show THE BOYS, was revealed. AFI Alum Wei-Ning Yu (AFI Class of 2010) served as an Executive Story Editor on the new show which premiered September 29 on Amazon Prime.




The short film GRILL, written and directed Jade Aksnes (AFI Class of 2014) and shot by cinematographer Stephen St. Peter (AFI Class of 2014), has been selected for the Oldenburg Film Festival, Calgary International Film Festival, Bergen International Film Festival, Norwich Film Festival and Nordic International Film Festival.


Following its premiere at TIFF, Deadline reviewed LEE, starring Kate Winslet and written by AFI Alum Liz Hannah (AFI Class of 2009), which tells the story of photographer Elizabeth “Lee” Miller, a fashion model who became an acclaimed war correspondent during World War II.


THE AVALANCHE HUNTER, written and produced by AFI Alum Douglas Howell (AFI Class of 2007), was recently accepted into the 2023 Breckenridge Film Festival and the Festival Femmes en montagne in Anney, France.


Variety reviewed HIS THREE DAUGHTERS, written and directed by Azazel Jacobs (AFI Class of 2001), following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The media outlet wrote that the film “is the work of a filmmaker who has finally come into his own. Azazel Jacobs was always gifted. Now he’s major.”


THE THIVI TRILOGY, directed, written and produced by Fay Lellios (AFI Class of 1998), screened theatrically in Vancouver as an Official Selection at the Greek International Film Festival Tour of Canada on September 28 and will be showcased online from September 29 to October 31. The film also screened theatrically at the Epidaurus International Film Festival in Greece on Opening Night on September 20.


FERRARI’s world premiere earned a 6-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival. The film was produced by Thorsten Schumacher (AFI Class of 2001) and Lars Sylvest (AFI Class of 1999) while 1st Assistant Editor Franck Méndez (AFI Class of 2017) also worked on the project.




Darren Aronofsky (AFI Class of 1992) has posted the first video from inside The Sphere in Las Vegas, which consists of a screen the size of four football fields that “wraps up, over, and around the audience and promises the highest resolution LED on earth.” Aronofsky’s film POSTCARD FROM EARTH, which was filmed on all seven continents, is set to premiere October 6.


FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, written by A.J. Devlin (AFI Class of 2004), has picked up two more accolades! It was named a finalist for the Crime Writers of Canada Howard Engel Award of Excellence for Best Novel Set in Canada, as well as a finalist for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for Best Comedic Mystery. NeWest Press recently released the audiobook of Devlin’s second book, ROLLING THUNDER and will publish book 4 in the “Hammerhead” Jed series titled BRONCO BUSTER in 2024.


AFI Alum Neil Ferron (AFI Class of 2020) was interviewed by No Film School about his AFI thesis film, FISHMONGER.


NPR interviewed Casting Director and AFI Alum Allison Jones (AFI Class of 1981) about her experience casting Greta Gerwig’s BARBIE, alongside Lucy Bevan.


Filmmaker Mako Kamitsuna (AFI DWW Class of 2011) was featured on the cover of CineMontage Magazine and interviewed about her creative journey.


Mimi Leder (AFI Class of 1973) was interviewed by The New York Times, where she spoke of her experience as the first woman to be accepted into the AFI Conservatory’s Cinematography program, remarking, “I had such a great education there in terms of understanding the power of the lens.”


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