October News

PARASITE Writer/Director Bong Joon Ho Discusses Thrilling New Movie

This month, PARASITE writer/director Bong Joon Ho brought his much buzzed about Cannes Palme d’Or-winning film to an enthusiastic crowd of AFI Fellows, prior to its release in theaters nationwide today.


The filmmaker brings his singular mastery home to Korea in this pitch-black modern fairytale about the economic disparity between two families. By turns darkly hilarious and heart-wrenching, PARASITE showcases a modern auteur at the top of his game.


Watch the trailer!

Help Us, Help You: Take the AFI Alumni Survey

The AFI Conservatory and Office of Alumni Affairs is seeking to develop a career services, mentoring and professional development program. But first we need to understand more about you so we can be better equipped to help our alumni. Please help us by answering this 2 minute survey questionnaire.


Thank you!

AFI Alumna Kayla Emter Talks Editing Hit New Film HUSTLERS

Editor Kayla Emter (AFI Class of 2008) visited the AFI Campus with director Lorene Scafaria to screen their new film HUSTLERS and discuss working on one of the most talked about movies of the year at a recent HLMS seminar. Fellow alum Todd Banhazl (AFI Class of 2009) also worked as a cinematographer on the film.


In the trailer for HUSTLERS, a crew of savvy former strip club employees band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.


Watch a clip from the seminar.

Ang Lee Inspires Fellows During Screening and Q & A of GEMINI MAN

Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Ang Lee spoke with AFI Fellows during a Harold Lloyd Master Seminar following a screening of his new thriller GEMINI MAN, starring Will Smith.


GEMINI MAN is an innovative action-thriller, starring Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move. Distributed by Paramount Pictures, the film will open in theaters nationwide this weekend.


Watch the official trailer.

AFI Alumna Susannah Grant Discusses Harrowing New True Crime Series UNBELIEVABLE

AFI recently hosted an HLMS seminar with Susannah Grant (AFI Class of 1991) who co-created and executive produced the new Netflix series UNBELIEVABLE, based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica article. She was joined by director Lisa Cholodenko and executive producer Sarah Timberman.


Based on true events, UNBELIEVABLE stars Toni Collette, Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever. After a young woman is accused of lying about a rape, two female detectives investigate a spate of eerily similar attacks.


Check out the official trailer to the true crime thriller.

Hollywood's 50 Most Powerful TV Showrunners of 2019

The Hollywood Reporter’s annual rundown reveals the top 50 showrunners and industry power players who will be creating the series that define the next era. Two of AFI’s own made the list.


Sam Esmail, Class of 2004, for Amazon’s HOMECOMING & USA’s MR. ROBOT.


Brad Falchuk, Class of 1994, for Netflix’s THE POLITICIAN.

Meet the Dean: Susan Ruskin Talks Her Leadership Approach, Embracing New Technologies and Why AFI Alumni Stand Out in the Industry

The AFI Conservatory welcomed Dean Susan Ruskin to join the ranks of the renowned film school this year. Known as a champion of diverse voices and new media, Ruskin will also serve as Executive Vice President of AFI.


We sat down with her to discuss her leadership style, the importance of representation in film and how her experience as a veteran producer informs her new role as Dean of the Conservatory.

Congrats to AFI's Student Academy Award Winners!

AFI has swept the Narrative category of the Student Academy Awards, leading all other film schools in wins! Congratulations to the cast and crew who worked tirelessly on these films. This is a proud moment for the AFI Conservatory.⁣


The 46th Student Academy Awards ceremony, which will be held on October 17, is free and open to the public. Advance tickets are required and may be obtained online at oscars.org.

AFI Conservatory's 50th Anniversary Featured in the Los Angeles Times

In honor of the AFI Conservatory’s 50th year as a training ground for world class filmmakers in the industry, the LA Times published a story featuring interviews with Conservatory founder George Stevens Jr., current President & CEO of AFI Bob Gazzale and famed alumni, including Caleb Deschanel (Class of 1969), Edward Zwick (Class of 1975) and Rachel Morrison (Class of 2006).


In the feature, Morrison called the Conservatory “the Shangri-La” of film schools, while Zwick reaffirmed that “whenever we have a movie we can bring [we come back to AFI]. It’s a way of trying to foster that community that…we want to have sustained. We feel we were given something when we were [at AFI] very early on and we are determined to try and maintain its spirit.”

Honoring the Class of 1969

On Thursday, Sept. 19th, the AFI Conservatory celebrated 50 years, by reuniting the class of 1969. Nine of the original 18 Fellows returned to Greystone mansion — the original home of the AFI Conservatory where they honed their filmmaking skills, attended HLMS, and shot their thesis films. For all but one, this was their first time returning since they completed the program.


President and CEO of the American Film Institute, Bob Gazzale said, “It is you, the alumni, who make us better. Smarter. Stronger. By giving of your ideas, your energy, your time, and by ensuring that others can experience AFI as you have. And so, this historic moment is not a bookend, but a fuse lit — for a dazzling, wish-fulfilled future.”

Class of 2019 Screenwriters Share Their Latest Projects at Pitchfest

On October 7, the Class of 2019 Screenwriting Fellows had a successful Pitchfest where they presented their film and television projects to industry insiders — a culmination of the summer-into-fall Transition to Industry program, led by faculty member Gabrielle Kelly and Screenwriting Discipline Chair Anna Thomas.


Congratulations to the Class of 2019 Screenwriters! Be sure to check out their inspiring Pitchfest projects from the Screenwriting Showcase here.

AFI and Spotlight Cinema Announce Exclusive Cinema Partnership

Spotlight Cinema Networks and AFI have announced an exclusive yearlong partnership to showcase rare and never-before-seen footage from the AFI Archive within Spotlight’s pre-show entertainment to independent film theaters nationwide.

Each month, AFI will produce new segments that release vintage treasures housed in the AFI Archive and present them to movie-goers across the country. The inaugural October preshow will feature stories about the making of the classic thriller NORTH BY NORTHWEST as tol ... SHOW MORE

Spotlight Cinema Networks and AFI have announced an exclusive yearlong partnership to showcase rare and never-before-seen footage from the AFI Archive within Spotlight’s pre-show entertainment to independent film theaters nationwide.

Each month, AFI will produce new segments that release vintage treasures housed in the AFI Archive and present them to movie-goers across the country. The inaugural October preshow will feature stories about the making of the classic thriller NORTH BY NORTHWEST as told by the “Master of Suspense” himself, Alfred Hitchcock.


AFI's Lang Frederickson Honored at CFO Awards

AFI’s Chief Financial Officer Lang Fredrickson was recently named CFO of the Year at the 2019 CFO Awards. He is a prominent leader in the financial sector, with 30 years experience in finance and accounting.


Since taking on the role of CFO at AFI, in 2015, Fredrickson has made improvements to the Institute’s accounting and financial performance.


Everyone at AFI would like to congratulate Lang for this well-deserved recognition for his excellent work, dedication and leadership.

In other AFI Alumni news…


Universal’s global talent development and inclusion group announced the participants for the studio’s 2019 Directors Initiative, which include AFI Directing Workshop for Women alumni Parisa Barani (HUMAN TERRAIN), Jessica Kaye (SKATER), Shilpi Roy (STALLED), Amber Sealey (HOW DOES IT START), Siyou Tan (HELLO AHMA), Carly Usdin (MISDIRECTION), Marielle Woods (SPIN)  and Talia Zucker (CHILD).


Omer Ben-Shachar (AFI Class of 2018) won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Young Creator at this year’s Urbanworld Film Festival with his AFI thesis film, TREE #3.


The Hollywood Professional Association announced their nominees for the HPA Awards, including Jay Cassidy (AFI Class of 1976) who is nominated for Outstanding Editing for a Theatrical Feature for the film A STAR IS BORN.


HOUSE OF CARDIN, directed and produced by P. David Ebersole (AFI Class of 1991), will be screening in October at the Reykjavik International Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival. Alumni Amy Vincent (AFI Class of 1991) and Mark Putnam (AFI Class of 1991) also worked on the project as contributing cinematographers.


FORT IRWIN — an AFI thesis film from Quinn Else (AFI Class of 2019), Marc Tarczali (AFI Class of 2019), Ben Long (AFI Class of 2019) and Yiqing Yu (AFI Class of 2019) — was lauded by nonprofit RespectAbility  for the film’s representation of issues affecting the differently abled. The film screened this past month at Fantastic Fest.


NBCUniversal recently announced that Peacock, their new streaming service, will include a BATTLESTAR GALACTICA reboot from writer/director Sam Esmail (AFI Class of 2004) who inked a four-year deal with the network earlier in the year. Esmail and Emmy Rossum are also adapting a limited series ANGELYNE, based on the Hollywood Reporter’s investigative feature about the mysterious billboard icon.


The trailer for SONGS OF SOLOMON, written by Audrey Gevorkian (AFI Class of 2019), dropped recently prior to the film’s upcoming festival run and international premiere on April 23rd, 2020.


Frequent collaborators Marshall Herskovitz (AFI Class of 1975) and Ed Zwick (AFI Class of 1975) are developing a sequel to their seminal series THIRTYSOMETHING with MGMTV, which produced the original show that won 13 Emmy Awards and defined a generation.


Patty Jenkins (AFI Class of 2000) has signed a multi-year overall deal with Netflix to develop and produce new television series for the streaming service.


Into the Badlands co-Executive Producer, LaToya Morgan (AFI Class of 2005) will be serving as a creative advisor for the Sundance 2019 labs fellows. Deniese Davis (AFI Class of 2012), the Chief Operating Officer, at  ColorCreative, will serve as one of the 2019 Labs’ Industry Mentors.


Warner Bros recently dropped the trailer for BIRDS OF PREY starring Margot Robbie and shot by Matthew Libatique (AFI Class of 1992).


Catalina Aguilar Mastretta (AFI Class of 2011) is set to direct the bilingual comedy ESTE DIA for Sony Pictures, with production slated to begin this spring.


Elle Magazine featured an interview with director Melina Matsoukas (AFI Class of 2005), who helmed AFI FEST’s Opening Night film QUEEN & SLIM, as well as her collaborators, writer Lena Waithe and actress Jodie Turner Smith.


Rachel Morrison (AFI Class of 2006) directed and shot a recent ad spot for Coach, starring Michael B. Jordan — the line’s designer, face of Coach menswear and a frequent collaborator of hers (BLACK PANTHER, FRUITVALE STATION.)


A24 has enlisted Chloe Okuno (AFI Class of 2014) to rewrite and direct the independent horror film BODIES, BODIES, BODIES — the company’s first-ever spec script acquisition written by Kristen Roupenian, who penned the viral short story “Cat Person” in The New Yorker.


Netflix’s FINDING OHANA, written by Christina Strain (AFI Class of 2015), is now filming in Hawaii with director Jude Weng (AFI DWW, Class of 1998). Strain first started working on the script during her time as a Screenwriting Fellow at AFI.




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