September 2022 News

AFI Welcomes Class of 2024 to Campus

On August 22, AFI Executive Vice President and Dean Susan Ruskin and her acclaimed faculty and staff welcomed first-year Fellows, who will embark on their two-year MFA filmmaker training program. Later in the week, three of AFI’s most notable Alumni, Liz Hannah (AFI Class of 2009, THE GIRL FROM PLAINVILLE, THE DROPOUT), Andy Siara (AFI Class of 2015, THE RESORT, PALM SPRINGS) and Byron Wu (AFI Class of 2019, THE BROTHERS SUN) addressed the incoming class, offering advice and sharing their personal experiences.



AFI Celebrates Class of 2022 Commencement

On August 13, the AFI Class of 2022 graduated at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, with AFI Producing Fellow Haley Beasley serving as this year’s Class Representative and legendary actress Michelle Yeoh and AFI Trustee Emeritus Lawrence Herbert receiving Honorary Degrees at the ceremony.



AFI Ranked the #1 Film School by the Hollywood Reporter

Last month, the Hollywood Reporter ranked the AFI Conservatory the best film school in the nation, highlighting the Conservatory’s diverse student body and its remarkably talented Alumni.



AFI Announces New Partnership with Telluride Film Festival

AFI is partnering with the Telluride Film Festival and its FilmLAB program to send a cohort of AFI Conservatory Fellows to attend the prestigious festival in Telluride, CO. The 49th edition will take place September 2-5, 2022, and feature filmmakers presenting their newest works, special Guest Director programs, major Tributes and more! AFI Fellows participating in the FilmLAB program will also learn from world-class filmmakers in a masterclass setting.



AFI Alumni Premiere New Work at Fall Film Festivals

Film festival season is underway, and we’re excited to see so many AFI Alumni represented this year! Learn more about the latest projects of your fellow Alumni that are playing at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival and Venice Film Festival this year.

Apply to Evaluate the Next Class of AFI Fellows

The AFI Admissions office is looking for Alumni reviewers and interviewers for this year’s applications for fall of 2023 – particularly in the Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing and Screenwriting disciplines. Reviewers read applications from December 1, 2022- January 12, 2023, while interviewers assist in vetting applicants from January 17-February 28, 2023. Click here to read more about the process, expectations, important dates and to fill out your application to be involved in the selection of the next class of AFI Fellows. If you have any questions, email Amy Ellenberger, Manager of Admissions at



AFI Conservatory Showcases Featuring the Class of 2022

This summer, AFI celebrated our Class of 2022 Cinematography, Production Design and Screenwriting Alumni, culminating in Showcases highlighting their extraordinary work. Watch the Cinematography Visual Essays shot on motion picture film, read the AFI Script List 2022 and view their outstanding production design work.

Call for DWW+ Application Reviewers

The DWW+ application for the Class of 2023-2024 closes on September 25. We’re looking for a committed group of DWW and MFA Alumni from the Directing or Producing tracks who are available to participate as Application Reviewers in support of the DWW+ Office.


We are pleased to provide honoraria for DWW+ Reviewers. Your time and investment in the application process are part of what keeps this signature program so strong. We are looking for bold scripts that make an impression in a short amount of time and will support a short film demonstrating directorial talent and skill within the constraints of the program. Thank you in advance for this invaluable contribution to our community!


Application Reviewers (remote):

  • Honorarium: $600-$800 for the review window + training
  • Number of applications to review: approximately 30-40 applications
  • One hour Virtual Application Reviewer Training:September 20 at 2:30 p.m. PST or September 22 at 11:30 a.m. PST (TBD)
  • Application Review Window: September 27 — October 23, 2022
  • The maximum page count for the script is 15 pages this year.

If you’re interested in participating, please contact us at with the following details:

  1. Name
  2. DWW+ or MFA Class Year
  3. Discipline: Directing/Producing
  4. If you’ve reviewed applications with us in the past and which year(s)

Deadline to apply: Tuesday, September 13 by 12:00 p.m. PST



Matt Reeves Brings the Caped Crusader to AFI

Director Matt Reeves recently visited the AFI Conservatory to discuss his blockbuster hit THE BATMAN. Watch him discuss taking inspiration from the “Batman: Year One” comics, Zoë Kravitz’s ideas for the character of Catwoman and what drew him to directing in the first place.



Inside the AFI Archive: Elia Kazan

This month, we are revisiting a 1975 seminar with award-winning director Elia Kazan in honor of his birthday on September 7. Over the course of his filmmaking career in Hollywood, he made celebrated films including EAST OF EDEN, A FACE IN THE CROWD, GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT, ON THE WATERFRONT and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE.



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 Available

Would you like an AFI email address to make it easier to contact other Alumni? If you’re interested, please feel free to contact Alumni Affairs at



In Other AFI News…




The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences named AFI Alum Freddy Macdonald (AFI Class of 2021) a Student Academy Award Finalist for his film SHEDDING ANGELS.


Indiewire spoke to this year’s Emmy Award® nominees for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) and Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour) to explore how they achieved the look of their series, including INSECURE’s Ava Berkofsky (AFI Class of 2013), LOKI’s Autumn Durald Arkapaw (AFI Class of 2009), OZARK’s Eric Koretz (AFI Class of 2006) and WINNING TIME: THE RISE OF THE LAKERS DYNASTY’s Todd Banhazl (AFI Class of 2009).


American Cinematographer Magazine released a list of the 2022 Rising Stars of Cinematography, including AFI Alumni Veronica Bouza (AFI Class of 2020), Catherine Goldschmidt (AFI Class of 2009) and Erin G. Wesley (AFI Class of 2019).


Filmmaker Magazine spoke to AFI Alum Jorge Camarena (AFI Class of 2020) about his film SPACESHIP, co-written with fellow Alum Victor Gabriel (AFI Class of 2020), which was one of five winners of the 2022 Student Short Film Showcase.


ScreenCraft announced the finalists for their 2022 Comedy Competition, including AFI Screenwriting Fellow Nora Alameddin (AFI Class of 2022) for her script “Holy Hell.”


The Sundance Institute and Asian American Foundation forged a partnership to annually provide 12 AAPI artists with a fellowship and scholarship, including AFI Alum Georgia Fu (AFI DWW Class of 2018).


South Korea selected Park Chan-wook’s DECISION TO LEAVE as its official contender for the International Feature Film section at the 95th Academy Awards®. The film was shot by cinematographer Ji-yong Kim (AFI Class of 2003).


ReFrame, a collaboration between Women in Film and the Sundance Institute, announced their 2022-2024 Rise cohort, including Barbie Leung – who previously participated in AFI’s Cinematography Intensive for Women – and Yoko Okumura (AFI Class of 2014).


Starz’s #TakeTheLead Writers’ Intensive announced its 10 participants, selected from 500 applicants. Congratulations to AFI Alum Raymond Perez (AFI Class of 2019) who is one of this year’s finalists. The Writers’ Intensive is a collaboration between Starz, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers and NewFilmmakers Los Angeles.


The Salon South Asian Mentorship Program revealed its Class of 2022 and announced Munis Rashid (AFI Class of 2016) will serve as a mentor in the program.




AFI Alum Max Barbakow (AFI Class of 2015) has signed on to direct the Warner Bros’ comedy DISASTER WEDDING.


Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are on board to executive produce a television adaptation of Erik Larson’s “The Devil in the White City,” which will star Keanu Reeves and be directed by AFI Alum Todd Field (AFI Class of 1992).


Warner Bros. Television is developing Coco Mellors’ debut novel “Cleopatra and Frankenstein” as a television series, with AFI DWW Alum Maggie Kiley (AFI DWW Class of 2009) attached to direct, as part of her overall deal with WBTV.


The Onyx Collection is set to launch SEARCHING FOR SOUL FOOD – which follows host and owner of LA restaurant My Two Cents, Alisa Reynolds, as she “discovers what soul food looks like around the world.” The series is executive produced by Melina Matsoukas (AFI Class of 2005).


Warner Bros. set an October 4, 2024 release date for JOKER 2, co-written by AFI Alum Scott Silver (AFI Class of 1992) and starring Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga.


Screenwriter Mattson Tomlin (AFI Class of 2014) is set to reteam with director Matt Reeves to pen THE BATMAN 2 for Warner Bros, with Robert Pattinson returning to play the Caped Crusader.


AFI DWW Alum Raelle Tucker (AFI DWW Class of 2003) will serve as showrunner of THE POWER, adapted from Naomi Alderman’s best-selling novel, with actors Toni Collette and Josh Charles on board to star. The project is part of an overall deal that Tucker signed with Amazon Studios.




Gravitas Ventures acquired North American distribution rights to the queer thriller THE FALLING WORLD, written and directed by AFI Alum Jaclyn Bethany (AFI Class of 2018).


Lionsgate’s Grindstone Entertainment Group picked up the North American rights to A PLACE IN THE FIELD, the feature directorial debut of Nicole Mejia (AFI Class of 2021) which also showcases the work of fellow AFI Alumni – cinematographer Kadri Koop (AFI Class of 2020), editors Colton Warren (AFI Class of 2021) and Mario Fierro (AFI Class of 2020) and production designer Kato Lawton (AFI Class of 2021).


Netflix acquired THE STRANGER, starring Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris, following its Cannes premiere. The film is executive produced by Thorsten Schumacher (AFI Class of 2001) and Lars Sylvest (AFI Class of 1999).


Sony has acquired the rights to “Weird NJ” from co-creators Kieran Valla (AFI Class of 2012) and David Kaufmann and Vertigo Entertainment, centered around “an estranged family that is forced by destiny to protect New Jersey from evil.”




Laika Studios’ new animated film WILDWOOD has begun filming outside Portland, OR. The film, which is being shot by acclaimed cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (AFI Class of 1969), has added voice actors including Carey Mulligan, Mahershala Ali, Jacob Tremblay, Awkwafina, Angela Bassett, Tom Waits and Richard E. Grant.


Production has started on a feature documentary from HBO Documentary Films and This Machine inspired by “The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto,” written by New York Times columnist Charles Blow. The project will be executive produced by Blow, David Kuhn, Todd Shuster and AFI Alum Trevor Smith (AFI Class of 2016).


ONLY THE GOOD SURVIVE, written and directed by AFI Alum Dutch Southern (AFI Class of 2004) and starring Sidney Flanigan (NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS), Frederick Weller (BLACKKKLANSMAN) and D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai (RESERVATION DOGS), just wrapped production. Thomas Mahoney (AFI Class of 2008) produced the film while Brian Udovich (AFI Class of 2004) served as an Executive Producer.




BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER, the highly anticipated Marvel sequel, released a teaser trailer, featuring the work of cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw (AFI Class of 2009).


A24 released a first look at THE WHALE, written and directed by Darren Aronofsky (AFI Class of 1992) and shot by cinematographer and longtime collaborator Matthew Libatique (AFI Class of 1992).


Searchlight Pictures released a new trailer for THE MENU, shot by cinematographer and AFI Alum Peter Deming (AFI Class of 1980). The film will have its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival before premiering in theaters November 18.


Writer A.J. Devlin (AFI Class of 2004) will release his latest novel FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, the third installment following ‘Hammerhead’ Jed, on September 15. Learn more here.


RUN SWEETHEART RUN, written and directed by AFI Alum Shana Feste (AFI Class of 2003), will have its streaming premiere October 28 on Amazon Prime, after debuting at Sundance earlier this year.


EMILY THE CRIMINAL, the feature directorial debut of John Patton Ford (AFI Class of 2009) starring Aubrey Plaza, premiered recently. The film, shot by cinematographer Jeff Bierman (AFI Class of 2009), has been called a “chilly, assured thriller” and named a New York Times Critic’s Pick.


Netflix released the first trailer for WEDNESDAY, the new Addams family adaptation. Gandja Monteiro (AFI DWW Class of 2018) served as a director, along with Tim Burton, over the course of the eight-episode series.


Roadside Attractions released a new trailer for the film CALL JANE about the fight for reproductive healthcare in pre-Roe America in the 1960s. The film, which premiered at Sundance earlier in the year, is executive produced by AFI Alumni Leal Naim and Thomas Burke (both AFI Class of 2016).


Writer Andy Siara (AFI Class of 2015) was interviewed by The Wrap about his new series THE RESORT, starring Cristin Milioti William Jackson Harper, which premiered this week on Peacock+.


Screenwriter Mattson Tomlin (AFI Class of 2014) joined actor Keanu Reeves on a San Diego Comic-Con panel to talk about their upcoming BRZRKR film adaptation.


FX Networks unveiled the first trailer for LITTLE DEMON, co-created, written and executive produced by AFI Alum Kieran Valla (AFI Class of 2012). The animated series stars Danny DeVito and Aubrey Plaza.


HONOR SOCIETY, directed by AFI Alum Oran Zegman (AFI Class of 2018), was reviewed in Variety ahead of it premiering as #1 on Peacock+.




The New York Film Festival announced their full slate of programming for its 60th edition, with the following films by AFI Alumni included in this year’s lineup.


-WHITE NOISE: Camellia Cox (AFI Class of 2002), Graphic Designer

-THE INSPECTION: Erik Louis Robert (AFI Class of 2014), Production Designer and Juli Kunke (AFI Class of 2014), Art Director

-CORSAGE: Gottlieb Pallendorf (AFI Class of 1994), Line Producer/Production Manager

-DECISION TO LEAVE: Ji-yong Kim (AFI Class of 2003), Cinematographer

-MASTER GARDENER: Paul Schrader (AFI Class of 1969), Writer/Director

-TÁR: Todd Field (AFI Class of 1992), Writer/Director/Producer and Ray Harvie (AFI Class of 1992), Storyboard Artist

-LESSER CHOICES: Courtney Stephens (AFI Class of 2009), Director


HollyShorts Film Festival announced their award winners, including HALLELUJAH which won the Grand Prix for Best Short. Writer/director Victor Gabriel (AFI Class of 2020), producer Duran Jones (Class of 2021), cinematographer Robert Hunter (Class of 2020), editor Camilla Bartoli (Class of 2020) and production designer Esmé Jackson (Class of 2020) created the film, which premiered at Sundance this year. HollyShorts also recognized the AFI thesis film APART, TOGETHER, featuring the work of writer/director Olivia Hang Zhou (AFI Class of 2020), writer Jess Kohs (AFI Class of 2017), producer Blanca Balleste (AFI Class of 2020), cinematographer Lucia Zavarcikova (AFI Class of 2020) and editor Alex Scarfe (AFI Class of 2020).


At the Vancouver International Film Festival, AFI Alum A.J. Devlin (AFI Class of 2004) introduced THE YAKUZA (story by Devlin’s mentor Leonard Schrader, screenplay by Paul Schrader (AFI Class of 1969) and Robert Towne) as part of their “Ragged Glory: Summer in the 70s” screening series.


KCET, the Los Angeles public broadcaster, announced the student finalists who will take part in the 23rd Fine Cut Festival of Films, including AFI Alum Michael Lazovsky (AFI Class of 2021) for his film MAGDALENA.


The 2022 Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival announced the winners of their Best of the Best Awards including THE MASON RING, shot by cinematographer Ino Yang Popper (AFI Class of 2020) and edited by Selinda Zhou (AFI Class of 2018), for Best Short Film.




Cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw (AFI Class of 2009) was featured in Variety discussing her experience working on LOKI, which scored her an Emmy® nomination.


Director and AFI Alum Darren Aronofsky (AFI Class of 1992) talked to Indiewire about creating environmentally conscious non-fiction films, including his new documentary THE TERRITORY, and his upcoming projects with National Geographic.


Awards Daily interviewed Todd Banhazl (AFI Class of 2009) about shooting WINNING TIME: THE RISE OF THE LAKERS DYNASTY and taking a “maximal approach to HBO’s telling of the Showtime Lakers.”


Cinematographer Ava Berkofsky (AFI Class of 2013) reflects on wrapping up filming the final season of INSECURE.


Indiewire did a deep dive into the extraordinary career of iconic actor, director and AFI Alum Bill Duke (AFI Class of 1978).


Indiewire profiled Casting Director Allison Jones (AFI Class of 1981) who, in an unconventional turn, has appeared onscreen instead of off in recent episodes of the acclaimed series BARRY and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM.


Cinematographer Eric Koretz (AFI Class of 2006) on aiming to achieve “greatness over good” for OZARK and the thought that went into closing out the series.


Writer Ira Miller (AFI Class of 1988) co-wrote the memoir “Promise Fulfilled: A Memoir of Immigrant Success” which was released May 4, 2022.


AFI Alum Indeana Underhill (AFI Class of 2020) talks with ProductionHUB about how she decided to pursue a career in cinematography and recently wrapping FLESH & BLOOD, her first feature film.


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