Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion Group Doubles Number of Filmmakers Selected For 2019 Directors Initiative – American Film Institute


Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion Group Doubles Number of Filmmakers Selected For 2019 Directors Initiative

American Black Film Festival, New York Latino Film Festival and NBCUniversal Filmmasters Partner With AFI Directing Workshop for Women and Sundance Institute’s FilmTwo Fellowship

Today Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion group (GTDI) announced the filmmakers who will participate in the studio’s 2019 Directors Initiative, which exposes directors to the studio production process and connects them with creative and production executives. In its third year, the Initiative has doubled in size with 17 directors from diverse backgrounds selected to participate with an impressive international reach, including directors from China, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Iran and Singapore.

“While parts of the industry are beginning to see some progress in directing opportunities for women and people from underrepresented backgrounds, the numbers still show that much more work needs to be done. As we looked to design this year’s initiative, we wanted to increase the number of participants and grow our network of resources and partners to broaden the scope of our talent pool,” said Janine Jones-Clark, Senior Vice President, Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion group. “This year’s brilliant filmmakers have all demonstrated a compelling vision and a strong understanding of story with their previous accomplishments. We look forward to working with them over the course of the next year to provide them with exposure and opportunities for continued success.”

The Initiative is designed to give highly-qualified directors access and exposure to contacts from various divisions of NBCUniversal to develop a network and gain insight on potential future directing opportunities at the company. It launched in sole collaboration with Sundance Institute’s FilmTwo Fellowship and AFI Directing Workshop for Women, but has since broadened its partners to include the NBCUniversal International’s Filmmasters and first-time participants the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) and the New York Latino Film Festival (NYLFF).

The year-long Initiative kicks off today with a week-long intensive, which includes several in-depth sessions with executives from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, plus a special roundtable conversation with Tina Gordon, director of Universal’s LITTLE and next year’s PRAISE THIS.

Participating Directors Include:

AFI Directing Workshop for Women

  • Amber Sealey (HOW DOES IT START)
  • Carly Usdin (SUICIDE KALE)
  • Jessica Kaye (INHERITANCE)
  • Marielle Woods (DO NO HARM)
  • Parisa Barani (ABLUTION (WUZU))
  • Shilpi Roy (HIPSTERHOOD)
  • Siyou Tan (HELLO AHMA)
  • Talia Zucker (CHILD)

Sundance Institute FilmTwo Fellowship

  • Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (THE MUSTANG)
  • Rhys Ernst (ADAM)
  • Atsuko Hirayanagi (OH LUCY!)
  • Kirsten Tan (POP AYE)

American Black Film Festival

  • Numa Perrier (JEZEBEL)

NBCUniversal’s Global Distribution & International Filmmasters

  • Lukas von Berg (L’ARIA DEL MOSCERINO)

New York Latino Film Festival

  • Jose Maria Cabral (THE PROJECTIONIST)
  • Gabriela Calvache (THE LONGEST NIGHT)

NBCUniversal Short Film Festival

  • Dinh Thai (MONDAY)

Recent alumni of the Initiative include Gandja Monteiro, who will direct her first feature Universal’s TALENT SHOW, executive produced by Lena Waithe, and Sally El Hosaini who is attached to direct Focus Features’ THE SWIMMERS.

On the television side, Milena Govich is the first female Producing Director hired for the Dick Wolf-led series FBI, and Olivia Newman has directed multiple episodes of NBC’s CHICAGO FIRE.

Since its launch in 2017, GTDI has instated and cultivated additional programs and initiatives outside of the Directors Initiative to identify and develop a pool of creative talent, including Universal Writers Program and Universal Composers Initiative. Alumni of these initiatives have already garnered success on various projects including Omid Ghaffarian from the 2018 Writers Program, who is currently developing an untitled project with Universal Pictures and was the first person in the history of the program to be asked by the studio to continue to develop a script, as well as Amie Doherty, who recently scored Colin Trevorrow’s JURASSIC WORLD short BATTLE AT BIG ROCK and the DreamWorks Animation short MAROONED.

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