FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, January 19, 2023 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today the participants selected for the AFI DWW+ Class of 2023-24. AFI DWW+ is a year-long directing workshop that supports women and traditionally underrepresented narrative filmmakers through the production cycle of a short film, providing hands-on instruction led by industry experts. The short films completed in the workshop will premiere at the annual DWW+ Showcase in Spring 2024.
The AFI DWW+ Class of 2024 participants are Vanessa Beletic, Chloë de Carvalho, Desdemona Chiang, Naomi Iwamoto, Huriyyah Muhammad, Joanne Mony Park, Kerry O’Neill and Roxy Toporowych. Learn more about the new class and read their bios here.
The eight participants went through a rigorous selection process and were ultimately selected from 21 finalists who met with the Final Selection Committee. Committee members were Shaz Bennett (AFI DWW Class of 2012), Steven Berger (AFI Class of 2010), Ava Berkofsky (AFI Class of 2013), Tessa Blake (AFI DWW Class of 2014), Maggie Kiley (AFI DWW Class of 2009), Katrelle Kindred (AFI DWW Class of 2018) and Amber Sealey (AFI DWW Class of 2019).
“AFI DWW+ is integral to creating a pipeline of highly trained, diverse voices who have the power to drive culture forward and shape the future of the entertainment industry. We are thrilled to welcome this new class of accomplished artists to the AFI DWW+ program and guide them on their journey as directors and storytellers,” said Susan Ruskin, Dean of the AFI Conservatory and Executive Vice President of the American Film Institute.
In 2024, the program will celebrate its 50th anniversary. AFI DWW+ was launched in 1974 as the Directing Workshop for Women, one of the first gender impact programs in the cinematic arts and is one of the longest-running and preeminent film and television workshops nationwide. Since the program’s inception, DWW+ has trained over 350 filmmakers who give voice to historically underrepresented perspectives.
Past participants have broken barriers and gone on to great success, including Academy Award® winner Siân Heder (AFI DWW Class of 2005), who wrote and directed the Academy Award®-winning film CODA; DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter (AFI DWW Class of 1982), whose critically acclaimed work as a producer and director on HOMELAND earned her Emmy®, PGA and DGA Award nominations; Dime Davis (AFI DWW Class of 2015), who received a 2020 Emmy® nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series for A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW; and Hanelle Culpepper (AFI DWW Class of 2002), who directed the record-breaking pilot of STAR TREK: PICARD, making her the first woman director and the first Black director to launch a new STAR TREK series in the franchise’s history.
Other distinguished Alums include Maya Angelou, Anne Bancroft, Neema Barnette, Pippa Bianco, Tessa Blake, Tricia Brock, Ellen Burstyn, Rebecca Cammisa, Dyan Cannon, Jan Eliasberg, Naomi Foner, Jennifer Getzinger, Lyn Goldfarb, Randa Haines, Victoria Hochberg, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Matia Karrell, Maggie Kiley, Lynne Littman, Nancy Malone, Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, Becky Smith, Cicely Tyson and Joanne Woodward.
The AFI DWW+ program receives generous support from AT&T, Paramount Pictures, The Walt Disney Studios, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation, Universal Pictures and Lifetime. Additional support comes from the Lewis Greenwood Foundation, Jean Picker Firstenberg Endowment, The Nancy Malone Endowment provided by The Bob and Dolores Hope Charitable Foundation, and other individual supporters committed to providing opportunities for historically underrepresented voices in the media arts.
AFI DWW+ is part of the AFI Conservatory’s Department of Innovative Programs, which also includes the Cinematography Intensive for Women. Through a range of learning opportunities, Innovative Programs serves a diverse community of aspiring visual storytellers to cultivate cutting-edge technological, digital, and media-making skills, bridge access to professional networks and place participants on an upward career trajectory. Read more about Innovative Programs on conservatory.afi.com/innovativeprograms/.
About the American Film Institute (AFI)
The American Film Institute (AFI) is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to champion the moving image as an art form. Established in 1967, AFI launched the first comprehensive history of American film and sparked the movement for film preservation in the United States. In 1969, AFI opened the doors of the AFI Conservatory, a graduate-level program to train narrative filmmakers. The Conservatory, which counts Deniese Davis, Affonso Gonçalves, Susannah Grant, Matthew Libatique, David Lynch, Melina Matsoukas and Rachel Morrison as Alumni, is ranked the #1 film school in America. AFI’s enduring traditions include the AFI Life Achievement Award, which honors the masters for work that has stood the test of time; AFI AWARDS, which celebrates the creative ensembles of the most outstanding screen stories of the year; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive that preserve film history for future generations. AFI exhibition programs include AFI FEST, AFI DOCS and year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Maryland. AFI Movie Club is a destination for movie lovers from around the world to celebrate and engage with the art form every day. Other pioneering programs include workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community, including AFI DWW+ and the AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women. Read about all of these programs and more at AFI.com and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, YouTube.com/AFI, Twitter.com/AmericanFilm and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.
About the AFI Conservatory
The AFI Conservatory opened its doors in 1969 to an inaugural class that included Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel and Paul Schrader. Today, the Conservatory offers a two-year MFA degree in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. In a collaborative production environment, AFI Fellows learn to master the art of storytelling, collectively creating up to 175 films a year. Fellows actively participate in the entire life cycle of a film, from development through production and exhibition.
Alumni of this elite program, ranging from modern masters to bold new voices defining the state of the art form include Andrea Arnold, Darren Aronofsky, Ari Aster, Deniese Davis, Sam Esmail, Brad Falchuk, Affonso Gonçalves, Susannah Grant, Liz Hannah, Patty Jenkins, Janusz Kamiński, Matthew Libatique, David Lynch, Melina Matsoukas, Polly Morgan, Rachel Morrison and Wally Pfister, among others.
American Film Institute
Shari Mesulam, [email protected]