Siân Heder to Receive AFI’s 30th Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal – American Film Institute
Siân Heder


Siân Heder to Receive AFI’s 30th Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Apple

AFI announced today that Academy Award® winner Siân Heder (AFI DWW Class of 2005), writer and director of CODA, this year’s Best Picture Oscar® winner, will receive the 2022 Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal, which will be presented at the upcoming AFI Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to Julie Andrews. The Schaffner Alumni Medal recognizes the extraordinary creative talents of AFI Conservatory Alumni who embody the qualities of filmmaker Franklin J. Schaffner: talent, taste, dedication and commitment to quality storytelling in film and television. Past recipients include Darren Aronofsky, Lesli Linka Glatter, Patty Jenkins, Janusz Kamiński, Mimi Leder, David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Melina Matsoukas and Rachel Morrison.

The AFI Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to Julie Andrews special will on air Thursday, June 16 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on TNT.

“Siân Heder is a voice the world needs now more than ever,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. “We are proud to honor her as an Alumna of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women – and, more importantly, as a storyteller who drives culture forward with an inspiring alchemy of intellect and heart.”

Heder is an Academy Award®- and BAFTA-winning writer and director and a graduate of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, where she made her first short film, MOTHER, which was awarded the Cinéfondation Jury Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Her debut feature film, TALLULAH, a feature adaptation of MOTHER, starred Elliot Page and Alison Janney. The film premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and was released as a Netflix original.

Heder wrote and produced for three seasons of the Netflix series ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, receiving multiple WGA nominations for her work. Her other television writing credits include MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE, which earned her a Peabody Award. She has directed episodes of Netflix’s GLOW, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, Hulu’s THE PATH, and Apple TV+’s LITTLE AMERICA, which she also executive produces and showruns.

CODA, Heder’s second feature, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021, where it was the first film in the festival’s history to win all four major awards: the Grand Jury Prize, the Audience Award, Best Director and an Ensemble Acting Award. The film sold to Apple for a record-breaking $25 million and garnered critical praise upon its release. CODA went on to win the Academy Award® for Best Picture as well as Best Adapted Screenplay for Heder and Best Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur. In 2021, Heder announced her multi-year overall deal with Apple. Future projects include directing, writing and producing BEING HEUMANN, based on the memoir by disability rights activist Judith Heumann, and writing and directing a feature adaptation of Sarah Lotz’s novel “Impossible.”

The presentation of the Schaffner Medal will take place at the AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to Julie Andrews on June 9, 2022. Tickets to attend the in-person Gala are available at

The AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute special will air on TNT on Thursday, June 16, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, followed by an encore at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT. Additional encore presentations will air on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) this fall. This marks the eighth year the Emmy®-winning AFI special will air on TNT.

To learn more about AFI and the AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to Julie Andrews, please visit

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