FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — August 24, 2015, LOS ANGELES, CA — Today the American Film Institute (AFI) awarded grants to five AFI Conservatory graduates from the class of 2014 for excellence in their thesis work. The recognition and cash prizes further propel these artists into their careers as some of the nation’s promising storytellers. Director/producer Rick Rosenthal (AFI Class of 1973), (BAD BOYS, MEAN CREEK) announced the following:

The William J. Fadiman Award for Screenwriting ($15,000) was awarded to both Emily Ackerman for the screenplay “Higher” and Derek Ustruck for the screenplay “Yì Qi”;

The Richard P. Rogers Spirit of Excellence Award ($15,000) to director Stefan Kubicki for the film AGAINST NIGHT which was recently nominated for a 2015 Student Academy Award® in the Narrative category;

AFI Conservatory Dean Jan Schuette also presented:

The Franklin J. Schaffner Fellow Awards ($10,000 each) to director Chloe Okuno for the film SLUT and to director Logan Sandler for the film TRACKS.

Bios for the award recipients are available here.

The William J. Fadiman Award for Screenwriting recognizes an outstanding achievement in screenwriting in honor of the distinguished story editor and AFI Conservatory faculty member, William J. Fadiman (THE LAST FRONTIER). The Richard P. Rogers Spirit of Excellence Award is given annually to a director whose performance at AFI embodies the spirit of celebrated documentarian Richard P. Rogers (PICTURES FROM A REVOLUTION), who passed away in 2001. These awards are made possible through the remarkable support of Nancy Stephens and Rick Rosenthal in conjunction with The Rosenthal Family Foundation.

The Franklin J. Schaffner Fellow Award is presented to an exceptional Directing Fellow in memory of Franklin J. Schaffner (PATTON, PLANET OF THE APES), a longtime champion of AFI and former chair of the AFI Conservatory Advisory Committee. The Franklin J. Schaffner Fellow Award, made possible through the generous support of The Franklin and Jean Schaffner Foundation, was established in 1991 by Jean Schaffner to celebrate her husband's creative legacy and dedication to fostering new talent.

About the AFI Conservatory
The AFI Conservatory offers a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. Aspiring artists learn from the masters in a collaborative, hands-on production environment with an emphasis on storytelling. AFI Conservatory's alumni have been consistently recognized with all of the major industry awards — Academy Awards®, Emmy Awards®, guild awards — as well as the Tony Awards®. Esteemed director, producer and screenwriter James L. Brooks serves as Artistic Director of the AFI Conservatory where he provides creative leadership for the elite film program. Proud supporters of the AFI Conservatory are Sony and American Airlines, the official airline of AFI.