FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, LOS ANGELES (January 13, 2017) — Following a rigorous selection process, the American Film Institute (AFI) selected 25 alumnae from the AFI Conservatory and the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women (DWW) — the American Film Institute's unique female filmmaker training program — to advance to the next phase of the Fox Filmmakers Lab. As previously announced, the Lab is a partnership between Twentieth Century Fox Film (Fox) and AFI, who will together work to increase the number of female directors working on major studio films by giving the alumnae opportunities to direct short films based on the studio's film franchises and titles, such as: ALIEN, CHRONICLE, DIE HARD, ERAGON (Fox 2000), THE FLY, THE MAZE RUNNER, THE OMEN, PLANET OF THE APES and PREDATOR. 

The 2017 Fox Filmmaker Lab directors/AFI alumnae are:

Joey Ally
Gillian Barnes
Shaz Bennett
Meredith Berg
Aubree Bernier-Clarke
Christine Boylan
Jan Eliasberg
Rachel Goldberg
Anne Hamilton
Tannaz Hazemi
Courtney Hoffman
Mako Kamitsuna
Alexis O. Korycinski
Jean Lee
Erin Li
Maggie Mahrt
Manjari Makijany
Rosita Lama Muvdi
Mia Niebruegge
Jane Pickett
Deborah M. Pratt
Lisanne Sartor
Thoranna Sigurdardottir
Devi Snively
Valerie Weis

Following the conclusion of Lab Week at Fox — which provided participants with tremendous access to the process of studio filmmaking — the filmmakers were celebrated at a cocktail party kickoff event in Beverly Hills, CA on Thursday, January 12, with Stacey Snider (Chairman and CEO of Twentieth Century Fox Film) and Bob Gazzale (President and CEO of AFI) in attendance in support of this groundbreaking partnership and to welcome the incoming filmmakers to the program.

In the Spring, following further mentored development of their material, the directors will pitch their franchise or reboot ideas to Fox executives. One or more filmmakers will be chosen to make their concept into a short film.

With the necessary expertise, tools and access to the studio's extensive intellectual property, the filmmakers will be invited to contribute to building on the narrative world of Fox's film franchises, and in the process, create sample work in genres, particularly action and science fiction, in which female filmmakers are often underrepresented. 

Fox is committed to providing significant resources to the projects, to reflect the quality and scale of the films that they support. The filmmakers will be able to add the projects to their portfolios and pitch Fox feature films unrelated to the shorts in the future.

About Twentieth Century Fox Film
Twentieth Century Fox Film is one of the largest motion pictures studios in the world. The company produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world. These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of the studio: Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox International Productions and Twentieth Century Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios.

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 American Airlines, the official airline of AFI and VIZIO, the official home theater sponsor of AFI.  

About the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women
Founded in 1974, the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women is a hands-on training program committed to increasing the number of women working professionally at the highest creative level in film and television. The innovative and tuition-free workshop is open to women with three years or more of professional experience in the arts, providing them an immersive opportunity to learn by doing — with each participant required to complete a short film or series by the end of the program.

DWW participants have gone on to great success, including Lesli Linka Glatter (AFI DWW, Class of 1982), whose Emmy®-winning work as a producer and director on HOMELAND earned her PGA and DGA Award nominations in 2016; Sian Heder (AFI DWW, Class of 2005), whose film TALLULAH, based on her DWW short MOTHER, recently premiered on Netflix; and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (AFI DWW, Class of 2012), whose series UNREAL received two 2016 Primetime Emmy® nominations including Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.

In addition to the support the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women receives from Twentieth Century Fox, it is also the recipient of generous gifts from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Comcast-NBCUniversal, Jean Picker Firstenberg, Google, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Linda Hope, Indiegogo, Lifetime, Mark and Lynne Liss, the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation, Rosalind Wyman, the Jean Picker Firstenberg Endowment and the Nancy Malone Endowment provided by the Bob and Dolores Hope Charitable Foundation, and other individuals committed to providing opportunities for women in the media arts. For more information visit:


Media Contacts: 

20th Century Fox Film
Chelsey Summey
[email protected]

American Film Institute
Stephanie Sweeney
[email protected]


Select photos will be available at