Film at Lincoln Center announces the participants for the Artist Academy, an immersive four-day program for filmmakers early in their careers, and the Critics Academy, a workshop for aspiring film writers and a venture of Film Comment magazine, at the 57th New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13).
“Our annual academies are a way for us to support, encourage, and spot emerging talent and critical voices that we hope will find a home with us here at Film at Lincoln Center and the New York Film Festival,” said Hernandez. “With this year’s Artist and Critics Academy classes, we’re proud to continue deepening our commitment to discovering and nurturing new voices in cinema.”
This year marks the ninth edition of the Artist Academy, which offers an experience for up-and-coming filmmakers from a variety of backgrounds to harness creativity and collaborate with one another. Tapping into both the Lincoln Center and New York film communities, the private four-day program is comprised of talks, workshops, and screenings. The 2019 Artist Academy is organized by Film at Lincoln Center Deputy Director Eugene Hernandez. The complete list of 2019 participants can be found below.
This year’s Artist Academy mentors include NYFF57 filmmakers Juliano Dornelles & Kleber Mendonça Filho (Bacurau), Lynn Novick (College Behind Bars), Ivy Meeropol (Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn), and Emma Tilinger Kosoff (producer, The Irishman, Joker), as well as NYFF56 filmmaker Tamara Jenkins (Private Life), NYFF52 filmmakers Josh & Benny Safdie (Heaven Knows What), and others. Past mentors have included Debra Granik, Julie Taymor, Sara Driver, Terence Nance, Christine Vachon, James Schamus, Paul Schrader, Laura Poitras, Ed Lachman, Nico Muhly, Ira Deutchman, Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Sir Richard Eyre, and others. The 2019 Artist Academy is sponsored by Dolby and Participant.
The Critics Academy nurtures promising writers and provides a valuable platform to launch their careers. It was started in 2012, as a joint venture with IndieWire, at the Locarno Film Festival and subsequently produced for the New York Film Festival that year. Past participants have gone on to write for a wide range of print and online publications, including The Atlantic, Brooklyn Magazine, Film Comment, The Guardian, Hyperallergic, IndieWire, L.A. Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, National Review, New Republic, The New York Review of Books, Paper, The Paris Review, Remezcla, Reverse Shot, Slant, Vice, The Village Voice, and Vulture, and some have become involved in film programming and publicity.
This year’s 10 selected critics will attend NYFF press screenings and cover the festival in a variety of ways, from quick-turnaround film reviews to more in-depth articles and interviews for potential publication in Film Comment and beyond. Participants will partake in candid roundtable discussions with working critics and other members of the industry to put their work in context, and have the opportunity to workshop their writing in one-on-one sessions. The Academy’s 2019 guest speakers include journalists, critics, programmers, and editors, such as Melissa Anderson, Teo Bugbee, Andrew Chan, Ashley Clark, Jacqueline Coley, K. Austin Collins, Shonni Enelow, Devika Girish, Eric Kohn, Soraya Nadia McDonald, Sheila O’Malley, Nicolas Rapold, Dana Stevens, Forrest Wickman, Alison Willmore, Farihah Zaman, and others. The 2019 Critics Academy is sponsored by Rotten Tomatoes.
Film at Lincoln Center is committed to fostering the next generation of filmmakers, critics, and industry professionals working in the world of cinema. The Artist and Critics Academies continue to emphasize the importance of diversity in the world of film, supporting and nurturing people of color and women, though their purviews remain expansive and all-inclusive. With academies during the New York Film Festival and throughout the year, FLC builds new audiences and continues to advance New York’s vibrant film culture. See more information on these initiatives here.
ARTIST ACADEMY PARTICIPANTS
Row 1 (L to R): Alex Thompson, Alison O’Daniel, Andrew Stephen Lee, Anna Zamecka, Annabel Essink, Annabelle Attansio, Arisleyda Dilone, B.Monet, Beck Kitsis, Catherine Fordham. Row 2 (L to R): Christopher Makoto Yogi, Daresha Kyi, Emily Ann Hoffman, Eugene Kotlyarenko, Farida Zahran, Gerardo ‘Gerry’ Maravilla, Kelly O’Sullivan, Kristen P. Lovell, Leslie Tai, Malik Isasis. Row 3 (L to R): Noor Gharzeddine, Raven Jackson, Sasie Sealy, Sebastián Rea, Shala Miller, Stephanie Wang-Breal, Vanessa McDonnell, Vishnu Vallabhaneni, Yen Tan, Zack Khalil
Annabelle Attanasio is a filmmaker and performer. Her first feature, Mickey and the Bear, had a critically acclaimed premiere at SXSW, where it was described as “a sharp, affecting film that’s brimming with darkness and hope, every instant of it vividly alive,” by The Hollywood Reporter. It went on to make its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival as a part of the Acid Official Selection. It has won several awards, including the Grand Jury Award at IFFBoston and the Adrienne Shelly Foundation Excellence in Filmmaking Award at the Nantucket Film Festival. The film will be released theatrically by Utopia in November. Her most recent short, Safe Space, made its world premiere at Palm Springs in June 2019. Her first short, Frankie Keeps Talking, played over 30 festivals and won awards including Best Female Protagonist at NFFTY. She resides in Brooklyn.
Arisleyda Dilone is a Dominican-American artist and filmmaker. In 2015, she completed the short film Mami y Yo y Mi Gallito/Mom and Me and My Little Rooster, which has screened nationally at the Brooklyn Arts Museum, New Orleans Film Festival, Brooklyn Museum, and Mercer Union, to name a few. Arisleyda is a member of Diverse Filmmakers Alliance, Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, and Ay Ombe Theater. She was a 2014 UnionDocs fellow and a 2015 Queer Art Program fellow. She has been awarded residencies at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center and Macdowell Colony. She is currently in post-production on Y Este Cuerpo También/This Body, Too, a feature documentary about her intersex body and the construction of femininity and womanhood in her Dominican-American family.
Annabel Essink is a writer, director, and modern art historian from the Netherlands. She founded the creative production company Perrault Pictures in 2017, named after the French poet Charles Perrault. Annabel’s fascination for folklore and mythology forms the heart of the company. She aspires to give back to stories their original purpose: to be adaptable to time, place, and listener. As they were written down, many classic tales became prescriptions of absolutes: good versus bad, male versus female. In her films, Annabel uses these given surrealist arenas to reinvent rules. She has a preference for theatrical production designs, using the iconographical references she became aware of during her academic studies. With her team at Perrault Pictures, which includes the cinematographer and her fiancé Freek Zonderland, she wishes to reunite enchantment and relevance.
Catherine Fordham is a New York-based writer, director, and producer, originally from Colorado, raised in Nova Scotia. Her award-winning short film KAYA is currently on the festival circuit and enjoyed a three week run at Nitehawk Cinema in New York, opening for Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale. Catherine’s short, Consommé, was licensed by AMC’s horror streaming site, SHUDDER, and screened at MoMA as part of The Future of Film is Female series. Best Thing You’ll Ever Do, a short-form mini-series she directed, won Best Short Drama at the HBO sponsored Independent Television Festival, among other awards. Catherine was selected to attend Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School in Munich, Germany 2016, where she learned to pick locks. She is represented by Girl Culture Films as a commercial director.
Noor Gharzeddine is a Lebanese/American award-winning filmmaker based in New York. Her bilingual debut feature, Are You Glad I’m Here, has traveled to 20 film festivals worldwide and won numerous awards. She is fascinated with films that blend hyper-realism with absurdity, and tragedy with comedy. Noor is currently working as a creative director on music videos, shooting a short video series, and writing her next film.
Emily Ann Hoffman is an award-winning animator, filmmaker, and artist. She has written and directed five short films, including Nevada (Oscar-qualified, Sundance) and Ok, Call Me Back (Slamdance). She is currently a resident with Mighty Oak animation studio and has previously been awarded fellowships with the Sundance Institute and the Jacob Burns Film Center. As a fine artist, she is one of the first class of artists on both Spacey Studios and R.A.R.E. She has a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work explores female sexuality, body, and vulnerability through a comedic lens.
Malik Isasis is a narrative and documentary filmmaker whose body of work explores the intersections of the personal and the political, primarily through drama and science fiction. He was offered a development deal with Sesame Street Studio after participating as 2019 Sesame Street Writing Fellow. Bitter Sugar, his current feature film in production, portrays the dilemmas and consequences of ambition in the extremely competitive world of dance. Malik is a member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective.
Raven Jackson is a native of Tennessee and an award-winning filmmaker, poet, and photographer. Her work often explores landscapes of indefinable experiences and emotions, as well as the body’s relationship to nature. A 2018-19 IFP Marcie Bloom Fellow, she is currently in development for her debut feature, all dirt roads taste of salt, which lyrically explores the life of a Black woman in Tennessee. An SFFILM Rainin Screenwriting Grant recipient, the project was one of five selected for the Ikusmira Berriak Residency in San Sebastián, Spain, and was handpicked by Barry Jenkins for Indie Memphis’ 2019 Black Filmmaker Residency in Screenwriting. Her latest short film, Nettles, winner of an inaugural Flies Collective Film Grant, had its International Premiere at the 66th edition of the San Sebastián International Film Festival and won the jury award for Best Narrative Short Film at the 2018 Tacoma Film Festival. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, TriQuarterly, CALYX, Kweli, Phantom Limb, PANK, and elsewhere. Her chapbook of poetry, little violences, is available from Cutbank Literary Magazine. Raven is a Cave Canem fellow and holds MFAs from New York University’s Graduate Film Program and the New School’s Writing Program.
Zack Khalil is a filmmaker and artist from the Ojibway tribe who lives and works in Brooklyn. His work centers indigenous narratives in the present—and looks towards the future—through the use of innovative nonfiction forms. His films have been exhibited at the Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Walker Arts Center among other institutions. He has worked professionally as a video editor for VICE, Canon, Fader, and MK2 Productions. Khalil is the recipient of various fellowships and grants, including but not limited to: Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellowship, Sundance Institute Indigenous Film Opportunity Fellowship, Jerome Foundation Artist Fellowship, UnionDocs Collaborative Fellowship, and the Gates Millennium Scholarship. Khalil graduated from the Film and the Electronic Arts program at Bard College.
Beck Kitsis (she/her) is a writer, director, and producer based in New York City. Selected as a 2019 Sundance Screenwriters Intensive Fellow, Beck is currently co-writing and producing Strawberry Summer, which has received support from the Sundance Institute, Cinereach, and Ruth Ann Harnisch. She is also in production on the short horror film The Three Men You Meet at Night and developing Route One, a psychological thriller about an incel (involuntary celibate), which will mark her feature directorial debut. She produced the short horror film The Rat (2019 Sundance Film Festival), the feature-length documentary Narrowsburg (2019 Camden International Film Festival), and the experimental short The Inconceivable Mountain (premiering on NoBudge later this year). Her music and music videos have been featured across many publications, including NYLON, Pitchfork, and Stereogum. Beck graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Film Studies and East Asian Studies.
Eugene Kotlyarenko was born 1986 in Odessa, USSR. His most recent feature, Wobble Palace, premiered at SXSW 2018 and was a New York Times Critic’s Pick upon its theatrical release. The Playlist called it “a gorgeous, narcissistic relationship nightmare… As genius as it is unique.” His anti-rom-com, A Wonderful Cloud (2015) was deemed a “21st-century Annie Hall” by Variety. His debut 0s & 1s (2011), one of the earliest films to tell a story through a computer screen, was hailed as “the ultimate has-to-be-seen-more-than-once movie,” by The New York Times. Eugene resides in Los Angeles and is currently completing a new feature about social media frenzy and mass murder in America.
Daresha Kyi writes, produces, and directs documentary and narrative film and television in Spanish and English. In 2018 she directed a short film about transgender rights for the ACLU that garnered over 2.6 million YouTube views, was screened at SXSW, won two Webbys and was recently nominated for an Emmy. In 2017 she co-directed and co-produced the feature-length documentary Chavela, which won numerous national and international awards, and produced Dispatches from Cleveland. In 2015 she produced Kristina Wong’s How Not to Pick Up Asian Women. In 2014 she served as EP of Emmy-winning writer Kevin Avery’s satirical take on The Wiz starring an all-white cast called The Whizz and she produced his short comedy Thugs The Musical in 2011. Daresha has produced television for FX, WE, AMC, Oxygen, E!, Telemundo, Bravo, and FUSE, among others. She was a 2017-18 fellow in the Firelight Media Documentary Lab and is currently a member of the Chicken & Egg Eggcelerator Lab, and a Creative Capital and A Blade of Grass fellow.
Andrew Stephen Lee is a Filipino-American director and writer based in New York City. For three years he worked closely with Magnum photographer Jim Goldberg before becoming an MFA Candidate at Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program. His thesis, Manila Is Full of Men Named Boy, premiered in competition at the 75th Venice Film Festival and continued on to the 28th Busan International Film Festival, 41st Festival du Court Métrage de Clermont-Ferrand, and the 32nd SXSW, among others. Stephen is writing his first feature, In the Shade Hardly Any Sun.
Kristen P. Lovell is an actress and producer who has always had a passion for film and dramatic arts. A resident of Brooklyn, Kristen was featured in HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness and co-produced The Garden Left Behind (SXSW 2019 Audience Award). A fierce trans advocate who has spoken out against media misrepresentation of trans women, Kristen also produced the documentary Trans in Media, which has been featured at the International Center for Photography, Aperture and Cornell’s Ivy Q. Kristen is the founder of The Trans Filmmakers Project.
Gerardo ‘Gerry’ Maravilla is an award-winning filmmaker and audience-building expert. His short film Cross screened at festivals across the country, including the Newport Beach Film Festival, San Antonio Film Festival, and Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. His feature script for Cross participated in the 2018 Stowe Story Labs. Desert, his last short, took home three awards at Los Angeles’s 2019 Connect Film Festival including the Audience Award. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Pitchfork, Remezcla, and more. Previously, Gerry served as Head of Crowdfunding at Seed&Spark after he launched a successful campaign to fund Cross. At Seed&Spark he helped hundreds of filmmakers reach their audience building and crowdfunding goals, while leading the team responsible for the highest crowdfunding success rate in the world—80%. He now works as an audience-building and crowdfunding consultant while in pre-production on the horror thriller The Halloween Club.
Vanessa McDonnell is a producer living in Brooklyn. She produced Chained for Life. which was released theatrically in September by Kino Lorber. She produced and edited the feature films Go Down Death (Fantasia) and Collective:Unconscious (SXSW). Vanessa is the co-creator of the independent series The Eyeslicer, which has produced new work by Bridey Elliott, Joanna Arnow, Albert Birney, and many others through its Radical Film Fund. She is a producer on the new feature film Dream Team by Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn (Two Plains & A Fancy and L for Leisure). She directed and edited the feature documentary John’s of 12th Street. Vanessa made the archival discovery and oversaw restoration of the lost 1966 film Who’s Crazy?, which features an original soundtrack by Ornette Coleman. She is currently at work on her narrative feature directorial debut.
Shala Miller was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, by two southerners named Al and Ruby. At around the age of 10 or 11, Miller discovered quietude, the kind you’re sort of pushed into, and then was fooled into thinking that this is where she should stay put. Since then, Miller has been trying to find her way out, and find her way into an understanding of herself and her history, using photography, video, film, writing, and singing as an aid in this process. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied photography, film, video, and writing. Currently, she is based in Brooklyn.
B.Monét is a writer/director who graduated from Spelman College with a B.A. in English. She hails from Silver Spring, Maryland, and holds an MFA from New York University in Film and Television with a concentration in writing and directing. In her films, she poses questions about identity, society, race, and culture. It is vital to her that under-represented people are shown in film, media, and television. She was also named the 2017 Horizon Award Winner through Cassian Elwes, Christine Vachon, and Lynette Howell-Taylor at the Sundance Film Festival. B.Monét won the 2018 Best Graduate Feature Screenplay for her feature film Q.U.E.E.N. She is a recipient of the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation grant at Fusion Film Festival, finalist in the Women in Film Mini Upfronts Program and a Sundance Women’s Financing Intensive Project Fellow. Most recently, she was selected as one of the winners for the Queen Collective in partnership with Queen Latifah, Tribeca, and P&G. Her short film Ballet After Dark is exclusively streaming on Hulu.
Alison O’Daniel is a visual artist and filmmaker. She has screened and exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; Centro Centro, Madrid, Spain; Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha; Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles; Art in General, New York; Samuel Freeman Gallery, Los Angeles; Centre d’art Contemporain Passerelle, Brest, France. She is a recipient of a 2019 Creative Capital award. Her film The Tuba Thieves is supported by the 2019 Sundance Creative Producing Lab and she is included in Filmmaker Magazine’s 2019 25 New Faces of Film issue. She has received grants from the Rema Hort Mann Foundation; Center for Cultural Innovation; and Franklin Furnace Fund. She is represented by Commonwealth and Council in Los Angeles and is an Assistant Professor of Film at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
Kelly O’Sullivan is a screenwriter, actor, and director originally from North Little Rock, Arkansas. She is the screenwriter and lead actor of Saint Frances, a feature film that won the Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Voice and the Audience Award for Narrative Feature at South by Southwest 2019. As an actor, she has performed at Steppenwolf Theatre, the Goodman, Writers Theatre, the Pacific Playwrights Festival, and the Ojai Playwrights Conference. Her television and film work includes two seasons on USA’s Sirens, and the independent film Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party, among others. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, The School at Steppenwolf, is a recipient of a Princess Grace Fellowship for Theatre, and is a 3Arts Make a Wave grantee. She is represented by Stewart Talent for acting and William Morris Endeavor for literary and directing.
Sebastián Rea is an Ecuadorian-American filmmaker from New York City. Currently developing his first feature film, and in post-production with his next short about child separation at the border, his narrative work focuses on social issues. His short film, Ruta Viva, premiered on HBO in September 2019, and his last short film, Skin, is now available on HereTV. He also volunteers with the Jack Brewer Foundation, documenting relief missions around the world. He is the recipient of the IFP No Borders Lab in 2016, the Council of Urban Professionals Fellowship in 2015, an Aspen Institute Ideas Fellow, and a Smithsonian Institute Young Ambassador Fellow. He is also the founder of the 30 Under 30 Film Festival. Previously, he served as content manager for Tribeca Enterprises, overseeing digital content across the festival, on-demand, and digital studios. He was also accepted into the Industry Academy at Film at Lincoln Center in 2019.
Sasie Sealy is an award-winning writer/director from North Carolina, known for combining visually striking imagery and playful moments. Her films have screened at the Smithsonian Institute and festivals around the world, and she has twice been awarded the short filmmaking prize at the Tribeca Film Festival, with New York magazine calling her film The Elephant Garden “one of the most touching and poignant films we’ve seen this year.” Her previous short Dance Mania Fantastic was named one of Tribeca’s +5, and she has won numerous grants and support from the Sundance Institute, New York State Council on the Arts, Film Independent, the Sloan Foundation, and the Tribeca Film Institute. A fellowship and new short with HBO in 2014 led to a chance to direct episodic television and her first DGA nomination for her work on Gortimer Gibbons’ Life on Normal Street. Since then, she has directed multiple projects for Amazon and most recently an episode of Fresh Off the Boat. Sasie is currently based in New York City, where she directs commercials as part of Bullitt Branded, the filmmaker collective and creative studio founded by Justin Lin and the Russo Brothers. Her feature debut Lucky Grandma premiered at Tribeca this spring to rave reviews, with the New York Times naming Sasie as one of “9 Filmmakers Who Should Be on Your Radar.”
Leslie Tai is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work chronicles the dreams, anxieties, and consumer desire of China’s rising middle class and the Chinese diaspora from a distinctly female perspective. Tai is the recipient of a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to China and Creative Capital Award. From 2006-2011, she was a member of the New Independent Chinese Documentary Film Movement in Beijing. She is currently in post-production on her feature debut, How to Have an American Baby, a kaleidoscopic voyage into the shadow economy of Chinese birth tourism in Beijing, Shanghai, and Los Angeles—told through intimate slices of life. Her work has screened worldwide at venues such as the Tribeca Film Festival, MoMA’s Doc Fortnight, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Visions du Réel, and broadcast online at New York Times Op-Docs. Tai has received grants from Fork Films, California Humanities, Field of Vision, SFFILM, Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, Firelight Media, Women in Film, Tribeca Film Institute, among others; and fellowships at The MacDowell Colony, Berlinale Talents, and Bogliasco Foundation.
Yen Tan is a Malaysian-born writer and director. He premiered the critically acclaimed Pit Stop at Sundance 2013. It was nominated for a John Cassavetes Award at the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Yen also co-directed Until We Could (2014) with David Lowery, an Addy-winning PSA for Freedom to Marry that was narrated by Robin Wright and Ben Foster. His latest NYT Critic’s Pick feature, 1985, premiered at SXSW 2018 and was inspired by his Short of the Week of the same title. Yen has been a fellow of Austin Film Society’s Artist Intensive, IFP’s Film Week, and Film Independent’s Fast Track. He was named one of Out Magazine’s OUT100 of 2018. Yen is based in Austin, where he also works as an award-winning key art designer for independent films and documentaries.
Alex Thompson is a director, writer, and producer. He was listed this year on Filmmaker Magazine‘s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. A Kentucky native, he has a BA from DePauw and an MFA in directing from DePaul University; he is an adjunct faculty at both. His feature directorial debut, Saint Frances, premiered at SXSW where it won an Audience Award and Special Jury Recognition. It will be released theatrically by Oscilloscope in 2020. He is happily represented by WME.
Vishnu Vallabhaneni was born in India and raised in Texas. His writing and directing work often regards the repercussions of being a body stuck between ethnic and social identities. While at UT Austin’s production program, Vallabhaneni wrote, directed, and edited the short film Sunshine and Rain. The short screened at New Orleans Film Festival and Dallas International Film Festival before acquiring distribution online. Sunshine was accepted into a short-to-feature incubator program and is the companion piece to his feature Chameleon. Vishnu was also the head writer and producer of the NPR podcast Don’t @ Me with Justin Simien, a creative conversation series with guests like Ava DuVernay, Zazie Beetz, Boots Riley, Barry Jenkins, and Issa Rae. His most recent short film, 1/30, was shot this summer in New York as a part of the 2019 AT&T Hello Lab with Lena Waithe as his mentor. The film is set on the first day of Ramadan and follows a Black American man struggling to find his place in his Muslim identity.
Stephanie Wang-Breal is an award-winning filmmaker, commercial director, writer, producer and co-founder of the independent production company Once in a Blue. Blowin’ Up, her third feature-length film, had its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2018 and was awarded the Best Documentary Feature award at the San Diego Asian Film Festival and the Society of Authors Award at the Film Des Femmes in Paris, France. Blowin’ Up had a theatrical run in New York, Los Angeles, and other cities in the Spring of 2019. Her first film, Wo Ai Ni Mommy (I Love You, Mommy), played in over 50 film festivals around the world and was the recipient of three Grand Jury Best Documentary Awards at the AFI/ Discovery Silverdocs Film Festival, the Asian American International Film Festival and the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, as well as a 2011 CINE special Jury Award. Stephanie’s second film, Tough Love, premiered at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in 2014 and screened in film festivals across the country. In 2019, Stephanie was awarded a 2019 Chicken and Egg Artist Award (formerly known as the Breakthrough Award). She has also directed commercials and branded content for Planned Parenthood, Shutterfly, Minwax, ESPN, Water Wipes, Vocativ, Verifone, Tiffany & Co., Apple, Nickelodeon, Goldman Sachs, UNICEF, CNN, A&E Television and MTV Networks. Stephanie is represented commercially by the good guys at Good Company. Stephanie is a proud member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and resides in Brooklyn with her son and daughter.
Christopher Makoto Yogi is an artist and filmmaker from Honolulu, Hawai‘i. His debut feature film as director, the award-winning August at Akiko’s, had its World Premiere at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam in 2018 to critical acclaim. Richard Brody in The New Yorker called it “transcendently inventive” while Guy Lodge in The Guardian wrote it was a “beguiling Hawaiian reverie.” It is distributed by Factory 25. His upcoming feature film is currently in post-production. Currently titled I Was a Simple Man, it participated in the Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs, IFP Film Week, Film Independent’s Fast Track, and received a Jerome Foundation grant and a Cinereach grant. Chris’s short films include the documentaries Occasionally, I Saw Glimpses of Hawai‘i and Makoto: or, Honesty, and the fiction film Obake (Ghosts).
Anna Zamecka is a Polish director, writer, and producer. Her debut feature film Communion received numerous international awards, including the European Film Award for Best European Documentary in 2017, the Critic’s Week Award at the 69th Locarno Film Festival and was also shortlisted in the Documentary Feature category for the 91st Academy Award. She has studied cultural anthropology and photography in Warsaw and Copenhagen. She is a member of the European Film Academy.
Farida Zahran is an Egyptian writer/director currently pursuing her MFA in Film at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her short film Youth premiered at SXSW 2019 and received an Oscar- qualifying award at Palm Springs International ShortFest. Prior to school, Farida worked in development at the Doha Film Institute. She is currently based in Brooklyn and is working on her first feature screenplay as well as a Cairo-set musical short.
CRITICS ACADEMY PARTICIPANTS
Row 1 (L to R): A.G. Sims, Beatrice Loayza, Bessie Rubinstein, Cassidy Olsen, Conor Williams
Row 2 (L to R): Mara Theodoropoulou, Michelle Chow, Moeko Fujii, Nicholas Russell, Peter Kim George
Michelle Chow is a senior at Barnard College, Columbia University, studying English, Film Studies, and Creative Writing. She approaches narrative from an interdisciplinary perspective. Like Wilde, she sees criticism as a form of art in its own right. Michelle has worked at publishing and film production companies, as well as student literary magazines and film festivals. She won the Lenore Marshall Prize and the Helene Searcy Puls Prize for her creative writing. She is especially interested in the aesthetics and ethics of film; the phenomena of film festivals; queer, art house, and global cinemas.
Moeko Fujii is a Japanese writer and critic. Her essays and criticism have appeared in and are forthcoming to The New Yorker, the Metrograph Edition, The Believer, and elsewhere. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Columbia and a BA from Harvard College, and has received support from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Tin House Workshop, and Kundiman. She calls Brooklyn and Chiba home, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in transnational modernism at Princeton. You can find her as @moekofujii, or dancing alone in a karaoke booth.
Peter Kim George is a New York–based writer whose film pieces can be found on MUBI Notebook, Reverse Shot, Brooklyn Rail, and Avidly. He is also a playwright and alumni of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Youngblood group. Peter holds a Ph.D. in English Language and Literatures from Brown University and will be co-teaching a course on New Korean Cinema at NYU in Spring 2020.
Beatrice Loayza is a freelance film and theater critic residing in Washington, D.C. Her writings have appeared in The AV Club, The Brooklyn Rail, Bitch Magazine, MUBI Notebook, Cinema Scope, RogerEbert.com, Sight & Sound, and others. She graduated from William & Mary with a degree in Literature and French and completed an honors thesis on how contemporary British theater has responded to the phenomenon of international terrorism. She is particularly interested in French and East Asian cinema and dedicates much of her time writing and learning about Francophone women directors and film artists, and the differences between cultural feminisms. Her writings can be found on beatriceloayza.com and you can follow her on Twitter @bealoayza.
Cassidy Olsen is a critic, editor, and screenwriter working in Cambridge, MA. Since graduating from Tufts University in 2018 with a degree in English and Film and Media Studies, Cassidy has served as the kitchen and cooking editor at Reviewed, part of the USA Today Network, and the resident film critic at The Improper Bostonian. She is also a staff writer at the international film blog Much Ado About Cinema, which is devoted to highlighting historically marginalized voices in criticism. Her interests include English and Irish modernism, Japanese cinema, celebrity gossip, and sharing a height with Elizabeth Debicki, among other things. Cassidy is from Toms River, NJ, and can be found at @olsencassidy on Twitter.
Bessie Rubinstein is a senior at Fordham University Lincoln Center studying film and English. She works to imbue her life with storytelling—both as a practice and subject of study—most recently completing a semester-long screenwriting program at the Film School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Currently, she serves as Editor in Chief of Fordham’s literary magazine The Comma, and is writing her thesis, which involves both a feature-length script and a study utilizing trauma theory as a paradigm for #MeToo era films. Her work can be read in the London-based film journal Another Gaze.
Nicholas Russell is a writer from Las Vegas. His work, fiction and nonfiction, has appeared in The Believer, Bright Wall/Dark Room, The Rumpus, and Columbia Journal, among other publications. He is also part of the Writers Block, an independent bookstore and literary hub in Las Vegas.
A. G. Sims is a Brooklyn-based writer who covers politics and culture. Her work has appeared in Slate, Esquire, and City and State NY. She is currently pursuing her masters degree in journalism at NYU.
Mara Theodoropoulou was born and raised in Athens, Greece, where she got her B.A. in Journalism. She moved to London to study for her Master’s degree in Film (Theory, Culture and Industry) and she recently graduated from Columbia University’s Lede program. She travels the world to attend film festivals and interview filmmakers and actors as chief film critic for the news & culture website Popaganda, and co-curates the Athens International Children’s Film Festival. She has proudly never fallen asleep during a press screening.
Conor Williams is a writer, filmmaker, archivist, and programmer living in New York. His work utilizes poetic, durational imagery with found footage, blending the personal and the historical to excavate new narratives. He is currently working on a documentary with the photographer and visual artist Madison Emond about her life and creative process. He received a BA in film and electronic arts from Bard College.