Today — opening day at the AFI Conservatory for second year Fellows — AFI awarded grants to five AFI Conservatory graduates from the class of 2014 for excellence in their thesis work. The recognition and awards 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 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”; and 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 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.
Here’s more about the winners and the awards themselves:
Emily Ackerman is a Duke University graduate with a BA in English, a certificate in Film/Video/Digital and High Distinction in Creative Writing.
Stefan Kubicki grew up in Poland and the United States and graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in Sociology. His AFI thesis film AGAINST NIGHT is a finalist for the 2015 Student Academy Awards.
Chloe Okuno graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a BA in Slavic Languages and Literature. Her thesis film SLUT, co-starring Academy Award® nominee Sally Kirkland, screened at AFI FEST 2014 presented by Audi.
Logan Sandler graduated with honors from Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television in 2011 with a BA in Film Production. Logan’s AFI thesis film, TRACKS, stars Independent Spirit Award nominee Keith Stanfield (SHORT TERM 12, SELMA).
Derek Ustruck holds a BA in Film Production from the University of New Orleans. He attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in pursuit of an MFA, but left to focus on screenwriting. After being named one of the recipients of the AFI China Story Scholarship, Ustruck spent a month in China for research and wrote his screenplay “Yì Qi.”
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.
Above photo: Derek Ustruck receives his award on August 24, 2015 on campus at AFI