As the season comes to a close, AFI recognizes all of the AFI Conservatory alumni who participated in or had films at AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi — including these four Class of 2016 recipients of the following awards, as presented by Dean Richard Gladstein at the festival’s alumni reception.
The Franklin J. Schaffner Fellow Award for Directing ($20,000) went to Joe Oppenheimer for his thesis film PLEA. Prior to the AFI Conservatory, Oppenheimer practiced as the equivalent of a public defender in the United Kingdom. PLEA won an audience award at the Ashland Independent Film Festival. Oppenheimer is now developing a television series set in Los Angeles’ juvenile justice system as well as a number of feature-length projects.
The Richard P. Rogers Spirit of Excellence Award ($10,000) went to Julius Telmer for his thesis film OSCAR. He is an award-winning Danish writer/director with a BA in Film and Media Sciences from the University of Copenhagen. His films hold a strong cinematic verité presence combined with subtle naturalistic performances.
The Richard P. Rogers Spirit of Excellence Award ($10,000) also went to Song Huang for his thesis film ALOUD. Born in China, he has worked as a filmmaker in both Asia and the U.S. He is currently developing his first feature film, PARTICULATE MATTERS, about a wholesome family that begins to crack under the severe air pollution in China.
The William J. Fadiman Award for Screenwriting ($15,000) went to Jory Anast for her screenplay “On Our Last Night Together.” Anast is a writer who was born in California and grew up in Australia. A published poet, playwright, prose writer and opinion columnist, she wrote the thesis film BENNY GOT SHOT, which has competed in festivals such as Cannes. She is in production for her limited miniseries I, TOO, DREAM AMERICA, of which she is the showrunner and writer.
The William J. Fadiman Screenwriting Award and the Richard P. Rogers Spirit of Excellence Award are funded by Rick Rosenthal (AFI Class of 1973) and Nancy Stephens.