The AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women (DWW) — AFI’s filmmaker training program committed to increasing the number of women working as directors and showrunners in film and television — has revealed the eight participants for 2017–2018. Following a recent kick-off event on the AFI Campus with DWW’s 2017 Distinguished Artist, filmmaker Paul Feig (BRIDESMAIDS, GHOSTBUSTERS, SPY and a four-time Emmy® nominee for TV’s THE OFFICE), the Class of 2018 will embark on a year of mentorship, collaboration and creation to make a short film or series — all in preparation for professional success in narrative directing. Feig, a longtime champion of female creators through his film and television work and his production banner Feigco Entertainment, fielded questions from the incoming DWW participants in an intimate meet-and-greet on Friday, February 3, on campus.
“To meet with this amazingly impassioned group of diverse, talented filmmakers is a dream come true,” said Feig. “I salute the AFI for their strong support of female storytellers. We need their voices more than ever.”
The DWW Class of 2018 filmmakers are: Beth de Araújo, Georgia Fu, Milena Govich, Tiffany Johnson, Katrelle Kindred, Nancy Mejía, Gandja Monteiro and Lorraine Nicholson.
BETH DE ARAÚJO
A dual citizen in the U.S. and Brazil, Beth de Araújo was born in San Francisco to a Chinese-American mother and a Brazilian father. She acquired a soccer scholarship to UC Berkeley, where she studied institutions, behavior and poetry, graduating with a BA in Sociology. She also spent a semester abroad at Hong Kong University creating an independent study focused on gender, sexuality and religion. She discovered she wanted to be a storyteller, leading her to acquire her MFA in Screenwriting at the AFI Conservatory. Her most recent screenplay, “I Want to Marry a Creative Jewish Girl,” based on her Gawker essay, won Best Screenplay Runner-up in the HollyShorts 2016 Screenplay Competition. Her latest short film as director/writer, INITIATION, premiered in September 2016 at the Oscar®-qualifying Los Angeles Shorts Film Festival. Currently, de Araújo is a staff writer/associate producer on a new one-hour comedy anthology series for Lifetime Movie Network, MY CRAZY SEX, which will premiere in early 2017. She will also make her TV directorial debut on two episodes of the series.
Georgia Fu was born in Taipei, Taiwan, but immigrated to California with her parents when she was two years old. She found cinema as a way into understanding American culture, and ever since has had an avid passion for seeing life through the lens of film.
For her undergraduate degree, she attended New York University’s (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts for Cinema Studies with a minor in East Asian Studies. In college, she gained valuable film experience working for the production company ThinkFilm and producer Barbara De Fina (GOODFELLAS). After college, she spent more than a year in Taiwan taking on the important task of relearning her native language, Chinese, at National Taiwan University.
After Taiwan she was able to continue her passion for moving around the world, living in Paris and Hong Kong, while working at the photo desk at the International Herald Tribune. After her stint in journalism, she returned to her love of film by pursing her graduate degree at NYU’s Tisch Asia in Singapore.
While at Tisch Asia, she made the short film GIGANTIC (2012), which screened at the Slamdance Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Gold Hugo Award for Best Short Film. Her latest project, her Taiwan-shot NYU grad thesis film MISS WORLD, is currently in post-production.
Fu is also completing a photo project on incarceration under the guidance of the VII Photo Masterclass in Berlin.
In addition to her own films, she has often worked as either editor or assistant director on countless productions around the world, in places as varied as Prague, Los Angeles, China, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Macau and Hong Kong.
Milena Govich is a director, actress, singer and musician. On Broadway, she performed in “Cabaret” at Studio 54, “Boys From Syracuse” and “Good Vibrations.” On television, she acted in starring roles on FINDING CARTER (MTV), LAW & ORDER (NBC) and CONVICTION (NBC), and recurred on a number of others, most notably RESCUE ME (FX). On film, she starred opposite Steve Guttenberg in A NOVEL ROMANCE (2011) and opposite Method Man in #LUCKY NUMBER (2015). She has regularly performed onstage in the popular For the Record performance series in Los Angeles.
Govich has mentored with more than a dozen established film and television directors. She made her first official foray into directing this past year with the short film TEMPORARY. A native of Norman, OK, she graduated valedictorian from her high school and went on to graduate valedictorian from the University of Central Oklahoma with a double major in Pre-Med and Vocal Performance, as well as minors in Dance and Violin. She is currently developing TV and film projects with her husband and producing partner, writer David Cornue.
Hailing straight out of Compton, Tiffany Johnson is a filmmaker and storyteller.
Since graduating from film school, she has worked for several TV and film production companies such as CBS, Overbrook Entertainment and Film Independent, and has assisted Academy Award®-winning producer Peggy Rajski. For the past few years, she has freelanced as a producer on numerous live television award shows. Her credits include MTV Movie Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards, People’s Choice Awards and the Primetime Emmys®.
In 2014, she directed her second short film, LADYLIKE. A collaboration with creative partner Nicholas P. Williams, LADYLIKE screened at multiple festivals including the San Francisco Black Film Festival, the Lower East Side Film Festival and the Diversity in Cannes showcase, where she won the Director’s Choice Award.
Johnson continues to develop her own projects, including the feature-film version of LADYLIKE. She is currently in post-production on her latest short film, DEAD GAY FICTIONAL.
A native of South Los Angeles, Katrelle Kindred is an award-winning director, writer and producer. After teaching English Language Arts in Compton, CA, Kindred completed her graduate studies in Film Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Her short film, SON SHINE (2013), played dozens of film festivals across the country, winning several awards including Best Narrative at the Humboldt International Film Festival; the San Francisco Black Film Festival’s Ava Montague Award; and Best Actor at the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival.
Her producing work includes 2015’s Student Academy Award Gold winner LOOKING AT THE STARS, and THE BIG CHOP (2016), which was optioned to HBO.
In the future, Kindred would like to continue creating honest stories that focus on global, social issues and on people often unheard.
Nancy Mejía is a director/writer from Los Angeles, CA. A first-generation Salvadoran American, she endeavors to explore and share original portrayals of diverse, overlooked communities. She was awarded the 2014 Latino Film Fund Seed Grant and 2015 Latino Screenwriting Project Fellowship, a lab organized with consulting support from the Sundance Institute. Her short, MATEO (2014), about a Latino teen’s fraught relationship with his abusive father, aired on El Rey Network in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Her dramatic screenplay “Jennifer’s Tigers” — a coming-of-age story following a relationship between an African-American girl and a Caucasian girl in the mid-20th-century American South — was a 2014 quarterfinalist for the Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting and selected as part of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers’ 2015 Diverse Women in Media Residency Lab. Recently, she was a finalist for the 2016-18 ABC-Disney Directing Program. For the past year, she has been in development with MiTú network working on a scripted teen drama series. Currently, she is co-creating a supernatural comedy-horror series, DARK WOLF GANG.
Gandja Monteiro is a director, writer and producer based in Los Angeles and São Paulo. Raised between New York’s Lower East Side and Brazil, she has been making films since she was 17 and traveling the world since she was just three months old. This early exposure to such vast cultures instilled a curiosity that has always inspired and informed her work.
Since graduating in film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she has directed work in more than a dozen countries, four continents and eight languages. Her narrative short ALMOST EVERY DAY (2009) won international visibility in festivals such as Tribeca and Palm Springs, and went on to be shortlisted for the Academy Awards®.
Monteiro has directed commercials and branded content for industry heavy-hitters such as Nike, Adidas, Coca-Cola, AT&T, Chevrolet and Smirnoff, among others. She recently wrapped production on her first TV project, an hour-long episode for HBO’s documentary series YOUTH, produced by Prodigo Films.
Director/writer Lorraine Nicholson most recently completed her third short film, LIFE BOAT. Nicholson’s first short, THE INSTANT MESSAGE, explores teenage sexuality in the internet age. Her second short, THIS MAGIC MOMENT, depicts the unconventional love between a movie star and her stalker. Additional writing and directing credits include R.I.P., an eight-episode web series on Blumhouse’s CrypTV, which champions new voices in filmmaking.
Additionally, Nicholson brought her fresh perspective to up-and-coming artist Hana’s music video for “Clay,” and to a trio of stop-motion videos she co-directed for Grammy®-nominated artist Tommy Trash’s “Luv U Giv” EP. She also worked as a staff writer on Bret Easton Ellis’ series THE DELETED.
Nicholson has honed her filmmaking skills working as an actress for 10 years. Her wide range of credits include the feature films CLICK (2006) with Adam Sandler, SOUL SURFER (2011) with Helen Hunt and Bobcat Goldthwait’s WORLD’S GREATEST DAD (2009).
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nicholson graduated from Brown University in 2012.
The 2017 DWW Showcase for this year’s graduating class of participants, who began their work in the program last year, will take place on April 18, 2017, at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles.