Universal’s Global Talent Development and Inclusion have unveiled the participants for the 2019 Directors Initiative. The initiative has also expanded their partnerships to include the American Black Film Festival and the New York Latino Film Festival. In addition, NBCUniversal Filmmasters will join veteran partners AFI Directing Workshop for Women as well as the Sundance Institute’s FilmTwo Fellowship.
This year, the Initiative has doubled in size with 17 directors from diverse backgrounds selected to participate. This year, the Initiative has the strongest international reach with directors from China, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Iran and Singapore.
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Sundance Institute FilmTwo filmmakers participating in this year’s Initiative include Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (The Mustang), Rhys Ernst (Adam), Atsuko Hirayanagi (Oh Lucy!) and Kirsten Tan (Pop Aye). From the AFI Directing Workshop for Women are directors Amber Sealey (How Does it Start), Jessica Kaye (Inheritance), Carly Usdin (Suicide Kale), Parisa Barani (Ablution (Wuzu)), Marielle Woods (Do No Harm), Shilpi Roy (Hipsterhood), Siyou Tan (Hello Ahma) and Talia Zucker (Child).
Lukas von Berg (L’aria Del Moscerino) is joining the Initiative from NBCUniversal’s Global Distribution & International Filmmasters program. Numa Perrier (Jezebel) joins from the American Black Film Festival while Jose Maria Cabral (The Projectionist) and Gabriela Calvache (The Longest Night) join from New York Latino Film Festival. Rounding out the Dinh Thai (Monday) joins from last year’s NBCUniversal Short Film Festival.
“While parts of the industry are beginning to see some progress in directing opportunities for women and people from underrepresented backgrounds, the numbers still show that much more work needs to be done,” said Janine Jones-Clark, Senior Vice President, Global Talent Development & Inclusion, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.
“As we looked to design this year’s initiative, we wanted to increase the number of participants and grow our network of resources and partners to broaden the scope of our talent pool,” added Jones-Clark. “This year’s brilliant filmmakers have all demonstrated a compelling vision and a strong understanding of story with their previous accomplishments, and we look forward to working with them over the course of the next year to provide them with exposure and opportunities for continued success.”
2019 marks the third year of the Directors Initiative which is designed to give highly-qualified directors access and exposure to a wider group of executives from various divisions of NBCUniversal to develop a network and gain insight on potential future directing opportunities at the company.
The year-long Initiative kicks off today with a week-long intensive, which includes several in-depth sessions with executives from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, plus a special roundtable conversation with Tina Gordon, director of Universal’s Little and the forthcoming Praise This.