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Margaret Rose Lester, Steve Martinez and Chandus Jackson

Talent Talent

2017 Universal Directors Initiative

As part of the studio’s ongoing commitment to inclusively identify and develop female and diverse directors, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion launched the Universal Directors Initiative in 2017.

The Intitiative convenes participants from the Sundance FilmTwo Initiative in which Universal is an exclusive sponsor and AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women where the studio is a sponsoring partner.  During the yearlong curriculum, selected filmmakers are introduced various UFEG business units as well as select NBCUniversal businesses.  

Sundance Institute | Universal Fellows

Clea DuVall

CLEA DUVALL has been a staple in the filmmaking community for over 20 years. She is recognized by many as a gifted actor, and has recently garnered recognition for her work behind the camera. DuVall’s directorial debut, The Intervention, which she also wrote and stars in, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. The film was well-received by both audiences and critics, and after competitive bidding sold to Paramount Studios. The Intervention was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. DuVall currently stars in the Emmy award winning, HBO series Veep (Emmy winner for Outstanding Comedy Series) and recurs in AMC’s Better Call Saul. She starred in many award winning films including Argo, Passengers, Zodiac, Girl, Interrupted  and the cult favorites But I’m a Cheerleader and The Faculty.

Sally El Hosaini

SALLY EL HOSAINI is a feature film writer/director. She's an alum of the Sundance Institutes Rawi, Screenwriters and Directors Labs. Her acclaimed debut feature, My Brother The Devil, picked up major prizes at Sundance, Berlin and London Film Festivals. It screened at over 40 international festivals, winning 12 awards, 17 nominations and an honourable mention. The film was released theatrically in the UK, US, Canada and Europe. As writer/director of the film, Sally won the Most Promising Newcomer Award at the 2013 Evening Standard Film Awards, Best Screenplay at the 2013 Writer's Guild of Great Britain Awards, Best Newcomer at the 2012 BFI London Film Festival and the UK New Talent Award at the British Women in Film and Television Awards 2012. She has been profiled by The Guardian, Screen International as a “Star of Tomorrow”, BBC America, IndieWire and Variety who featured her as one of their “Brits to Watch”.  After being selected as one of fifteen female directors for BAFTA's Elevate programme she became a member of BAFTA's Film Committee. Recently she directed Danny Boyle's TV series Babylon for Channel 4 / Sundance TV. She's currently developing feature projects with House Productions, Rosetta Productions and FilmWave. Sally is represented in the UK by Sayle Screen and in the United States by Anonymous Content.

Cory Finley

CORY FINLEY is a filmmaker and playwright. His feature directorial debut Thoroughbreds, based on his play of the same name, premiered at Sundance 2017 and will be released by Focus Features.  Thoroughbreds stars Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy and Anton Yelchin, and was produced by June Pictures and B Story. His play The Feast was produced at the Flea Theater in New York and was the inaugural recipient of the Gurney Playwrights Fund, and his other plays have been produced and developed at theaters around the country. He is currently adapting Dean Kuiper’s book Burning Rainbow Farm for the screen, with Lenny Abrahamson attached to direct. He was born in St. Louis and currently lives in Brooklyn.

Tanya Hamilton

TANYA HAMILTON is the writer and director of Night Catches Us, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, won the Fipresci Prize at the Seattle International Film Festival for Best American Film and was named Best Screenplay by the African-American Film Critics Association. It was nominated for numerous awards including an Independent Spirit Award in the Best First Feature category; multiple NAACP Image Awards; and Breakthrough Director at the 2010 Gotham Awards. A Sundance Institute Screenwriters and Directors Lab alum, Hamilton is also a recipient of the coveted Pew Fellowship in the Arts. She directs for television, including American Crime and the upcoming Showtime series The Chi, and is working on her next feature.

AFI Directing Workshop for Women Participants

Joey Ally

JOEY ALLY is a writer/director, a New Yorker who currently lives in Los Angeles. She is a member of the 2017 class of the American Film Institute Directing Workshop for Women, the 2016 Tribeca/Chanel "Through Her Lens" program, the AFI/Fox Directors Lab 2017, and was the recipient of “Video of the Year 2015” at WME|IMG.  Before moving behind the camera, Joey was an acting apprentice at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and studied improvisation at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater NYC, and the Groundlings LA.  A graduate of Amherst College, Joey got her education in filmmaking assisting Megan Griffiths, then Lynn Shelton, on set. Her multiple award winning films Minimum Wage and Partnershave screened internationally including at the Sundance Film Festival, Aspen ShortsFest, Outfest (Best of Fest), BFI:Flare, Palm Springs International Shortfest, LA Film Festival, and NBCUniversal Film Festival.  Partners debuted online with Vimeo Premieres.  Joy Joy Nails,  a short film Joey wrote and directed for the AFI DWW that premiered at Tribeca 2017, can be found online as part of The New Yorker's "The Screening Room".  Most recently she co-wrote, executive produced, and starred in a dark comedy for Turner and Refinery29's Shatterbox program.  Joey and her projects have been featured  by Indiewire, AJ+ (Al Jazeera), Refinery29, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, NY Magazine, Elle, and W Magazine.

Rosie Haber

ROSIE HABER is an aesthetically-minded writer and director whose work spans the Narrative, Documentary, and VR spaces. She is a graduate of NYU Tisch's graduate program and has been a fellow of Film Independent’s Project Involve, Outfest’s Screenwriting lab, AND AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women.  She won the Audience Award at LA Film Festival and the New Orleans Film Festival, a Webby award, the Grand Jury Prize at Outfest, and was nominated for a 2017 GLAAD award for her digital documentary series New Deep South— the third episode of which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Haber was a 2017 Sundance New Frontiers Lab fellow for Belle of the Ball, a Virtual Reality project she is co-directing with Silas Howard. She is the writer of the upcoming film adaptation of the classic transgender novel Stone Butch Blues and on the GLAAD award winning series, We’ve Been Around. Her next project is called Brujas - a young adult television show with conceptual horror elements.

Tannaz Hazemi

TANNAZ HAZEMI was born in Iran and raised in Sweden. After graduating from High School in Chicago, she published a book with MTV in Italy, then worked as a freelance journalist and later as on-camera talent for Tele+ and VH1 in NY. In 2011 she began writing screenplays and directing shorts. Her short film Before the Bomb was selected to over 40 festivals and won Best Short Film at TIFF Kids. For the movie she produced an original cover song with French musician SoKo. In 2017 she completed the FOX Filmmakers Lab and the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women, where she directed her short film Hail Mary Country. She is currently writing a commission for an Oscar nominated director and developing her feature debut.

Manjari Makijany

MANJARI MAKIJANY is a writer/director based in Los Angeles. She was one of eight directors selected for the prestigious American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women (2016) and the Fox Filmmakers Lab (2017). She’s written and directed three critically acclaimed short films, I See You, The Corner Table, and The Last Marble.  Her films have won prestigious awards in India, USA, Europe and Australia and have played in festivals like Clermont Ferrand, Rochester, Asian American International Film Festival and at the American Pavilion in Cannes. She’s the second Indian woman to go through the prestigious AFI DWW, where her short, I See You, was awarded the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation Grant and also won Best Film at the Asian American Int. Film Festival. Her feature script, City of Gold, was nominated for the Nate Wilson Award at the Professional Program in Screenwriting at UCLA, 2015. She's worked for incredible filmmakers like Christopher Nolan on Dunkirk, Patty Jenkins on Wonder Woman and Vishal Bhardwaj. Her credits as a 2nd-2nd Assistant Director include The Dark Knight RisesMission Impossible 4 and Bollywood features including Saat Khoon MaafWake Up Sid and Gandhi of the Month starring Harvey Keitel. Her vision for storytelling and her diverse film experience, both in India and America, has served as a fertile ground to craft her unique voice as a filmmaker. Her debut feature, inspired by true events, is scheduled to shoot in 2018 and is about a rural teenage girl who comes-of-age through skateboarding after India's first rural skatepark is introduced by a foreigner.