AFI Conservatory Cancels Directing Workshop For Women Class Of 2022 Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

By David Robb

October 28, 2020

The AFI Conservatory has canceled the 2022 class of its Directing Workshop for Women due to the coronavirus pandemic. The program, which has trained more than 350 female filmmakers since 1974, will continue teaching its current class, though much of their training has been pushed back until next year.

“What’s infuriating to applicants like me is that they cancelled the program weeks after the application process closed, after hundreds of applicants like me spent months meeting their long list of requirements,” an applicant told Deadline. “This was the week they were supposed to notify whoever made it to the first round, but instead they sent out an email, which was crushing, to say the least.”

In an email to 2022 applicants, Susan Ruskin, dean of the AFI Conservatory and EVP of the American Film Institute, wrote: “As an industry, film and television production has suffered unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we are making strides toward a safe return to work, the path forward is anything but certain. After careful deliberation, it is with heartfelt disappointment we are writing to inform you that we have made the difficult decision not to enroll a DWW class for 2022. We plan to use this time to focus on fulfilling our promise to the current class, who have been forced to adapt as production timelines continue to be pushed into 2021, as well as to carefully consider the future of the DWW program, including a possible expansion of its mandate to help bring untold and under-told stories to the screen.

“Thank you for your understanding, and for believing in the value of the program as we do. You will receive a full refund for the fees associated with your application. We also want to acknowledge that you have spent time and energy writing scripts, creating look books, writing essays, and creating application videos. In recognition of the effort you have made, if you apply to an AFI program in the future, you will not be charged an admissions fee for your next application. We will be in communication with you in the near future and will update you as we carefully consider what the DWW program will look like moving forward. We will also be hosting a series of DWW Alumnae Q&As over the next year, and you will be invited to these events. Until then, we look forward to a time when we will be able to accept a new class of exciting filmmakers like you.”

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