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Cholodenko Hosts AFI Directing Workshop for Women Showcase

Thompson on Hollywood By Cari Beauchamp | Thompson on Hollywood May 11, 2011 at 12:11PM

The AFI has long supported fattening the ranks of working women directors--still too thin--with its Directing Workshop for Women. Cari Beauchamp covered Monday night's showcase of recent grads, hosted by Lisa Cholodenko.Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids are All Right) opened Monday's AFI showcase at the DGA Theatre and soon had the audience laughing with the tales of serving as an assistant at AFI in the early 90s. She claimed she was totally inept at her job, but used the opportunity to thoroughly study the resumes and proposals of all the applicants to the DWW to learn how to “present” herself, Having learned her lessons well, she got into Columbia where she earned her MFA and was off and running.
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Thompson on Hollywood

The AFI has long supported fattening the ranks of working women directors--still too thin--with its Directing Workshop for Women. Cari Beauchamp covered Monday night's showcase of recent grads, hosted by Lisa Cholodenko.


Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids are All Right) opened Monday's AFI showcase at the DGA Theatre and soon had the audience laughing with the tales of serving as an assistant at AFI in the early 90s. She claimed she was totally inept at her job, but used the opportunity to thoroughly study the resumes and proposals of all the applicants to the DWW to learn how to “present” herself, Having learned her lessons well, she got into Columbia where she earned her MFA and was off and running.

Cholodenko might not officially be an alumni of DWW, but those who are include Randa Haines (Children of a Lesser God) Victoria Hochberg (Bad Boy) and Lesli Linka Glatter (Now and Then and many television programs, including Mad Men). DWW has been operational for over thirty years, providing a tuition free program to a select number of women. They have three weeks of classes, five days of shooting (no pick ups allowed) another month to lock and a few months after that to turn in their finished product.

This year’s graduates – Amy French (Hold for Laughs), Jennifer Glynn (Smorgasbord), Rachel Goldberg (Neighbors), Kimberly McCullough (Nice Guys Finish Last), Lisa Robertson (Commerce), Courtney Rowe (Sunnyview) Tina Salmassi (Tumbling) and Velvet Andrews Smith (Ripple Effect), were all in the audience for their screenings, along with friends, AFI staff, agents and studio reps. Six of the short films had female protagonists – a change of pace to say the least – and all boggled the mind that they were shot in five days.

There was so much talent on the screen, yet one cannot help but be reminded that according to the Celluloid Ceiling, the report turned out each year by the remarkable Martha Lauzen and her Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film in San Diego, for the past two years, only 7 percent of the top 250 films were directed by women. I hate to think what the percentage would be without AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women.

[AFI Photo from left to right: Jennifer Glynn, Courtney Rowe, Kimberly McCullough, Rachel Goldberg, Amy French, Lisa Cholodenko, Tina Salmassi, Lisa Robertson and Velvet Andrews Smith.]

This article is related to: Directors, Genres, Women in Film, Shorts


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.