New York University: NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ Fusion Film Festival Names “Zola” Filmmaker Janicza Bravo “Woman of the Year”

The Fusion Film Festival—NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ premier student film festival celebrating women and non-binary creators in film, TV, and new media—has named Zola filmmaker Janicza Bravo “Woman of the Year” for 2022. The 20th anniversary event will be held April 7-9, 2022 at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

Bravo will hold a masterclass, following a screening of Zola, that will be moderated by Tisch alumnae Dircelene Torres and Natalie Jasmine Harris on Saturday, April 9. The three-day festival will also feature an exclusive preview screening of We’re All Going to The World’s Fair, a coming-of-age horror drama by writer/director Jane Schoenbrun, and a panel event with Dr. Mitu Khandaker of NYU’s Game Center and her partner in Glow Up Games, Latoya Peterson, the creators of INSECURE: The Come Up Game, a video game adapted from Issa Rae’s hit HBO show with their mission of making space for joy in Black and Brown stories.

Bravo’s masterclass will explore her journey as an artist through a variety of mediums and roles. Previous winners of Fusion’s “Woman of the Year” award include the Emmy- and Golden Globe- nominated co-creator and star of HBO’s Insecure, Issa Rae; Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning creator of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amy Sherman-Palladino; Grammy-winning music video director Melina Matsoukas; Oscar-winning screenwriter Lucy Alibar; Oscar-winning independent film producer Christine Vachon; and acclaimed cinematographer/director Reed Morano.

Janicza Bravo is a writer and director based in Los Angeles. She received her training in theatre at NYU. She’s mounted plays in the states and abroad. Her film work has screened at AFI, BAM, Carnegie Hall, SXSW, Sundance, and Tribeca. Her short film Gregory Go Boom won the Jury Prize for US Fiction at Sundance in 2014. Her feature film debut Lemon premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and Magnolia Pictures released. She directed the pilot for Kindred, which has been picked up to series at FX. Her second feature, Zola, premiered in competition at Sundance and was distributed by A24 and Sony internationally. Zola led the 2022 Independent Spirit Awards nominations with 7 nominations including Best Feature. Variety named Janicza as one of “10 Directors to Watch” in 2020.

“Bravo’s ability to find human comedy inside moments of paralyzing trauma is utterly unique and very much the force in her storytelling magic,” said Susan Sandler, Fusion faculty advisor, filmmaker, and Tisch film and TV professor.

Tisch alumnae—such as Rae, Matsoukas, Alibar, and Morano—are part of a growing Fusion mentorship network designed to help foster the next generation of female storytellers. In 2002, when the Fusion Film Festival was first launched, male students outnumbered female students at the Tisch undergraduate film program by a ratio of 2 to 1. By 2017, thanks to the concerted efforts of the undergraduate film and television department, programs such as Fusion, and Tisch’s ongoing commitment to fight unconscious biases and elevate underrepresented minorities, Tisch undergraduate film reached the milestone of equal enrollment among male and female students, and remains so today.

“At the Fusion Film Festival, everything we do is fueled by our determination to promote diverse storytelling. Fusion’s mission is to celebrate and empower women and gender underrepresented people in Film, TV & New Media, as well as to promote collaboration and equality in these industries. We are a group of passionate students united by a love for film as a powerful medium for social change, and we are determined to uplift voices and achieve equality,” said Fusion student organizers Sequoia Sheriff, Juliet Adelman, Kitty Bailey, and Lucy Walkowiak.

This year’s Fusion Film Festival will open on Thursday, April 7th at 7 p.m. with the panel event “Glow Up Games: Video Game Revolution,” featuring the creators of INSECURE: The Come Up Game, which takes the television world of Issa Rae and her friends from the hit HBO show Insecure. Glow Up Games is a game studio centering innovative storytelling about Black and Brown joy. CEO Dr. MItu Khandaker is an arts professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ Game Center.

On Friday, April 8, there will be an exclusive preview of Jane Schoenbrun’s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, a well-received Sundance Film Festival title that Bitch Media called “a nuanced exploration of how the web can both comfort and manipulate.”

On Saturday, April 9, Janicza Bravo will be presented Fusion’s “Woman of the Year” award and participate in a moderated masterclass Q&A following a screening of her film, Zola.

That evening, Fusion Film Festival’s final event, the 2022 Competition Screening and Awards Ceremony, commences at 6 p.m. EST. Throughout the evening, finalists and winners will be announced in categories Best Undergraduate Film, Graduate Film, Music Video, Documentary, Sight & Sound Film, Freshman Rising Star, Graduate Feature Script, Undergraduate Feature Script, Animation, and Half-Hour Pilot Script. The category winners, who are judged by NYU faculty and alumni and industry professionals, will take home over $50,000 in prizes and rewards from Canon, Final Draft, Abel Cine, Adobe, and Avid.

Fusion offers programming throughout the school year, culminating in a three day spring festival of screenings, industry panels, master classes, retrospectives, networking events, and competitions in fourteen categories all focused on the voices of women and nonbinary artists and their work behind the camera.

New York University