Training

DFI works with a network of esteemed industry mentors who provide expertise in shaping the institute’s training initiatives.

  • Afef Ben Mahmoud

    Afef Ben Mahmoud

    Tunisian director and actress Afef Ben Mahmoud began an artistic career at the age of 12.. …
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    …Tunisian director and actress Afef Ben Mahmoud began an artistic career at the age of 12, when she joined theatre clubs; the same year, she won her first Best Comedian Award.

    At 14 she joined the Sihem Belkhodja Contemporary Dance Company, where she was trained by well-known choreographers, including Stephanie Nataf and Selma and Sofiane Ouissi. She toured Tunisia and Europe with numerous shows, then, at 17, under Belkhodja’s supervision, Ben Mahmoud ran the Tunisian National Ballet for Kids, where she gave dance courses, and created and directed performances.

    For several years, she danced in musical shows by Tunisian theatre director Fadhel Jaziri, co-founder of the renowned Nouveau Théâtre de Tunis. At 20, she co-directed for Jaziri the dance ensemble in his major show ‘El Hadra’, and was selected to be part of ‘The Actor Studio’, run by renowned theatre director Fadhel Jaibi. She had her first international role in ‘Les Bacchantes’, with which she toured for three years with the French company La tour de Babel. In Tunisia, she had lead roles in Zahira Ben Ammar’s 'Trectic’ and ‘Al Moutachaâbitoune’ by Mohamed Idriss, then also the director of The Tunisian National Theatre.

    Ben Mahmoud then dedicated herself to her acting and filmmaking career. Her television series credits include ‘Ya Zahratan Fi Khayali’, ‘Sayd El Rim’, ‘Maktoub…’ and numerous video clips, including ‘Madinat Al Hob’ with Kadhim Al-Sahir. She had her first big-screen role in Jilani Saâdi’s ‘Khorma’, participated in several Italian productions, and played the lead in Ibrahim Letaief’s ‘Flous Academy’ and Nouri Bouzid’s ‘Making Off’, which won awards at several international film festivals. She has directed three short narrative films and a documentary, and is currently developing her first feature-length film, ‘Backstage’.

    Ben Mahmoud holds a B.Sc in Economics and Management, a BFA in Film Directing and Screenwriting and an MA in Art and Design.

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  • Ahmad Abdalla

    Short Narrative Lab Mentor

    Ahmad Abdalla is an Egyptian director on the forefront of the new wave of independent cinema in Egypt …
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    …He began his career as a film editor on commercials and feature-length films in 2003, and directed ‘Heliopolis’, his first feature film, in 2009. It was one of the first independent Egyptian films to receive theatrical release, and it participated in the Toronto International Film Festival, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival and the Marrakech International Film Festival. Abdalla went on to direct ‘Microphone’ (2010), featuring Egyptian actors Menna Shalabi and Khaled Abol Naga; it was named Best Arabic Film at the Cairo International Film Festival, won the Golden Tulip at the Istanbul International Film Festival and was featured in the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. In 2013, Abdalla’s ‘Rags & Tatters’ had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and he directed his most recent film, ‘Decor’, starring Abol Naga and Horeya Farghaly.

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  • Allegra Hamilton

    Allegra Hamilton

    A graduate of Harvard University, Allegra Hamilton-Brooksbank spent a number of years in Los Angeles... …
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    …A graduate of Harvard University, Allegra Hamilton-Brooksbank spent a number of years in Los Angeles as a script doctor and writer, working with many industry luminaries including Samuel Jackson and John Travolta, while working alongside Christopher Keane, the author of numerous best-selling how-to books on screenwriting. Most recently, Hamilton-Brooksbank wrote and directed ‘Longing’ for Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s Arab Film Studio Short Film Competition, for which she garnered a coveted award. Hamilton-Brooksbank’s knowledge, drive and passion are some of Handheld's greatest assets.

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  • Ayman El Amir

    Script Consultant

    Ayman El Amir is an Egyptian filmmaker and academic. Originally a doctor, El Amir obtained an MFA in Film …
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    …Production and Screenwriting from the Red Sea Institute for Cinematic Arts in Jordan in 2013. That same year, he founded a film production programme in the Department of Visual and Digital Production of the Faculty of Architecture and Design in Saudi Arabia’s Effat University. His work in film includes writing, directing and producing fiction and documentary films, which have screened in numerous international film festivals. In 2015, El Amir returned to Egypt to give a number of workshops and masterclasses on screenwriting, while working as a script reader and editor for the Torino Film Lab and the Doha Film Institute.

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  • Camilla Bubna-Kasteliz

    Script Consultant

    After graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge, Camilla Bubna-Kasteliz started her career as …
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    …a researcher for documentaries, before moving into fiction films. As a script reader and then story editor, she has worked with most of the major film funders in the UK – from broadcasters and national film funds to script development schemes and screenwriting competitions, as well as for numerous independent production companies. She continues to work with a broad range of writers and genres, focusing particularly on new writers and writers new to film. She also teaches at the Central Film School in London. Bubna-Kasteliz studied screenwriting at the National Film and Television School in the UK and is developing a number of her own projects.

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  • Chris Turiello

    Cinematography Mentor

    Chris Turiello is a New York City-based cinematographer and camera operator. Since 2013, he has worked as …
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    …the soundstage manager at Google, New York. He received his bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2007 and his Masters degree in Media Studies: Film Form from The New School in New York City in 2010. While at The New School, Chris founded and produced First Features, an organisation dedicated to the awareness and support of directorial debut feature films. From 2011 to 2013, Chris worked closely with renowned Dutch cinematographer and director Leonard Retel-Helmrich, researching the latter’s famous single-shot cinema approach. Turiello has also worked with renowned Palestinian filmmaker Kamal Aljafari and Dutch writer-director Paul Ruven. In 2014, Turiello taught cinematography workshops at The New School. His work has been shown at the Berlin International Film Festival, the Portland Film Festival and the Anthology Film Archives in New York City, among other venues. He is currently in production with a feature-length documentary about his father's obsession with collecting toys.

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  • Christian Routh

    Script Consultant

    Christian Routh began his highly accomplished career in the film industry as a film (acquiring such …
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    …titles as BRAZIL, THE KILLING FIELDS, HIGHLANDER, THE EMERALD FOREST, and LEGEND) and then became Head of Selection at the European Script Fund in the 1990s (working on such titles as BREAKING THE WAVES, NAKED, ORLANDO, ELIZABETH, ROB ROY, TOTO LE HERO, THE NEON BIBLE, LIVE FLESH and THE VAN).
    He moved to Catalonia from the UK in 2000 to be a film consultant and is currently head of studies of two MEDIA supported training schemes: Four Corners and ScripTease. Christian is the co-author, with the late Dagmar Benke, of a book called SCRIPT DEVELOPMENT. He acts as a consultant, lecturer, screenwriter, and script editor, for various European production companies, state agencies and film schools; including the Binger Film Lab in Amsterdam, where he has been teaching for over 10 years.

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  • Fadi Syriani

    ANIMATION WORKSHOP MENTOR

    Born in Beirut, Fadi Syriani is an animation and comic artist, and a holder of a Master’s degree in …
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    …Born in Beirut, Fadi Syriani is an animation and comic artist, and a holder of a Master’s degree in Architecture. His work has been screened in several film festivals in Lebanon, Europe and Canada. He is currently working on a short animated film and has been recently awarded an AFAC grant for cinema. The film was nominated for the Robert Bosch Stiftung Film Prize for International Cooperation in 2015.

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  • Ghassan Salhab

    Script Consultant

    Born in Dakar, Ghassan Salhab has directed six feature films, all of which have screened at …
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    …international festivals: ‘Beyrouth fantôme’ (1998); ‘Terra incognita’ (2002), which was selected for the Un Certain Regard section of the Festival de Cannes; ‘The Last Man’ (2006); ‘1958’ (2009); ‘The Mountain’ (2011); and 'The Valley' (2014). He has also directed numerous short films and videos, including ‘Posthumous’ (2007), ‘Narcisse perdu’ (2004), ‘My Living Body, My Dead Body’ (2003), ‘La Rose de personne’ (2000), ‘Baalbeck’ (co-directed with Akram Zaatari and Mohamad Soueid, 2000), ‘Afrique fantôme’ (1994) and ‘Après la mort’ (1991).

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  • Guy Brooksbank

    Guy Brooksbank

    An award-winning educator in media production, Guy Brooksbank's career began decades ago... …
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    …An award-winning educator in media production, Guy Brooksbank's career began decades ago in public television in the USA. More recently, he taught media production and filmmaking at Dubai Men’s College, where he was awarded the Nikai Award, which is presented to one faculty member each semester (from more than 17 campuses across the UAE) who consistently demonstrates great aptitude, creativity, innovation and dedication to their students. Brooksbank’s students went on to win numerous national and international awards and now form the heart of the media industry in Dubai.

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  • Hisham Saqr

    Editor Mentor

    Hisham Saqr was born in Cairo, and began his career in 2005. He has worked with a number of acclaimed …
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    …Egyptian directors, notably with Ahmad Abdalla on the award-winning ‘Rags and Tatters’ (2013). The two previously collaborated on ‘Microphone’ (2010), for which Saqr won the award for Best Film Editor at the Dubai International Film Festival. He also edited Ibrahim Al Batout’s ‘Winter of Discontent’ (2012), starring Amr Waked, which earned Saqr a Best African Editor nomination from the 2013 African Film Development Foundation Awards. Saqr's credits as editor include five feature-length and four short films, and seven documentaries. He has directed two short films. In addition to directing and editing, Saqr teaches Film Editing at the Jesuit Cinema School in Cairo.

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  • Hisham Zaman

    Qatar Film Fund Director Mentor

    Hisham Zaman is a Norwegian film director with kurdish decent. Arguably his breakthrough film, Bawke …
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    …(2005) became a hit on the international festival circuit, and has received more than 40 national and international awards including a nomination for best European short in 2005. In 2007 he directed another noteworthy mid-length film; the comedic drama "Winterland", a warm and humorous diaspora-story about a man settled in godforsaken spot in Northern Norway. In 2013 Zaman made his debut feature "Before Snowfall" - A road movie that becomes an odyssey from East to west. Zaman won Dragon award for Best Nordic film for "Before Snowfall” at Gothenburg film festival. The film won also best cinematography at Tribeca . Just a year after Zaman was ready with his next feature film "Letter to the King"(2014) and once again was awarded the prestige Dragon award for Best Nordic film and received also FIPRESCI award at European cinema festival of Lecce.

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  • Jerome Boivin

    Qatar Film Fund Director Mentor

    Born in 1954, Jerome Boivin studied law, sociology and political science before directing two short …
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    …films that won awards from French and international film festivals. He then made documentaries, commercials and television movies, worked as a screenwriter and consultant, and directed the feature films ‘Baxter’ (1989), starring Lise Delamarre, Jean Mercure, François Driancourt and Baxter the dog, and ‘Confessions d’un Barjo’ (1992), featuring Anne Brochet, Richard Bohringer and Hippolyte Girardot. He teaches in Paris at FEMIS and at the École Louis Lumière. He is currently preparing his next feature film, ‘Un Deux Quatre Trois Cinq’, which is slated to shoot in December, 2015.

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  • Kamal Aljafari

    Short Filmmaking Lab Mentor

    Kamal Aljafari’s filmography includes ‘Recollection’ (2015), ‘Port of Memory’ (2009) and …
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    …‘The Roof’ (2006). He was a featured artist at the 2009 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in New York, and in 2009/2010 was the Benjamin White Whitney Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute and Film Study Center. In 2010, he taught film at The New School in New York City, and from 2011 to 2013 he was a senior lecturer and head of the directing program for the German Film and Television Academy (DFFB), Berlin. He is the recipient of numerous film prizes and art grants. In 2013, Aljafari received the art medal of the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. A retrospect of his work is planned for 2016 at Lussas Film Festival in France and at the Cinémathèque québécoise.

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  • Marietta von Hausswolff von Baumgarten

    Script Consultant

    Swedish screenwriter Marietta von Hausswolff von Baumgarten is a member of the Swedish Drama Union …
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    …and the European Film Academy. She wrote and co-produced ‘Call Girl’, which won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival and was shown in numerous festivals worldwide. Since 2007, she has been connected as a script consultant with TorinoFilmLab, Binger Film Lab and the Venice Biennale College Microbudget lab, on films including ‘The Babadook’, ‘Djeca, Children of Sarajevo’, ‘Hi-So’, ‘Los Hongos’, ‘Les Quottro Volte’, ‘Beyond /Svinalängorna’, ‘H’, ‘The Fits’ and ‘Mediterranea’. Other related programmes are Qumra, Feature Expanded, Bridging the Dragon, TIFF STUDIO Toronto, Boost Rotterdam, the Rutger Hauer Master Classes, Generation Campus Moscow, Script Lab Russia, the Balkan Film Fund Athens, Talent Campus, the Irish Film Board and Filmpool Nord. She also consults privately on films, and has worked with filmmakers from more than 45 countries. She has a background in drama writing for television and literary journalism, and has worked in production, mainly with script continuity. Since 1996, Marietta is the Minister of a micro-nation called Elgaland-Vargaland, or KREV.

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  • Mathew Luhn

    Pixar Seminar Panelist

    As a Pixar Story Supervisor, Mathew Luhn teaches students, graduates and working professionals the …
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    …story methods he has developed over the last 20 years while creating award-winning stories and characters for ‘Toy Story 2’ (1999), ‘Monsters Inc.’ (2001), ‘Finding Nemo’ (2003), ‘Cars’ (2006), ‘Ratatouille’ (2007), ‘Up’ (2009), ‘Toy Story 3’ (2010) and ‘Monsters University’ (2013), as well as Pixar shorts, specials, and television shows. Attendees of Luhn’s story seminars, workshops and keynote addresses have included writers, artists, directors and creative leaders from Apple, Sony, the Cartoon Network, Paramount Pictures, the BBC, Warner Bros., Dreamworks and many others.

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  • Matthieu Darras

    Short Scriptwriting Lab Mentor

    Founder of NISI MASA, the European Network of Young Cinema, Matthieu Darras has written for the French …
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    …film magazine 'Positif' since 1998. He has been a programmer for the Critics’ Week at the Festival de Cannes, and Artistic Director of the Bratislava Film Festival. He now works as Delegate in Charge of Central and Eastern Europe for the San Sebastian Film Festival, and as Head of Programmes for the TorinoFilmLab.

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  • Michael Ho

    Doc Lab Editor Mentor

    Michael Ho’s work in sound and picture editing has covered a diverse range of programming, including …
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    …commercials and corporate films, music videos, documentaries and drama for television, feature films, and short films for the festival circuit. As well as working in the commercial field, Michael has been a filmmaking mentor at the National Film and Television School, as well as for other student film projects.
    Ho worked as an assistant editor on Wes Anderson’s stop-frame adaptation of Roald Dahl’s ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ (2009), and the recent BBC 4 drama ‘Spies of Warsaw’.
    He has just finished editing ‘Falling’, a short film directed by Gabrielle Russell, and ‘Urban Birds’, a documentary about female bicycle couriers working in London.

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  • Nadine Salib

    Short Narrative Lab Mentor

    Nadine Salib was born in 1984 in Egypt, where she graduated from film school in 2006. She started her …
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    …career as an assistant director and worked as a first assistant director and script supervisor on several short and feature-length films, among them Ibrahim El Batout’s ‘Winter of Discontent’ (2012). ‘Dawn’ (also 2012), her first short documentary, won second prize in the Arab women filmmakers’ competition at the Baghdad International Film Festival and first prize at the Goethe Independent Film Festival in Egypt.
    Salib has participated in many filmmaking workshops, including the Durban Talent Campus in 2011 and the Documentary Campus in 2012. ‘Mother of the Unborn’, her first feature-length documentary, premiered in IDFA 2014, where it won the Peter Wintonick Special Jury Award for First Appearance; it also won the FIPRESCI prize for Best Documentary at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2014. The film has been screened at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, the Carthage Film Festival, the Sheffield International Documentary Festival and the Transylvania International Film Festival, among many others. Salib is currently working on her first feature-length narrative film, ‘Shadi and I’.

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  • Peter Chappell

    Doc Lab Mentor

    Peter Chappell has worked extensively in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. As director, he …
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    …made a drama adapted from Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer’s book ‘Oral History’. His films have won numerous international awards, including the Canadian Film and Television Academy’s Award for Best Scientific Documentary and the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe’s Prix Europa for ‘The Origins of AIDS’, and the Silver FIPA for ‘Our Friends at the Bank’, which also won the Outstanding Journalism Award at the Ökomedia Festival in Germany. Chappell has organised workshops in Tunisia, Palestine and Qatar, and is on the advisory board of MAISHA in Uganda.

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  • Peter Peake

    Animation Workshop Mentor

    Peter Peake is a UK-based animation director with over 23 years’ experience in the industry, covering …
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    …a range of techniques including stop-motion, CGI, Flash and live action. He has worked extensively for the UK’s Aardman Animations, creators of Wallace & Gromit, ‘Chicken Run’ and ‘The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!’ As a stop-motion key animator, his work on Nick Park’s Academy Award-winning ‘A Close Shave’ included developing the character of Shaun the Sheep. In 1994, he made his first short film for Aardman, ‘Pib and Pog’, which won the McLaren Award at the Edinburgh Film Festival and was nominated for a BAFTA. This was followed in 1998 by ‘Humdrum’, which also won the McLaren Award and was nominated for aBAFTA and an Oscar. In 2002, he directed the half-hour special ‘Robbie the Reindeer II – Legend of the Lost Tribe’ for Comic Relief and BBC Worldwide, which won an International Emmy. He continues to work with Aardman directing television series, short films and commercials for clients including Coca Cola, Hotels.com and Wrigleys. His most recent short film for Aardman, ‘Pythagasaurus’, was completed in 2011.

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  • Richard Peña

    Professor

    Born and raised in New York, from 1988 until 2012, Richard Peña was the Director of the New York Film …
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    …Festival. He has also had a simultaneous career in academia, joining the faculty of Columbia University in 1996, where he has been tenured since 2003. He has taught at Harvard, MIT, Princeton, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of São Paulo and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

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  • Simona Nobile

    Script Consultant

    Simona Nobile has worked as a story editor, screenwriter and script consultant for Italian and …
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    …international production companies and European funding bodies for more than 10 years. A member of the Selection Committee of the Italian MIBACT – Cinema Department, she is responsible for national funding for the development and production of Italian films, including medium- to high-budget features; first- and second features; documentaries; and short films. She is an external expert for the Eurimages Council of Europe and for EACEA in the Creative Europe MEDIA subprogramme, and is responsible for the selection of applications from European production companies requesting funding from the MEDIA Development Fund. Nobile also works as script consultant for several international co-production and funding bodies, and has been instrumental in scouting new European talent and the development of several feature films and TV series.

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  • Stacey Eberschlag

    Toon Boon Course Mentor

    Stacey Eberschlag graduated with honours from Sheridan College in Classical Animation and has worked for …
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    …close to 20 years in the animation industry in a variety of positions. He joined Toon Boom Animation in 2010; prior to this he held the position of Director at Amberwood Entertainment for eight years. He has directed numerous programmes, including ‘Zeroman’ and ‘Hoze Houndz’, and worked on many critically acclaimed programmes, including ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’, ‘The Ron White Animated Show’, ‘The Secret World of Benjamin Bear’, and the Emmy Award-winning ‘Tutenstein’. Eberschlag also worked as a senior animator for Mercury Filmworks, and his animation work was featured in ‘Jimmy Two-Shoes’, ‘Mischief City’ and ‘Kick Buttowski’, a Walt Disney series. His solid background in Harmony animation and a broad expertise in digital character building make Eberschlag an esteemed member of the Toon Boom Animation family.

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  • Will Collins

    Screenwriting Workshop Mentor

    Will Collins is a screenwriter whose credits include the Academy Award-nominated, ‘Song of the Sea’ …
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    …(2014), for which he received an Annie Award nomination for Writing in a Feature Production and an IFTA nomination for Best Film Script. He also wrote ‘My Brothers’, his award-winning live-action feature-length debut, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was the opening film of the Galway Film Fleadh in 2010. Collins won the Pitching Award at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2007 and was nominated for Best Film Script at IFTA in 2011. He graduated from the NUIG Huston School of Film and Digital Media with a Master’s degree in Screenwriting.

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