The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television will be honoring Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Eric Heisserer (Arrival), Annie Award-nominated animator Erick Oh (Finding Dory) and director Reed Morano (The Handmaid’s Tale) will be honored at its 26th Annual Film Festival, This year, the festival takes place June 10-14 at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and at the Directors Guild of America.
A multi-hypenate (screenwriter, producer, director and author), Heisserer will receive the Distinguished Achievement in Screenwriting Award during Screenwriters Showcase on Monday, June 12 and will be presented with the award by Moonlight’s director Barry Jenkins, who won Best Picture and adapted screenplay from the Academy this year.
Heisserer earned an Academy Award nomination as well as a WGA Award for his adapted screenplay of Arrival (2016). The adaptation came from Ted Chiang’s short story The Story of Your Life.
His other writing credits include the box office hit Lights Out (2016), Hours (which he also directed in 2013), The Thing (2011), Final Destination 5 (2011), and the 2010 reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street. He is in pre-production on Extinction which stars Michael Peña and Lizzy Caplan. That picture is slated for a 2018 release. And, for Valiant Comics, he is writing Secret Weapons, an ongoing title that introduces new characters as well as fan favorites from the Valiant universe, debuting in June. Heisserer is also in negotiations to write and executive produce an AMC series based on another Ted Chiang short story.
Oh, an alumnus of UCLA TFT, will be honored on the festival’s first day with the Crystal Anvil Award during its Festival of Animation, which honors outstanding contributions to the world of animation. Oh, who worked at Pixar Animation from 2010-2016, was nominated for an Annie Award for his animation in a number of big box office successes, including Finding Dory (2016) Inside Out (2015) and Brave (2012). Oh recently joined Tonko House, founded by former Pixar artists Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo, to direct The Dam Keeper TV series.
On Wednesday, June 14, the Directors Spotlight will take place at the DGA and features a jury-selected showcase of the latest distinguished student films in the production/directing and animation programs. Films selected by panels of industry professionals and alumni will be presented with the Blue Ribbon Panel Award, Alumni Jury Award and awards for Spotlight finalists.
During this, director Morano — who made her feature film directorial debut in 2014 with the drama Meadowland — will receive the Distinguished Vanguard Filmmaker Award. Meadowland premiered in competition at Tribeca two years ago (she also served as the film’s DP) and also earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination. She was the executive producer and director of the first three episodes of HULU/MGM’s critically acclaimed series The Handmaid’s Tale which stars Elisabeth Moss. She is currently in post on her latest feature as director/DP — I Think We’re Alone Now starring Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning. She will next prep for her next directing feature, starring Jeff Bridges and Diane Lane, which begins production in October.
Morano is also the lauded cinematographer of Vinyl, Kill Your Darlings and Frozen River. In 2013, she became the American Society of Cinematographers’ youngest inductee and one of only 12 women in the organization at the time.
Also during Screenwriters Showcase, writer-director- producer Don Mancini will be announced as the Hunter/Zakin Screenwriting Chair for the academic year 2017-18. Mancini created the Child’s Play franchise, the successful series of horror movies featuring “Chucky,” the killer doll. Mancini wrote the screenplay for all seven films in the series, and directed Seed of Chucky (2004); Curse of Chucky (2013); and the franchise’s latest, Cult of Chucky, which will be released this October. Mancini actually conceived the screenplay for the original Child’s Play in 1988, while an undergraduate student at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.
In TV, Mancini has been a writer-producer on NBC’s Hannibal, HBO’s Tales From the Crypt, and SyFy’s anthology series Channel Zero.
Also, feature and TV writer Noga Landau will receive the Screenwriting Alumni Award on Monday, June 12. Her sci-fi feature TAU, which appeared on the 2014 Black List and is currently in post-production, was written while she was a UCLA TFT student. Landau is a staff writer on the Syfy series The Magicians and recently developed and produced a pilot, The Haunted, also for Syfy.
Additionally, producer Giacun Caduff will receive the inaugural Celebrated Producing Alumni Award during Producers Marketplace on Tuesday, June 13. This will be an annual award bestowed to a recent UCLA TFT Producers Program graduate in recognition of their talent, success and leadership within the film community. Earlier this year, along with director Timo von Gunten, he received an Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Live Action Short for producing the short film La femme et le TGV.