Shaz Bennett took tickets for Sundance at 14, later became a programmer for the film festival, and has gone on to be selected for the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, the Sundance Screenwriting Lab and other prestigious initiatives. She wrote for Bosch, directed the award winning feature Alaska is a Drag in 2017, and directed on both Billions and Queen Sugar, where she just wrapped as writer and director on Season 6, and is now attached as executive producer and writer on the new series Sovereign.
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Writer/director/producer Haifaa Al Mansour is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia. She won awards for her 2005 documentary Women Without Shadows as well as her acclaimed Sundance-winning and Bafta & Film Spirit Award nominated 2012 film Wadjda. Since then she wrote and directed Mary Shelley and The Perfect Candidate. She has directed prolifically on the small screen, including episodes of Motherland: Fort Salem, The Wilds, Archive 81, and The L Word: Generation Q. She just finished directing an episode of Tales of the Walking Dead and is attached as director on Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches and the upcoming film The Selection. She also has a number of projects lined up as producer/writer/director, including an animated feature Miss Camel, winner of the IWC Filmmaker Award given during the Dubai International Film Festival, and a documentary on cartoonist Shawn Kerri, one of the few contributors to CARtoons Magazine and was part of the early punk scene, created iconic images used by The Germs and the Circle Jerks.
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Hanelle M. Culpepper is an award-winning director who became the first woman to helm a new Star Trek series in its 53 year history, with Star Trek: Picard. Her diverse credits speak to her range as a director. They include Parenthood, American Crime, Grimm, The Flash, Gotham, Star Trek: Discovery, Picard, Kung Fu (for which she also got a co-executive producer credit), Criminal Minds, True Story, and The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. In 2019 she was selected as an inaugural director for the ReFrame Rise mentorship program. In 2021, Culpepper was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for her work on the pilot of Star Trek: Picard, "Remembrance". This was her second Image Award nomination; the first was in 2015 for the Criminal Minds episode, "The Edge of Winter." Hanelle is now executive producer and director on the small screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, and is attached to direct the film 1000 Miles, the true story of 1800s enslaved couple Ellen and William Craft and their escape to freedom.
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Martina Lee is an award-winning writer, director, and producer. She developed her craft at the University of Southern California, earning an MFA in Production. Her award-winning thesis film "Blueberry," made it into a number of festivals, and aired on both domestic and international broadcasting channels. Upon graduating, she worked with Roger Ross Williams on his Emmy Award winning documentary, "The Apollo" and the Ron Howard directed documentary "Pavarotti." In 2019, Lee became a Project Involve Directing Fellow, and she was awarded the Amazon Studio Fellowship. Through that program, she directed her next short film, "Black Boy Joy." This film showed at over a dozen film festivals, and won a number of awards, including the 2021 NAACP Image Award for Best Short Narrative. It is now streaming on HBO. Currently, Lee is developing with Warner Brothers, and works as an Associate Producer on OWN's "All Rise." Having worked in the Post Production Department since the first season, she was recently given her big break in directing an episode for the show. That episode will air later this year.
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Andria Wilson Mirza is the director of ReFrame, the coalition of industry professionals and partner companies founded in 2017 by Women in Film LA and Sundance Institute with a mission to increase the number of women in all backgrounds working in the screen industries. Previously, Andria was executive director of Inside Out in Toronto Canada, one of the world’s largest LGTBQ film festivals. As ReFrame director, she works with ReFrame ambassadors and partner companies to implement the ReFrame Rise program, which supports mid-career women directors to reach the next level of success in their careers.
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