Directors Close-Up Schedule

Description of weekly events for Directors Close-Up 2023

This year, our Directors Close-Up series returns to celebrate the immensely talented nominees of the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Below you’ll find the official schedule for Directors Close-Up 2023 – don’t forget to check back often for event updates and newly added speakers and panelists.

DCU at the Wallis

Tickets are available now for all three Directors Close-Up events taking place at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. Get the details and grab your tickets (before they run out!) using the links below:

Sunday, February 26Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson
Tuesday, February 28Shrinking with Creator Jason Segel and Team
Wednesday, March 1The Spirit of Independence


Film Independent is committed to hosting events that are accessible. For inquiries regarding accessibility, or to request an accommodation, please contact us at or 323 556 9305.

Please note: Individuals who purchase passes after 8:00 am PT on February 1 are not guaranteed live access to the first virtual event of the series. Masks are recommended for in-person events, but not required. All aspects of the Director’s Close-Up series (schedule, format, participants, etc.) are subject to change without prior notice.

Wednesday, February 1

Maiden Voyage: Best First Feature

12:00 pm PT – live online

There’s no greater learning experience for a filmmaker than stepping behind the camera for the first time. This year’s Best First Feature nominees represent a group of deeply personal films and their experiences will offer valuable insight for those planning their directorial debuts; building your team, what you’re expected to know, when to compromise, and how setbacks can lead to new creative opportunities.

Elegance Bratton (The Inspection)
Jamie Dack (Palm Trees and Power Lines)
John Patton Ford (Emily the Criminal)
Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic (Murina)
Charlotte Wells (Aftersun)

Moderated by Shelby Stone (Executive Producer, The Chi)

Page to Screen: Best First Screenplay

5:30 pm PT – live online

They say write what you know, which is especially true for first-time screenwriters. But if you’re not writing your own biography, how do you imbue your screenplay with the personal so it resonates with the viewer? Join this year’s Best First Screenplay nominees for a lively discussion on distilling their ideas into a coherent whole, the joy (or dread) of the rewrite, and their relationship with the director, whether it be a collaborator or themselves.

Joel Kim Booster (Fire Island)
Jamie Dack (Palm Trees and Power Lines)
K.D. Dávila (Emergency)
Audrey Findlay (Palm Trees and Power Lines)
John Patton Ford (Emily the Criminal)

Moderated by Kyle Patrick Alvarez (Director; Homecoming, Tales of the City)


Wednesday, February 8

Small Screen, Big Picture: Best Scripted Series

12:00 pm PT – live online

With provocative subject matter, creative freedom and innovative, novelistic approaches to storytelling, the influx of independent filmmakers into cable and streaming television has changed the landscape dramatically. This session features the creators of some of the most exciting new series to hit the small screen in the past year.

Soo Hugh (Pachinko)
Annmarie Morais (The Porter)
Patrick Somerville (Station Eleven)
R.T. Thorne (The Porter)

Moderated by Wendy Calhoun (Writer/Producer; Prodigal Son, Empire)

The Spirit of Cassavetes: Low Budget Filmmaking

5:30 pm PT – live online

A million dollars doesn’t buy much these days, especially if we’re talking movie making. Those filmmakers who’ve managed to complete a feature film for less—sometimes much less—than $1M have had to rely on their passion, tenacity and, above all, creative ingenuity to pull off the impossible. Join this year’s John Cassavetes Award nominees and hear how they made every penny count to bring their stories to the screen.

Justin Benson (Something in the Dirt)
Ricky D’Ambrose (The Cathedral)
Araceli Lemos (Holy Emy)
Aaron Moorhead (Something in the Dirt)
Martine Syms (The African Desperate)
Max Walker-Silverman (A Love Song)

Moderated by Nikole Beckwith (Writer/Director, Together Together)


Wednesday, February 15

Reel Life: Best Documentary

12:00 pm PT – live online

From the back alleys of Dehli, India, to remote villages in Myanmar, to fake towns created by the U.S. government, and portraits of the forgotten and dispossessed, this year’s feature-length documentary nominees take us inside the lives of those living (and surviving) a long way from Main St. USA. Join this year’s Best Documentary directors as they discuss how they choose their projects, building relationships and trust with their subjects, and creating stories with an impact that lasts beyond the closing credits.

Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing (Midwives)
Sierra Pettengill (Riotsville, U.S.A.)
Laura Poitras (All the Beauty and the Bloodshed)
Shaunak Sen (All That Breathes)
Simon Lereng Wilmont (A House Made of Splinters)

Moderated by PJ Raval (Director, Call Her Ganda)

A New Kind of Narrative: Best Non-Scripted Series

5:30 pm PT – live online

Ten years ago, the concept of bingeing documentaries was unheard of, but in the age of the streamers, the long-form docuseries has grown to that level of popularity. Join this year’s Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series directors and get an insight into non-fiction storytelling on a large canvas, the challenges that entails, and how their approach to the form alters when they’re not restricted to a two-hour running time.

W. Kamau Bell (We Need to Talk About Cosby)
Gabriela Cowperthwaite (Children of the Underground)
Ted Gesing (Children of the Underground)
Andrew Renzi (Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?)
Nanfu Wang (Mind Over Murder)

Moderated by Diane Becker (Producer, Navalny)


Wednesday, February 22

The World’s a Stage: International Storytellers

12:00 pm PT – live online

Once again, we’re thrilled to assemble this year’s Best International Film nominees. With cinema as their common language they will explore their diverse storytelling traditions, production approaches, and visual styles. Across multiple time zones, this session will provide insight into how filmmaking differs around the globe and examine the power of film to bring us closer together.

Davy Chou (Return to Seoul)
Alice Diop (Saint Omer)
Martika Ramirez Escobar (Leonor Will Never Die)
Marie Kreutzer (Corsage)
Saim Sadiq (Joyland)

Moderated by Jenn Wilson (Senior Programmer, Film Independent)


Sunday, February 26

Directing Frame by Frame: Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson

5:00 pm PT – live and in person at the Wallis

Join us for a special evening exploring the fascinating world of stop-motion animation, with key members of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. Learn how each frame was handcrafted from the ground up by the talented artists who created the puppets and brought them to life. Hear from Guillermo and Mark about their experience directing “in four hands” to create this stunning contemporary rendition of a classic favorite.

Guillermo del Toro (Writer/Director/Producer)
Mark Gustafson (Director)
Brian Leif Hansen (Animation Supervisor)
Georgina Hayns (Director of Character Fabrication)

Moderated by Jon Favreau

Get Tickets


Tuesday, February 28

Casting and Directing Actors: Shrinking with Creator Jason Segel and Team

7:30 pm PT – live and in person at the Wallis

Shrinking creator, the multi-talented actor, writer and producer Jason Segel, is joined by series director James Ponsoldt, cast, and casting directors, for a deep dive into the process of bringing to the screen believable characters and memorable performances. From every different point of view, we will hear about what’s behind a great performance, as the team discusses the ways in which they collaborate.

Jason Segel (Creator/Actor)
James Ponsoldt (Director)
Jessica Williams (Actor)
Brett Benner, CSA (Casting Director)
Debby Romano, CSA (Casting Director)

Moderated by Darrien Michele Gipson (Executive Director, SAGindie)

Get Tickets


Wednesday, March 1

The Spirit of Independence

7:30 pm PT – live and in person at the Wallis

Directors Close-Up 2023 concludes with our annual panel featuring the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards Best Director and Best Feature nominees. They’ll discuss their films, their careers, and how they stay true to their personal, artistic visions in the commercial marketplace.

Ellie Foumbi (Our Father, the Devil)
Daniel Kwan (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Sarah Polley (Women Talking)
Halina Reijn (Bodies Bodies Bodies)
Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

Moderated by Josh Welsh (President, Film Independent)

Get Tickets