Directors Close-Up Schedule

Description of weekly events for Directors Close-Up 2024

This year at the Directors Close-Up, we’re celebrating the immensely talented nominees of the 2024 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

The series kicks off in January with eight online sessions, and concludes in February/March with three in-person events at the Directors Guild of America.

Below you’ll find the official schedule for Directors Close-Up 2024 but – before you start scrolling – you’ve already completed both of your DCU registrations, right?

DCU Online

New for 2024, Directors Close-Up online events are free and available exclusively to Film Independent Members, meaning only Members will have the opportunity to tune in live and join the discussion by submitting questions to the panelists.

DCU at the DGA

Taking place at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, this year’s not-to-be-missed in-person events are open to all and include free parking and a hosted reception. Pricing details are available here.

To experience Directors Close-Up 2024 in full, make sure to register via both of the links below (two separate registrations).

DCU Online Registration

DCU at the DGA Registration

Please note: If you are joining or renewing, please allow up to one business day for your Membership to be processed. Individuals who purchase passes after 8:00 am PT on January 15 are not guaranteed live access to the first virtual event of the series. Masks are optional for in-person events. All aspects of the Director’s Close-Up series (schedule, format, participants, etc.) are subject to change without prior notice.


Wednesday, January 17

Maiden Voyage: Best First Feature

12:00 pm PT – 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.

Tomás Gómez Bustillo (Chronicles of a Wandering Saint)
Raven Jackson (All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt)
Savanah Leaf (Earth Mama)
AV Rockwell (A Thousand and One)
Alejandro Rojas (Upon Entry)
Juan Sebastián Vásquez (Upon Entry)

Moderated by Shelby Stone (Executive Producer, The Chi)

Small Screen, Big Picture: Best Scripted Series

5:30 pm PT – 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.

Zoe Lister-Jones (Slip)
Boots Riley (I’m a Virgo)
Adjani Salmon (Dreaming Whilst Black)
Jake Schreier (Beef)
Jake Szymanski (Jury Duty)

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

Wednesday, January 24

The Spirit of Cassavetes: Low Budget Filmmaking

12:00 pm PT – 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.

Babak Jalali (Fremont)
Justin Lerner (Cadejo Blanco)
Morrisa Maltz (The Unknown Country)
Franklin Ritch (The Artifice Girl)

Moderated by Lisa Kennedy (freelance journalist; The New York Times, Variety)

Page to Screen: Best First Screenplay

5:30 pm PT – 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.

Samy Burch (May December)
Tomás Gómez Bustillo (Chronicles of a Wandering Saint)
Molly Gordon (Theater Camp)
Nick Lieberman (Theater Camp)
Alex Mechanik (May December)
Laurel Parmet (The Starling Girl)
Alejandro Rojas (Upon Entry)
Juan Sebatián Vásquez (Upon Entry)

Moderated by Fran Kranz (Writer/Director, Mass)

Wednesday, January 31

Reel Life: Best Documentary

12:00 pm PT – Online

Change is a constant in our world, and that is certainly the case within the realm of nonfiction filmmaking, which continues to grow and develop, year in and year out. Join this year’s Best Documentary directors as they discuss how they choose their projects, build relationships and trust with their subjects, and create stories with an impact that lasts beyond the closing credits.

Joe Brewster & Michèle Stephenson (Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project)
Kaouther Ben Hania (Four Daughters)
Asmae El Moudir (The Mother of All Lies)
D. Smith (Kokomo City)
Lina Soualem (Bye Bye Tiberias)

Moderated by Shrihari Sathe (Producer, Stay Awake)

A New Kind of Narrative: Best Non-Scripted Series

5:30 pm PT – 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.

Deadlocked: How America Shaped the Supreme Court
Dawn Porter, Executive Producer/Director
Amanda Hollis-Brusky, Professor, Chair of Politics at Pomona College

Dear Mama
Allen Hughes, Writer/Director

Murder in Big Horn
Razelle Benally, Director/Producer
Matthew Galkin, Executive Producer

Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence
Zach Heinzerling, Director
Krista Parris, Executive Producer

Moderated by Diane Becker (Producer, Navalny)

Wednesday, February 7

The World’s a Stage: International Storytellers

12:00 pm PT – 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.

Lila Avilés (Tótem)
C.J. ‘Fiery’ Obasi (Mami Wata)
Hlynur Pálmason (Godland)

Moderated by Alison Dickey (Producer; The Sisters Brothers, Terri)

More Than Words: The Craft of Screenwriting

5:30 pm PT – Online

Line by line, page by page, the creation of every great script requires vision, patience and tenacity, on top of equal doses of self-belief and humility. This group of exceptional writers and filmmakers will discuss the details of their writing processes, and how they forged a path from blank page to Spirit Award-nominated feature film.

David Hemingson (The Holdovers)
Laura Moss (Birth/Rebirth)
Brendan J. O’Brien (Birth/Rebirth)
Emma Seligman (Bottoms)
Celine Song (Past Lives)

Moderated by Daniel Waters (Writer; Heathers, Batman Begins)

Wednesday, February 14

The Spirit of Independence

12:00 pm PT – Online

*Just added!* We conclude the online portion of the DCU with our annual panel featuring 2024 Film Independent Spirit Awards Best Director and Best Picture nominees. They’ll discuss their films and careers, and how they stay true to their personal, artistic visions in the commercial marketplace.

Minhal Baig (We Grown Now)
Andrew Haigh (All of Us Strangers)
William Oldroyd (Eileen)

Moderated by Josh Welsh (President, Film Independent)

– DCU at the DGA –

Monday, February 12

Cord Jefferson: Making Fiction a Reality

7:30 pm PT – Directors Guild of America

American Fiction is the debut feature from acclaimed television writer Cord Jefferson (Watchmen, Station Eleven). Debuting at Toronto, this whip-smart social satire has become the sleeper hit of the new year. We’re excited to go behind the scenes with Cord and his team of collaborators for a deep dive into what it took to bring the film to the big screen.

Cord Jefferson (Writer/Director, American Fiction; Writer, Watchmen)
Jeffrey Wright (Actor; American Fiction, Asteroid City)
Erika Alexander (Actor; American Fiction, Earth Mama)
Cristina Dunlap (Director of Photography; American Fiction, Cha Cha Real Smooth)
Laura Karpman (Composer; American Fiction, The Marvels)
Hilda Rasula (Editor; American Fiction, Little America)

Moderated by Darrien Michele Gipson (Executive Director, SAGindie)

Get Tickets


Wednesday, February 21

Don’t Look Behind You: Directing Genre

7:30 pm PT – Directors Guild of America

As long as audiences have an appetite to be thrilled, chilled, or completely freaked out, genre films will be a staple at the multiplex and on streaming sites. But what’s the secret to making movies that keep us on the edge of our seats, while watching from between our fingers? We’re bringing together a group of today’s top midnight-movie mavericks to share their approach to scaring us silly and getting us to come back for more.

Patrick Brice (Director; Creep, There’s Someone Inside Your House)
Mimi Cave (Director; Fresh, Holland Michigan – 2024)
J.D. Dillard (Director; The Outsider, Sleight)
Nikyatu Jusu (Director; Nanny, Suicide by Sunlight)

Moderated by Imani Davis (writer, producer and film programmer)

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Friday, March 1

Lulu Wang and Expats: Storytelling on a Large Canvas

7:30 pm PT – Directors Guild of America

Expats is the first series from Spirit Award winner (and Project Involve Fellow) Lulu Wang. We’re thrilled to have Lulu back at the DCU to share her experiences bringing her latest project to life, alongside her long-time producing partner, Dani Melia, and production designer Yong Ok Lee, as they offer insight into the development process, working with a production team in Hong Kong, and building the world of Expats.

Lulu Wang (Writer/Director; Expats, The Farewell)
Dani Melia (Producer; Expats, The Farewell)
Yong Ok Lee (Production Designer; Expats, Minari)

Moderated by Karyn Kusama (Director; Yellowjackets, The Invitation)

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