American Film Institute Announces AFI/IDG China Story Fellowship

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Thu, 11/14/2013 - 12:09 -- Nick Dager

The American Film Institute has announced the AFI/IDG China Story Fellowship, a new scholarship program at the AFI Conservatory aimed at developing feature-length screenplays that foster greater understanding of Chinese history, culture and literature.

Made possible through the generosity of Hugo Shong, chairman, IDG Greater China, the fellowship provides nine AFI Fellows with travel to China for cultural research. The Fellows will write a feature-length screenplay and receive a full scholarship for their second year at the AFI Conservatory, where they may develop the work. The AFI China Story Fellowship program is the result of a leadership grant from IDG China and represents part of the AFI Conservatory's significant increase in scholarship opportunities for both current and incoming Fellows.

"China's rich cultural legacy is filled with stories waiting to be shared with an eager global audience," said Bob Gazzale, AFI president and CEO. "We are honored to launch this new initiative with IDG Greater China, giving voice to the best and brightest storytellers of tomorrow."

"Although China has a remarkable and distinguished history stretching back more than 5,000 years, too many Americans only know Chinese culture through animated films like Kung Fu Panda and Mulan," said Shong, who is also founding general partner of IDG Capital Partners. "Americans deserve to see other types of movies about China, ones that hopefully can entertain them, educate them and at the same time touch their hearts. By initiating this project with AFI, I am hoping that together we can jointly encourage a new generation of American screenwriters to produce more and different kinds of screenplays about China."

The AFI China Story Fellowship was announced at the American Film Institute's annual film festival, AFI Fest presented by Audi, just prior to the gala screening of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The film, directed by and starring Ben Stiller, was produced by AFI alumnus Stuart Cornfeld (AFI Class of 1975).

Earlier this year, Paige Devitt, Derek Ustruck and Lindsay Golder were selected from the AFI screenwriting discipline to be the first recipients of the AFI China Story Fellowships. After the summer's immersive experience in China, they returned this fall to begin their second year at the AFI Conservatory.