Three-day student-run film festival will name alumna Melina Matsoukas – Grammy-winning music video director for Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Jay Z, and Pharrell – this year's "Woman of the Year."

Image of Melina Matsoukas
Melina Matsoukas, Grammy-winning music video director for Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Jay Z, Snoop Dog, Solange, and Pharrell, and Executive Producer of HBO’s Insecure.

The Fusion Film Festival, NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ premiere student film festival showcasing the work of emerging female filmmakers throughout NYU, will name Tisch alumna Melina Matsoukas – Grammy-winning music video director for Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Jay Z, Snoop Dog, Solange, and Pharrell, and Executive Producer of HBO’s Insecure -- the Fusion “Woman of the Year” for 2017. The award presentation will be part of the Festival’s three days of screenings and panels celebrating women creators in film, TV, and New Media beginning Thursday, March 2 and running through Saturday, March 4. All events are free of charge.

Matsoukas, who just won her second Grammy Award for music video direction for Beyoncé’s Formation, will be teaching a Master Class on Directing as part of the Festival programming on Saturday, March 4 at Tisch Theater 006 at the Tisch School of the Arts, 721 Broadway.

Fusion’s 15th Anniversary Festival will open Thursday, March 2 at 7 p.m. with Refinery29’s Shatterbox Anthology, a collection of short films told through the lens of female storytellers that share a common theme tied to the dynamics of power. The event will be held at The Cantor Film Center, located at 36 E. 8 Street, in Manhattan. Series filmmakers and Refinery29 producers will be in attendance to discuss the evolution and future plans for this initiative born as a rallying cry to counteract the staggering data that proves the lack of female representation behind the camera in Hollywood. Films screening include: Chloë Sevigny’s Kitty, Tiffany Shlain’s 50/50, and from NYU/Tisch alumna Pamela Romanowsky’s Watching You, Watching Me, Anu Valia’s Lucia Before and After which won the US Narrative Jury Prize for short film at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.  

Melina Matsoukas will receive Fusion’s “Woman of the Year” award at the Competition Screening and Award Ceremony, where festival winners in fourteen categories of competition will also be announced, taking place Saturday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. at Cantor Film Center. Competition winners in categories that includes short film, screenwriting, music video, web series, and hour and half hour pilots will take home grants and prizes from The Will and Jada Smith Foundation, Canon, Movado, Avid and Adobe.

“Melina Matsoukas’s story is particularly motivating not simply because she has been enormously successful – and sought after by some of the biggest names in the music industry and some of the biggest brands in the world – but also because she’s always played by her own rules and followed her own vision. The fact that once upon a time she was in our shoes as a Tisch undergraduate helps each and every one of us envision a glittering future if we can be as boldly creative and industrious as she has been,” said Co-Director, Piera Van de Wiel.

Matsoukas’s work as a music video director has earned her numerous accolades. In addition to her recent Grammy win, she was the first director to win a Grand Prix at the Inaugural Cannes Lions for Entertainment Music Awards for her video for Beyoncé’s “Formation,” featuring a Black Power message and Katrina-inspired visuals. She was also the first solo female director to win MTV’s Best Video Award for Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” earning her a Grammy for Best Long Form Music Video. Matsoukas has also directed campaigns for commercial clients, including Nike, Stella McCartney, Adidas, Coca-Cola, Diesel, Lexus, Target and Absolut, among others. In 2016, she made her debut as Executive Producer/Director of a scripted television show, HBO’s Insecure, created by and starring Issa Rae, using this high-profile platform as an opportunity to offer a window into relevant sociocultural experiences, working with people of color while also telling their stories through her art.

Previous winners of Fusion’s “Woman of the Year” award have included Oscar-winning screenwriter Lucy Alibar; Oscar-winning independent film producer Christine Vachon; and acclaimed cinematographer Reed Morano.

In addition to film screenings throughout the three-day festival, Fusion includes a series of special events. Prior to the Master Class in Directing with Matsoukas, Saturday morning’s “Brunch with an Icon” will feature HBO’s VP of Development Kelly Edwards, who has developed HBO’s diversity initiatives including the HBO Access Directing, Writing and Cinematography Fellowships, all designed to foster inclusiveness. Additional panels include “Women in Virtual Reality” along with a VR Gallery of the panelists work, “First Ladies of Animation,” and “Women of Color: Stories that Matter.”
The Festival will also feature a “Docs-in-the-Works” pitch competition allowing finalists to receive feedback on documentary projects. Judges include Jenny Raskin, Vice president of Development, Impact Partners; Jackie Glover, Senior Vice President, HBO Documentary Films; Wendy Ettinger, Producer and Co-founder of Chicken & Egg Pictures; Gianna Toboni, Producer and Correspondent, VICE, and Sara Rodriguez, Executive Producer VICE Digital Documentaries.

“Fusion is so much more than a film festival – it’s a celebration of women who want to define our own stories,” said Co-Director, Leticia Bianco. “When we come together as a community – including some of the most inspirational women in the industry – we amplify the message—exactly as we engraved on Melina’s award: ‘with boldness and vision, you let our voices be heard!’ said Co-Director, Gabriela Alcalde.

Fusion’s Faculty Advisor, Tisch Professor Susan Sandler offered, “Every year since Fusion’s inception in 2003 we have hoped that a women’s film festival will become irrelevant. But as we all recognize, encouraging the work of female creators is more urgent than ever. Extraordinary mentors and industry leaders come to Fusion to grow the next generation of fearless artists. This is what activist change looks like!”

Below is a full list of programming and events. All events are free and open to the public on a first come, first served basis. This year’s festival is sponsored by HBO, Movado, Final Draft, AVID, ADOBE, and Refinery29. For Fusion Festival 2017 updates, visit



Refinery 29’s SHATTERBOX Anthology
7PM | Cantor Film Center, 36 E 8th Street
OPENING NIGHT: Refinery29’s Shatterbox Anthology. Films screening include:
- Kitty Chloë Sevigny, director
- 50/50 Tiffany Shlain, director
- Lucia Before After Anu Valia, director
- Watching You, Watching Me Pamela Romanowsky, director
In attendance: Refinery29’s chief content officer Amy Emmerich and executive producer Shannon Gibson, along with series filmmakers.


Docs-in-the-Works Pitch Competition
3PM | Tisch Theater 006, 721 Broadway
Finalists present work in progress to top industry judges and listen in on the exec’s feedback and selection of winner.

Out of this World: Women in VR
7 p.m. | Tisch Theater 006, 721 Broadway
Female visionaries and VR creators take us on a journey into the new world of virtual reality.
Featuring Alissa Crevier (Global Head of Brand Partnerships Littlstar), Stephanie Llamas (Vice President of Research and Strategy), Adaora Udoji (Storyteller and Self-Described VR evangelist), Lily Baldwin and Courtney Harding (Professor at Clive Davis) moderating.
*This event will be followed by a reception with a virtual reality interactive display.


Brunch with an Icon: Kelly Edwards
9:30 a.m. | RSVP only at
HBO'S VP of Development, Kelly Edwards, headlines the annual Brunch with an Icon. As the Head of Talent Development for HBO, Edwards oversees all diversity efforts above and below the line for series, films, Cinemax and miniseries.

Go Pitch!
10 a.m. | Application only at
Fusion Film Festival is giving students the opportunity to pitch their TV show, web series, or feature film idea directly to top development executives from the industry.

Animation’s Leading Ladies
12 p.m. | Tisch Theater 006, 721 Broadway
Innovators pushing the limits of their medium share their work and personal stories.
Featuring Anne D. Bernstein (Writer and story editor, Daria and MTV’s Downtown), Karen Disher, Candy Kugel (MTV’s Top of the Hour, WGBH’s Between the Lions), Nancy Newhouse-Porter and Zoya Baker (Animator and NYU Professor) moderating.

Women of Color: Stories that Matter!
2 p.m. | Tisch Theater 006, 721 Broadway
Filmmakers of color discuss overcoming roadblocks and creatively engaging in our social and political climate.
Featuring Afira Serena Nathaniel, Isabel Sandoval, Sonejuhi Sinha, Ja’Tovia Gary, Bertha Bay-Sa Pan and Kelly Edwards (HBO’s VP of Talent Development) moderating.

Directing Masterclass with Woman of the Year Melina Matsoukas
4 p.m. | Tisch Theater 006, 721 Broadway
Exciting masterclass with visionary Grammy award-winning director and NYU/Tisch graduate, Melina Matsoukas.

Competition Screenings and Award Ceremony
6:30PM | Cantor Film Center, 36 E 8th Street
Join us for a stunning showcase screening of the finalists in the Fusion Film Festival 2017 Competition as we reveal the next generation of storytelling greats with award presentation and reception to follow.

About Fusion Film Festival
The Fusion Film Festival is NYU Tisch’s premiere festival dedicated to celebrating the work of women in film, television and new media, from student to icon. In the 15 years since its launch, the student-run festival has ben proud to attract accomplished artists such as Julie Taymor, Kasi Lemmons, Christine Vachon, Donna GIgliotti, Miranda July, Stella Meghie, Lena Dunham, Amy Sherman Palladino, Reed Morano, Barbara Kopple, Lauren Zalaznick, and Jane Campion. Fusion is proud to be an Allied Partner of the Sundance Women’s Initiative. Beyond the multi-day annual showcase of work, Fusion offers year round events, building a vital artistic community for both current students and alumni, exploring ways to break down barriers that separate men and women in film and television, while creating valuable opportunities for collaboration, cross-promotion and mentorship.  For more information, visit


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