American Virtual Film Showcase 2021: Filmmaking Masterclass Series
The U.S. Embassy in Mongolia is pleased to announce the American Film Showcase (AFS) 2021, to be held December 7-17, 2021. AFS is the premier American Film Diplomacy Program of the Office of Educational Affairs and Culture of the US State Department. (ECA) and implemented by the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at the University of Southern California. In partnership with United States Embassies, AFS organizes screenings, workshops and masterclasses in more than 60 countries per year.
Since 2015, the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar has collaborated with local NGOs and institutions to bring the AFS program to Mongolia, featuring nine experts who led workshops, masterclasses, and exchange opportunities for the local film community. This year, due to COVID-19, the program will be virtual and four brilliant film experts will share their experiences and advice through online masterclasses from December 7 to 10.and, 2021.
The four sessions will feature four different areas of cinema. All sessions will be open to the public via the Zoom webinar platform and require prior registration to participate. All institutions of film education and culture are welcome. Please find the masterclass backgrounds and topics for each of the film experts below, and register for the classes using the link provided.
Local press and media are invited to conduct online interviews with film experts. The U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section will coordinate interviews with experts upon request via [email protected] between November 22 and December 6, 2021.
Educational institutions, NGOs and public entities interested in participating in masterclasses in groups of more than 10 people, please contact [email protected] before December 1, 2021.
AFS promotes engagement between people, provides contemporary insight into American society, and fosters understanding between cultures. Each of the AFS programs is designed to spark dialogue and empower local communities to tell their own stories.
#AFSMongolia2021 #FilmDiplomacy #ExchangeOurWorld
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/298959545370446/
December 7and, 2021 | 9:00-12:00
Masterclass with Aaron Benay
Subject: “Writing a screenplay – Presenting your Hollywood film”
Registration link: https://forms.gle/hG7FqL2NQvtBv8Pn7
Aaron Benay is a film and television writer who, along with his brother Matthew, scripted the next installment in Disney’s popular National Treasure franchise. Among other feature films, Benay wrote 1906, an epic about the Great San Francisco Earthquake, for Oscar-winning director Brad Bird. He also scripted a story about America’s first serial killer for Leonardo DiCaprio. On TV, Benay wrote pilots including The Sector, a sci-fi series for legendary filmmaker Takashi Miike. In China, he adapted Journey to the West, one of the four great classic novels, for DreamWorks. Benay is an adjunct assistant professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He lectured at UCLA, where he judged the graduate thesis presentation competition. Benay graduated from Duke University with a concentration in East Asia and a certificate in Asian and African Languages and Literature. He is also a graduate of the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies at Stanford and the prestigious Inter-University Center in Yokohama. Benay is a longtime member of the Writers Guild of America. He sits on numerous alumni and LGBTQ+ committees. In addition to Japanese, he formally studied French, Spanish and Mandarin. Benay is an avid traveler and has visited over 40 countries and counting.
December 8and, 2021 | 9:00-12:00
Masterclass with Elizabeth Polans
Topic: “The Future of Storytelling: Creating Successful Content for Digital, TV and Beyond”
Registration link: https://forms.gle/wuQ36ETWN9V56Jfr8
Elisabeth Polans is an Emmy-nominated producer who specializes in bridging the gap between traditional and digital entertainment. She works at Flavor Unit Entertainment, a production and talent management company, and is the executive producer of season 5 of the television series The Rap Game. Elizabeth is an expert in building digital audiences and producing content that matches a specific audience profile. She advises top talent on social media strategy. Elizabeth strengthened the YouTube presence of all A+E Network brands (Lifetime, History, A&E, FYI, Bio) by expanding its digital footprint with triple-digit year-over-year percentage growth, resulting in 1.5 billion annual flows. She has a proven track record of successful projects, including an Emmy-nominated play for Outstanding Comedy or Drama Series in 2016. She developed the Dance Moms: Slumber Party series, which has garnered over 30 million views on YouTube and aired on linear beating the network’s main average. Elizabeth is a member of the TV Academy for Interactive Media. Elizabeth graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Radio/Television/Film and English, and is now a board member of the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance alumni networking group.
December 9and, 2021 | 09:00-12:00
Masterclass with Arianna LaPenne
Subject: “Pre-visualize your documentary film”
Registration link: https://forms.gle/opU8TZsVjUStoZu28
Arianna La Penne is a documentary filmmaker working between New York and Los Angeles. Arianna recently directed two films for a new series from CNN Films; The Bunker Boom, about a community of underground pickers in South Dakota, and Super Reviewers, a journey into an unusual internet subculture. Previously, Arianna’s TV directing credits include the Emmy-nominated Netflix documentary series Connected: The Hidden Science of Everything, Emmy-nominated Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, and Edward R. Murrow Awarded Unadopted on PBS. Arianna has directed and filmed Emmy, Peabody and Edward R. Murrow award-winning films in over fifty countries; directing crews through the sewers beneath London, to a locked “clean room” at NASA’s Space Center in Houston. She integrated Kurdish female soldiers fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and documented the effects of rhino farming in South Africa for National Geographic. Arianna has also produced and filmed for The New York Times, Al Jazeera and Viceland on issues ranging from child marriage, gang violence to political conflict around the world. Arianna brands have produced advertisements for: Google, Ford, Dannon, West Elm, Bulleit Whiskey, Poo Pourri and Tillamook.
December 17, 2021 | 09:00-12:00
Masterclass with Mike Mosallam
Subject: “Finding Your Voice – Storytelling in Hollywood”
Registration link: https://forms.gle/iMBVZ7Qkr5SEfwndA
Mike Mosallam Producer, director, writer for theatre, film and television. Through his production company, Mike Mosallam Productions (www.watchmmp.com), he and his team have produced short films: Breaking Fast (Cannes Film Festival) and Brothers (11 times winner of the jury and public prize), both written and directed by Mike, as well as the short film “Ubuntu” , a co-production with the Muslim Council for Public Affairs. His feature debut, Breaking Fast (based on the short), had its world premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival in March 2020 and its Los Angeles premiere shortly thereafter at Outfest Fusion. After playing at over 65 festivals worldwide and winning major awards, it was acquired for distribution by Vertical Entertainment and streamed on Apple TV, iTunes, Amazon, and anywhere else you can buy or rent movies on demand ( to learn more, visit www.breakingfastfilm.com). He is the creator and co-executive producer of the critically acclaimed TLC series, All-American Muslim. Most recently, Mike served as Executive Creative Consultant on Hulu’s Ramy Season 2 (Episode 9). He is currently writing his second feature film, freely inspired by a true story. On the theater side, Mike has produced and directed over 100 theatrical productions from large-scale musicals, intimate cabarets, plays, concerts and multimedia theater events. He is proud to be Muslim, Lebanese-American and fluent in Arabic.