The Atlanta Film Festival isn’t just about screening films, it also has The Creative Conference. The Creative Conference is a five-day curation of nearly 40 panels, demos, talks, and workshops aimed to support and develop filmmaker education and curiosity. With topics from acting and casting to production and scoring to funding and distributing—and special guests from The People Store, Kickstarter, ASIFA-South, Adult Swim, and the ATLFF Alumni family, the conference has something for every aspiring filmmaker.

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Included in The Creative Conference is the Master Class Series. These are panels with some of the best and brightest filmmakers that Hollywood has. This year, Georgia native James Ponsoldt, who has brought us award-winning films like “The Spectacular Now” and “The End of the Tour,” will headline the impressive lineup.

Here is a list of the 2016 Atlanta Film Festival Mater Class Series:

James Ponsoldt

Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Film Festival

A Conversation with James Ponsoldt

Sunday, April 3, 2016, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM — 7 Stages Theater

James Ponsoldt was born and raised in Athens, Georgia, received his bachelor’s degree from Yale, and an MFA in directing from Columbia University. His first feature, “Off the Black,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006. In 2009, he co-wrote the award-winning graphic novel, “Refresh, Refresh” (selected by Alison Bechdel for “The Best American Comics 2011”). His second film, “Smashed,” won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 2012, received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for lead Mary Elizabeth Winstead and went on to critical acclaim worldwide.  “The Spectacular Now” received a Special Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for multiple Independent Spirit Awards, and was released in theaters via A24 Films. “The End of The Tour” premiered at Sundance 2015, was released by A24 Films, and was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards. Ponsoldt also directed the pilot of the Netflix series “Master of None” and recently wrapped his newest feature, “The Circle,” starring Emma Watson, John Boyega and Tom Hanks.


James Moll

Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Film Festival

James Moll: What Makes an Oscar Doc?

Sunday, April 3, 2016, 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM — 7 Stages Theatre

In a master class led by Oscar-winning filmmaker James Moll, participants will analyze the qualities that make some documentaries stand above the rest.  The interactive discussion will examine key components of the production process and will answer the question: What are the common ingredients in documentaries that win Academy Awards? This is an ideal class for both aspiring filmmakers and experienced documentarians that are about to launch into their next project.

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James Moll’s career as a documentary filmmaker has earned him an Oscar, two Emmys and a Grammy for such films as “Foo Fighters: Back and Forth” about the 16-year career of the rock band Foo Fighters; the sports adventure “Running the Sahara,” executive produced by Matt Damon; and “The Last Days,” executive produced by Steven Spielberg. Moll’s Universal Studios-based company, Allentown Productions, produces programs for television and the web. Aside from filmmaking, Moll established the non-profit Shoah Foundation with Steven Spielberg for recording more than 50,000 ‘visual histories’ of Holocaust survivors.  Moll is chair of the DGA Documentary Awards, and host of the podcast


Shuler Hensley

Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Film Festival

Shuler Hensley: An Acting Master Class

Monday, April 4, 2016, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM — 7 Stages Theatre

Shuler Hensley, Marietta-native and multi-award winning Broadway, Off-Broadway, film and TV star, has been an integral part of the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards—The Shuler Hensley Awards—since the program’s inception seven years ago. Teacher, fellow performer and inspiration, he has given his time, energy and talent to support and further the arts in education. Mr. Hensley’s list of roles and awards is long and illustrious. In the same year, he appeared in Carousel at Avery Fisher Hall with the New York Philharmonic, which was nationally broadcast on PBS. He has appeared as the Monster in Young Frankenstein, Javert in Les Miserables and Jud Fry in Oklahoma!, a powerful and moving performance which earned him the “Triple Crown”— Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. He starred in Ghost Brothers of Darkland County at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, All About Us and The Phantom of the Opera. His work extends to television and film, and he has performed in opera and with symphony orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Detroit Symphony and the New World Symphony. Among his TV credits are “The Americans,” “Deadline,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “The Jury.” His film appearances include “The Legend of Zorro,” “Van Helsing,” “The Bread, My Sweet, Odd Thomas” and “Cruiser.” A recent film project had him playing President James Garfield in PBS’s “Murder of a President”, on Georgia Public Broadcasting, as well as recurring characters on NBC’s “Shades of Blue” and Cartoon Network’s “Neon Joe Werewolf Hunter.” Upcoming projects include performing On The Town with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas; a recurring character on “OA,” a new Netflix series; and this summer, Shuler will be performing the role of Julian Marsh in The Muny’s production of 42nd Street. In addition, Shuler is currently involved with ArtsBridge Foundation, the arts education outreach arm of Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, where he is the namesake and host of the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards—The Shuler Hensley Awards.


Victor Nunez

Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Film Festival

Victor Nunez: Writing and Directing Feature Films

Monday, April 4, 2016, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Main

Renowned for his moving character portraits set under the blazing Florida sun, Victor Nunez is considered among very first of the Atlanta Film Festival’s auteur alumni. “Gal Young ‘Un,” his feature debut, played the 3rd annual ATLFF in 1979. “Ulee’s Gold,” perhaps his best known work, was the closing night presentation of the 21st edition of ATLFF in 1997. The film went on to earn a score of nominations and awards, including an Academy Award nod for Peter Fonda and two Independent Spirit Award nominations for Nunez. His films have won Jury Prizes all over the world and have been selected three times for Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. Hailing from Peru and Tallahassee, Florida, Nunez holds an MFA in Film Directing from UCLA and is currently on faculty at Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts.


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