Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, recognized as one of the premier film schools in the United States, will focus on Hollywood directors with the theme ‘In the Director’s Chair’ at the 18th Annual Women in Focus Conference. Taking place on Friday, April 7, the Women in Focus Conference will feature Academy Award®-nominated director Niki Caro (Whale Rider, North Country, The Zookeeper’s Wife); acclaimed director Sydney Freeland (Deidra & Laney Rob a Train, Drunktown’s Finest, Her Story); award-winning screenwriter and film director, Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge of Seventeen, Post Grad, Streak); critically-acclaimed director, Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, The Twilight Saga, Thirteen); and the first female Saudi Arabian filmmaker, Haifaa Al-Mansour (Wadjda, Mary Shelley).

The panel will be moderated by producing veteran Susan Cartsonis (What Women Want, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Where the Heart Is). These five entertainment leaders will share the experiences that have lead them to the positions they hold today, and address challenges they face in in a continually changing industry.

Free and open to the public, Chapman’s Women in Focus event has built a meaningful and on-going dialogue among emerging and established women in the film and TV industry throughout its 18-year existence. Beginning at 1:30 p.m. these five commanding female Hollywood directors will discuss their experiences breaking into the industry, building the relationships necessary for success, and overcoming obstacles through their careers. A Q&A and networking reception will follow.

Past Women in Focus conference panelists include Oscar® winning writer Diablo Cody, Warner Bros. Pictures’ President of Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution Sue Kroll, CBS Films’ Co-President Terry Press, Oscar® nominated producer JoAnne Sellar, Primetime Emmy® nominated producer/writer Kerry Ehrin, Primetime Emmy® nominated producer Deena Katz, Primetime Emmy® nominated producer Debra Martin Chase, Primetime Emmy® producer/director Michelle MacLaren, producer Erica Huggins, Universal Pictures Co-Chairman Donna Langley, Academy Award®-nominated director/screenwriter Nancy Meyers, actress Maya Rudolph, director Penelope Spheeris, director/choreographer Anne Fletcher, producer and former Walt Disney Motion Picture Group President Nina Jacobson, Dreamworks Studios Co-Chairman and CEO Stacey Snider, writer/producer Leslie Dixon, Academy Award®-nominated director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, acclaimed producer Debra Martin Chase, writer/director Shana Feste, producer Susan Cartsonis, director Mary Lambert, Academy Award®-winning producer and President of Mandalay Pictures Cathy Schulman, Fox Searchlight Pictures President Nancy Utley, and producer and Los Angeles Film Festival Director Rebecca Yeldham, to name a few.

The 2017 Women in Focus Conference is sponsored by Twyla Reed Martin, Eve Kornyei Ruffatto, Harriet Sandhu, Diana Martin, and Joyce Tucker.

 2017 Women in Focus Event Location:

The Paul and Daranne Folino Theater in Marion Knott Studios is located at 283 N. Cypress in Orange, Calif.  The conference is free and open to the public.  Metered parking is located in the lot surrounding Marion Knott Studios and in the adjacent West Campus Parking Structure. Parking information can be found here:

For more information and to register, please visit

Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media Arts:

Recognized as one of the top ten film schools in the world and ranked #7 by The Hollywood Reporter among American film schools, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University offers students an array of undergraduate, graduate, and joint-program degrees that address the rapidly changing entertainment business including what it takes to pitch, produce, finance, market and distribute content. Open to students 24/7, Dodge College is housed on the film school campus comprised of the Digital Media Arts Center, Chapman Studios West, and the heart of the film school, the 76,000-square-foot Marion Knott Studios built from the ground up to replicate a working studio.  Dodge College students have garnered numerous awards including Student Academy and College Television Awards. Notable alumni include Matt and Ross Duffer ’07 (Netflix series Stranger Things) and Justin Simien (feature film/Netflix series Dear White People). With an award-winning full-time faculty with a combined filmography of more than 500 feature films, Dodge College is where students learn the entertainment business from the inside out.

About Chapman University:

As an academically distinguished center of learning, Chapman University attracts extraordinary students and faculty from around the globe. Its ten schools and colleges foster a vibrant intellectual community, and provide extensive opportunities for students to learn, grow and discover alongside remarkable faculty. The University is home to some 8,000 students pursuing bachelor, master and doctoral degrees, and is alma mater to more than 40,000 alumni found throughout the United States and the world. Now celebrating its 155th year, Chapman is known for its distinguishing strengths in leadership and civic engagement, in the arts and entertainment disciplines, and in specialized sectors of technology and science. The University is comprised of its main campus in Orange, California, and the Rinker Health Science campus for graduate health science programs in Irvine, California. Visit us at

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