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The twenty female filmmakers who have been selected as the inaugural class of 21st Century Fox and Fox Audience Strategy’s director fellows program gathered on the lawn outside the studio’s commissary on Wednesday night to salute diversity and sip cocktails.

The program is being initiated to encourage a greater variety of voices behind the camera, but as Fox Television Group COO Joe Earley stressed in his introductory remarks, the program isn’t altruistic. Given how the makeup of today’s film and television, it makes commercial sense to have more women involved in the entertainment industry, he argued.

The fellows are a mixture of established talent and rising stars — a group that includes “Blackfish” director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Emmy nominee Jennifer Arnold (“A Small Act”), “A Teacher” director Hannah Fidell, Oscar nominee Steph Green and Oscar nominee Jessica Sanders. They hail from the United States, as well as Mexico, Chile, Lebanon and the United Kingdom

The six-week program brings the directors together with Fox executives across the entertainment conglomerate’s film and television division for mentorship and teaching. At the end of the lab, five finalists will be selected to receive additional instruction lasting roughly 10 months, culminating in production support and funding for a Fox-branded short.

The crowd at the gathering included the fellows, as well as 20th Century Fox Television president of creative affairs Jonnie Davis, Fox Searchlight president Nancy Utley, 20th Century Fox Television president of creative affairs Jonathan Davis, Fox executive vice president of audience strategy Nicole Bernard and Directors Guild of America assistant executive director of diversity Frank Gonzalez.

Guests snacked on truffled macaroni and cheese bites, beef sliders, zucchini and potato croquettes, and fig, pesto and gorgonzola pizza.

(Pictured are fellow Catalina Aguilar Mastretta, the DGA’s Frank Gonzales from the DGA, Fox execs. Nicole Bernard and Joe Earley and fellow Marta Cunningham)

The Directors Fellows are as follows:

Jennifer Arnold
Shaz Bennett
Bert & Bertie
Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Marta Cunningham
Cherien Dabis
Hannah Fidell
Sydney Freeland
Rachel Lee Goldenberg
Steph Green
Maggie Kiley
Kimberly Levin
Anja Marquardt
Isidora Maras
Amanda Marsalis
Catalina Aguilar Mastretta
Meera Menon
Vanessa Parise
Jessica Sanders
Susan Youssef