The Artistic Director of Stony Brook’s MFA in Film and TV Writing Program is co-founder of Killer Films
After 30 years of producing 129 films and pioneering queer, independent cinema, producer Christine Vachon — Artistic Director for the Stony Brook University MFA in Film and Television Writing program — was nominated for her first Academy Award for the film Past Lives in the Best Picture category.
Vachon shares the Best Picture nomination with Killer Films’ founding partner Pamela Koffler and 2AM Productions’ David Hinojosa. Vachon and Koffler previously produced Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and Still Alice (2014), which won Oscars for Hilary Swank and Julianne Moore, respectively, in the Best Actress in a Leading Role category. Their film May December, directed by Todd Haynes and written by Samy Burch, is also nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Screenplay category this year.
Haynes received an honorary doctorate from Stony Brook University in 2023 and is a frequent guest faculty of the Film and TV Writing program. Playwright and first time director Celine Song was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Past Lives.
“Christine’s contribution to our program is immeasurable,” said Executive Director of Graduate Programs in Film and Television Writing Magdalene Brandeis. “As we celebrate 10 years of partnership, this recognition of Christine and Killer Films by the Academy is both well-deserved and long overdue. Christine’s leadership in the independent film arena has brought extraordinary insights and access to the workings of the industry to our students.”
Led by Vachon, during the fall semesters in 2022 and 2023, the MFA in Film and MFA in TV Writing students followed the path to production of Past Lives and May December as test cases. The students read script drafts and studied production materials as part of their development as film directors, screenwriters and producers.
Stony Brook partnered with Vachon and Killer Films in 2013 to build a vibrant, in-the-practice film program to capture the realities of today’s film, television and media landscapes. Vachon regularly teaches Master Classes, Advanced Master Classes and a film survey course, Koffler oversees the Internship Program and Hinojosa worked with our students on their thesis projects. In addition, Vachon brings top industry professionals into the classroom to expose students to the many paths to participate in film production. In Fall 2023, Vachon was featured as “Hollywood’s Greatest Anomaly” in Vanity Fair, and was spotlighted as an “indie legend [who] hits the classroom” on The Wrap’s Top Film Schools cover.
Past Lives will compete at the 96th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 10, 2024 against American Fiction, Anatomy of a Fall, Barbie, The Holdovers, Killers of the Flower Moon, Maestro, Oppenheimer, Poor Things and The Zone of Interest. The Academy Award nominations were announced January 23.
Earlier this year, Past Lives and May December each earned five nominations at the Golden Globes. The two films also garnered five nominations apiece for the Film Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Feature, which will be awarded February 25.