35th GLAAD Media Awards Honor Columbia Artists

Lillian Mottern
February 01, 2024

The 35th GLAAD Media Award nominations have been announced, honoring works which feature the talents of many Columbia filmmakers and theatre artists.

GLAAD has been a pivotal organization in American LGBT rights and representation in the arts since 1985 when the organization was founded in the midst of the AIDS epidemic. The GLAAD Awards honor and highlight standout works of media that provide “fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community and the issues that affect their lives.”

This year, the categories of work highlighted by the Awards include film, television, and theatre, music, podcasting, video games, comic books and graphic novels, as well as journalism of many forms. 

Two feature films by Columbia alumni have been nominated for Outstanding Film (Limited Theatrical Release). Joyland, directed by Saim Sadiq ’19, is set in inner-city Lahore and centers around Haider, who finds a job as a backup dancer in a Bollywood-style burlesque troupe. There he becomes infatuated with a trans woman named Biba, all while hiding the true nature of his work from his low-income, Pakistani family.

The film features the work of several other Columbia filmmakers, including Maggie Briggs '19 (Co-Writer, alongside Sadiq), Apoorva Charan '18 (Producer), and Jasmin Tenucci '20 (Editor). Film alumna and Dean's Council member Katharina Otto-Bernstein '92 ('86 CC), whose mentorship program has set up many Film alumni for success, also serves as a producer on the film, after Sadiq's previous short film Darling was a recipient of the Katharina Otto-Bernstein grant. Associate Professor Ramin Bahrani (CC ’96) serves as Executive Producer and Mona Maahn '22 as Associate Producer. The creative team behind the film also includes Rob Bellon '19, Esteban Garcia Vernaza '20, Bane Fakih '19, Mark Sean Haynes '17, and Kaiser Wahab (Law '99)

Also nominated for Outstanding Film (Limited Theatrical Release) is Passages, executive produced by Film alumni Hannah Jamal ’15 and Ali Betil ’14. Set in Paris, the film depicts a gay couple whose marriage encounters a crisis when one of the men begins an affair with a young woman. 

In the television category, Yellowjackets, created and co-written by Film alumna Ashley Lyle ’07, has been nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. The show takes place in the Ontario wilderness, where a group of female high-school soccer players must survive when their plane crashes. 

Meanwhile, What We Do In The Shadows, edited by undergrad Film alum Yana Gorskaya CC ’96, was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series. The mockumentary-style television show follows a group of present-day vampires living in Staten Island. 

Finally, in theatre, Columbia artists across concentrations have been honored for their work this year. Three notable new works have been nominated for Outstanding Broadway Production, including Pulitzer-Prize-Winning play Fat Ham. Directed by Theatre alumnus Saheem Ali ’07 and starring Acting alumnus Marcel Spears ’15, the play, an adaptation of Hamlet, follows Juicy, a young queer Black man who encounters his father’s ghost at a family Barbeque. Both Ali and Spears were recently honored with nominations for their work on the play by the Tony Awards and Dramas League Awards respectively.

Also nominated for Outstanding Broadway Production is the hit new musical, How to Dance in Ohio. The show is produced by Ben Holtzman, a recipient of the 2019-2020 Columbia University-awarded Prince Fellowship in Creative Producing. Based on a 2015 documentary film of the same name, the musical centers around a group of autistic teenagers preparing for a spring formal dance in Columbus, Ohio.

Lastly, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window is also in the running for the award. This much-anticipated revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s 1964 play about a group of people in Greenwhich Village deals with race, Judaism, and political corruption, and provides a humorous and sharp depiction of 1960s Bohemian Culture. The play features dramaturgy by Arminda Thomas ’96

Winners of the GLAAD Media Awards will be announced in two evening celebrations honoring the winning work, in Los Angeles on March 14 and New York City on May 11. More information and tickets for both events can be found here.