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Natasha Kermani '06 - Distinguished Young Alumna

Just six years after graduating from Emma Willard School, armed with a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Natasha Kermani ’06 started her own production company, named Illium Productions—in a nod to her early years in Troy, New York. Her creative talents are focused on short films, music videos, and commercial and branded materials. Natasha has now released two feature films, one sci-fi and one horror, bringing some much-needed diversity to the hugely male-dominated industry and those genres. 

Known for her intellectual curiosity, creativity, and unique perspectives, Natasha arrived at Emma Willard with a passion for the arts and technology. She credits her cinephile, physician father with her extensive knowledge of a broad range of films. During her first semester on Mount Ida, she elected to join a video class filled with older students and quickly demonstrated her mature and confident voice and perspectives. She maintained her devotion to film study throughout her high school years, undertaking independent study film projects and demonstrating the commitment and self-discipline necessary to move through sustained, year-long projects. She also excelled in music, photography, and across the disciplines.

In 2015, Kermani won the NYC Web Fest Award for Best Director (The Mentors, 2015). In 2017, she was nominated for Best Feature Film (Imitation Girl, 2017) at the International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema in Milan. In 2018, she was nominated for Best Film (Imitation Girl) at the Milano International Film Festival Awards.

An LA Times review of her recent horror-satire feature film, Lucky, described her take on a male-dominated genre this way: "...without being too heavy-handed, Grant and Kermani make some provocative connections between the ways women are treated in classic horror pictures and the ways some are treated in real life: as victims by nature, who should feel ‘lucky’ just to be alive." Had the pandemic not canceled the SxSW ’20 Film Festival, the movie would have debuted there. 

Natasha is a member of the Los Angeles chapter of Film Fatales, a nonprofit that serves as an inclusive community of hundreds of women and non-binary directors and advocates for parity in the film industry. Outside film and television, Natasha is a violinist and composer who enjoys playing live shows with local bands and ensembles.

In the words of her nominator: “Only seven women have EVER been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director, including two this past year. Natasha is one of the women behind the camera in Hollywood who is going to help change that. In short, Natasha is the coolest person I know and it's been so incredible watching her career blossom. I can't wait to see what she does next!” 

For the power of her artistic vision and tenacity to transform the film industry, the Emma Willard community proudly bestows on filmmaker Natasha Kermani ’06 the 2021 Distinguished Young Alumna Award.
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