P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Lilian Mehrel, 2013

MFA, New York University (NYU)

Lilian Mehrel is the child of immigrants from Germany and Iran

Fellowship awarded to support work towards an MFA in Film Directing & Writing at New York University (NYU)

Lilian T. Mehrel is an award-winning writer & director with a fresh sense of humor and vision. 

Lilian’s films have premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, Slamdance, Rotterdam's VR Days Europe, CIFF, Toronto’s FIVARS, Atlanta, Nashville, and Nantucket, and won awards from the Tribeca Film Institute, Google/YouTube, ABC/Disney, IFP Marcie Bloom Fellowship, Alfred P. Sloan, the Science & Entertainment Exchange / Imagine Science Films, NYU Tisch, the Puffin Foundation, the Nancy Malone Directing Award, New York Women in Film & TV, and student award nominations for Kodak, the National Board Review, and BAFTA. 

She created one of the first live-action virtual reality narrative films, which debuted at Tribeca Interactive, was a participant in the Tribeca Film Institute/Warner Media Immigration Co/Lab, the TFI/Google Immersive Lab and Award, and taught experiential storytelling at NYU Tisch Grad Film. Her live-action/animation dramedy WATER MELTS premiered at Tribeca's Cinema360. Lilian's latest comedic writing can be seen in McSweeney's. Her work includes commercials for large brands including Calvin Klein (starring Lupita Nyong'o and Saoirse Ronan). As a writer & director, her animation collaborations include working with Maya Edelman (Emmy-award-winning Broad City) and Danielle Rhoda (The New York Times). 

With a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, she is an MFA graduate from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film. Lilian was born to a Kurdish-Persian mother and German-Hungarian-Jewish father. She earned her BA from Dartmouth College, where she was awarded a Senior Fellowship. She wrote and illustrated MUCHIJOON, a hybrid family memoir. Her stories reveal the underlying universalities she sees between people, shaped by her work connecting youth from conflicting countries – with Seeds of Peace, Kathryn Davis 100 Projects for Peace, and YALA Peace – a creative leadership program for diverse girls she founded at the Arab Jewish Community Center of Yafo. Lilian creates feel-good stories that also feel real, evoking laughter and tears in recognition. 

Maira Kalman called her work “epic and cinematic… full of heart and curiosity.” Lilian promptly fainted.


  • MFA Film Directing & Writing | New York University (NYU) 2017
  • BA Creative Writing | Dartmouth College 2009
  • Alfred P. Sloan Science Foundation Film Award
  • Nancy Malone Directing Award
  • Puffin Foundation Film Award
  • Imagine Science 48 hour film: 1st place
  • ABC/Disney Film Award
  • Official Selection at the Tribeca Film Festival (Interactive Playground)
  • BAFTA student nomination
  • Google JumpStart Award
  • Tribeca Film Institute: All Access Award, Interactive Prototype
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