Ten students from the Photography, Documentary Filmmaking, and Cinematography departments at New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Peru by Mater Iniciativa, the biological and cultural research center behind Central Restaurante, the flagship restaurant of Peruvian chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz, which integrates indigenous Peruvian ingredients into the menu based on actual altitudes in the landscape of the South American nation.
The trip lasted 12 days and gave the NYFA students the value of expedition while also placing them in a professional setting to practice and demonstrate their skills in visual storytelling. By working side by side with the indigenous cultures of the region, these students proved themselves as burgeoning thought leaders who could tell the stories of others in compelling, ruminative ways.
The students were joined by NYFA-NY Chair of Photography David Mager, NYFA-NY Chair of Short-term Intensive Programs Jonathan Whittaker, and NYFA-NY Chair of Documentary Filmmaking Andrea Swift. “We were very lucky to find people like David, Jonathan, and Andrea to guide us and share in our excitement for the project and rejoice in an immersive experience,” said Diogo Miranda, the trip leader in Peru.
The students that attended were Jessica Antania Trisno, Sheetal Prashant Upare, Francisca Andrea Ilabaca Paredes, Estelle Piezzoli, Nivetha Selvakkumar, Maria Elena Trajtenberg, Marco Ricci, Guntae Song, Beth Ribeiro, and Karoline Iversen.
The journey allowed these students the opportunity to learn all the ways the restaurant is collaborating with the community and implementing sustainable farming practices while bringing wares to a much larger, global market. Mater Iniciativa is committed to paying homage to Peruvian and Andean culture while merging the old with the new; revitalizing the Peruvian landscape and incorporating ingredients such as cacao and undiscovered flora and botanicals. NYFA students covered all aspects of the initiative, from clay workshops to salt mines, and visiting cacao farmers and potato farmers.
Mater Iniciativa and their representative, Diogo Miranda, was thrilled to have NYFA students see these cultures up close. “We had a complex story to tell, which is why we needed NYFA to come in and tell our story for us in the best way possible as we break boundaries,” he stated. “Our partnership with NYFA was great and we hope this was just the beginning and that we can collaborate further in the many years to come.”
The students were thrilled to participate in such a monumental life opportunity. “Exploring Peru with the Mil and Mater team was unbelievable,” declared Beth Ribeiro, a 1-Year Cinematography student. “There was a great amount of learning in terms of teamwork, delivering to a client, and the style of documentary film in general. Andrea was a brilliant director–I learned so much from her, and David was an incredible producer. I was thrilled to have gone.”
Francisca Andrea Ilabaca, a student in the Spring 2019 1-Year Photography program agreed. “The trip was an amazing experience. Not only did we get to work with a great team of really passionate people but we also got to visit Peru in a completely different way while making an interesting documentary.”
Mater Iniciativa was equally enthusiastic about the student artists. “The NYFA students were fantastic, super energetic,” added Miranda. “It’s an adventure and they were adventurous despite the disadvantages. They were respectful and it was wonderful to have them here.”
New York Film Academy looks forward to continuing to build a relationship with Mater Iniciativa to help foster and nurture the voices of the next generation of visual storytellers.