documentary filmmaking
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  • New York Film Academy Welcomes Director Tânia Cypriano and NYFA Student Jude Washock for a Q&A on Groundbreaking Documentary ‘Born to Be’

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    On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a live video Q&A with the talented documentary filmmaker Tânia Cypriano to discuss her much admired and trailblazing documentary film Born to Be. Cypriano was also joined in conversation by NYFA Acting for Film Conservatory student, and consultant for the film, Jude Washock. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series, moderated the event.

    Director Tânia Cypriano has been working between her home country of Brazil and the United States for over thirty years. Her films and videos have won international awards including ‘Best Documentary’ at Joseph Papp’s Festival Latino in New York, the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, and Fespaco in Burkina Faso. Her work has been shown in the world’s most prestigious institutions including The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Hong Kong Arts Center, the Jerusalem Film Festival, the Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival, and the Berlin International Film Festival.

    (Clockwise) Tova Laiter, Tânia Cypriano, and Jude Washock for Q&A Series

    Her television credits include documentaries for PBS, the History Channel, NHK in Japan, GNT in Brazil and Channel 4 in England. Cypriano has co-organized a series of films with the MoMA, the Anthology Film Archives, Exit Art, the Museum of Image and Sound in São Paulo, and the Grazer Kunstverein in Austria. She has also previously worked on productions for Bill Moyers, Martin Scorsese, Kent Jones and Nelson Pereira dos Santos.

    Dr. Ting walks with one his patients in the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery wing of Mount Sinai Hospital (‘Born to Be’)

    Cypriano’s latest documentary, Born to Be, follows the work of Dr. Jess Ting at the groundbreaking Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City —where, for the first time ever, all transgender and non-binary people can have access to quality transition-related health and surgical care. The film received critical acclaim upon its original release in the 2019 festival circuit and was hailed by Variety as “a lively and moving documentary,” and “a film that distinguishes itself with a sensitive, human portrait” by Hollywood Reporter.

    A patient awaiting consultation from Dr. Ting (‘Born to Be’)

    Cypriano remembers wanting to make this documentary after hearing about the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York from her producer, noting it was “a historical moment for New York City, and also for healthcare.” After deciding she wanted to do this documentary, Cypriano recalls staying in the clinic and documenting the surgeries with the crew, noting how many of the characters in the film “understood the importance of that moment [of filming] because these surgeries were just made available, and the importance of them was so great to the [transgender] community.”

    Washock, a SAG-AFTRA member and NYFA student who served as a consultant for the film, explained that his role was “to ensure that the stories being told by the characters, who were receiving surgery, were portrayed in a humane way and were not damaging or exploitive.” Consultants like Washock are especially important for documentary filmmakers so they can ensure they do the subject matter, and story, justice.

    Dr. Ting posing with one of his patients (‘Born to Be’)

    One student asked Cypriano how she was able to compose herself during the documentary shoot. “It was a tough one,” she recalls, “I think that is why I chose to live outside of my family because it was emotionally draining, but nothing compares to what I imagine Dr. Ting goes through because he is over there listening to those stories everyday.”

    Film poster for ‘Born to Be’

    In addition to discussing the film, Cypriano also encouraged NYFA students to tell stories because they can. “You have to put yourself out there, work hard, be patient, and persevere. If you hang in there, you can do it.” Washock, who got involved in the project just by talking to Cypriano at an event added, “put yourself out there and have conversations with people and just talk, you would be surprised.”

    Washock also encouraged students in the New York City area to look into volunteering or becoming a member at IFP (Independent Filmmakers Project), where Washock praised his experience there networking and attending informative panels.

    Cypriano thanked Laiter and the NYFA students for joining the call and also extended gratitude to NYFA student Jude Washock for joining the conversation.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank the talented Tânia Cypriano for sharing her time and expertise with the students and NYFA Acting for Film student Jude Washock for sharing his experience as a consultant on Born to Be. NYFA also encourages everyone to keep an eye out for the forthcoming theatrical and streaming release of the film.

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  • Student Spotlight: Documentary Film Student Richard Brookshire Pens Article Featured in ‘New York Times Magazine’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Film student Richard Brookshire recently wrote an article for New York Times Magazine about his experience serving in the army as a Black, queer man, joining the Black Lives Matter movement, and what he has been doing to bring Black stories to life as a filmmaker and a storyteller.

    NYFA reached out to Brookshire to continue the conversation from his New York Times Magazine article and to discuss his experience as a Black documentary filmmaker, his upcoming short film Boukman’s Prayer 2.0, and the future of Black stories in the entertainment industry.

    Richard Brookshire, with his mother, Natacha, at his graduation from Army basic training in 2009 (Photo Courtesy of Richard Brookshire)

    Before pursuing filmmaking, Richard Brookshire served as a combat medic with the 170th Infantry Brigade in Germany, and later Afghanistan. At this time, Brookshire recalls his closeted sexuality due to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and also remembers being one of a few Black soldiers in his 40 person platoon. In his article for New York Times Magazine, Brookshire wrote:

    Through Brookshire’s personal encounters, the experiences of his loved ones, and witnessing modern events of racial inequality unfold (like the horrific shooting of Trayvon Martin), led Brookshire to join the New York chapter of Black Lives Matter and to co-found the Black Veterans Project, a racial equity and archive initiative created to shed light on systemic racial inequities within the U.S military (both historic and present).

    Brookshire’s interest in racial injustice led also opened up another area of interest; film. “I recognized how the medium of [documentary] film was the perfect space to merge my background and skill set to capture Black American life for future generations.”

    “Film is one of the most powerful forms of propaganda we have in retelling histories and cultivating a public imagination around how we see ourselves as a society and our shared humanity,” says Brookshire. “Just as it can do harm, it can also harness good. It can expand our collective understandings, give us a window into lives far different than our own, and equip stakeholders and activists with powerful narratives to drive necessary and provocative awakenings around injustices across societies.”

    Brookshire during an Army National Guard, Upstate New York in 2015 (Photo Courtesy of Richard Brookshire)

    After Brookshire’s four year old niece passed away last year, he says it was the motivation he needed to study the documentary filmmaking craft. “NYFA felt like the perfect place to gain expertise from leading filmmakers in an intimate intensive program geared toward teaching me the fundamentals,” says Brookshire. “I credit NYFA alum, Clyde Gunter for persuading me on what NYFA had to offer.”

    Brookshire notes that documentary filmmaking can change or broaden an individual’s perspective. “It only takes one mind to begin planting the seeds of change and revolution. We are in constant evolution as human beings, and we must not shy away from harnessing the power we have to inspire each other to do better, to be better and to create new systems that reflect a reality that is informed by the shared understanding of our common humanity.”

    As a filmmaker and activist, Brookshire turns to creators like Spike Lee and Henry Louis Gates for imagination, creativity, and unforgettable storytelling. “I always joke with my friends that if Spike Lee and Henry Louis Gates had a director baby, it’d be me.” He notes that Spike Lee has always taken incredible care and consideration “in capturing the splendor and hardship of Black American Life.” As for Henry Louis Gates, Brookshire claims Gates “has created unparalleled works that dive deep into the overlooked African American histories.”

    Brookshire being interviewed recently at a protest at the Manhattan Bridge (Photo Credit: Dexter Philips)

    For his next project, Brookshire tells NYFA that his short film Boukman’s Prayer 2.0 will explore “five Black artists surviving the COVID-19 crisis in the days leading up to the riots.” In his essay film, Brookshire describes it as an exploration of “Black folk who find freedom within and access planes in their creative imagination to allow a spiritual awakening and healing outside of an anti-Black society.”

    While the country continues to address various systemic racial prejudices and injustices, the entertainment industry has its own work to do too. “The archive is full of Black histories and Black life to tell. The diaspora is rife with untold and unexplored characters and circumstances,” says Brookshire. “If we are to bridge the long-standing racial divide, we must create spaces for Black stories to exist, and not just those that retell Black traumas (which has been a primary avenue for Black filmmakers write large).”

    He continues to note the importance of Black documentaries and their ability to show “the vastness of our humanity and experience,” and urges the conversation of ownership with Black storytelling; “who owns Black stories is just as important as who tells them.”

    In addition, Brookshire shares that mentorship cannot be overlooked either. “Sharing resources and knowledge creates pathways to opportunity,” he says. “The reason the canon of documentaries is lacking relative to Black stories is because, for far too long, film was an exclusive space and, in many ways, it still is quite a privilege to be able to do this sort of work.”

    New York FIlm Academy would like to thank Richard Brookshire for continuing to share his stories and insight as a Black filmmaker and encourages everyone to read his New York Times Magazine article and to be on the lookout for his upcoming short Boukman’s Prayer 2.0.

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    June 30, 2020 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 251

  • NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Alum, Mollie Moore, on Her Journey as a Documentary Filmmaker and the Importance of Storytelling

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking alum Mollie Moore is a filmmaker and cinematographer from South London, who is currently based in London and New York City. She has worked for renowned production companies such as the BBC, PBS, ITVS, Human Love LTD and DNA Films on various projects. Her films have gone on to be screened at festivals all over the world, with her work taking her to multiple continents. With her background in cinematography, Moore’s work pushes the limits of visual poetry through non-fiction storytelling, while also weaving in important themes that highlight the LGBTQ community and forced migration.

    From a young age, Moore was always involved with the theatre world and, when it was time to go to college, she travelled instead to South East Asia, India, South America and many other places while working as a crew member on fictional film sets. “I realized the vast possibilities of storytelling and the importance of capturing the beauty of the world we live in and the stories within it,” shares Moore. “Documentary felt like a natural marriage with my background in theatre, storytelling and my passion for exploration and the people I met along the way.”

    This realization brought Moore to New York, where she studied in NYFA’s 1-Year Conservatory Program for Documentary Filmmaking. “It was a course that I could give all of my attention to, whilst getting maximum in-person time to learn in a creative and hands-on way,” she explains. 

    Film Poster for ‘A Word Away’ (Dir. Mollie Moore)

    Her thesis film, A Word Away, premiered at the Camden International Film Festival. A Word Away centers around a young man named Cosmo, who is from South Sudan and now resides in the U.S, who share his journey of migration through the medium of poetry. For Moore, it was important for her to find “a new way of telling a story of migration, through a more intimate and personal lens.” At the film’s premier, Moore recalls that having Cosmo and his family present was a very important moment for her as it was their stories being told and seen. “Documentary filmmaking should always be seen a collaborative process between the filmmaker and the people sharing their stories.”

    After graduating NYFA, Moore also worked on festival favorite Paper Thin, a documentary about a young transgender womxn starting a new life in New York City after having to flee the persecution of LGBTQ+ persons in Russia. Not long after, Moore worked as the cinematographer for the short film, Mama, a personal story between a mother and daughter (dir. NYFA alum Lucia Florez), who look into their past to try and reconcile their relationship after years of difficult conversations and opinions about sexuality.

    Mollie shooting in Peru on set of the film ‘Mama’ (Dir. Lucia Florez)

    These films, and others with similar themes, are ones that Moore says she holds “very close to my heart and with a lot of passion.” While Moore identifies with these topics on a personal level, as a filmmaker, she explains that these stories are crucial to share. “I think shedding light on topics and communities that have often been massively misconstrued and discriminated against through violent acts of oppression and injustice is of huge importance.” For those that have a platform to shed light on subjects and real world issues in an objective, honest way, it can be a privilege. Moore says, “we must share it [the stories of others] and give voices to those whose realities have often been silenced throughout history.”

    Moore is currently working as a filmmaker on the artist Marc Quinn’s public art project, Our Blood; a multi media public artwork that focuses on the refugee crisis all over the world. The art piece will premiere outside of the New York Public Library in 2021, but for now, Moore and others involved on the project are continuing their filming in London and New York City. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) would like to thank NYFA Documentary alum Mollie Moore for sharing more about her work as a documentary filmmaker and encourages everyone to check out her work and keep an eye out for the Our Blood project, once it has been unveiled in 2021.

    To keep up with Mollie Moore, check out her website here or follow her on Instagram.

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    June 17, 2020 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 421

  • The Criterion Channel releases the series “Tell Me: Women Filmmakers, Women’s Stories”

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    The Criterion Channel has recently made available a collection of films based on the acclaimed series “Tell Me: Women Filmmakers, Women’s Voices,” originally screened at The Metrograph in  2018. 

    The films, all documentaries, all directed by women, share women’s stories through the startling intimacy that’s created between the subject and the camera. As the films vary from cinéma vérité to essay to agitprop The Metrograph, as one of the few independent theaters left in New York City, presented as an ideal venue for the original series. Known for its atmosphere, it aims to create the ultimate film enthusiast’s space where one can immerse themselves in film alongside movie professionals who screen and discuss their work.

    The series adopted an Adrienne Rich quote from Motherhood: The Contemporary Emergency and the Quantum Leap (1979) as it’s raison d’être:

    “One of the most powerful social and political catalysts of the past decade has been the speaking of women with other women, the telling of our secrets, the comparing of wounds and sharing of words… In order to change what is, we need to give speech to what has been, to imagine together what might be.”

    Tell Me: Women Filmmakers, Women's Stories Poster

    Curated by Nellie Killian, Tell Me helped to highlight how the film industry has in many ways, failed women. They’re underrepresented as directors and as subjects in film – an issue the New York Film Academy’s 2018 Gender Inequality Infographic explored. These documentaries are so unique in that they are about women by women which give them a different tone and distinctive voice. These stories and the manner in which they’re told are so very different from anything mainstream filmmaking and even, many independent films have released. 

    While spanning five decades, the films of “Tell Me” have a common thread. They celebrate women filmmakers as well as the women in their films. By simply giving women a safe space to speak of their lives and experience without restraint, the films capture life-long frustrations and injustice painting intimate and complex portraits of its subjects. These groundbreaking films, all from the nineteen-seventies and early eighties, are mostly documentaries that run under 60 minutes.

    Among the films in the collection is Growing Up Female (1971), which focuses on the story of six women, ages 4 to 35, and how stereotypes in the media and advertising, and their personal relationships influence their socialization. It offers an interesting insight into how much has changed over time and how much has remained the same.

     The Camille Billops and James Hatch short documentary, Suzanne, Suzanne is a multigenerational story. It chronicles the devastation a life of physical and psychological abuse has wrought on a daughter Suzanne, who is a recovering drug addict, and her mother, Billie. 

    In Dis-Moi -Tell Me (1980), whose title inspired the name of the series, the director Chantal Akerman sits with and gives a voice to elderly Jewish women who are all survivors of the Holocaust as they recount their lives and family stories before and during World War II. Akerman’s mother is also featured in the film as she recounts tales of her own family. The film offers an intimate and delicate portrait of the lives of its subjects.  

     The complete collection of “Tell Me” features the following films:
    Growing Up Female (Julia Reichert and Jim Klein, 1971)
    Janie’s Janie (Geri Ashur, Peter Barton, Marilyn Mulford, and Stephanie Pawleski, 1971)
    Betty Tells Her Story (Liane Brandon, 1972)
    It Happens to Us (Amalie R. Rothschild, 1972)
    Joyce at 34 (Joyce Chopra and Claudia Weill, 1972)
    Yudie (Mirra Bank, 1974)
    Chris and Bernie (Bonnie Friedman and Deborah Shaffer, 1976)
    Guerillère Talks (Vivienne Dick, 1978)
    Inside Women Inside (Christine Choy and Cynthia Maurizio, 1978)
    Soft Fiction (Chick Strand, 1979)
    Dis-moi (Chantal Akerman, 1980)
    I Am Wanda (Katja Raganelli, 1980)
    Clotheslines (Roberta Cantow, 1981)
    Land Makar (Margaret Tait, 1981)
    Audience (Barbara Hammer, 1982)
    Suzanne, Suzanne (Camille Billops and James Hatch, 1982)
    The Ties That Bind (Su Friedrich, 1985)
    Conversations with Intellectuals About Selena (Lourdes Portillo, 1999)
    Privilege (Yvonne Rainer, 1990)
    The Salt Mines (Susana Aiken and Carlos Aparicio, 1990)
    The Transformation (Susana Aiken and Carlos Aparicio, 1995)
    Mimi (Claire Simon, 2003)
    No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman, 2015)
    Shakedown (Leilah Weinraub, 2018)

    The New York Film Academy encourages everyone to check out Tell Me: Women Filmmakers, Women’s Stories on The Criterion Channel. 

     

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    June 1, 2020 • Diversity, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 25

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Alum Pedro Álvarez Gales Works on Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’

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    Netflix has become an essential service now more than ever while most of the world stays indoors, and seemingly everyone watching Netflix is watching its latest original docuseries, Tiger King, co-edited by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking alum Pedro Álvarez Gales.

    Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is a true crime docuseries that explores a convicted criminal and flamboyant zoo owner and the larger world of big cat owners and enthusiasts that he inhabits. Over the course of seven episodes, co-directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin tell the story of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka “Joe Exotic,” who plotted the murder of Carole Baskin of Florida’s Big Cat Rescue.

    The show has resonated with television viewers stuck at home due to self-isolation and quarantine, and in just its first three days of release Tiger King became one of the top 10 shows watched on the popular streaming service.

    Documentaries typically involve a great deal more editing than narrative productions when factoring in all the raw footage that needs to be culled into a cohesive story. New York Film Academy Documentary Filmmaking alum Pedro Álvarez Gales was a perfect choice by the production to serve as co-editor. The talented young editor and director has worked on productions including Black Market with Michael K. Williams, King of the Road, Weediquette, and last year’s buzzworthy documentary FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.

    Gales, who is originally from Caracas, Venezuela, first received his training at the NYFA Documentary Filmmaking school at our New York Campus in 2013. “Almost everything I do today I learned in NYFA,” Gales told us in an interview last year. “I had never touched any editing software until I went there. It was through NYFA I got my first job in New York too (Vice and Viceland) where I stayed for three years and went from being an assistant editor to junior editor.”

    tiger king pedro alvarez gales

    NYFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Pedro Álvarez Gales

    He adds, “The Documentary program can be a really intense one with long hours and days, but if you apply yourself and choose to absorb everything that’s coming your way you’ll leave that building a documentary filmmaker.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Pedro Álvarez Gales on the success of Tiger King and encourages everyone at home to check out the docuseries on Netflix!

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    March 25, 2020 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1811

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Alum Gary Bencheghib Joins Greta Thunberg at Davos World Economic Forum

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking alum Gary Bencheghib was invited to speak at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos in January to discuss his work and the impact of climate change.

    Bencheghib joined thousands of business leaders, economists, journalists, international political figures, and more from all over the globe to discuss key issues of global concern, including the devastating effects of climate change.

    Notable activist on the topic, Greta Thunberg, was selected to speak on the issue, along with Bencheghib, who addressed climate change head on and was able to point back to his upcoming documentary, Plastic River, as well as his entire body of work—past and present—as a case study to the destructive, man-made effects to the environment.

    Back in 2009, Bencheghib, along with his brother Sam, founded Make A Change World, an organization to raise awareness for environmental pollution and sustainable waste management. Since it was founded, the platform has distributed multiple micro-docs and other projects addressing climate issues, including Bencheghib’s miniseries and NYFA thesis film, The Reclamation.

     

    Gary Bencheghib

    NYFA Alum Gary Bencheghib Speaks at Davos World Economic Forum

    “NYFA completely changed my life in giving me the best formation imaginable on the entire filmmaking spectrum—from shooting to editing and producing,” Bencheghib said about his time at the Academy.

    Among the other notable projects the Bencheghib brothers have created since Gary graduated in 2014, includes documenting themselves paddle-boarding along two of New York City’s most polluted waterways and convincing Indonesia’s President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to clean up the country’s contaminated Citarum River.

    At Davos, Bencheghib also spoke about his latest initiative from him and his brother called Sungai Watch, a platform that maps out the details of rivers in real time, allowing people to test floating trash booms for rivers and smaller trash blocks for streams throughout Bali’s waterways. “Imagine watching the cleanup of the world’s most polluted river in real time,” says Gary. This new initiative, along with the additional conversations sparked by Bencheghib and others at Davos will, hopefully, allow attendees and others throughout the world to address the innovative and urgent solutions needed to combat man-made environmental damage.

    New York Film Academy is proud to see NYFA alumni like Gary Bencheghib bring their stories to political and business leaders around the world and is excited to see the important role documentary filmmaking is taking in global conversations about the vital issues of our time.

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    February 21, 2020 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 658

  • New York Film Academy Producing Alum Federico Guarascio Coproduces Festival Hit ‘The Fourth Kingdom’

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    The Fourth Kingdom, a documentary directed by Adán Aliaga and Alex Lora and coproduced by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing alum Federico Guarascio has been storming the festival circuit since its premiere earlier this year.

    The film documents a redemption center in Brooklyn founded by a Spanish ex-missionary where cans and plastic bottles are exchanged for cash—a “Fourth Kingdom” of plastics, and a hub for immigrants and underdogs who desperately believe in the American Dream.

    Federico Guarascio

    Since its premiere last February at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Short Film, The Fourth Kingdom has been selected in 20 film festivals—eight of them Oscars-qualifying—and has won two of them, including the Brooklyn Film Festival, which allows the short film to be considered for the Academy Awards. 

    It has additionally screened at the Rooftop Summer Series, the Americas Film Festivals, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, DOC NYC, and opened at the United Kingdom’s prestigious Sheffield Doc Fest.

    Federico Guarascio originally hails from Italy and first came to New York Film Academy through the Torno Subito program, a joint public/private sector work study initiative that supports new talent development in the Italian film and television industry and is based in Italy’s Lazio region. New York Film Academy provides the “study” element of the program, with students enrolling in short-term workshops across various NYFA disciplines. Once their program is completed, graduates return to pre-arranged film and television internships in Italy.

    Alex Lora & Federico Guarascio

    Alex Lora & Federico Guarascio

    Guarascio first attended the 4-Week Producing workshop at NYFA’s New York campus, and was so impressed that he subsequently returned to enroll in the 1-Year Conservatory in Producing. Upon graduation, Federico has remained in New York City to work on a variety of film projects, including The Fourth Kingdom.

    “[NYFA] proved to be essential during my journey with this doc,” says Guarascio, “and it would not have been possible for me to get this far without the skills I learned in your classes and, for that, I am immensely grateful.”

    Guarascio’s talent as a producer was evident early on. “As a student, Federico showed all the hallmarks of a fiercely independent producer,” recalls NYFA-NY Chair of Producing Neal Weisman. “He consistently demonstrated a great passion for the process and a curiosity which inevitably led to to interesting projects. It is no surprise that Federico has moved on to find success with films moving onto the festival circuit. We are very proud.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Producing alum Federico Guarascio on the success of The Fourth Kingdom and encourages everyone to check out the film’s trailer, available on Vimeo. 

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    December 16, 2019 • Film Festivals, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1758

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students Document Indigenous Culture During Trip to Peru Inspired by Chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz

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    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.

    Peru Trip 2019
    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.

    Peru Trip 2019
    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.

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  • DOC NYC Screens Exclusive Lineup of New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Department Shorts

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    DOC NYC, which runs from November 6 – 15, showcased the work of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking department in an exclusive lineup of NYFA short films on Thursday, November 7.

    DOC NYC is celebrating its tenth year, after bursting onto the scene in 2010 that the Village Voice called “selective but eclectic.” With a mission statement to guide audiences toward the work of various artists—filmmakers, photographers, and more—and to help documentarians make the most of emerging technologies and the networking opportunities one can only find in New York.

    DOC NYC 2019

    The festival spans ten days at theaters across Manhattan, with an impressive multitude of special guests. Past guests have included Hillary Clinton, Emma Watson, Jim Carrey, Thandie Newton, Susan Sarandon, Martin Scorsese, Itzhak Perlman, Michael Moore, Chris Rock, Michel Gondry, Errol Morris, Oliver Stone, Jonathan Franzen, and Al Sharpton, among others. DOC NYC is overseen by Executive Director Raphaela Neihausen and Artistic Director Thom Powers.

    NYFA has collaborated with DOC NYC in the past, with the fest screening the work of several distinguished students and alumni at the precipices of their careers. This year’s DOC NYC U: NYFA lineup was held on Thursday, November 7, at 1:00 p.m. at the IFC Center in Manhattan’s West Village, running for 68 minutes.

    Here is the 2019 DOC NYC U: NYFA lineup:

    Ghost Villages of the Himalayas | Director: Kuldeep Sah Gangola
    Despite encroaching leopards and relentless isolation, 89-year-old Ammaji refuses to leave her home.
    (USA, 16 MIN)

    My Dad Vernon | Director: Serena Smith
    Vernon teaches Serena creative life-hacks while she tries to understand why he lives in his car.
    (USA, 3 MIN, excerpt)

    Mamá | Director: Lucia Florez
    Chia joins her mother to research motherhood in the Andes, where they confront their own relationship.
    (USA, 6 MIN, excerpt)

    All I See Is the Future | Director: Nancy Dionne
    A former drug dealer becomes a successful optician—until a mistake threatens his dream.
    (USA, 14 MIN)

    A Word Away | Director: Mollie Moore
    For 18 years, selective mutism has kept Cosmo silent about escaping South Sudan—until now.
    (USA, 20 MIN)

    Get It | Director: Joe Cleary
    Reem hustles to parlay street-dancing fame into a rap career.
    (USA, 3 MIN, excerpt)

    B-city | Director: Carolina Gonzales
    Bhustak creates a makeshift hip-hop studio to help neighborhood kids escape violence in Bogotá.
    (USA, 3 MIN)

    Baladna | Director: Aya Hamdan
    A Syrian baker navigates economic instability and immigration status to bring his family to Bahrain.
    (USA, 3 MIN)

    Epiales | Director: Anna Panova
    Follow a photographer into the frightening universe of sleep paralysis.
    (USA, 3 MIN, excerpt)

    Unloved | Director: Nika Nikanava
    The story of three women coming to terms with having fathers who abandoned them.
    (USA, 11 MIN)

    The Rhythms | Director: Nika Nikanava
    In memoriam to a promising and well-loved filmmaker.
    (USA, 2 MIN)

    New York Film Academy congratulates the documentary filmmakers representing NYFA at this year’s DOC NYC and is elated to see their important work being appreciated!

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    November 7, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 950

  • New York Film Academy Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Claudia Raschke & Alum Todd Leatherman Work on Nat Geo’s Activate

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    Activate: The Global Citizen Movement, a new six-part documentary series from National Geographic, features cinematography from New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking instructor Claudia Raschke; NYFA Documentary alum Todd Leatherman also served as assistant camera on three episodes. The series will air its finale on Thursday, October 10.

    Activate was developed by National Geographic and co-produced by Global Citizen and RadicalMedia LLC, and includes celebrity activists like Pharrell Williams, Common, Hugh Jackman, Uzo Aduba, Darren Criss, and Rachel Brosnahan. The series showcases the Global Citizen movement, which strives to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, and focuses on a different poverty-related issue with each episode.

    Nat Geo Activate RaschkeClaudia Raschke teaches cinematography for the NYFA Documentary Filmmaking program at our New York campus. Her previous credits as director of photography include Mad Hot Ballroom, My Architect, and Small Wonders. Raschke recently shot the feature doc RBG, about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, which became a box office hit and has won numerous major awards and nominations.

    Todd Leatherman attended the 1-Year Documentary Filmmaking conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus in January 2011. Since then, he’s worked in the camera department for numerous projects, including Obvious Child, The Freedom to Marry, and Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics.

    Nat Geo Activate LeathermanLeatherman worked as AC on three episodes of Nat Geo’s new series, Activate: The Global Citizen Movement, including its premiere, “Eradicating Extreme Poverty,” which was shot by Raschke. 

    The premiere episode, “Eradicating Extreme Poverty,” which was worked on by both Raschke and Leatherman, features Hugh Jackman, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Becky G as they join Global Citizen in campaigns to push world leaders into enacting policies that would end global extreme poverty.

    The second episode of the series, “Ending Cash Bail,” showcases Common and Usher as they support the fight for criminal justice reform; episode three, “Education Cannot Wait,” features actress Rachel Brosnahan as she mobilizes global citizens to fund education for displaced children.

    “Keeping Girls in School,” the fourth episode, focuses on the movement to break down barriers to girls’ education, and features Priyanka Chopra Jonas. “Ending Plastic Pollution” shows Darren Criss and Pharrell Williams calling for the flow of plastic into the oceans to cease, while the finale, “Clean Water”—which airs Thursday, October 10—features Uzo Aduba and the push for clean drinking water and proper sanitation for the world’s most vulnerable people.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Documentary Filmmaking instructor Claudia Raschke and alum Todd Leatherman on their work for a vitally important series, and encourages everyone to check out Nat Geo’s Activate: The Global Citizen Movement.

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