Documentary Filmmaking
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  • Netflix’s First Team: Juventus Edited by New York Film Academy Doc Alum & Instructor

    What’s it really like to play for one of the most successful football (or soccer, for my fellow Americans) teams in the European League? Beginning Feb. 16 you can find out, when Netflix’s First Team: Juventus, drops. We’ll be tuning in to see the work of New York Film Academy Documentary Filmmaking alum and instructor Andrea “Fuma” Fumagalli, who edits the series.

    “With Fuma’s editing and storytelling chops, he’s a natural for a world class project like this,” says NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Chair Andrea Swift. “I think you’ll agree his work is both exciting and masterful. He’s also a very talented weekend football (soccer) player, and a huge Juventus fan. It would be hard to get closer to finding your dream job.”
    Andrea Fumagalli came to New York City from Italy to attend NYFA’s Documentary Conservatory program, graduating in 2008. His work has been so successful that he returned as an Instructor a few years later. Fuma has kept quite busy as an editor, cinematographer, and photographer, with credits including Moving On, Le bambine di Calcutta cresconoLa Casa Bianca, dozens of films for Canon and Rai and, now, Netflix’s First Team: Juventus.

    The Netflix Original Series promises to offer a fresh new angle on the famous Italian team as it takes viewers behind-the-scenes, exposing the personal and professional pressures faced by the players.

    Owned by the same family that controls Fiat, the Angielli family, Juventus claims an impressive legacy. Not only do they hold the most Italian championships, with an official 33 wins (though two were revoked), but Juventus has also boasted some of the world’s most lauded players, from Michel Platini to current forward Paulo Bruno Exequiel Dybala (who Messi wants to steal for Barcelona).

    Get ready for the world cup this year with the inside story behind one of the world’s biggest teams. Congratulations, Andrea!

  • New York Film Academy Alum Made Head of Development at October Films

    New York Film Academy alum Louis Mole has been promoted to Head of Development US at production company October Films, along with colleague Matt Dewar, who’s been made Head of Development UK.

    Mole enrolled in NYFA’s 1-Year Documentary Program, chaired by Andrea Swift, in September 2011 at our New York City campus. In the program, Mole learned to conceive, pitch, produce, direct, and edit various types of documentary shorts, as well as gain experience as cinematographer, sound recordist and assistant camera.

    Of his time at NYFA, Mole said in 2013: “You come out of the program with the fundamental expertise of every single aspect of making a film – which is so unique.”

    Mole put the education to good use, heading to Singapore after graduation and writing three episodes for the docuseries Asian Swindlers. He then joined October Films in 2014 within their London development team, and later came back to the Big Apple when he transferred to the New York office of October Films.

    October Films is an award-winning, fast-growing production company based in the US and UK that focuses on independent content from a variety of genres — including documentaries, dramas, and entertainment and reality programs.

    Some of their recent projects include Eight Days That Made Rome, Dangerous Borders, Annie: Out of the Ashes, Motorheads, and From Russia To Iran: Crossing The Wild Frontier. October Films also has series in production for the BBC, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, the Science Channel, and Channel 4.

    Before his promotion to Head of Development, Mole worked on multiple projects for October Films, including Mygrations for the National Geographic Channel, Trailblazers for Discover Channel, and a seven-part series for Lifetime.

    Louis Mole has also paid it forward to newer students at the New York Film Academy, speaking with them as a guest lecturer, and offering his solid expertise.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Louis Mole on his well-earned success, and looks forward to seeing where his career heads next!

    February 9, 2018 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 502

  • WWF Features New York Film Academy Documentary Alum Valentine Rosado in Annual Report


    With 2017 the third hottest year on record, climate change and environmental conservation have become trending topics. Yet for conservationists like biologist and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking alum Valentine Rosado, the important work to protect the planet is an ongoing, lifelong commitment.

    After returning from his studies at NYFA New York City through a Professional Development Grant from World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Russell E. Train Education for Nature Program (EFN), Rosado recently launched environmental consulting firm Grassroots Belize with his wife Angie in his home country of Belize.

    Now, Rosado and his work are featured in WWF’s Russell E. Train Education for Nature Annual Report.

    “Guadalupe Valentine Rosado, a biologist from Belize, received a Professional Development Grant to attend a six-week documentary filmmaking workshop at the New York Film Academy,” the WWF Report states. “He is using the skills learned in the workshop to create impactful and educational films about environmental issues facing Belize, such as mangrove reforestation and restoration.”

    With the WWF’s annual membership reaching upwards of 5 million, it’s exciting to see that news of Rosado’s incredible conservation work for Belize has reached such a wide audience, and that what he’s learned at New York Film Academy’s Documentary School has contributed to his important work in Belize.

    “Conservation endures as a living discipline because it is inhabited by a magnificent collection of people,” WWF President & CEO Carter Roberts states on their website. “Only by working together can we create solutions to the most vexing problems we face.”

    We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations, Valentine! We look forward to seeing what’s next for Grassroots Belize. You can learn by connecting with Valentine and following Grassroots Belize on Facebook.

  • New York Film Academy Co-Presents Stranger Than Fiction in its 14th Year at IFC Center

    The New York Film Academy returns to its partnership with IFC Center to present Stranger Than Fiction. For its 2018 winter season, Stranger Than Fiction is hosted by film producer and Toronto International Film Festival documentary programmer Thom Powers, and Oscar-nominated documentarian and New York Film Academy alum Raphaela Neihausen.

    “If you crave documentaries that generate passionate discussion, you’ll get more than your money’s worth from this lineup,” STF Artistic Director Thom Powers said in IFC’s press release.

    Now in its 14th year, Stranger Than Fiction is a weekly documentary film series that will now present nine seminal documentaries in keeping with its tradition of screening cutting-edge documentaries. After each screening, a Q&A will be held with each film’s director or another special guest, providing audiences with a truly exclusive and unforgettable experience. Stranger Than Fiction is sponsored by the New York Film Academy Documentary Filmmaking Department and presented by IFC Center.

    Stranger Than Fiction’s Opening Night festivities will commence with a screening of Sundance smash Seeing Allred, before exploring a lineup that will include serials and a Netflix original, and reflects the dynamically changing, cutting-edge documentary industry.

    Here is this year’s full Stranger Than Fiction lineup, co-presented by the New York Film Academy:

    Feb 6: Seeing Allred (2018, 96 min, dir Roberta Grossman & Sophie Sartain)

    + guest TBA

    Feb 13: Control Room (2004, 84 min)

    + Q&A w/ dir Jehane Noujaim

    Feb 20: This is Congo (2017, 91 min)

    + Q&A w/  dir Daniel McCabe

    Feb 27: Flint Town (2018, two episodes totaling 90 min)

    + Q&A w/ dirs. Zackary Canepari, Jessica Dimmock, Drea Cooper

    March 1: Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death (2017, 125 min)

    + Q&A w/ dir Helen Whitney

    March 6: Oh, Rick! (2017, 78 min)

    + Q&A w/ dirs Dustin Sussman, Aaron Rosenbloom & subject Rick Crom

    March 13: Wild, Wild Country (2018, two episodes totaling 120 min)

    + Q&A w/ dirs Chapman Way, Maclain Way & exec prod Mark Duplass

    March 20: Occupation: Dreamland (2005, 78 min)

    + Q&A w/ dir Ian Olds

    March 27: Closing Night: The China Hustle (2018, 84 min)

    + Q&A w/ dir Jed Rothstein

    Screenings are held 7 p.m. Tuesdays (& one Thursday) at IFC Center, February 6 – March 27. The general public is welcome to attend Stranger Than Fiction screenings for $17, while IFC Center members enjoy a discounted ticket price of $14. Season Passes are available for $99 ($80 for IFC members), and cover admission to all 9 screenings. For more information, visit Stranger Than Fiction or IFC Center.

  • New York Film Academy Documentary Film Festival Screens 5 Fantastic Student Docs

    The New York Film Academy recently celebrated The New York Film Academy Documentary Film Festival, offering a showcase of five exceptional thesis documentaries from our conservatory students.

    Held at the NYFA Theatre at the New York City campus, the festival served not only as a thesis presentation, but also a professional launch and celebration of an exceptional group of filmmakers. The surprising, compelling stories and unique visions of the Spring ’17 Documentary Filmmaking Conservatory carried a delighted audience of fellow NYFA students, friends, faculty, and staff around the globe and through a series of remarkable worlds you’d never have known existed.

    Screened at the festival were the following films:

    "Jatar" by Braulio Jatar

    “Running Out of Freedom” Directed by Braulio Jatar

    Braulio Jatar’s father, a high-profile Venezuelan dissident, is dying in prison. But the capture order on Braulio’s head makes returning to the country extremely dangerous. His family won’t allow it. But with his father’s life in the balance, and the Resistance gathering to make one last stand, the young journalist has decided to risk his life to fight for his father and for his country.

    “Cricket Liu” Directed by Julia Cheng

    An aging master of the ancient culture of cricket fighting now uses the art to entertain an endless river of tourists, earning all he possibly can, to send in precious red envelops as gifts to the beloved little grandson he is not allowed to know.

    “Gold Flakes” Directed by Santiago Machado

    A courageous father navigates Colombian rainforests, gleaning the last flakes of El Dorado’s gold.

    But it’s drying up. The abandoned mines threaten collapse, a guerilla army is taking over the area, and the government is trying to starve out the gleaners with new taxes and tightening regulations. Still, his family will eat tonight if he can find just one good gold flake.

    “The Future is Rotten” Directed by Nancy Dionne 

    Forests of the Pacific Northwest hold a rare treasure. A secret culture of foragers spend their lives hunting it. Its coveted flavor can bring up to $1000 per kg. But the Matsutake mushroom’s true genius is as a healer of ruined landscapes, and it may offer the best hope for an American forest system run amuk.

    “Sword Swallower” Directed by Katerina Olkhovaya 

    Notorious circus artist Magnificent Jewels makes a career of death-defying performances. Even outside the limelight, the vulnerable if hardened sword swallower sacrifices all for the burlesque circus that from Berlin, to Brussels, to Paris must always go on.

    Congratulations to our Spring ’17 Documentary Filmmaking Conservatory class! It was truly a proud and triumphant night for our documentary community.

  • New York Film Academy Alum & Associate Director of Recruitment Screens Powerful Documentary “I Heart Jenny”

    "I Heart Jenny"

    “I Heart Jenny” at the New York Film Academy’s New York City Theatre

    “I Heart Jenny,” a heart-wrenching and beautiful documentary by producer and director Blake Babbitt, had a special screening this December at the New York Film Academy’s recently opened New York City Theatre. The film follows Babbitt’s close friend Jenny Rie Vanderlinden as she struggled with and eventually succumbed to a rare form of ovarian cancer. More importantly, the documentary focuses on the powerful positive spirit Jenny embodied, inspiring her friends, family, and eventually total strangers with her optimism and zestful love of life.

    In a piece written about Jenny, the Huffington Post wrote, “Jenny doesn’t seem terrified of this thing that is so far beyond us, this thing that none of us can now see… Instead, she’s investing her unconquerable energy in living the spectacular life she’s always lived—skiing, canyoneering, rafting, traveling and raising four amazing children—with a bit more urgency.”

    “I Heart Jenny” started documenting Jenny’s journey over a year after her diagnosis, and followed her right up until her untimely end, a death she refused to allow to shadow her life. Babbitt was inspired to make the documentary after seeing the “I Heart Jenny” stickers their mutual friends began posting frequently as badges of support.

    "I Heart Jenny"

    “I Heart Jenny”

    The initial idea of the documentary came to Babbitt during a pitch session that was part of his curriculum while attending the New York Film Academy’s Evening Producing workshop. From there, he started a years long journey, utilizing the skills, resources, and colleagues he met while at NYFA. “I had never made a film before,” said Babbitt, “but I was able to use the resources at NYFA to get my feet underneath me. At NYFA I was surrounded by people who really knew what they were doing. I felt supported by NYFA the entire way.”

    Shooting the film took two years, and was in post-production for another three—a long, laborious process that is not uncommon for documentaries, especially works of passion and as personal as “I Heart Jenny.” During this time, Babbitt not only applied the skills he learned at NYFA, but also used the connections made there to help his film see the light of day. In addition to being a distinguished alumnus, Babbitt is also currently the school’s Associate Director of Recruitment. With this notable position, he is able to guide incoming students as they look to grow as artists and filmmakers in their own right.

    Blake Babbitt

    Producer & Director Blake Babbitt

    As a result of the relationships formed at the New York Film Academy, Babbitt was able to recruit a strong, talented crew for “I Heart Jenny”—many alumni and staff from the school—including:

    Kathleen Harris – DP/Producer
    Brad Gallant – Lead Editor/Producer
    Zena Wood – Associate Producer
    Mike Diaz – Editor/Story Producer
    Chris Hayes – Editor
    Mike Walls – Camera Operator
    Shani Patel – Sound recordist/2nd Camera Operator
    Lexi Phillips – Colorist

    It was only fitting then that “I Heart Jenny” had its initial preview at the New York Film Academy. Babbitt continued, “It was an honor to be able to host my first screening in our stunning new screening room.”

    Andrea Swift, New York Film Academy’s Chair of Documentary Filmmaking, was in attendance, and was very impressed with Babbitt’s debut film. “It takes extraordinary passion, commitment, and talent to make a film like this.” She added, “This film can do real good in the world.”

    The specific cancer that took Jenny’s life was related to the BRCA gene, a sequence of DNA that has become more and more noted in recent years for its ominous relationship to many types of cancer. While making “I Heart Jenny,” Babbitt linked up with Jonathan and Mindy Gray, founders of the Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine. The Basser Center is the first of its kind to focus specifically on BRCA-related cancers, and Babbitt has tied his film to their worthy cause, helping to raise donations for further research (click here if you’d like to support the Basser Center as well.)

    While it’s been a long, winding road for Babbitt and “I Heart Jenny,” their journey is far from over. Babbitt’s goal is to get the documentary into the Telluride Film Festival, based in Colorado where Babbitt is from and where he first met Jenny. According to Babbitt, “If it gets in, she wants me to bring a cardboard cutout of her—LOL!”

    In addition to submitting the film to as many festivals as possible, Babbitt is also hoping to get distribution, hoping the more people who see the film, the more they will take home its poignant message and look to support the fight against BRCA-related cancers. Babbitt continued, “We’ve had so many supporters along the way, and anytime I felt dejected or lost in the process, I would just think about our supporters and Jenny. I knew I couldn’t let her or them down.”

    Supporters of the film can follow updates on Facebook as well as on Twitter. You can also follow Babbitt’s filmmaking exploits on Instagram.

    The New York Film Academy is proud of Blake Babbitt and “I Heart Jenny,” and wishes him the best of luck as he continues the legacy of Jenny Rie Vanderlinden and her powerful story.

    I Heart Jenny Promo- Extended Version from Blake Babbitt on Vimeo.

  • New York Film Academy Fulbright Student’s “Soul” at Berlinale, iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Conservatory student and Spanish Fulbright scholar Pedro Peira produced the film “Soul,” completing its post-production while he studied at NYFA Los Angeles and seeing the project through to fruition in its digital premiere across North America early this December.

    Following its successful premier at the opening night of the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), “Soul” has now found online distribution with not one, but three major streaming platforms: iTunes,  Amazon Video, and Google Play.

    For those who loved 2011’s “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” Peria provides a thoughtful and delicious follow-up in the documentary “Soul.” Taking viewers behind the scenes of two of the world’s most-coveted restaurants to learn from two of its greatest chefs, “Soul” draws interesting parallels between Basque and Japanese cuisine, through the work of 3-star Michelin-rated Spanish chef Eneko Atxa, and the legendary Jiro Ono, one of the last practitioners of the fine art of traditional sushi making in Japan.

    While many people may not immediately see parallels between Basque and Japanese cuisine, “Soul” makes an appetizing case that these geographically unrelated regional cuisines share something very important in common: family secrets, soul, and fresh seafood.

    As the Hollywood Reporter (THR) described the film, “Soul” is a foodie’s dream that takes viewers to Spain, Japan, and even Paris, where the head of Michelin offers insights into the world of haute cuisine. THR notes that “Soul” comes at a time where the world is seeing “certain Spanish chefs are now famous enough to open up restaurants in Japan, while Japanese chefs are seen making a pilgrimage to Spain.”

    In such an increasingly international world, the New York Film Academy congratulates our Spanish Fulbright alumnus Pedro Peira for the success of “Soul.”

  • Sundance 2018 Will Feature Work by New York Film Academy Documentary & Filmmaking Instructors

    The Sundance Film Festival announced their 2018 slate this week, and the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking School is once again represented among the Sundance festival selections.

    As soon as Sundance released its announcement, the New York Times published the article, Sundance Film Festival 2018: 6 Films to Know,” which spotlights the documentary RBG.” NYFA Documentary cinematography professor Claudia Raschke is the director of photography for this much-anticipated documentary on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    Directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, “RBG” focuses on Ginsberg’s early work and how it has impacted women’s rights, tracing her evolution as an outspoken Supreme Court Justice, now popular in internet memes as “Notorious RBG.”

    It’s no surprise to find Claudia behind the camera of one of the year’s most important docs. Her previous work has already been nominated for Academy Awards four times.  

    “That NYFA’s Documentary Filmmaking students work so closely with a cinematographer as accomplished and prominent as Claudia is a rare privilege and adds immeasurably to their educations,” says Chair of the Documentary Filmmaking Department Andrea Swift.

    Claudia also shot the 2nd Units of two more 2018 Sundance-selected films: “The Price of Everything,” directed by Nathaniel Kahn (U.S. Documentary Competition), and “The Game Changers,” by Louie Psihoyos (World Premiere).

    A still from “The Game Changers” via IMDB.

    “The Price of Everything” turns its focus to the thriving market of the contemporary art world, while “The Game Changers” follows The Ultimate Fighter winner and special forces trainer James Wilks on a nutritional investigation.

    Joining Claudia in screening work at Sundance 2018 is New York Film Academy Documentary Master Class professor Hilla Medalia, who produced Sundance selection “The Oslo Diaries.”

    “The Oslo Diaries” chronicles the 1992 illegal and clandestine meeting of Israelis and Palestinians in Oslo, which impacted the course of history in the Middle East.

    A still from “The Tale” by Jennifer Fox

    New York Film Academy instructor Debbie De Villa is also represented at Sundance 2018, in the U.S. Dramatic Competition film selection “The Tale,” for which she served as production designer. “The Tale” is written and directed by Jennifer Fox and stars Laura Dern, portraying a character who must reexamine her memories surrounding her first sexual relationship.

    Read more about the Sundance 2018 selections in Variety, Deadline, Entertainment Weekly, and Screen Daily.

  • New York Film Academy Alum Wins Big With “Dancing Wheels”

    Credit: PRLog

    Lucia Barata wanted to support the Dancing Wheels Company & School, an organization dedicated to teaching and showcasing dancers both with and without disabilities. Lucia decided to put the filmmaking skills she had learned over the years toward this goal to bring more exposure to Dancing Wheels and help them find more support and sponsors. Her efforts are paying off as her documentary, “Dancing Wheels,” is quickly collecting both awards and acclaim, including Best Film at the International Student, Newcomer, and Woman Movie Awards (ISENMA) 2017.

    Since 1980, Dancing Wheels has dedicated itself to providing “a unifying expression of movement for all,” exhibiting dance as an essential illustration of the human spirit, including from people of all abilities. Since adding a school to its company in 1990, Dancing Wheels has become one of the foremost arts and disabilities organizations in the country.

    By using the medium of film to showcase both the incredible dancing of the company’s members, as well as the passion and heart behind these beautiful physical movements, Lucia Barata was able to bring Dancing Wheels’s mission statement to a larger audience, including those outside the United States.

    The International Student, Newcomer, and Woman Movie Awards are held in Indonesia and were founded in 2015, collaborating with the Film Festivals Alliance. Creating a platform and opportunities for both Indonesian and International filmmakers, the festival accepts narrative and documentary submissions from film students, newcomers (non-student, professional, recreational, or amateur filmmakers) and female filmmakers from around the world.

    Out of a selection of 350 films, “Dancing Wheels,” was nominated for Best Film alongside three other films. Despite the competition, the documentary was an audience favorite and took home the big prize. The award ceremony was held in Bali and attended by an illustrious crowd, including Indonesian royals. Barata accepted the Best Film award from His Majesty the King of Bonea Selayar, H. Andi Mahyuddin.

    While ISENMA presented “Dancing Wheels” with its first Best Film award, the documentary has already picked up several other accolades, including the Diamond Award in Short Documentary and Platinum Award for Editor of the Year at the Directors Awards, the Medal of the Year and Platinum Award for Director of the Year from the Filmmakers of the Year Film Festival, and the Royal High Achievement Award from Royal World Prize & Records.

    “This film is the one I’m very proud of,” remarked Barata, adding, “there are no boundaries to dance.” Barata was born in Brazil and already had an impressive education in art and architecture before enrolling at the New York Film Academy in 2012. Taking the 1-Year Filmmaking program in New York City, Barata learned the skills necessary to telling a story—fictional or nonfictional—through a visual medium.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates alumna Lucia Barata on “Dancing Wheels” and its awards, and looks forward to seeing what further accolades her career will bring!

    November 30, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Film Festivals • Views: 846

  • New York Film Academy Documentary Program Chairs Interviewed in IDA’s Documentary Magazine

    Poised as the training ground for the next generation of leaders in this field, the New York Film Academy’s Documentary School was featured in the Fall 2017 edition of Documentary magazine, the biggest international documentary magazine and a publication of the prestigious International Documentary Association (IDA).

    In a wide-ranging conversation about NYFA’s Documentary Filmmaking Conservatory, NYFA Los Angeles Chair of Documentary Sanora Bartels and NYFA New York Chair of Documentary Andrea Swift gave a wide-ranging interview to Documentary magazine’s Tom Gianakopoulos, in the Doc University section. Gianakopoulos also teaches screenwriting at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles’ youth programs.

    Sonora Bartels told Documentary readers that NYFA’s hands-on learning style sets it apart: “Students at both campuses hit the ground running, and that first semester is a doozy. Right off the bat you have camera classes; you have directing classes; you have sound and producing classes—all of the practical instruction.”

    Andrea Swift agreed: We are very story-focused and, as mentioned earlier, our structure comes from the guiding principle that you learn how to make films by actually making films. The beating heart of that is telling a story.”

    The Documentary interview also spotlighted NYFA’s inclusion in the Hollywood Reporter’s list of the Top 25 American film schools, as well as major alumni successes including Raphael Neihausen’s Academy Award-nominated “Joe’s Violin” and Muhammed Hamdy’s Oscar-winning “The Square.”

    The New York Film Academy Documentary programs have embraced a global worldview since their inception. “If you do documentaries because you want to learn about the world, come to NYFA,” Sanora Bartels told Documentary. “You will learn about the world around you right here in the classroom, where you will figure out how to work with other cultures very quickly.”