Documentary Filmmaking
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  • 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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  • New York Film Academy Instructor Bob Eisenhardt & NYFA Community Win Big At 2019 Creative Arts Emmys

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) community came away with numerous statuettes this weekend at the 2019 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, including NYFA Documentary Filmmaking instructor Bob Eisenhardt’s Outstanding Achievement in Editing win for his work on critically-acclaimed Free Solo.

    The Creative Arts Emmys are awarded by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), typically a week before the more well-known televised Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, and recognize technical and other similar achievements in television programming as well as more obscure categories. This year’s Creative Arts Emmys were held at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.

    Two big winners of the evening were the rock climbing documentary Free Solo and HBO’s juggernaut fantasy series Game of Thrones.

    NYFA Documentary instructor Bob Eisenhardt, ACE, won Outstanding Achievement in Editing (Nonfiction) for cutting Free Solo, which has won multiple awards over the last year, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Eisenhardt has also won several other awards for his work on the film, including the editing industry’s highest honor, the Eddie Award.

    Free Solo Creative Arts Emmys 2019

    Free Solo won an impressive six additional awards in addition to the Editing Emmy: Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program, Outstanding Music Composition for a Documentary Series or Special (Original Dramatic Underscore), Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media Within An Unscripted Program, Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Nonfiction Program, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera), and Outstanding Cinematography For A Nonfiction Program.

    Game of Thrones also picked up an abundance of trophies, which is no surprise considering it’s now the most Emmy-nominated television show of all time. Creative Arts Emmy Award wins included Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour), among many others.

    The series also won Outstanding Special Visual Effects for its penultimate episode, “The Bells.” NYFA 3D Animation & VFX alum Alexandra LoRusso worked on the special visual effects team for that episode, as well as the Game of Thrones finale, “The Iron Throne.”
    Free Solo Creative Arts Emmys 2019

    Emmy wins for the NYFA community continued throughout the two-day ceremony. Netflix original series Russian Doll also came away with three Creative Arts Emmys: Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Program (Half-Hour), Outstanding Contemporary Costumes, and Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour). NYFA Cinematography alum Rebecca Rajadnya worked on Russian Doll’s cinematography team as first assistant camera.

    HBO’s hit comedy Barry won Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) And Animation. The show was created by and stars NYFA alum Bill Hader, who has already won Primetime Emmys for his work on the show. 

    Netflix’s nature documentary Our Planet notably picked up Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series. The docuseries became event television last spring, with an early Hollywood screening in February moderated by NYFA Acting for Film alum Lana Condor giving Our Planet some early buzz.

    RBG, the wildly popular documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, won for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. The film was shot by Documentary Filmmaking cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke.

    Rachel Bloom, creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, recently spoke with NYFA students as a guest speaker. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend won Outstanding Choreography For Scripted Programming this weekend.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA instructor Bob Eisenhardt and all of the winners at this year’s Creative Arts Emmys, and looks forward to the Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony this Sunday, September 22!

    Free Solo Creative Arts Emmys 2019

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  • Off-Broadway Show by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Instructor James Lecesne Available on Audible

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    The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, the Off-Broadway show by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Instructor, is now available to listen to on Audible, Amazon’s audiobook platform.

    Both written and performed by Lecesne, the story unravels around Leonard Pelkey, a tenaciously optimistic and flamboyant 14-year-old boy who goes missing from a small town on the Jersey Shore. Leonard becomes an unexpected inspiration to the townsfolk, who begin to question how they live, who they love, and what they leave behind. Sound design for the production was done by Christian Frederickson, with original music by Duncan Sheik.

    The New York Times says that The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey will “leave you beaming with joy … a superlative solo show … Mr. Lecesne is a writer of wit and keen observational skills, who here unfolds a dark tale that shimmers with the needling suspense you associate with the best police procedurals.”

    Much of Lecesne’s work focuses on LGBTQIA+ themes, including his screenplay for the Academy-Award winning short, Trevor. That film directly led to his founding of The Trevor Project, an American non-profit organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Lecesne also wrote for Further Tales if the City, Will and Grace, and Vicious, starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi.

    The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey by NYFA Documentary Filmmaking instructor James Lecesne can be found on Audible here. New York Film Academy encourages the NYFA community to check it out today!

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Department Works With Ben’s Lighthouse

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    Last Spring, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Chair of Documentary Filmmaking Andrea Swift and NYFA Docs alum Braulio Jatar taught a micro-docs workshop to Newtown teenagers at Ben’s Lighthouse, a grassroots organization founded after the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    Ben’s Lighthouse was founded to honor 6-year-old Benjamin Wheeler, one of the victims of the 2012 massacre. The organization is based in Newtown, Connecticut. Their motto—and mission—is “helping is healing,” and the organization uses local mentoring programs and national outreach service trips as part of their cause.

    Members of Ben’s Lighthouse were headed for a service trip to Louisiana. Andrea Swift, NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Chair, helped prepare them by teaching a workshop in micro-docs, which are typically very short, effective documentaries. Swift focused on story development, which is especially important in documentaries that have a very short window to captivate and engage an audience. 

    Once they returned from the trip, the members—led by group leader Sue Vogelman—came back to NYFA to edit their footage. NYFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Braulio Jatar worked with Swift and taught the members how to edit on digital software Adobe Premiere, as well as supervising their edit.

    Micro Doc: Newtown Workshop from New York Film Academy on Vimeo.

    Jatar graduated from both the Documentary Filmmaking 6-Week Workshop and 1-Year Conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus. Since graduating, Jatar has found success with his film, Where Chaos Reigns, co-directed with NYFA Docs alum Anaïs Michel. The film recently won the Golden Gate Award for Best Short Documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival, qualifying Jatar for an Academy Award next year.

    The micro-doc was directed by Gigi Marino and Sam Henriques and is available on Vimeo.

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    July 18, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Outreach • Views: 607

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Student Drama del Rosario Awarded BAFTA-GSA Commissioning Grant

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary student Drama del Rosario received some major support for his important filmmaking endeavors when he received a Commissioning Grant from BAFTA-GSA.drama del rosario bafta

    del Rosario is currently studying for his MFA in Documentary at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus. “It’s been amazing to watch Drama del Rosario grow as a documentary filmmaker over the last two years,” says Sanora Bartels, NYFA-LA Chair of Documentary Filmmaking. “He brings tremendous heart to all of his projects and is fearless in his approach to sharing the truth of his personal story.”

    I’m Okay (And Neither Are You) is del Rosario’s thesis film and is currently in post-production. del Rosario’s grant application and documentary proposal was given final approval by an elite group of BAFTA members, including veteran writer and actor Stephen Fry, and succeeded despite a great deal of competition for the grant.

    “Drama is an amazing student and filmmaker,” says NYFA instructor Mary Beth Fielder. “All the work he’s produced while at NYFA has been exceptional, beginning with his very first film In This Family, a personal voice documentary which explores the repercussions of being ‘outed’ against his will by his seventh grade teacher.”

    The $8,000 grant was awarded to del Rosario by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), in partnership with Global Student Accommodation (GSA), for his documentary I’m Okay (And Neither Are You). The BAFTA-GSA Grant was launched in 2018 to provide young filmmakers with a platform to raise awareness and encourage change in how mental wellbeing is understood amongst their peers. This year marks the first time Netflix has sponsored the BAFTA Student Film Awards.

    drama del rosario bafta

    At the awards ceremony, del Rosario gave an impassioned, emotional speech, thanking New York Film Academy, his family, and his boyfriend, and more importantly speaking publicly of his own personal mental health issues. “I have been fortunate in my life to know how to use a camera and to have people around me who don’t judge me for being in front of the camera,” del Rosario told the audience in attendance. “So when things like this happen to you in your personal life, to some degree it’s your responsibility to share with other people.”

    The BAFTA-GSA grant will certainly help del Rosario finish his film and reach his goal of sharing his important story with others. “Drama literally puts himself and his personal stories in his films,” says Crickett Rumley, NYFA Director, Film Festivals. “Given the specificity of his observations, the powerful emotions he expresses, and the reactions he provokes in his audience, it’s no surprise to me that he’s been tapped for such a prestigious award.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Documentary Filmmaking student Drama del Rosario on his BAFTA-GSA Commissioning Grant and looks forward to the completion of his thesis film, I’m Okay (And Neither Are You).

    drama del rosario bafta

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    July 18, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 473

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni & Faculty Pick Up Multiple MTV Movie & TV Award Wins

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) community get to add some Golden Popcorn statues to the ever-growing list of award wins this year, after winning at this year’s MTV Movie & TV Awards. The ceremony was hosted by Shazam! star Zachary Levi and aired on June 17 after being recorded two days prior in Santa Monica. 

    The trendy MTV Awards aims toward a younger audience and—unlike the more traditional Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and various other Awards season ceremonies—it especially prides itself on its unique and progressive categories, typically not differentiating between gender or media platforms. Instead, it groups broadcast, streaming, and theatrically released content together in genderless groupings.

    The top prize in television, Best Show, went to HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones, which ended its eight-season run this year. NYFA 3D Animation & VFX alum Alex LoRusso worked on some visual effects for the last few episodes of Game of Thrones’ final season, including “The Last of the Starks” and controversial but explosive climactic entry “The Bells.”Lana Condor

    The other big winner of the night was Marvel Cinematic Universe record-smashing blockbuster Avengers: Endgame, which picked up awards for Best Hero (Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man), Best Villain (Josh Brolin as Thanos), and top prize Best Movie.

    Competing with Avengers for Best Movie was Netflix original To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, starring NYFA Acting for Film camp alum Lana Condor and actor Noah Centineo. The pair managed to pick up the Golden Popcorn trophy for perennial favorite popular category, Best Kiss. Additionally, Centineo won Breakthrough Performance for his role in the film. 

    Another winner of the night was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court Justice profiled in feature documentary RBG, who won Best Real-Life Hero. The film, shot by cinematography and NYFA Documentary Filmmaking instructor Claudia Raschke, racked up an impressive amount of MTV Award nominations, including Best Documentary, Best Fight (for Ruth Bader Ginsburg vs. Inequality), and Most Meme-able Moment (for her nickname The Notorious RBG.) 

    New York Film Academy congratulates this year’s MTV Movie & TV Award winners and is elated to see the NYFA Community continue to gain recognition for their hard work! 

    Here is the full list of MTV Movie & TV Award nominees and winners:

    BEST MOVIE
    Avengers: Endgame – WINNER
    BlacKkKlansman
    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
    To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
    Us

    BEST SHOW
    Big Mouth
    Game of Thrones – WINNER
    Riverdale
    Schitt’s Creek
    The Haunting of Hill House

    BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MOVIE
    Amandla Stenberg (Starr Carter) — The Hate U Give
    Lady Gaga (Ally) — A Star is Born – WINNER
    Lupita Nyong’o (Red) — Us
    Rami Malek (Freddie Mercury) — Bohemian Rhapsody
    Sandra Bullock (Malorie) — Bird Box

    BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SHOW
    Elisabeth Moss (June Osborne/Offred) — The Handmaid’s Tale – WINNER
    Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) — Game of Thrones
    Gina Rodriguez (Jane Villanueva) — Jane the Virgin
    Jason Mitchell (Brandon) — The Chi
    Kiernan Shipka (Sabrina Spellman) — Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

    BEST HERO
    Brie Larson (Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel) — Captain Marvel
    John David Washington (Ron Stallworth) — BlacKkKlansman
    Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) — Game of Thrones
    Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man) — Avengers: Endgame – WINNER
    Zachary Levi (Billy Batson/Shazam) — Shazam!

    BEST VILLAIN
    Jodie Comer (Villanelle) — Killing Eve
    Joseph Fiennes (Commander Fred Waterford) — The Handmaid’s Tale
    Josh Brolin (Thanos) — Avengers: Endgame – WINNER
    Lupita Nyong’o (Red) — Us
    Penn Badgley (Joe Goldberg) — You

    BEST KISS
    Camila Mendes & Charles Melton (Veronica Lodge & Reggie Mantle) — Riverdale
    Jason Momoa & Amber Heard (Aquaman & Mera) — Aquaman
    Ncuti Gatwa & Connor Swindells (Eric Effiong & Adam Groff) — Sex Education
    Noah Centineo & Lana Condor (Peter Kavinsky & Lara Jean) — To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – WINNER
    Tom Hardy & Michelle Williams (Eddie Brock/Venom & Anne Weying) — Venom

    REALITY ROYALTY
    Jersey Shore: Family Vacation
    Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta – WINNER
    The Bachelor
    The Challenge
    Vanderpump Rules

    BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE
    Awkwafina (Peik Lin Goh) — Crazy Rich Asians
    Dan Levy (David Rose) — Schitt’s Creek – WINNER
    John Mulaney (Andrew Glouberman) — Big Mouth
    Marsai Martin (Little Jordan Sanders) — Little
    Zachary Levi (Billy Batson/Shazam) — Shazam!

    BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE
    Awkwafina (Peik Lin Goh) — Crazy Rich Asians
    Haley Lu Richardson (Stella) — Five Feet Apart
    Mj Rodriguez (Blanca Rodriguez) — Pose
    Ncuti Gatwa (Eric Effiong) — Sex Education
    Noah Centineo (Peter Kavinsky) — To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – WINNER

    BEST FIGHT
    Avengers: Endgame — Captain America vs. Thanos
    Captain Marvel — Captain Marvel vs. Minn-Erva – WINNER
    Game of Thrones — Arya Stark vs. the White Walkers
    RBG — Ruth Bader Ginsburg vs. Inequality
    WWE Wrestlemania — Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte FlairRBG

    BEST REALLIFE HERO
    Alex Honnold — Free Solo
    Hannah Gadsby — Nanette
    Roman Reigns — WWE SmackDown
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg — RBG – WINNER
    Serena Williams — Being Serena

    MOST FRIGHTENED PERFORMANCE
    Alex Wolff (Peter) — Hereditary
    Linda Cardellini (Anna Tate-Garcia) — The Curse of La Llorona
    Rhian Rees (Dana Haines) — Halloween
    Sandra Bullock (Malorie) — Bird Box – WINNER
    Victoria Pedretti (Nell Crain) — The Haunting of Hill House

    BEST DOCUMENTARY
    At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal
    McQueen
    Minding the Gap
    RBG
    Surviving R. Kelly – WINNER

    BEST HOST
    Gayle King — CBS This Morning
    Nick Cannon — Wild ‘n Out – WINNER
    Nick Cannon — The Masked Singer
    RuPaul — RuPaul’s Drag Race
    Trevor Noah — The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

    MOST MEME-ABLE MOMENT
    Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club — The Lilo Dance
    Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood — Ray J’s Hat
    RBG — The Notorious RBG
    RuPaul’s Drag Race — Asia O’Hara’s butterfly finale fail
    The Bachelor — Colton Underwood jumps the fence – WINNER

    BEST MUSICAL MOMENT
    “Shallow” – A Star is Born WINNER
    Live Aid Concert – Bohemian Rhapsody
    “Just a Girl” – Captain Marvel
    “Masquerade” – Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
    “Look at that Butt” – On My Block
    “Seventeen” – Riverdale
    “Sunflower” – Into the Spider-Verse
    “I Think We’re Alone Now” – The Umbrella Academy

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Student Eleonora Privitera Films ‘Queenz of the Night’

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    Queenz of the Night is a subversive short film by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Student Eleonora Privitera.

    Privitera hails from Italy and has a background in social anthropology. She has been involved in ethnographic research fieldworks concerning urban violence and humanitarian projects in South America and East Africa. 

    Privitera is now continuing her studies in the 1-year Documentary Filmmaking conservatory at NYFA’s New York City campus. Here, she is gaining hands-on instruction from professional and award-winning instructors in the documentary and filmmaking industry, learning the tools and skills she’ll need to use documentary filmmaking as another way to channel her efforts in combating social ills. By documenting the lives and stories of people she has come across in her work and studies, Privitera hopes the medium of nonfiction filmmaking can help her denounce social injustice, economic inequality, and environmental conflicts. 

    Queenz of the Night, one of her recent films, is a subversive short about an LGBTQIA+ movement that uses art and political performances to fight homophobia and the gun industry’s chain of death violence in New York City. The film shows all aspects of the movement, capturing both its strengths and weaknesses of their methods, while also supporting the actions of those who take the risk of making a stand and fighting publicly for equal rights and dignity of LGBTQIA+ Americans. Against a contemporary social backdrop where hate crimes are on the rise, Privitera’s film is more relative than ever.Eleonora Privitera Queens of the Night

    New York Film Academy congratulates Documentary Filmmaking student Eleonora Privitera on the important work of her film Queenz of the Night and looks forward to future projects based on her passion for social justice.

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    June 14, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 697

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Department Updates: A&E, HBO, PBS, VICE, IDA, MTV Award, BAFTA Nom, Premieres, Fests, Gigs & More!

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) takes a look at the latest achievements of the Documentary Filmmaking department’s alumni, faculty, and students:

    What to Watch

    Season 1 of The Employables, shot and produced by CJ Ferroni (NYC ’13) for A&E began airing last Wednesday. You can catch the first two episodes online, and watch the rest of the season Wednesdays on A&E at 10 p.m. EST or online via Hulu or A&E’s website.

    The feature documentary, Trials of Spring, shot by director of photography Muhammad Hamdy (NYC ‘08) aired on PBS as part of the Women, War and Peace series and can still be seen on their website.

    You can catch one of the many pieces Ilaria Polsonetti (NYC ’11) recently cut for HBO’s VICE New Tonight online as well.

    Hannah Currie‘s (NYC Workshop ’18) post-graduation short Lumo: Too Young to Die aired on BBC Scotland, and can still be seen on BBC iPlayer.

    The episode of The New York Times’ Secret History of Muslims, directed and produced by Maria Stanisheva (NYC ’12) is now also available on Vimeo’s list of Staff Picks.

    Human Rights Watch recently published Saudi Arabia: 10 Reasons Why Saudi Women Flee, based on three short animated films created by Maria Stanisheva and commissioned by fellow alum, Human Rights Watch producer Janna Kyllästinen (NYC ’12).

    The Bit Player, shot by NYC instructor and director of photography Claudia Racshke for director Mark Levin, is premiering at The World Science Fair in NYC. The feature documentary tells the story of the brilliant math genius Claude Shannon, father of the digital revolution.

    Drama del Rosario (’19) has two films in distribution on REVRY.TV 

    In This Family  — What is it like coming out as a gay teen in the Philippines? In a country imbued with traditional Catholic views, coming out is received with disapproval and anger, especially from one’s own family.

    The End of LifeWhat pushes a person to choose between living and dying? Science, religion, and law all converge at the end of life.

    Also, In This Family recently won the Loni Ding Award in Social Issue Documentary at CAAMFest 2019.

    Honors, Awards, Festivals, Grants

    NYFA Docsters have been racking up festivals, major grants, fellowships, and a variety of honors around the world.

    In April, Julia Cheng‘s (NYC ’18) thesis doc Cricket Liu won Best International Short Documentary at AmDocs (American Documentary Film Festival), and qualified for the Academy Award. Then, Anais Michel’s (NYC ’16) and Braulio Jatar‘s (NYC ’18) short Where Chaos Reigns won Best Short Documentary at San Francisco International Film Festival – and also qualified for the Oscar.

    We Are All Here, an earlier, shorter version of Hannah Currie‘s (NYC Workshop ’18) film Lumo: Too Young To Die, made the shortlist for the BAFTA for Best Student Documentary.

    Pedro Peira‘s (LA ’16) film Trabajadores won the K.R. Mohanan Memorial Documentary Award 2019.

    Director/Producer Maria Stanisheva (NYC ’12) and her company AnimaDocs were awarded a development grant from the French CNC – Centre National Du Cinéma Et De L’image Animée for her animated documentary series Finding Home.

    Paul Gallasch (NYC ‘11) was awarded a SA Writers Development Grant from the South Australian Film Corporation.

    Rodrigo Urriolagoitia (NYC ’12) was selected for “Film Accelerator” at La Selva. There, he will shoot a short fiction film under the supervision of director Lucrecia Martel, who’s taking over that role from Werner Herzog. Created to identify and cultivate the most promising filmmakers around the world, Film Accelerator has tapped Rodrigo as its first ever Bolivian director. Meanwhile, his first foray into short fiction, Our Price, has kicked off its festival run by winning its writer/director Rodrigo a Silver Award for Best Crime Short at the Independent Shorts Awards in Los Angeles. Additionally, Pseudo, a feature he produced in Bolivia, will premiere in September.

    Nancy Dionne‘s (NYC ’18) first semester film, All I Can See Is The Future, was picked up by KweliTV following a great launch as a nominee for Best Documentary at the 2019 Winter International Film Festival. It’s now also an Official Selection of Docs Without Borders, the Katra Sidebar series in Dumbo, Hollywood South Urban, and Bowery Social Justice Film Festival. Stay tuned for its drop date on KweliTV.

    Pretty Dead, produced by Wynona Barbera (NYC ‘16), premiered at HBO’s Women in Comedy Festival.

    Elaine Minionis‘s (NYC ’08) Uncanny: The Dolls of Mariana Monteagudo premiered at none other than Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF). It won the Audience Award at the “I’m Not Gonna Move to LA” film festival and also received the Award of Merit at the IndieFEST Film Awards. Uncanny is also an Official Selection of the Miami Independent Film Festival, Fort Myers Film Festival, Tallahassee Film Festival, and Hollywood Florida Film Festival.

    Love From Afar, from director Cristian Sanay (NYC ’14) and editor Nina Thomas (NYC ’15), has hit the festival circuit as an Official Selection of the Latino Film Festival, Corto Circuito Short Film Festival, and Latino & Iberian Film Festival at Yale. The latter included a special Q&A and talk with the filmmakers about immigration. The short has also been invited to be part of the curriculum at various universities, such as Fairfield University in Connecticut and CUNY. Next stop: Long Island International Film Festival on July 12.

    Krisztina Danka’s (NYC Workshop) doc The Stolen River continues its festival run with a new win; this time it was awarded Best Film On Nature at the L’Age D’Or International Arthouse Film Festival in Kolkata, India.

    Amy Wright (NYC ’15) returned to Tribeca Film Festival as Tech Liaison Manager, leading a team that included Anna Panova (NYC ’18), Kuldeep Gangola (NYC ’19), Maria Tamburro (NYC ’19), and Mollie Moore (NYC ’18). Once again, the team successfully screened well over 100 films and got to spend the time they weren’t on duty rubbing elbows and watching the hottest new films.

    After serving on Amy’s Tribeca Film Festival crew, Anna Panova (NYC ’18) stayed on to assist Sandy O’Hearen, CFO of Tribeca Enterprises and others, soaking up more film festival wisdom in preparation for her launch of the Shortie Film Festival in Williamsburg. It sounds pretty cool—they keep the entry fees low and even have a special award Best NYFA Documentary. Enter the fest here 

    Ida Myklebost (NYC ‘16) has jumped to the other side of the festival equation, too. Her freshman festival run with thesis film Unwelcome was quite successful. Last year, for example, she won Anchorage Film Festival. This year, she’s programming it. And their call for entries is open, so send your films!

    Ghost Villages of Himalayas, the thesis film of Kuldeep Gangola (NYC ’19), won the Collective Critics Award in Uttarakhand, India and a Jury Award from Variety International Film Festival, and has been getting love from the press all over India, including an article in The Times of India.

    Juliana Sakae (LA ’13) is Awards Competition Manager for International Documentary Association and is looking for amazing film students to be part of our pre-screening committee:

    “The students will be screening features, shorts, and podcasts in June and July to make sure we have the best in our competition. As a thank you, we offer a 1-year student membership in IDA as well as their name in our Awards Program. The feedback we get from the students is always very positive and they seem to really enjoy the experience.”

    Lucia Flores (LA ‘18) has been awarded a coveted Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship to support her thesis work at NYFA LA.

    This June, Yusaku Kanagawa (NYC ‘15), Chief Producer at Yahoo! JAPAN CREATORS Program in Tokyo, is sitting on the Jury for the 2019 Fresh Pitch competition in Shanghai, China, alongside executives from Discover and NHK. Created by Beijing-based documentary producer/director Julia Cheng (NYC ‘18), Fresh Pitch has quickly become a major hub for the Asian documentary community. Mariko Ide (NYC ‘16), JAPAN CREATORS Program Story Consultant, will be in attendance as well. And Shanghai-based producer Jenny Song (NYC ‘16) is rounding out the NYFA Docs contingent. Together, the four will also attend the Asian premiere of National Geographic’s Academy Award-winner Free Solo, edited by their NYFA mentor, Bob Eisenhardt.

    Great Gigs & Dream Jobs

    Lara Ann de Wet (NYC ’15) has temporarily relocated to Bali as editor of Gary Bencheghib‘s (NYC ’14) new short doc Plastic River, about his ongoing work on the Citarum river with the President of Indonesia.

    Kendall Ciesemier (NYC Workshop) has moved to The New York Times as a producer/reporter continuing the great documentary journalism she began at Mic.

    CJ Ferroni (NYC ’13) has landed in his dream job as a producer/cinematographer developing documentaries for TV at NBC Peacock Productions after years of successful freelancing in the documentary series world.

    Earlier this month, Annie Woods (NYC ‘07) checked in on her way out of the city as she walked away her “fancy” job as creative producer for Viacom to move to a tiny house in Ojai, minimize, and get back to her environmental and social issue documentary work. Or, as Variety would put it, “Woods ankles to go indie.”

    Fuma (Andrea) Fumagalli (NYC ‘07) is also shaking it up. He’s temporarily forsaken sports docs for journalism. After editing the documentary series First Team: Juventus for Netflix and coming in to do some additional editing on Paul George: My Journey for ESPN, Fuma’s moved his attention to reportage for Rai Italia, the channel of Italian Public TV that reaches millions of Italians that live abroad, all across the globe. He’s basically become their foreign correspondent from New York. Check out the page dedicated to his work on “Italy Run.” There will be four pieces and a short doc by the time the Run has run.

    Another foreign correspondent, Bianca Zanini (NYC ’11), continues to thrive at the international TV channel i24 and is developing a documentary series there so she can get straight-up docs back into her daily life.

    Less than two months after graduation, Mollie Moore (NYC ’18) got a gig traveling to Uganda as 2nd Camera/DIT for NYFA Docs instructor Eddie Rosenstein. She has since been sharpening her camera acumen freelancing and TAing in the Doc Department. This week, she returned from TAing the expedition to Belize, just in time to take off for Peru to shoot the MFA thesis of classmate Lucia Florez‘ (NYC ’18 / LA ’19).

    Eddie also hired Charlotte Madvig (NYC ’18) in the editing department on that same film. 

    Nika Nikanava (NYC ‘18) and Braulio Jatar (NYC ’18) got to work with NYC instructor and DP Claudia Raschke on a gig for Sesame Street. Claudia also twice booked Amy Wright (NYC ’14), Carolina Gonzales (NYC ‘15), Anisia Boronova (NYC ’15) and Braulio Jatar (NYC ’18) to shoot and record pieces for American Classical Orchestra.

    Serena Smith (NYC ’18), Kuldeep Gangola (NYC ’18), and Mollie Moore (NYC ‘18) served in various positions for NYC instructor Maxine Trump‘s new ITVS digital series Should We Kid or Not?, a spinoff on her documentary, To Kid or Not to Kid. Fellow NYC instructor Dorottya Mathe produced the series.

    Faculty News

    NYC instructor Tracie Holder won a National Endowment for the Arts grant for The Quiet Zone, a new feature doc she’s producing.

    Randy Dottin, NYFA Chair of Screenwriting, won a documentary grant from the Sundance Institute for his six-part documentary series called The House I Never Knew.

    RBG, DP’ed by NYC instructor Claudia Raschke, is up for four different MTV Movie Awards, including Best Fight (RBG vs Inequality). Free Solo, edited by fellow NYC instructor Bob Eisenhardt, is up for an MTV Movie Award as well.

    Claudia Racshke has also wrapped her celebrity-laden world tour shooting the new National Geographic series Activate, about local activism around the globe.

    NYC instructor Kristen Nutile and Master Class instructor JP Olsen made great use of their residency as MacDowell Fellows and re-emerged with their new doc, Stan, finished and ready to begin its life in the world.

    The Spirit of Discovery, story produced by NYC Documentary Chair Andrea Swift, premiered on KPBS. The feature doc was directed by once and future instructor Eliana Alvarez.

    Maxine Trump’s To Kid or Not to Kid, associate produced by Marie Vanderrusten (NYC ’15) continues to rack up festival appearances and press around the country. And from The New York Post to The Daily Mail, the film is getting love from the press on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Many thanks to distinguished alum Ilaria Polsonetti (NYC ’11), who generously returned this April to teach a Master Class with the current students in the Doc Department. As part of the Master Editors series, Ilaria’s master class was part of a line-up that also featured Academy Award nominee (with Spike Lee, 4 Little Girls) Sam Pollard, and NYFA instructor Bob Eisenhardt, editor of this year’s Oscar winner, Free Solo. Polsonetti was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Editing in News last year for a short documentary she edited for VICE on HBO. Currently a staff editor for VICE News Tonight, she has cut numerous short docs and served as editor on Raised in the System, a VICE on HBO feature documentary starring Michael K. Williams (The Wire), among others. The students got to watch some of the films she’s cut, and soak in her wisdom and insights on editing and working as an editor—especially for VICE—as well as learn about the path she’s taken to get from film school to her current position in the world.

    Personal and Community News

    Paul Gallasch (NYC ’11) checked in to let us know that he’s now a father. Welcome baby boy, Augustine! And while his new feature documentary Love in the Time of Antidepressants continues to make the festival rounds, he has moved to New Orleans to set up shop making docs with his wife and filmmaking partner—and Augustine’s mom—Madeline. If you know anybody in the business in or around New Orleans, Paul would love to meet them! (Andrea’s happy to connect you if you aren’t already.) 

    Turns out Francesca Pagani (NYC ’11) was listed as a producer and Points North Fellow at Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) alongside Paul Gallasch (NYC ’11), who got a nod in the last update. We’ll have to catch Francesca’s details in the next update as, last we heard, she was on a pirate ship in Panama shooting a new short doc.

    In other NYC ’11 reunion news, Bianca Zanini (NYC ’11) and Department Chair, Andrea Swift, got to grab a coffee in Tel Aviv, where Bianca is now based.

    It seems Marco Vitale (NYC ’11) had just spent a few days there too, en route from Iceland to Naples.

    Michael Jovic (NYC ’09) has become a father too. Welcome, Roman Jovic!

    And per Facebook, Fred Boll (NYC ’07) has one on the way!

    SEND YOUR NEWS!

    Your community wants to know what you’ve been up to! Just email or tag your Documentary Chair and we’ll take it from there!

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Celebrates LGBTQIA+ Community

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    Each year, LGBT Pride Month is celebrated throughout June, originally to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Pride Month has since expanded to honoring the LGBTQIA+ community in countless ways, including parades and raising awareness of current social issues facing the community and their loved ones.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud to celebrate LGBT Pride Month through a series of events across all of its domestic campuses, including film screenings, workshops, trivia nights, social get-togethers, and more.

    NYFA also looks to laud the LGBTQIA+ members of its community, including students, alumni, faculty, and staff who are making their community proud through the artistic crafts they’ve honed while studying or working at the Academy. Additionally, NYFA is celebrating projects made by the NYFA community that focuses on and raises awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues.

    Here are some updates from the NYFA LGBTQIA+ community:

    Drama del Rosario 

    MFA Documentary alum Drama del Rosario is originally from Manila, Philippines, and his BAFTA-shortlisted documentary In This Family focuses on complex themes surrounding culture, religion, commercialization, and LGBTQIA+ issues. In this Family is a 12-minute short that tells the story of one Filipino family’s reaction to finding out their son is gay. Recently, the film was an Official Selection of the Doc Edge Pride Festival, a prestigious fest that is Oscar-qualifying. The second portion of the fest will be held later this month in Wellington, New Zealand.

    LGBTQIA+ Community Drama del Rosario

    Shivin Sanjeev & Sunny Grover

    NYFA alum Shivin Sanjeev Grover and NYFA BFA student Sunny Grover recently collaborated with Maroon 5 keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Jesse Carmichael on the two minute short film Thrive, which focuses on the struggle and obstacles still faced today by the LGBTQIA+ community. The film was written and directed by Shivin and Sunny, two brothers from India, and is part of Carmichael’s 2 Minute Movies (2mm) project, which was created last year. Thrive is the first film to come from 2mm with a focus on LGBTQIA+ rights. 

    Ioanna Meli

    Life in Color, a short film starring NYFA MFA Acting for Film alum Ioanna Meli, was an Official Selection in the 2018 Cannes International Film Festival Emerging Filmmakers category. Directed by Bishal Dutta, Life in Color tells the story of an aging, closeted gay man with Alzheimer’s who struggles against his strong-willed daughter to hold on to the memory of the long lost love of his life. Along with the prestigious honor of screening at Cannes, the film has shown as part of the Silicon Beach Film Festival in Los Angeles.

    LGBTQIA+ Community Ioanna Meli

    Assaad Yacoub

    Assaad Yacoub graduated from NYFA’s 2-year Filmmaking Program in New York City before going on to complete both his BFA and MFA degrees in Filmmaking at Burbank-based NYFA-Los Angeles. He hit the ground running with his debut feature film, Cherry Pop, starring Bob the Drag Queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Tempest DuJour, Latrice Royale, and Lars Berge. Cherry Pop is a comedy musical that tells the story of both a nervous drag queen just starting out and a veteran finishing their career. Yacoub plans to adapt the film into a television pilot, and has also shot music videos for RuPaul’s Drag Race.

    Heather Mathews

    NYFA-LA Editing instructor Heather Mathews served as editor and producer on the documentary Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America, which premiered at the OutFest LGBT Film Festival in 2016. Forbidden focuses on Moises Serrano, an undocumented gay man whose parents fled Mexico for the United States when he was just a baby, and whose undocumented status prevented him from receiving financial aid for school despite being a top student. Moises has shared his story to dispel myths about the undocumented community and unite the immigration and LGBTQIA+ movements, seeing them both as a struggle for human rights.

    LGBTQIA+ Community Heather Mathews

    Lizzie Gottlieb

    The prestigious Excellence in Documentary Award by the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association (NLGJA) was awarded to Romeo, Romeo, a documentary feature directed by NYFA Documentary faculty member Lizzie Gottlieb, who produced the film with Eden Wurmfeld and NYFA President Michael J. Young. NYFA Documentary alum Eliana Álvarez Martínez served as a camera operator. The film aired on PBS’s America Reframed and follows a married lesbian couple who navigate the complicated struggles of infertility. 

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Chair of Screenwriting Randall Dottin Receives Sundance Institute Grant

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    The Sundance Institute has announced it is bestowing a grant to New York Film Academy (NYFA) Chair of Screenwriting Randall Dottin for his documentary film, The House I Never Knew.

    Dottin is an award-winning writer, director, and producer as well as current Chair of New York Film Academy’s Screenwriting department at our New York campus. As Chair, he shepherds a program committed to giving students the unique opportunity to work with fellow filmmaking, acting, and producing students in developing and turning a script into a finished film as well as extensive experience with each step of the filmmaking process as it relates to screenwriting.Randall Dottin

    Dottin’s thesis film A-Alike won a Gold Medal at the Student Academy Awards for Best Narrative Film and the Director’s Guild of America Award for Best African American Student Filmmaker, as well as earning other awards and a two-year broadcast run on HBO. His feature doc The Chicago Franchise was accepted into IFP Week’s Spotlight on Documentaries.

    The House I Never Knew, Dottin’s latest project, is a six-part documentary series and focuses on the struggle with and against the negative effects of housing segregation policy, including social ills like gun violence and educational failure—especially in Boston, Houston, and Chicago—as well as the personal lives affected by them.

    While teaching screenwriting at NYFA, Dottin requested a sabbatical to focus on shooting the film. NYFA Founder Jerry Sherlock personally granted the request and, along with NYFA, supported Dottin’s important work on the project, confident in his skills as a filmmaker.

    The film is one of 25 nonfiction projects that will receive Documentary Fund and Stories of Change grants from the Sundance Institute, a nonprofit organization founded by Robert Redford committed to the growth of independent artists.

    The grants are bestowed on projects that range through all stages of development, and are aimed to help films anywhere from initial project development to building a larger audience.

    Randall Dottin The House I Never Knew
    “It was great to get the encouragement from an institution on that level,” Dottin tells NYFA. “And the type of resources that are now available to the project are immeasurable and will help us get the doc done in the best way possible!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Chair of Screenwriting Randall Dottin on his Sundance Institute grant and looks forward to the completion and release of The House I Never Knew.

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    June 6, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Faculty Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 244