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  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards Academy Gold Internship to New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA in Filmmaking Student Alice Nicolini

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA in Filmmaking student Alice Nicolini received some great news recently when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded her an Academy Gold Internship in Production Design. 

    Nicolini hails from Italy and is an alum of several NYFA camps, having attended the 4-week Screenwriting camp for teens, the 6-week Filmmaking camp for teens, and the 4-week Advanced Filmmaking camp for teens between 2014 and 2016. She is currently studying for her BFA in Filmmaking at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus. In the fall of 2017, Nicolini served as one of NYFA’s red carpet representatives at the Cinema Italian Style opening night gala.

    Her two-minute short, Alice’s Wonderland, helped her earn the prestigious Academy Gold Internship in Production Design. The Academy Gold Program is a multi-tiered educational and experiential initiative and internship enhancement program from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the famous Hollywood organization that annually awards the Oscars.

    “I hope this experience will give more direction and structure to my efforts,” Nicolini tells NYFA, “and, as a result, make me more confident in my craft.”

    Nicolini is currently focusing on her BFA studies and prepping hard for the internship. The industrious student has found the time and energy however to design a domestic clothing and accessories line in collaboration with a sustainability-focused company from Italy.

    “I am very proud of this kid and of NYFA for supporting talented and young artists!” exclaims Diana Santi, Director of NYFA Florence.

    Alice Nicolini
    New York Film Academy congratulates BFA student Alice Nicolini on earning the illustrious Academy Gold Internship in Production Design and looks forward to following her filmmaking endeavors. 

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    June 14, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 177

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking Alum Kevin Nwankwor Films ‘Muna’

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    After finishing the film Tempting Fate, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum Kevin Nwankwor didn’t take a break—he immediately got to work on his next film, Muna. Earlier this month, the trailer for Muna was released.

    Muna is an action-drama directed by Nwankwor and written by Nwankwor, Joe Leone, and loam Parry based on a story by award-winning author Unoma Nwankwor. The film was executive produced by Emmanuel Ojeah and Unoma Nwankwor. 

    Shot in both the US and Nigeria, Muna tells the story of an assassin who falls in love while getting tangled in the global sex trafficking crisis. The cast includes Adam Huss, Robert Miano, Massi Furlan, Mayling Ng, and stars Adesua Etomi-Wellington, wife of musician and NYFA alum Banky Wellington. 

    “Human trafficking has become a great menace in our world today—the most troublesome part is the impact it has on the victims, turning them into something they would never have dreamt of becoming,” says Nwankwor. “Listening to the stories of these victims and knowing about those who go missing is heartbreaking. This is what motivated me to make Muna.” 

    After earning his MFA in Filmmaking from Burbank-based NYFA-Los Angeles, Nwankwor became CEO of family-owned production company KevStel, based in Atlanta, Georgia with an office in Abuja, Nigeria. KevStel produced both Tempting Fate and the upcoming Muna.

    “I came into NYFA with a goal and a desire to succeed,” adds Nwankwor. “I hear people say there’s no need for film school, but after the drilling and hands-on training while acquiring my Master’s degree in Filmmaking from New York Film Academy, I was able to make my first feature, Tempting Fate, which received some nominations and awards even while I was still a NYFA student. And now in the new feature film Muna, you will see the traces of a Master’s touch.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Filmmaking alum Kevin Nwankwor on his latest film Muna and looks forward to its release! 

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    June 13, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 211

  • 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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  • South African New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Meet Up at Inaugural Events

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    This May, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted inaugural South African NYFA alumni events in Johannesburg and Cape Town. This was a fantastic opportunity for NYFA’s South African alumni to connect and expand their network. South Africa Alumni Event

    Blake Babbitt, NYFA Associate Director of Outreach, has been traveling to South Africa for that past 7 years on behalf of the school, and was very delighted to see a true community of New York Film Academy artists coming together in their home country. 

    “There is a growing entertainment industry here in South Africa,” says Babbitt. “Ultimately we want our graduates to use the techniques and knowledge gained at NYFA to influence the industry not only in America, but in their home countries as well.”

    Babbitt continues, “The power of community is essential to the entertainment industry and to artistic success. I am very pleased to see a community of New York Film Academy artists forming here in South Africa, and I’m excited to see how this budding community will expand and impact the way South African stories are told. The sky is the limit for this group!” 

    During the event, NYFA alumni exchanged contact information, formed WhatsApp groups, and tagged each other in social media posts and stories. There was even discussion to form an official alumni chapter in South Africa. 

    Additionally, many alumni expressed their gratitude for the training they received at New York Film Academy, and for NYFA’s concern for them after they graduated. “Once you join us at New York Film Academy, you become a part of our family for life,” Babbitt told the alumni. “We don’t forget about you the second you graduate. Seeing you succeed is incredibly important to us.”

    “Blake and Maria were the most gracious hosts,” says BFA Filmmaking alum Zack Schofield-Nel. “The people that I was blessed to have networked with were incredible; I have built connections that will last for a long time to come. This could have only have happened because I was fortunate enough to attend the New York Film Academy.”

    He adds, “It is the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious that I could have ever imagined!”

    Attendees included the following NYFA alumni:

    • Lunathi Mampofu (2-year Acting for Film): Trailblazing South African actress. Working on multiple TV shows in South Africa.

    • Eden Classens (2-year Musical Theatre): Runner-up, Dancing with the Stars South Africa; Lead on Afrikaans series Suidooster; recently cast in Netflix’s Kissing Booth 2.

    • Rethabile Ramaphakela (8-week Screenwriting): South African production company co-owner and voiceover artist best known as the voice of the Vuzu shows V-Entertainment and 10 Over 10. Co-owner of the production company Burnt Onion Productions with her brothers Tshepo and Katleho, who created and produced the SABC1 sitcom My Perfect Family and the Vuzu mockumentary Check-Coast. Produced and created a show that is currently available on Amazon Prime. Directing her first feature film in June.

    • Zandi Zim (MFA Acting for Film): Formed her own production company. South African actress that has performed at The Grahamstown National Arts Festival and Cape Town Fringe Festival. Stage actor since the age of eight and has studied Meisner and Alexander Technique. Zandi also sings, plays jazz piano and marimbas, and speaks English and conversational Sesotho.

    • Jacqueline Rainers Setai (8-week Screenwriting, continuing into 1-year Screenwriting): Head of Mojalove Channel on DSTV; well-known and established South African writer, producer, documentarian, broadcaster.

    • Petrone van der Merwe (8-week Acting for Film): Currently in two stage productions for the ADK (Academy of Dramatic Arts)’s 80th birthday celebrations that will premiere at the UJ Artscape Theater in Johannesburg and will also be performed in Stellenbosch at the Drostdy Theater. Signed with the talent agency, Gaenor Artiste Management.

    • Audrey Mokono (1-year Acting for Film, continuing into BFA Acting for Film): Recent graduate of NYFA’s 1-year Acting for Film program and will continue her studies in NYFA’s BFA Acting for Film program.

    • Anlezia Venter (BFA Acting for Film): Opened her own fitness studio in Cape Town.

    • Zackary Nel (BFA Filmmaking): Currently finishing his BFA thesis film in Cape Town, and has hired his own local crew.

    • Paul Fulton (8-week Screenwriting): Copywriter for ad agency. Has two feature-length scripts he is working on getting sold.

    • Keyuri Naidoo (6-week Acting for Film): From Johannesburg; known for her role as Karishma in Droomdag (2017) directed by Willie Esterhuizen. During her time at NYFA-Los Angeles, Keyuri directed and acted in numerous student short films.

    • Thuto Marrengula (1-year Acting for Film): Thuto Marrengula is an actor, known for Non American Dreamers (2018) and Ask Questions Later (2016); currently developing an hour-long stand up routine.

    • Nyeleti Khoza (AFA Acting for Film):  South African actor known for The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead (2016), Black Tea (2017), and Remember Me (2017). Recently cast in Giyani – Land of Blood, a new highly-viewed telenovela on SABC2

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts First Annual John Burroughs High School Film Festival

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was proud to host the first annual John Burroughs High School Film Festival earlier this month on May 5. The festival featured four films made by the young students. Students used their own equipment—smartphones, high-quality cameras, and sound equipment—to film their movies, which ranged in length from two to 10 minutes.

    John Burroughs has a film club filled with students that have a great passion for film. The president of the film club approached NYFA in the fall of 2018 with interest in visiting the campus and starting a film festival. NYFA was very excited to help them achieve this goal. 

    John Burroughs HS Film Festival 2019
    A 1-week workshop scholarship was awarded to one of the filmmakers, chosen by the audience.   The winning film was the four minute short, Time Machine.

    The festival garnered the attention of the LA Times, where journalist Andrew J. Campa wrote about the event and interviewed John Burroughs High School Film Club President Orion Spatafora and NYFA Senior Outreach Specialist Jody Burns.

    “It was so much fun to see the students’ hard work pay off,” Burns told the LA Times. “It was so exciting for us at New York Film Academy to see the hard work they put into their films. The students also loved getting to see their work on the big screen in a theater setting.”

    John Burroughs HS Film Festival 2019

    The festival was small this year, but both NYFA and Spatafore expect more students of John Burroughs to participate in the second annual event. “We’re already planning next year’s film festival now,” Spatafora told the LA Times. “We want more students involved, and we want to get this out to the community.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates the filmmaking students on jobs well done and looks forward to next year’s John Burroughs High School Film Festival! 

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    May 23, 2019 • Film Festivals, Film School, Outreach • Views: 370

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Wraps Another Successful Outreach Filmmaking Workshop with BAFTA-LA

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is passionate and dedicated to share the love for storytelling with everyone. In our dedicated efforts to give back to the community, New York Film Academy-Los Angeles has been running a filmmaking workshop in partnership with the British Academy of Film and Television Los Angeles (BAFTA-LA) for youth in need since 2012.

    During a 9-week intensive film program focused on telling stories, students from Washington Prep High School learned the foundations of filmmaking and how to make their own short films, from A to Z. They got a chance to shoot their films on professional Hollywood sets at the Universal Studios backlot. 

    Outreach BAFTA HS 2019
    The program culminated with a graduation ceremony on May 11 at the NYFA Theater, attended by students, friends and family, BAFTA-LA members, and NYFA faculty. 

    Sharyn Ross, Head of BAFTA Outreach Program, told NYFA after the ceremony:

    “Our Saturday graduation event was a huge success. The theater was filled with student filmmakers, and their families and guests. The films were terrific and were received with enthusiasm and lots of applause and laughter. The genres ranged from comedies to heartbreak romance, from campy horror to philosophical life lessons. After the screening, each filmmaker stepped up to the mic and shared their thoughts about their experience and how important this program is to them and the kids in their community. It was heartwarming and emotional.

    “Each of you played an intricate part in making this year successful. As each filmmaker acknowledged, it was hard work and when the semester began, they didn’t know if it was possible. With each Saturday building on the last, and with the support and patience of all of you standing by them, they learned a huge life lesson—no matter how hard something is, keep putting one foot in front of the other, don’t give up, trust your gut and those you are collaborating with, and you can depend on the grownups in the room that they won’t let go—and most importantly, that their stories and lives matter.”

    Outreach BAFTA HS 2019

    Students who attended the program also spoke about their experience over the past several weeks:

    “The BAFTA/NYFA program was a great experience that helped me harness and share what I love.”
    – Alony Shell

    “Working in the BAFTA/NYFA program was fun because I went to Universal Studios and was able to direct my own movie!”
    – Makyiaha Daniel

    “The Outreach program was a wonderful opportunity that helped me experience the wonders of filmmaking.”
    – Jermaine Plum

    “The BAFTA program has had such a positive impact on me. I’ve learned so much from writing and directing to camera and editing—it’s a great program and I hope to do it again!”
    – Dovely King

    “This program benefitted me in so many ways.”
    – Emag M.

    “I’m very grateful to be a part of this program which helped me learn new skills.”
    – David O.

    New York Film Academy expresses its gratitude for the opportunity to work with so many young talented inspiring filmmakers and thanks Washington Prep High School Film teacher Darryl McCrane, Head of BAFTA Outreach Program Sharyn Ross, and to all the other dedicated BAFTA and NYFA staff members who made this program successful. Their hard work and dedication helped the participants to not only develop their craft as young storytellers through making their own films, but also supported students’ confidence and creativity. 

    NYFA looks forward to many more years of outreach partnership with the British Academy of Film and Television!

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    May 21, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Outreach • Views: 260

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Announces Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship Recipients

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    The first four recipients of the inaugural year of the prestigious New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship have been announced. The grantees are Leeni Linna (MFA Filmmaking), Jose Miguel Perez-Alcazar (MFA Filmmaking), Nicholas Rosolino (MFA Acting), and Lucia Flores (MFA Documentary).

    The scholarship is sponsored by Golden Globe-winning actor and filmmaker Matthew Modine, who is a member of the New York Film Academy’s Board of Directors and a master class instructor at NYFA. He is instantly recognizable to fans of the Netflix global mega hit Stranger Things, which won the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble, and as Private Joker from the iconic film Full Metal Jacket. Called “one of the best, most adaptable film actors of his generation” by legendary New York Times film critic Vincent Canby. Modine has worked with many of the film industry’s most acclaimed directors, including Christopher Nolan, Stanley Kubrick, and Spike Lee.

    The scholarship provides financial assistance to outstanding candidates of the school’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in select disciplines. To qualify, recipients must demonstrate the values set forth by NYFA to further the art of visual storytelling. Candidates are nominated by faculty or staff, and the chosen grantees receive $5,000-$10,000 per year based on criteria including an audition or portfolio submission, academic performance, professional experience, and participation in the arts. Up to ten scholarships are personally awarded each year by award-winning actor Matthew Modine, who recently announced his candidacy for the presidency of SAG-AFTRA. 

    Two of this year’s Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship awardees, Jose Miguel Perez-Alcazar and Lucia Flores, are attending the New York Film Academy as Fulbright Program grantees. The Fulbright Program is an international scholarship program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It awards approximately 8,000 grants annually to students, teachers, and professionals from over 160 countries. NYFA is proud to have welcomed over 60 Fulbright students from more than 35 countries to date. In addition, NYFA is privileged to have Fulbright Program alumni as part of its faculty, including NYFA Director of Fulbright Initiatives Miguel Cruz. Professor Cruz, Fulbright alum ‘05, also serves as the Vice President for the Fulbright Association Chapter of Los Angeles.

    Modine Scholarship

    From L to R: Matthew Modine, Lucia Flores]

    Jose Miguel Perez-Alcazar is a journalist and filmmaker from Madrid. In addition to being a Fulbright grantee, Perez-Alcazar is also the recipient of a very competitive talent-based grant award from the Ministry of Art & Culture of the Spanish Government. Perez-Alcazar was recommended for the scholarship program by the Fulbright Commission in Spain. He speaks four languages, and has studied in Mexico, Argentina, and Holland as well as Spain. 

    Lucia Flores is a Peruvian documentarian and activist whose work gives voice to minorities. Her latest project follows an expectant mother from the Andes, and details the indigenous people’s rituals around childbirth. Her previous work covers the relationship between the indigenous people and their land, as well as how the people of the Andean-Amazonian region adapted to climate change using traditional knowledge. For her next film project at NYFA —  while being supported by the Fulbright Program — she is teaming with fellow grantee Perez-Alcazar to tell the story of transgender women working on the Amazon River.

    Nicolas Rosolino is a seasoned stage actor with more than 15 credits to his name. His background includes leads in such major musical productions as The Pirates of Penzance, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Beauty and the Beast. The trilingual actor has trained extensively in a variety of techniques, including Stanislavski, Laban, and Grotowski. “He is not afraid to take major creative risks in his acting work,” said Charles Richter, Director of Theatre at Muhlenberg College. “He is an extraordinary talent.” 

    Leeni Linna is an Estonian filmmaker currently studying at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, and holds both a BA and an MA in film directing from Baltic University. A recipient of the Baltic American Freedom Foundation grant, Linna has directed commercials, short films, and documentaries, and is currently working on developing her first feature film as part of her MFA experience. “I see her as being the next Kathryn Bigelow,” said NYFA Professor Miguel Cruz. “She is that talented.”

    Modine Scholarship

    From L to R: Nicholas Rosolino, Matthew Modine, Leeni Linna, Jose Miguel Perez-Alcaza

    “Filmmaking is very important for our culture and its continued development,” said Modine. “Films help us to understand each other better, often exposing us to personal fears and unpleasant superstitions toward the ‘other.’ Through a skilled storyteller’s film lens, documentaries shed light into the darkness and help make the ‘monsters’ go away. Similarly, feature films can illustrate the possible, and can open our eyes to worlds and realities beyond our own. Congratulations to all our inaugural grantees–I eagerly await the projects you will create.” 

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    May 20, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 74

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students Attend Tribeca Film Festival

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    Filmmaking and Documentary students from New York Film Academy (NYFA) recently had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) in New York City. With over 100 titles, including world premieres of films by Jared Leto, Christoph Waltz, and Margot Robbie, the annual film bash rolled out the red carpet from April 24 through May 5 at venues all across Manhattan. 

    This year’s edition of Tribeca Film Festival was programmed from more than 9000 submissions and included not only fiction and nonfiction features, but also guest speaker Q&As, games, and virtual reality experiences. 

    As part of TFF’s annual Tribeca Talks, this year’s Director Series featured a stellar line-up, with conversations between groundbreaking filmmakers, actors, and industry professionals, including Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese and Academy Award-winning actor and TFF co-founder Robert De Niro. The legendary duo came together at the Beacon Theatre for an in-depth discussion on inspiration, music, childhood memories and behind-the-scenes moments. The two artists’ engaging conversation offered attendees an inside look into their celebrated careers and iconic film collaborations, from Mean Streets and Raging Bull to Goodfellas and Casino, to the upcoming The Irishman.

    Another particularly standout Tribeca Talk was between Questlove and Boots Riley, two notable artists who posses a deep understanding of their craft and continue to take risks as storytellers, both within the world of music and beyond—whether through publishing, producing, or filmmaking. These two revolutionary hip-hop artists sat down for a deep, wide-ranging conversation that covered their inspirations and major career breakthroughs as they navigated their success while staying true to their art. 

    Tribeca 2019

    Students from the NYFA Filmmaking and Documentary departments were selected to attend a conversation with Alexander Skarsgård, Nat Wolff, and director Dan Krauss, directly following a screening of The Kill Team. The feature film tells the story of a young soldier during the invasion of Afghanistan who witnesses civilians murdered under the direction of a vicious sergeant, and who finds himself trapped in a violent and vengeful platoon.

    This Tribeca Talk encouraged NYFA Filmmaking student Jianyu Li to rethink his idea of working on a war film feature without having a big budget, something he had been considering for quite some time.

    Tribeca 2019

    Last but not least, the NYFA community was given the opportunity to attend a conversation with director Dee Rees and Queen Latifah as they discussed the Queen Collective, a new film initiative aimed at curating, mentoring, and uplifting female filmmakers. The first two documentary shorts of the Collective, Ballet After Dark and If There Is Light, premiered at this year’s TFF, and up-and-coming directors B. Monét and Haley Elizabeth Anderson joined the conversation as their shorts were spotlighted. 

    Queen Latifah offered all in attendance a lesson on how to nurture talent and creativity, remarking on the importance of having a consistent attitude to uplift. “At the end of the day, it’s about women feeling good about themselves from the inside out.”

    In reflecting on her experience attending this year’s Festival, NYFA Filmmaking student Christelle Chalupa said, “The Tribeca Film Festival experience gave me a lot more courage to fight for what I want and tell good stories.”

    Under the pledge of “Great Stories are Timeless,” the Tribeca Film Festival closed their doors until next year, leaving attendees and NYFA students with the dream of being on its stage someday with their own works.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Make Alma Mater Proud

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    In its 27-year history, countless students have graduated from the conservatories, camps, workshops, and degree programs of New York Film Academy (NYFA). NYFA is frequently and consistently pleased to hear the latest successes of our alumni as they continue to move forward in their careers and push themselves artistically in an industry that thrives on hard work and intensive competition. 

    Here are just some of the latest updates from alumni—filmmakers, actors, screenwriters, producers, musical theatre performers, documentarians, cinematographers, broadcast journalists, virtual reality and game designers, graphic designers, editors, animators, visual effects artists, and everything in between—as they continue to flourish in their crafts and make New York Film Academy proud to be their school of choice.

    Sakshi Talwar

    NYFA Sakshi Talwar took the skills she learned at our 1-week Filmmaking workshop to write and direct the short film Letter of Intent, which went onto be an official selection at the 2018 LA Shorts Awards. Last summer, the film won Bronze at the NYC Indie Film Festival, an incredibly impressive achievement for a filmmaker whose just getting started!

    Sakshi Talwar
    Varuun Pandya

    BFA Filmmaking alum Varuun Pandya has been called an “acclaimed screenwriter” by Broadway World and was recently honored for two of his screenplays. His script, The House, earned Best Screenplay at the Calcutta Cult Film Festival, while his script XYZ won Best Sci-Fi Short Screenplay at the Hollywood Just4Shorts Short Film & Screenplay Competition.

    Fabio Ribak

    MFA in Game Design alum Fabio Ribak is now a 3D Animator at Sony Playstation Studios. The company is hard at work developing their flagship console for the next generation of gaming devices, the Playstation 5. Ribak is working with motion capture animations in Maya cinematic cut scenes in video games.

    Tyler D’Andrea Lambert

    Tyler D’Andrea Lambert enrolled in the 1-year Acting for Film conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus after competing a 1-week workshop. Before he even graduated, Lambert earned an on-screen role on hit sitcom The Neighborhood in its seventh episode, “Welcome to the Barbershop.” Lambert got to act alongside series star and previous NYFA guest speaker Cedric the Entertainer, and told NYFA, I’m so glad I came here, it changed my life. I met some amazing friends, teachers, and the energy is great. Can’t wait to hit the pavement and start running. I’m excited for what the future holds.”

    Tyler D'Andrea Lambert

    Cedric the Entertainer & Tyler D’Andrea Lambert


    Davin Tjen

    BFA Producing alum David Tjen has put his skills to work as a segment producer at Mythical Entertainment. The incredibly successful production company was founded by Rhett James McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln “Link” Neal III, collectively known as Rhett & Link, and is the home of multiple projects, including YouTube series Good Mythical Morning, which boasts over 15 million subscribers. 

    Celeste Pillay

    BFA Filmmaking alum Celeste Pillay’s first professional gig on a feature film was as a production assistant on the Bollywood film Race 3, starring Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez, and Anil Kapoor. She recently worked as a production coordinator on a Hollywood production in Abu Dhabi in a more senior role, leading the local crew through production and liaising between the local and international production teams. Only one year into her professional career, Pillay is off to a great start and already lining up projects with household name blockbuster directors!

    Celeste Pillay


    Linnea Lardsdotter & Johan Matton

    Linea Lardsdotter (2-year Musical Theatre) and Johan Matton (2-year Acting) are both native to Sweden and studied at our New York campus. After graduation, the two collaborated to form the Nordic International Film Festival. The fest is the biggest Nordic Film Festival outside Europe, and held its 5th annual edition in New York City, with a focus on women’s empowerment in the industry, including a panel discussion entitled “Breaking Boundaries.”

    Keren Seol & Muriel Moraes

    1-year Producing alumni Keren Seol and Muriel Moraes studied together at our New York City campus in 2011. Both are producers on the 2018 feature documentary Olympia, about Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis. Seol previously produced several short films, TV pilot The Loft, documentary The Case of Josephine H., and TV movie The Reel Life. Among other credits, Moraes has worked on animated films Epic and Ferdinand. 

    Olympia
    Orlando Braun

    MFA in Producing alum Orlando Braun is now an associate producer on the Discovery ID series In Plain Sight. Braun previously won Best Musical Short at the New York Independent Film Festival and Best Director and Best Ensemble Cast at BAFF (Best Actor Film Festival), and was nominated for the Canadian Screen Awards Diversity Award and won the Award of Excellence in Filmmaking at the Canada International Film Festival. His short film War Bride premiered at the 2013 Festival de Cannes in the Short Film Corner followed by multiple Official Selections in other festivals.

    Cameron Cubbison

    NYFA alum Cameron Cubbison co-founded the screenwriting platform Screencraft after working as an experienced reader, script consultant, and screenwriter. As a studio reader and script consultant, he provided notes hundreds of screenplays and books for companies including the Sundance Institute, Lionsgate, Resolution, Paradigm Talent Agency, United Talent Agency, ICM Partners, Penguin Random House, Open Road Films, Attraction Entertainment, Circle Associates, Amazon Studios, and Fresh Voices. He currently has two spec film scripts and a web series in active development.

    Gianni McLaughlin

    8-week Filmmaking alum Gianni McLaughlin is preparing to adapt the the award-winning short film he made at NYFA’s New York City campus, Bless Me Father, into a feature film. The New Jersey filmmaker is also an actor, having appeared in Peaky Blinders and HBO’s The Deuce as well as FedEx and Perry Ellis advertising campaigns.

    Gianni McLaughlin

    Grettir Olafsson

    Grettir Olafsson hails from Iceland and earned his MFA in Game Design from NYFA-Los Angeles. He is now working as a game designer at Rockstar Games, the studio behind video game juggernauts Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and L.A. Noire. 

    Eva & Diana Melkonyan

    Sisters Eva and Diana Melkonyan both attended NYFA-Los Angeles camps in summer 2018. Eva graduated from the 6-week Filmmaking camp for teens and Diana is an alum of the 2-week Acting for Film camp for kids. The sisters perform as a piano duo and recently played Carnegie Hall at a concert presented by Global Artists Debut Concerts, featuring winners from the Suzanne Culley Competition in the United States and the Viva-Music International Competition in Russia. The Melkonyan Sisters previously gave their debut concert at the Bolshoi Theater in Russia.

    Peipei Duan

    MFA in Producing alum Peipei Duan produced several short films while studying at NYFA-Los Angeles. One of the films, Lip Reader: Game of Detective, won the “Golden Award” at the 15th Guangzhou Student Film Festival. Duan was recently the recipient of the Cathay Bank Scholarship, which awards and supports Chinese students of great academic achievement. She will use the money to produce a new short film and take it to the Festival circuit.

    Peipei Duan
    Dave Cebrero

    8-week Filmmaking workshop alum Dave Cebrero is celebrating the fourth year of the Houston Latino Film Festival, which he founded. Surprised at the lack of film festivals in one of the largest cities in America, Cebrero took it upon himself to create the fest. “From its inception, we wanted it to become sort of a conference,” tells the Houston Chronicle. “The education aspect of it, we want it to grow.”

    Moe Myat May Zarchi

    1-Year Filmmaking alum Moe Myat May Zarchi studied in New York City and is determined to raise the industry’s awareness of cinema in her home country of Myanmar. She has created 3 ACT, the first-ever film magazine in Myanmar, which she also edits and write for. The magazine is already making an impact, and has been invited to the Tokyo International Film Festival as foreign press last year, and has also been acclaimed by both the French film magazine Cahiers Du Cinema and Japan’s Nikkei Asia Review.

    Maddie Quarm

    8-week Filmmaking alum Maddie Quarm has started work on her next film, Go For Alayna, a farcical comedy about an aspiring filmmaker and a famous actress who are pit against each other while working on the set of a big budget film. The film covers very relevant topics including the perception of female power, #MeToo, systemic sexism, and performative feminism—using satire to convey these themes.

    Reggie Luck

    BFA Producing alum Reggie Luck made the short film My Brother Wes while at NYFA-Los Angeles. The film recently won three festival awards: Best Narrative Short at the Marina del Rey Film Festival, Best Screenplay at the Culver City Film Festival, and Best Short Film at Battle of the Film Schools Film Festival. The film inspired by his grandchildren, and Luck has already locked most of the funds for a feature adaptation. He hopes to shoot the film this summer.

    Reggie Luck
    Anna Solano

    1-year Cinematography alum Anna Solano has shot the feature film The Farewell, about a Chinese family preparing for the death of their elderly matriarch. The film stars Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, and Gil Perez-Abraham and competed at the Sundance Film Festival. The Spanish cinematographer has also co-written Silent Notes, which she shot, and which is currently in post-production. 

    Jameelah Rose Lineses

    Atareek, the Saudi music video film written and directed by Jameelah Rose Lineses and winner of the Best Cinematography award at the International Film Festival Manhattan 2018, is now an Official Selection and will be competing at the Houston Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival in Houston, Texas later this summer.

    Raitis Ābele

    Filmmaking alum Raitis Ābele co-directed Baltic Tribes with his brother Lauris Ābele, a feature documentary produced in Latvia that includes reenactments and animation to tell the story of a Swedish merchant named Lars and the pagan tribes from centuries ago. The film had its US premiere at the Baltic Film Festival in New York, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.

    Kai D’Amour

    The Watchmaker was the Diploma Final Film for Kai D’Amour when studied Filmmaking at NYFA-Australia’s Gold Coast campus. The film has had numerous successes since then, winning the Top Shorts Online Film Festival, Screen It Film Festival, LA Film Awards, New York Film Awards, and Latitude Film Awards. Additionally, The Watchmaker was nominated for Best Narrative Film at GUFA (Global University Film Awards – Hong Kong), selected in the Top 8 out of more than 1800 short films entered into the fest.

    Obinna Eze-Ajoku

    MFA in Game Design alum Obinna Eze Ajoku is now the Technical Program Manager at Microsoft Studios, where he began as a Software Design Engineer. He is also senior consultant at Techno Brain Group and has previously worked for WWE, Electronic Arts, and Playstation for their triple-A game God of War.

    Farhan Abbas

    NYFA Filmmaking alum Farhan Abbas has been very productive and successful since graduation, and has been involved with several film festivals, won awards, and has facilitated creative workshops with other filmmakers. He was a Jury Member at the 6th Edition of Emirates Short Film Festival 2019, one of the biggest festivals in Dubai. How director showreel can be found here.

    Alexander J. Farrell

    Acting for Film alum Alexander J. Farrell went behind the camera to direct the stunning documentary Refugee, about a Syrian mother who was separated from her family while trying to seek asylum during the height of the war in her home country. The film shares producers with Oscar-winning documentaries Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11. Farrell first enrolled at NYFA’s New York campus in 2012, before completing his studies at our Los Angeles campus.

    refugee alexander farrell
    New York Film Academy congratulates all of our alumni on their incredible achievements and wish them the best of success as they continue to advance in their careers and contribute their artistic voices to the entertainment industry!

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    April 2, 2019 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 473

  • Duke Youth Media Camp Class of 2019 Graduates at New York Film Academy (NYFA)

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    On Saturday, March 30, the New York Film Academy hosted the graduation of the Duke Youth Media Camp class of 2019. The Media Camp—which kicked off its collaboration with NYFA on January 26 at our Los Angeles campus—is sponsored by the Duke Media Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Bill Duke in 2010.

    2019 Bill Duke Camp Graduation

    Bill Duke, a filmmaking instructor at NYFA, is a veteran director and actor, known for high-profile roles in several television series and films, including American Gigolo, Black Lightning, Mandy, Predator, and X-Men: The Last Stand. He’ll also set to appear in the upcoming Steven Soderbergh film, High Flying Bird. At the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, Duke was nominated for the Palme d’Or for his film, A Rage in Harlem.

    The partnership between the Duke Media Foundation and New York Film Academy began in 2016, and their joint-effort Duke Youth Media Camp seeks to train and empower teens through hands-on instruction and by teaching students the tools and skills needed in a constantly evolving media environment. The Duke Media Foundation and NYFA aim to help inner-city youth become more competitive with those who’ve typically had greater access to the education and equipment needed in a television, film, and digital media landscape.

    The 2019 graduation ceremony was the largest ever with 16 graduates instead of the usual 12. When Duke Media instructor Lee Davis spoke to the students and their proud parents, he shared that this was the most talented group of students he had ever seen in the program.

    2019 Bill Duke Camp Graduation

    Michael Sandoval, a NYFA instructor involved in the program, added, “It was a pleasure to work with this group of students,” and said that the only time the students were ever told to quiet down was when they were laughing too loudly because they were having such a good time.

    Echoing Davis and Sandoval, Media Camp co-founder Carl Gilliard said, “I am so full today.” He continued, “Build a name that commands something [but] don’t forget to give back.”

    Paul Caruso from Lost Kids of Los Angeles Inc., one of the sponsors of the program, gave some advice to the graduates: “Make sure the world is a better place tomorrow than it was today … pay it forward.” After some words of wisdom, Caruso surprised the graduates with brand new Dell laptops—a gift from DHL, one of LKLA’s partners. Caruso shared that he wanted to make sure the students had the tools to help them be as successful as possible in the internet age.

    2019 Bill Duke Camp Graduation

    The students were then asked to speak about what they learned from the camp; many spoke about how much they enjoyed trying out every aspect of filmmaking and about the friends they made. One student, Lexi Sherwood, spoke to one of the deeper aspects of the program: “If we don’t tell our stories, who will?”

    At the end of the ceremony, Bill Duke spoke to the students, saying, “I cannot tell you how proud I am of you. You’re part of our family forever.” Following one of the themes of the afternoon, he added, “Don’t forget those that didn’t have the same opportunities that you did.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate this year’s Duke Youth Media Camp graduates and thanks the Duke Media Foundation for creating this wonderful opportunity for these aspiring storytellers.

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    April 2, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Outreach, Progressive & Social Causes • Views: 651