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  • NYFA MFA Grad Jumanah Abdul Volunteers at This Year’s ‘Produced By’ Conference


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Jumanah Abdul was one of several alumni to volunteer for this year’s ’Produced By’ Conference, presented by the Producers Guild of America (PGA). The conference held a 2-day series of speaker panels, Q&A sessions, workshops and networking opportunities for aspiring and professional producers between June 11-12th, 2022 at the FOX Studio Lot in Century City, California. 

    Recognized as a leading industry event, the ‘Produced By’ conference featured notable guest speakers and moderators to discuss current issues and the future of the entertainment industry. This year’s panelists included Viola Davis, Julius Tennon, Seth MacFarlane, Charles D. King, and more.

    NYFA MFA Grad Jumanah Abdul Volunteers at This Year’s ‘Produced By’ Conference

    Viola Davis (left) with NYFA MFA Filmmaking alum Jumanah Abdul (right) at the Produced By Conference

    The PGA reached out to NYFA seeking volunteers to help with the event. Our alumni supported the conference during one of its two-day runs, followed by their participation at the conference’s activities on the second day–completely free of charge.

    NYFA alumni networked with industry veterans, learned from the best in the business, and expanded their production knowledge.

    MFA Filmmaking alum Jumanah Abdul spoke with us about her experience as a volunteer and meeting some of the incredible list of guest speakers and moderators. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Tell us your story! What originally brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    Jumanah Abdul (JA): I was born in New York and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. Before my shift to filmmaking, I worked as a healthcare professional and academic tutor. I always knew that I wanted to be a creative artist and storyteller. Five years ago, I decided to switch careers and moved to California to pursue my artistic passion. I am now a proud NYFA MFA Filmmaking graduate. This is my second master’s degree, which I obtained from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus in August 2021.

    NYFA MFA Grad Jumanah Abdul Volunteers at This Year’s ‘Produced By’ Conference

    Jumanah Abdul (right) and Yvette Nicole Brown (right) at the Produced By Conference

    NYFA: What was your experience as a volunteer at this year’s ‘Produced By’ Conference?

    JA: My experience volunteering was delightful! Some of my duties included assisting and directing guests to venues, overseeing the smooth operation of the screening venues at my assigned station, and participating in all coordination, production, and volunteer meetings. I was also able to meet and network with so many industry professionals. I was grateful to attend four of the guest speaker panels, and I was sure to take advantage of absorbing as much information as possible! 

    All of the speakers were amazing, but Viola Davis was the one who left an everlasting impression on me! It was such an honor to be in her presence as her attitude, energy, and humility were admirable. 

    NYFA MFA Grad Jumanah Abdul Volunteers at This Year’s ‘Produced By’ Conference

    Julius Tennon (left) with Jumanah Abdul (right) at the Produced By Conference

    NYFA: Anything that stood out to you while volunteering at the ‘Produced by’ Conference?

    JA: What stood out to me the most was how well the conference was organized. There were several maps located around the venue area, which made it easy to personally navigate and direct attendees. In addition, each attendee was given a customized itinerary of their scheduled panels for the entire event/weekend! I was impressed by the wide variety of panels from which to choose. 

    NYFA: How was it meeting Viola Davis, Julius Tennon, and Yvette Nicole Brown?

    JA: After the panel ended, meeting Viola Davis, Julius Tennon and Yvette Nicole Brown was such a surreal moment. They were extremely personable, helpful, and welcoming. I connected and spoke with them for a bit, and then asked them some personal questions and career advice. Overall, I felt so empowered and liberated in the environment of so many creatives and I’m already looking forward to attending next year’s PGA ‘Produced By’ conference!

    New York Film Academy congratulates our alum Jumanah as well as our other helpful volunteers for their participation at this year’s ‘Produced By’ Conference. 


    July 13, 2022 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 41

  • Six NYFA Alumni Screen Films at Micheaux Film Festival’s 4th Edition


    Six New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni will screen their films at the Los Angeles-based Micheaux Film Festival. This year, at the festival’s fourth edition, participants will engage in a series of activations, digital panels, master classes, networking mixers, workshops and film screenings from July 11 – 17, 2022. This year’s festival events will be available to participants both online and in-person starting on July 13, 2022 at the Regal Cinemas L.A. in downtown Los Angeles. You can purchase tickets here

    The Micheaux Film Festival was recognized as one of the ‘Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee’ in 2022 by MovieMaker Magazine. The festival shares stories that focus on multiculturality, inclusivity of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), diverse representation and gender/identity parity. 

    The organization seeks to cultivate a dynamic community that gives artists an honest space to share their unique stories, making it a perfect match for films made by NYFA’s incredibly diverse student body. Event sponsors include the Oprah Winfrey Network, SONY Entertainment, Panavision, The Academy Museum, Braham Entertainment.

    Among the six lucky NYFA alumni chosen to showcase their work at this year’s festival include Abraham Amkpa (Master of Arts in Film & Media Production), Kate Burduzhan (2-Year Filmmaking Conservatory), Meital Cohen Navarro (Master of Fine Arts Filmmaking), Lethabo Mokgatle (Bachelor of Fine Arts Filmmaking), Victor Shao (Master of Fine Arts Filmmaking), and Dan Smith (Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting and Master of Fine Arts in Producing).

    Learn about our alumni’s films below: 

    Lift by Abraham Amkpa

    Six NYFA Alumni Screen Films at Micheaux Film Festival’s 4th Edition

    “Lift” by NYFA alum Abraham Amkpa

    Abraham Amkpa, who earned his MA in Film & Media Production at NYFA, will screen his thesis film Lift, a story of two Nigerian immigrants competing against each other in order to gain US citizenship in the Greater Heights program. This film will be screened on July 16, 2022 as well as available to view online.

    Check out Abraham’s interview below on New Filmmakers LA Film’s ‘Stage 5’ in partnership with MovieMaker Magazine. Abraham discusses his thesis film Lift, which screened at the NFMLA in May 2022 in their immigrant stories program.

    It’s Your Fault by Kate Burduzhan 

    Six NYFA Alumni Screen Films at Micheaux Film Festival’s 4th Edition

    “It’s Your Fault” by NYFA alum Kate Burduzhan

    Kate Burduzhan, who completed NYFA’s 2-Year Filmmaking Conservatory program, tells the story of Polina, a young woman looking to have some fun when she leaves a Russian nightclub with guys she just met only to find herself in an unexpected and dangerous situation in her film It’s Your Fault. The film screens online throughout the festival.

    Over My Dead Body by Meital Cohen Navarro

    Six NYFA Alumni Screen Films at Micheaux Film Festival’s 4th Edition

    “Over My Dead Body” by NYFA alum Meital Cohen Navarro

    Over My Dead Body, the intermediate film of Meital Cohen Navarro, tells the story of a young Jewish Persian-American woman who reveals to her parents that her fiancé is Muslim and is forced to choose between him and her family. The film will screen on Friday, July 15, in the True States program. Navarro earned her MFA in Filmmaking from NYFA.

    Sebari Milach by Lethabo Mokgatle 

    Six NYFA Alumni Screen Films at Micheaux Film Festival’s 4th Edition

    “Sebari Milach” by NYFA alum Lethabo Mokgatle

    Lethabo Mokgatle’s thesis film Sebari Milach will premiere in Los Angeles on July 14th in the Origins and Odyssey program as well as online. The film follows the story of a young African woman tricked by her mother into participating in a traditional purification ritual only to face either mutilation or exile from her tribal society. Mokgatle earned her BFA in Filmmaking from NYFA.

    Date by Victor Shao

    Six NYFA Alumni Screen Films at Micheaux Film Festival’s 4th Edition

    “Date” by NYFA alum Victor Shao

    Taiwanese filmmaker Victor Shao, who earned his MFA in Filmmaking from NYFA, will screen his thesis film Date in the Love, Lust & Other Drugs program on July 15th as well as online. Date surrounds a nervous man and a reserved woman who order dishes that take forever in an effort to prolong their awkward dinner rendezvous.

    Tahriib (Those Who Travel North) by Dan Smith

    Six NYFA Alumni Screen Films at Micheaux Film Festival’s 4th Edition

    “Tahriib (Those Who Travel North)” by NYFA alum Dan Smith

    Slipping away the mask of anonymity shrouding the 1.8 million refugees who have entered Europe since 2014, the short documentary Tahriib (Those Who Travel North) by NYFA MFA Screenwriting and MFA Producing alum Dan Smith will screen online throughout the festival. The documentary features six refugees who describe in their own words and voices, their previous lives, dangerous journeys, and attempts to integrate into Western culture.  


    “It’s truly fantastic that so many NYFA alumni are official selections at Micheaux this year,” said Crickett Rumley, Senior Director of NYFA’s Film Festival Department. “This festival’s commitment to diversity and inclusive programming is superlative. They not only celebrate filmmakers, they help them move to the next level with panels, master classes, and networking events. I’m confident that our filmmakers will gain tremendously from this opportunity.”  


    This year’s festival celebrity ambassadors include actors Sharon Lawrence and Anthony Anderson. Honors will go to Brenda Gilbert, the President & Founder of Bron Studios, who will receive the Oscar Micheaux Trailblazer of Excellence Award, and to director/cinematographer Ernest Dickerson, who will receive the Michael Ajakwe Pioneer of Influence Award. 

    Tickets to all events can be purchased here

    New York Film Academy congratulates its alumni on their selection to the fourth annual Micheaux Film Festival and wishes them the best of luck!


    July 13, 2022 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 134

  • NYFA Community Represented at the 2022 Emmy Award Nominations



    NYFA Community Represented at the 2022 Emmy Award Nominations

    The Television Academy announced the nominations for the 74th annual Emmy awards on Tuesday, July 14th. The 2022 award season looks promising and exciting for the NYFA community.

    NYFA Filmmaking alum Bill Hader added 14 more nominations to his growing collection of Emmy’s nods and wins for the third season of Barry. Since premiering in 2018, Barry has amassed 30 Emmy Primetime Award nominations and won 6 Emmy Awards, including two ‘Outstanding Lead Actors in a Comedy Series’ and ‘Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.’ This year, Hader is up for ‘Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series’ and ‘Best Comedy Series’. Of the news he says, “I’m just super happy and proud of everyone on the show and humbled and thrilled with the recognition and nominations.” Hader’s co-star and NYFA Guest Speaker and Masterclass instructor Henry Winkler was also nominated for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series’. Winkler won the award in 2018.


    NYFA MFA Screenwriting alum and internationally acclaimed director/screenwriter Mohamed Diab scored an impressive 8 nominations for Moon Knight. Diab is not only Marvel’s first Arab director but also an internationally recognized, award-winning director and writer. His sophomore film, Clash, was the official opening selection at the 2016 Cannes Festival, ‘Un Certain Regard’ category. For Moon Knight, Diab wrote a 200-page pitch with his creative partner and wife, Sarah Goher, complete with locations, a score, tone, pictures, and costumes. This pitch went to be the bible for Moon Knight, which he not only executive produced but also directed four of the six episodes. The mini-series is nominated for a total of eight awards, including Outstanding Cinematography, Outstanding Music Composition, and Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes.

    Moon Knight still from Forbes

    NYFA Board Member, Matthew Modine who plays Dr. Brenner on fan-favorite Stranger Things scored 13 nominations including ‘Outstanding Drama Series’. The series took audiences by storm since the Duffer Brothers aired the sci-fi, coming of age drama on Netflix in 2016.

    Insecure, the web series-turned-HBO series by NYFA alum Issa Rae, didn’t disappoint bringing home a total of 3 nominations including ‘Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series’. The 5-season show aired its final season last winter and has been collecting nominations for the 2022 award season ever since. Rae’s production company, Hoorae Productions was also nominated for ‘Outstanding Variety Series’ and ‘Outstanding Production Design For A Variety, Reality Or Competition Series’ for A Black Lady Sketch Show.


    NYFA 2-Year Acting for Film alum Devin Laron Chandler made his debut on the second season of Only Murders in the Building, the show was nominated for ‘Oustanding Casting for a Comedy Series’ and ‘Outstanding Comedy Series’, among other nods. Nominated for ‘Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) is Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts executive produced by NYFA Documentary alum Louis Mole.

    This year’s Emmy nominations are historic in more ways than one. Squid Games collected an astounding 14 nominations making history as the most-nominated foreign TV show in the Emmy Awards 74-year run. Squid Game was created in 2008 by Hwang Dong-hyuk but was shelved by Netflix, led by NYFA Guest Speaker Ted Sarandos, for 10 years before it was greenlit in 2018. After its premiere in 2021, the show went on to be Netflix’s most streamed series after only 17 days with over 100 million views world-wide. NYFA Guest Speaker Seth Rogen is also nominated for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie’ for his work on Pam & Tommy.

    Squid Game still from Newsweek

    Abbott Elementary creator and leading lady Quinta Brunson is nominated for the first time and made history as the youngest Black woman nominated in the outstanding lead actress in a comedy acting category. Zendaya was nominated for the second time for her work in Euphoria making her the youngest acting nominee for the second year in a row and Bill Hader’s old stomping ground Saturday Night Live maintained its record as the most Emmy-nominated series in history after earning 9 Emmy nominations this year.

    The 74th Emmy Awards will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 12 on NBC and will stream live for the first time on Peacock.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates all the nominees and we look forward to hearing the winners!


    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.


    July 13, 2022 • Acting • Views: 27

  • From Marketer to Production Manager: Q&A with NYFA Editing Alum Alessandra Auster


    2020 was a rollercoaster of a year. There were many challenges and uncomfortable moments that required us to adapt quickly but though it was a difficult time, 2020 helped us gain perspective and focus on what really matters. 

    During that time, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Digital Editing alum Alessandra Auster saw the opportunity to pursue a new career while working in an adjacent field. Auster spoke with NYFA about her career shifts, her life as a production assistant and production manager, and her work with chart-topping artists in the Latin music industry.

    NYFA Digital Editing Alum Alessandra Auster

    NYFA Digital Editing Alum Alessandra Auster

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What do you do now and with which organizations do you work? 

    Alessandra Auster (AA): In this past year, I’ve been working as a Production Assistant (PA) on projects for Filmheads, a Miami-based production house. As of this June, I also began taking on a Project/Production Manager role as well through freelancing for various companies. 

    NYFA: What is life like as a Production Assistant and Production Manager?

    AA: As a Production Assistant, I do anything and everything to make the day of the shoot run smoothly. This includes setting up supplies and equipment on set, printing Talent and Location Releases and ensuring they are signed, taking picture of the talent and IDs for the company’s records. I also buy and set the artist’s “rider,” which is a list of food/drinks/things they request for their green room or trailer. 

    I also assist other crew members like handling “playback” on a music set. This means starting and stopping a song on a music set when instructed. I also keep track of production expenses for the team to account for post-shoot.

    As a Production Manager, I delegate those responsibilities to the Production Assistant. Before the shoot, I make/send the call sheet, budget, order meals, make sure we have all the equipment and supplies and coordinate transportation and parking. After the shoot, I collect invoices, make payments and expense sheets among other things.

    NYFA: What skills do you need to be a Production Assistant or Production Manager?

    AA: You must be quick on your feet, pay great attention to detail, be proactive, and maintain flexibility. A good Production Manager must maintain great problem solving skills, be very organized, communicate well and maintain stellar time management skills. 

    NYFA: What type of projects have you worked recently? 

    AA: Most of my recent work has been on Latin music videos, along with some TV/commercials projects. Some projects of my music videos include “TATA – Remix” by Eladio Carrión, J Balvin, Daddy Yankee, and Bobby Shmurda, “Wow Wow” by Maria Becerra and Becky G, “F40” by J Balvin and Arcangel, “Instinto” by YENDRY and J Balvin, “Una Nota” by J Balvin and Sech, “Jóvenes Millonarios” by Eladio Carrión and Myke Towers, “Antónimos” by ROBI and some other to be released soon!



    NYFA: Are there different skills you learned in one role and applied to another? 

    AA: Definitely! I think both my prior marketing skills and production jobs impacted one another. Organization, attention to detail, and communication are some of the biggest skills that I have carried on from one role to the other.

    NYFA: What drew you to Miami, Florida?

    AA: Being half-Colombian, the biggest factor that drew me to Miami was definitely the Latin American culture, the food, music, dancing, and being able to practice my Spanish. Oh, and the nicer weather! I grew up in central New Jersey and I thought I was making a mistake moving far away from NYC, one of the best cities for people interested in entertainment. However, I quickly realized, once I got to Miami, all of the art that is there and all the new opportunities that lay ahead. 

    NYFA: What advice would you give to aspiring artists and professionals seeking an entry point into the entertainment industry? 

    AA: Here are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far in navigating this career path:

    • Believe in yourself. It’s okay to feel imposter syndrome sometimes, but know that everyone that has “made it” has also felt that at one point but did not let that hold them back. 
    • Be curious, ask questions, be a sponge.
    • Don’t take things personally, especially if you do not hear back from people. 
    • When one door closes, another opens. Or the other one just takes a while to open.
    • Build your network and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Follow up with people – don’t think you are being pushy or annoying.
    • Trust the process and timing – it may take many “failures” to get where you want to be. Have patience, and what’s meant for you will find you.


    “Friends or family members may not understand the type of “atypical” career path you have chosen. If you know in your heart that this is what you want, try not to let outside opinions stop you from chasing your dreams.”


    Go the extra mile wherever possible – people will recognize and appreciate authentic enthusiasm. Do not underestimate the power of your personality. Being genuine and having positive energy is a breath of fresh air on and off set. Some skills can be taught, but being a genuine person cannot be and lastly, have confidence! Confidence is everything.

    NYFA Digital Editing Alum Alessandra Auster


    NYFA: How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact your career decisions?

    AA: Well I graduated college in May 2020 during the pandemic and started my full-time job remotely. I was actually supposed to do my first role in my rotational program in Indianapolis, but due to the pandemic, my company moved those of us in the program on to our next roles instead, so I was able to stay at home with my parents in NJ. 

    After about 9 months of this, I realized we were not going to be going back to the office for a while, and I decided to take advantage of that time to live somewhere I had always considered moving to, which was Miami. 

    From the very beginning, I had a feeling I might want to stay there long-term, especially after completing the NYFA editing course that same month. I wanted to further explore my place in the video production world, which is when I reached out to companies for Production Assistance work. Fortunately, I was able to secure a gig with my former NYFA instructor for a virtual editing project. Over a year later, I’m taking even more steps toward my creative goals.

    The pandemic had everything to do with where I am now. It’s wild to think about how different my life could have been had the pandemic never happened. So I’m grateful for the opportunities that arose amid such darkness.

    NYFA: What drew you to NYFA’s Online Editing course?

    AA: Like many, the pandemic made me think about what I actually wanted to do with my life, and I had always loved video editing. I grew up filming my own skits and music videos and editing them on good ol’ iMovie, but I had never used professional software. Having missed being a creative, my aunt suggested I pursue a course for digital editing since I had extra time while at home during the pandemic. 

    After doing my research to find a digital editing program, I was happy to learn NYFA taught Adobe Premiere Pro, an industry standard tool for video creators. The schedule allowed me flexibility to take the course online and after work on weeknights. I loved my instructor, Lindsey Philips, my classmates inspired me, and the class was just what I needed to reignite my creativity that got lost along the way

    NYFA: Have your current roles impacted your longer-term career vision?

    AA: Gaining experience on set as a Production Assistant allowed me to explore what path in the industry I wanted to take. I appreciate my time as a PA because, even if it feels at times I’m not doing the most exciting tasks, I used this as time to ask questions on set to different departments (Art, Camera, Production, Hair/Makeup, Wardrobe, Grip & Electric, etc.) to figure out where I could see myself in the future. 

    During my experience, I have come to love the production department and I’m starting to take on more project/production managing roles, and I will possibly have the opportunity to produce in the near future.

    NYFA congratulates alum Alessandra Auster on her hard work and accomplishments!


    July 7, 2022 • Digital Editing • Views: 113

  • NYFA Alum Tyler D. Lambert Premieres Web Series at The American Black Film Festival


    In 1997, after an illuminating trip to a leading film festival, Jeff Friday founded The American Black Film Festival(ABFF). Since opening its doors in Miami, ABFF has been dedicated to recognizing Black talent and showcasing quality film and television content created by and about people of African descent. Friday created the festival as a vehicle to strengthen the Black entertainment community by sharing resources, knowledge and fostering artistic collaboration. Today the festival is an Oscar-qualifying, HBO-sponsored, trusted destination for Black filmmakers.

    This year, NYFA Acting for Film and Producing Alum Tyler D. Lambert, premiered his award-winning web series, Jonathan’s World, at the American Black Film Festival where it was also nominated for the Jury Award.

    Jonathan Stewart is a creative genius on a mission to self-discover. In 1990, during his freshman year at Wildcat University, Jonathan comes back from the future and gives his younger self a magical potion with the hope of getting a happy ending with his dream girl. However, when Jonathan takes a sip of the potion he begins to experience side effects as he’s placed under a spell. Jonathan’s soul becomes haunted. The side effects worsen and Jonathan becomes a test subject for the antidote in hopes that the side effects will subside and that he will be the perfect guy he’s wanted to be all along.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Tyler D. Lambert on Johnathan’s World and his participation in The American Black Film Festival!


    June 24, 2022 • Acting, Producing • Views: 264

  • New York Film Academy Visits Chinese Consulate General in New York


    On June 21, NYFA members attended a private reception and luncheon, hosted by China’s Consul General in New York Huang Ping. NYFA attendees included Michael Young, President; Dr. Joy Zhu, Executive Vice President, China Region; Bill Einreinhofer, Chair Emeritus of Broadcast Journalism; and Filmmaker/Educator Evgenia Vlasova. Education Counselor Yang Jun; Cultural Counselor Chen Chunmei; and Cultural Section Officer Yang Hui also attended the meeting.

    At the gathering, Ambassador Huang Ping spoke of his appreciation for NYFA’s innovative curriculum, outstanding faculty and cutting-edge facilities that attract students from around the world. He also praised NYFA on making the premiere of Bill Einreinhofer’s documentary Unsettled History: America, China, and the Doolittle Tokyo Raid special and successful.

    NYFA President Michael Young stated that he was delighted to visit the Consulate General with his colleagues and stated that over the years, NYFA has actively developed friendly relations with Chinese higher education institutions through cultural exchanges and educational collaborations. He hopes that the relationship between the U.S. and China will remain stable so that the two countries can continue their cultural and educational cooperation.


    June 24, 2022 • China • Views: 151

  • NYFA Documentary Professor Claudia Raschke is the Cinematographer for Peabody Award-Winning Doc “My Name is Pauli Murray”



    NYFA Documentary Professor Claudia Raschke is the Cinematographer for Peabody Award-Winning Doc “My Name is Pauli Murray”

    NYFA Documentary Professor Claudia Raschke is the Cinematographer for Peabody Award-Winning Doc “My Name is Pauli Murray”


    Since 1940, the Peabody Awards have been recognizing outstanding work in podcast/radio, TV and film. Each year, the honors are given to a “collection of 30 stories that powerfully reflect the pressing social issues and the vibrant emerging voices of our day. From major productions to local journalism, the Peabody Awards shine a light on the ‘Stories That Matter’ and are a testament to the power of art and reportage in the push for truth, social justice, and equity.”

    Amongst those ‘Stories That Matter’ is NYFA Documentary instructor Claudia Raschke’s documentary, My Name is Pauli Murray (2021).

    The documentary surrounds the life of extraordinary civil rights activist, lawyer, gender equality advocate, Episcopal priest, author and poet, Pauli Murray, whose groundbreaking work was obscured until recently. The film marks Raschke’s third collaboration with Betsy West and Julie Cohen, the trio’s previous works include Julia and RBG. My Name is Pauli Murray reveals that Murray was a force of nature and a huge influence on the careers of greats such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall who cited them as an intellectual influence. Both figures used Murray’s discourse to shape winning arguments presented to the supreme court. In the documentary Ruth Bader Ginsburg says,“we were not inventing something new. We were saying the same thing that Pauli had said years earlier at a time when society was not prepared to listen.”

    Of documenting and photographing the life of Pauli Murray, NYFA Documentary instructor Claudia Raschke says, “Capturing the passionate determination of civil rights activist Pauli Murray makes me appreciate how far we have come and how important it is to pass the knowledge over to the next generation because the fight is not over.”

    My Name is Pauli Murray celebrates all of Murray’s achievements in the face of adversity and barriers. Murray would go on to be the first Black person to receive a JSD from Yale Law School after being denied admission to Harvard Law School on the basis of sex. Murray then moved to New York to assist in the civil rights efforts of the NAACP and they were decidedly intersectional. During their time at the NAACP, Murray coined the concept of “Jane Crow”, arguing that the plight of Black men under the oppressive forces of the United States judicial system was not the same as theirs. Murray’s seminal legal opinions on school desegregation as well as women’s and LGBTQ rights were instrumental in the fight for intersectional equality. Murray finally received recognition in Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s My Name is Pauli Murray.

    An image of Pauli Murray. Courtesy of Brandeis University

    Using Murray’s own words and excavating the personal history that informed the distinguished lawyer, poet, priest and writer, Cohen and West have crafted an indelible portrait of a figure who deserves to be better known. For restoring a key and inspiring figure to our historical memory, My Name is Pauli Murray won a Peabody Award.

    Check out a 20/20 Liz Hinlein interview with Claudia Raschke where she discusses her style and the art of truthful filmmaking here:


    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.


    June 15, 2022 • Cinematography • Views: 168

  • NYFA Alumni Take Center Stage at Dance with Films


    NYFA Alumni Take Center Stage at Dance with Films


    This June, LA’s defiantly independent film festival, DANCES WITH FILMS (DWF:LA), celebrates 25 years of championing innovation, talent, and creativity with a 2022 lineup that founders Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent call “the most dynamic and diverse we’ve ever seen.” And New York Film Academy filmmakers will be a big part of the celebration taking place June 9-19 at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

    First up is BFA Filmmaking alum Theresa Eschbacher’s intermediate film Earthshine, an official selection of the Global Shorts program. The film tells the story of Syrian refugees who are welcomed to their newly assigned shelter – an isolated cabin hidden amidst the idyllic Austrian alps – only to face a difficult new reality. The film will screen on Monday, June 13, at 4:45 pm in Global Shorts Group 2.


    MFA Filmmaking alum Viviana Garibay’s thesis film Photosynthesis, which was produced by alum Aastha Verma, will make its world premiere in the Shorts program. It is the story of a young man left alive on the planet with only one other person, and they must come to terms with their ideals, their struggle to prevent human beings from going extinct, and their loneliness. The film will be shown on Tuesday, June 15, at 5 pm in Fusion Shorts Group 3.

    One-Year Screenwriting Alum Ushmey Chakraborty wrote, directed, produced, and starred in Gay, Asian, Immigrant, which was also produced by alum Virginia Blatter. True to its title, the film follows the story of a gay, Asian immigrant who lands a job by perpetuating a harmful stereotype. When his boss shows up at his doorstep, he must keep up the lie in front of his potential lover, and that’s where the story unfolds. It will screen on Saturday, June 18 at 3:45 pm in Pilots-Web Group 3.


    Three NYFA alumni – Nathan Hacker (Assistant Director), Rayt Kiya (Visual Effects Artist), Sarah Brine (Associate Producer) – worked on director Donovan Griffiin’s feature Nick Broms:What’s The Rush? Premiering on Friday, June 17, at 9:15 pm, the documentary follows Downhill Skateboarding Junior World Champion Nick Broms on a thrilling journey along the coast of California in preparation for his most gnarly ride yet.

    In addition to these official selections of films by NYFA filmmakers, MFA Feature Track Filmmaking alum Meital Cohen Navarro worked on this year’s festival as a documentary programmer. Her film Over My Dead Body appeared in the 2021 edition. “Dances With Films is certainly one of the best independent festivals around,” said Crickett Rumley, Senior Director of NYFA’s Film Festival Department. “They are known both for their excellent programming and for providing tremendous support for new filmmakers launching their films into the world for the first time. I’m thrilled that so many of our NYFA alumni get to have the DWF experience this year and am certain they will gain much from it.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates our alumni on their participation in this year’s Dances With Films festival.


    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.


    June 14, 2022 • Film Festivals • Views: 239

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Signs Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Xiamen University (XMU), China


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) and Xiamen University (XMU), one of the top academic institutions in Southern China, held a virtual Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony on June 7, 2022. Representatives from the two institutions gathered virtually.

    The ceremony was attended byProfessor Zongyi Zhang, President of Xiamen University; Jun Yang, Education Counselor at the Chinese Consulate General in New York; Michael Young, President of New York Film Academy; Dr. Joy Zhu, Executive Vice President for the China Region of New York Film Academy; and faculty and staff from both institutions.

    The agreement’s goal is to foster and support mutual academic, research, and cultural exchanges, as well as to maintain tight partnerships between the two institutions to improve educational value. Furthermore, the MOU intends to provide new and exciting opportunities for XMU students to further their studies at NYFA.

    “We will undertake many significant activities, including facilitating educational and academic exchanges between the two institutions, as well as providing learning opportunities for those seeking workshops, degrees, and other learning experiences in the performing and visual arts,” said President Young. Moreover, with enthusiasm, he said “I hope that in the days ahead we take bold steps together to develop stronger relationships and friendships.”

    Xiamen University (XMU), established in 1921 by Mr. Tan Kah Kee, is the first university founded by a Chinese person overseas in the history of modern Chinese education. XMU has long been listed among China’s leading universities on the national 211 Project, 985 Project and Double First-class initiative. With a graduate school, 6 academic divisions consisting of 33 schools and colleges, and 16 research institutes, XMU boasts a total enrollment of nearly 44,000 full-time students with 20,000 undergraduates, 18,000 graduate students working towards a master’s degree and 5,000 doctoral candidates. XMU currently has a faculty of over 3,000 full-time teachers and researchers. Nestled snugly between green hills and the blue sea, XMU is renowned as China’s most beautiful university for its excellent education facilities and beautiful environment.


    June 10, 2022 • Filmmaking • Views: 76

  • Q&A with MFA Filmmaking Alum Felipe Holguin


    Since graduating, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum Felipe Holguin has been making ground-breaking work, capturing sincere and comical portraits of people in and around his native Colombia. 

    Holguin recently wrapped his most recent project, La Suprema. Holguin spoke with NYFA about the road to his production company, Cumbia Films, and the inspiration behind La Suprema.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Felipe Holguin (FH): I was born in Bogota, Colombia, and currently live in Cartagena with my wife and my 5 year-old daughter. We’ve had our own production company, Cumbia Films, since 2009. In 2007, I was living in Sao Paulo, Brasil, and looking to get a masters degree in filmmaking. A friend told me about NYFA and I was immediately interested in living in NY and LA so I began the application process. The rest is history.

    NYFA: What projects have you worked on since graduating? Have you won any awards or been showcased in any festivals or competitions?

    FH: Yes. My short film Mañana (Tomorrow) was made during my first year in NYFA and it went to many film festivals around the world and won two Honorable Mentions. With Mañana, Cumbia Films was born. After NYFA, I worked in Los Angeles for some years as 1st AD in multiple projects and directed music videos and commercials. I was part of Film Independent’s Project: Involve program in the Directing Fellowship in 2012. In 2013, we moved back to Colombia and established our company in Cartagena with my wife and partner, where we offer production services for national and international projects. Between 2015 and 2017, I directed 2 feature documentaries funded by the Colombian government: La Suerte Del Salao (Unlucky Luck) and La Cachera.

    NYFA: Tell us more about your latest project & how you got involved in the project?

    FH: In La Suprema, set in a town erased from the maps where there is not even electricity, a teenage girl dreams of being a boxer. When she learns that her uncle will box for the world title and the event will be televised, she and the community go out of their way to watch the fight, while fighting for her dignity and against oblivion.

    This comedy-tinged drama takes place in the early 2000s, before the internet and mobile phone boom, in a humble town, located far from any city, in Bolívar, Colombia. The film is inspired by the true story of Antonio Cervantes aka Kid Pambelé, who achieved the first world boxing title for Colombia, becoming a national hero, putting San Basilio de Palenque on the map.

    La Suprema is a village in the Matuya district, surrounded mostly by palm oil crops. The community faces problems that go beyond the fiction of this film and it is the ideal location to narrate this story that uses fiction to talk about reality. It represents social challenges and universal values of equity, diversity, inclusion, justice, empowerment, freedom, unity, love and acceptance.

    In 2020, we applied to the Film Fund (FDC-Proimagenes) and won 1 of the 2 awards given for regional feature films. I co-wrote the script with a friend and colleague, also a NYFA graduate, Two-Year Filmmaking alum Andrés Sierra. In 2021, we began castings and scouting, while looking for more funding and working on the script. We recently wrapped production, a successful 4-week shoot here in the Bolivar department, northern region of Colombia. 

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

    FH: I loved that the NYFA program was fully hands-on. On day one, cameras were put in our hands and we began shooting. The best way to learn to shoot a movie is by shooting movies! 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Felipe Holguin for all he has done since completing the MFA Filmmaking Program!



    June 10, 2022 • Filmmaking • Views: 150