Progressive & Social Causes
Category

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

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    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!

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Movie Musical ‘Kaya: Taste of Paradise’ to Screen in Montreal

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Kaya: Taste of ParadiseKaya: Taste of Paradise, the movie musical directed by Paul Warner for the Professional Conservatory at New York Film Academy (PCMT at NYFA), will be screening as part of Never Apart’s LGBT Film Series later this month in Montreal, Quebec.

    Kaya: Taste of Paradise is a movie musical set in 1979 and tells the story of a young South African immigrant, Kaya (Lethabo Mofomme), coming of age in New York City. Orphaned by the Soweto Uprisings of 1976, her brother, DeMarco (Okieriete Onaodowan of Broadway’s Hamilton and Great Comet), struggles to protect Kaya at all costs. While he rebuilds their lives in Harlem to provide a home for her, Kaya escapes to a disco in Brooklyn called Club Paradise in search of independence. She befriends Pato (Felipe Joglar), a gender-bending performance artist from Chile, and gradually becomes enchanted by the glamorous Cocoa (Stasi Berezovskaya), the headliner and owner of Paradise. The events unfold at the dawn of the AIDS epidemic.

    The movie musical was directed by filmmaker and NYFA instructor Paul Warner and written by Jerome A. Parker, with music and lyrics by Anna K Jacobs. “This film not only showcases exceptional music, storytelling, and direction, but it also celebrates a significant socio-political era in pursuit of civil rights,” says Sean Robinson, who edited and co-produced the film. “The gift of song should never be wasted and NYFA is providing an avenue for these students’ voices to be heard.”

    Kaya: Taste of Paradise

    Kaya will screen on August 15, at 7:00 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Warner, and hosted by Bradley Grill. The event, which coincides with Montreal’s Pride Week, is part of Never Apart’s month-long LGBT Film Series. Never Apart is a nonprofit based in Montreal, founded in 2015. The organization aims to bring about social change and spiritual awareness through gatherings, music, art exhibitions, panel discussions, workshops, and special events.

    New York Film Academy encourages everyone in the area to check out Kaya: Taste of Paradise on August 15! Details about the screening can be found here.

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    August 5, 2019 • Musical Theatre, Progressive & Social Causes • Views: 542

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Issa Rae Executive Produces HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    This Friday, HBO will premiere its newest comedy series, A Black Lady Sketch Show, executive produced by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Issa Rae and created by Robin Thede. The landmark show will be the first ever sketch series on television starring an all-black women cast, as well as the first with an all-black women writers room.

    The first season of A Black Lady Sketch Show, which debuts August 2, 11:00-11:30 p.m. ET/PT, comprises six episodes and around forty sketches. The show is a direct response from veteran comedy writer Robin Thede to the traditional lack of diversity in comedy; in 2015, Thede had become late night’s first black woman head writer when after joining The Nightly Show.

    “[A Black Lady Sketch Show] was definitely written from a very specific point of view,” Thede tells Salon, “but it’s from a diverse array of black women. So you’re going to get sketches that have aliens or musicals or thrillers or murder. You’re going to get sketches with all sorts of different things because of the diversity amongst the black women in our writer’s room … For us it’s really about showcasing something that is seen as very homogeneous and showing the layers that black women have. And even on this show, in six episodes, we can’t, we’ve barely scratched the surface.”

    The cast will include Thede, as well as Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis, and Quinta Brunson. The show will be co-executive produced by Issa Rae Productions, the production company of New York Film Academy alum Issa Rae.

    After graduating the 4-Week Filmmaking Workshop at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus, Rae turned the success of her award-winning web series The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl into a deal with HBO. The deal included her series, Insecure, which she writes, produces, and stars in, and for which she earned Golden Globe nominations in 2017 and 2018. It also included developing more projects for HBO with a special focus on diversity. A Black Lady Sketch Show turned out to be the perfect fit for Issa Rae productions.

    New York Film Academy prides itself on its diverse, international student body with aspiring performers and visual artists coming from over 120 countries in a nearly even female-to-male ratio. Recently, NYFA Screenwriting alum Abby Ajayi was one of 63 black female writers featured in an epic photo shoot by The Hollywood Reporter late last year. Other notable women of color that have graduated from NYFA include Amy Wright, Furaha Bayibsa, Omoni Oboli, Paquita Hughes, and Akila Robinson.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Issa Rae on her latest production and wishes the best of success to Robin Thede and the cast and crew of HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show!

     

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Celebrates Red Nose Day 2019

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    On May 7, 2019 New York Film Academy (NYFA) Community Outreach in Los Angeles partnered up with our campuses in New York and South Beach, Miami to participate in “NYFA Red Nose Day 2019” for the international campaign to raise funds to end childhood poverty around the world. 

    Red Nose Day 2019

    The students, faculty, and staff of New York Film Academy actively participated in the event across all three campuses by donating and having their photos taken with red noses to raise awareness of Red Nose Day, the national fundraising campaign to end child poverty. 

    New York Film Academy board member and award-winning actor Matthew Modine came by to support the cause and brought along his Stranger Things co-star Sean Astin. This year, in addition to Red Nose day mascot Red, we were introduced to his friends with superhero powers to help keep children in the world safe, healthy, and educated: Scarlet, Rojo, Ruby, and Rusty.

    To date, the Red Nose Day campaign to help to end child poverty has raised nearly $150 million. The fundraiser is supported by NBC, Walgreens, Mars/Wrigley, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. You can read more about the charity here.

    Red Nose Day will return to NBC on Thursday, May 23, 2019. The campaign’s iconic “Red Noses” are available at Walgreens stores around the country. Please support the fundraiser here. Together, we can make a difference in lives of children all over the globe!

    Check out all of the great photos our students, staff, and faculty took for Red Nose Day below!
    New York
    Los Angeles
    South Beach, Miami

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    May 23, 2019 • Community Highlights, Outreach, Progressive & Social Causes • Views: 924

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

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    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.

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    April 2, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Outreach, Progressive & Social Causes • Views: 1003

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Offers Support for the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    On February 6, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) provided volunteers and a crew to film the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards at the Taglyan Center Complex in Hollywood.

    The African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) is a group of African-American film critics and was founded in 2003 by Gil L. Robertson IV and Shawn Edwards. The AAFCA body consists of a geographically diverse range of journalists who cover all genres of film and represent television, radio broadcast, digital media, and print. Each year it presents a variety of awards in addition to its Top Ten Films of the Year list.

    AAFCA Awards 2019

    “I have attended this celebration for many years and the AAFCA continues to excel far beyond the boundaries of mainstream television and film,” states Kimberly Ogletree, Chair of NYFA Industry Lab and Consulting Producer for the awards. “The recognitions they give to the underrepresented voice will be a testament to the longevity of this organization.”

    The Marvel blockbuster and cultural phenomenon Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler, was named by the AAFCA as Best Film of the Year, as well as being awarded Best Director (Coogler) and Best Song (“All The Stars”).

    Additional awards include Best Actor for John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman), Best Actress for Regina Hall (Support the Girls), Best Animated Film for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Best TV Comedy for Insecure, the HBO series developed by and starring New York Film Academy alum Issa Rae.

    The AAFCA has also announced its annual Top Ten List of best films:

    1 Black Panther (Walt Disney Studios)
    2 If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna Pictures)
    3 The Hate U Give (20th Century Fox)
    4 A Star is Born (Warner Bros. Studios)
    5 Quincy (Netflix)
    6 Roma (Netflix)
    7 Blindspotting (Lionsgate)
    8 The Favourite (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
    9 Sorry to Bother You (Annapurna Pictures)
    10 Widows (20th Century Fox)

    “It’s been a breakthrough year in cinema on a number of fronts,” says AAFCA co-president Gil Robertson. “Most significantly, the tremendous success of Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians clearly demonstrates that films populated by people of color can perform well overseas.

    The New York Film Academy provided filming assistance and volunteers for the ceremony through its Industry Lab. The NYFA Industry Lab, founded in 2014, offers students real world experience through working on major productions for professional clients. A recent success of the NYFA Industry Lab was the internationally acclaimed short film, The Counter: 1960, which had seven Industry Lab members contribute to its production.

    Later this month, the AAFCA and NYFA Industry Lab will partner together to present a special discussion exploring the present, past, and future of Black creative excellence in Hollywood through the AAFCA’s inaugural learning lab, Celebrating Black Excellence in Cinema. The event promises to inspire fruitful dialogue and creative exchange and will feature Alana Mayo (Outlier Society). 

    “The collaboration of AAFCA with NYFA will forge a path for students and alumni to take advantage of the multitude of opportunities that AAFCA can bring to NYFA,” adds NYFA Industry Lab Chair Kimberly Ogletree. “By aligning ourselves with a proven organization such as AAFCA, we can benefit from their expertise and knowledge of servicing the community and the entertainment industry.”

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    February 12, 2019 • Industry Lab, Progressive & Social Causes • Views: 159

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Alum Kendall Ciesemier Talks Activism, Social Causes

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailChicago native, New York-based producer, writer, and social entrepreneur Kendall Ciesemier has been making waves with breaking news stories and interviews about social causes ever since she was 11 years old. At that young age, she formed Kids Caring 4 Kids to empower young people to help provide basic human needs to children living in sub-Saharan Africa. While she was at Georgetown University, Kendall co-founded OWN IT, a women’s leadership initiative to empower college-aged women to engage with women leaders. And at New York Film Academy (NYFA), Ciesemier completed the 6-week Documentary program in 2017.

    Ciesemier’s personal history of health issues inspired her humanitarian work. Expounding upon that, she says, “My own health struggles entirely formed the lens through which I look at the world.” In lieu of gifts and flowers during her recovery, she humbly requested well-wishers donate to the village of Musele, Zambia — the most highly affected area by the AIDS epidemic at the time. “I found my purpose in founding Kids Caring 4 Kids,” added Ciesemier. Since 2004, 8,000 individuals in five different African countries have been assisted via the construction of dormitories, orphan care centers, a clinic, classrooms, computer labs, bicycles, indoor plumbing, meals, and clean water.

    View this post on Instagram

    LINK IN BIO: My interview with #MeToo founder @taranajaneen just dropped on @mic’s FB watch show: #MicDispatch. Go watch and learn and wow! Tarana really brings it. We discuss Kavanaugh, the one year anniversary of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the state of the #MeToo movement. . Here’s her message for survivors which I found so comforting: “I want us to lay our burdens down. This should be laid at the feet of the Senate. This should be laid at the feet of your local politicians. It should be laid at the feet of the school or institution or whoever that didn't protect you. It's not our burden to bear.” #survivors #believesurvivors #metoo #believewomen #metoomovement

    A post shared by Kendall Ciesemier (@kendallciesemier) on

    Now a producer at Mic, Ciesemier recently found herself helping out with an interview of rising political star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was elected to the House in 2018 as the youngest woman in Congressional history. The Democratic Socialists of America-endorsed 29-year old recently stunned the country after defeating longtime incumbent Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th District. Ocasio-Cortez was interviewed alongside fellow DSA-supported Cynthia Nixon, who lost her bid to defeat incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo.

    At Mic, her topics range from criminal justice reform, racial justice, the #MeToo movement, and more. Her recent interview with Alice Marie Johnson, a woman serving life without parole for a first-time nonviolent drug offense, helped lead to Johnson’s clemency as is arguably the highlight of Ciesemier’s career.

    Speaking of the experience, Ciesemier said, “We actually drove down alongside her family, three hours from Memphis to Alabama. We were racing to get there in time to pick up Alice and watching her walk across the street and see her family across from the prison was pretty powerful.” She continued, “I think, as a journalist, you’re taught to just do your job — but you’re also a human being. I don’t think I processed all of that experience until a good four days after. This is a story I’ll never forget.”

    Ciesemier tweeted her emotional reaction to the release:

    Activists also showed their support of Alice Marie Johnson’s release, including Reese Witherspoon, who thanked Ciesemeier on Twitter for her efforts:

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kendall Ciesemier for her time and, more importantly, her community service, philanthropy, and activism. We wish her the best of luck with all her future endeavors.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail