Community Highlights

  • NYFA Presents “Stranger Than Fiction” at IFC Center

    New York Film Academy is excited to present the 2016 Spring Season of NYC’s cutting-edge documentary film series, Stranger Than Fiction, Starting April 12!

    Stranger Than Fiction, the weekly documentary film series hosted by Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen and presented by IFC Center and New York Film Academy, announces the Spring Season launch of its 11th year. Each screening features a conversation with the filmmaker(s) or other special guests, usually moderated by Toronto Film Festival documentary programmer, Thom Powers. An informal gathering with the guests generally follows.

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    The spring slate opens April 12, 2016 with the invitation only, DOCUMENTARY NOW! DECONSTRUCTED, a one of a kind night with directors Rhys Thomas and Alex Buono presenting episodes of their hit IFC TV series. Starring Fred Armisen and Bill Hader, the series parodies and pays homage to well-known documentaries. Season Pass holders are invited. There will be no individual tickets sold for this extraordinary special. See Season Pass information below.

    Other season highlights include the sneak preview of PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW, about a singer discovered on YouTube, with the film subject Princess Shaw in person; and THE WITNESS about the Kitty Genovese case with director James Solomon. The spring season is co-presented by New York Film Academy.

    “In honor of our 11th year, we’ve packed the spring season with extra films to take the line-up to 11 – just like the Spinal Tap amplifier,” said Artistic Director Thom Powers.

    Stranger Than Fiction generates some of the most important documentary programming anywhere. It provides a crucial hub, and integral grist for the mill of New York’s remarkable documentary community. Supporting Stranger Than Fiction is the best way New York Film Academy has found to thank and support all of the NYC documentary filmmakers who have contributed so much to our students’ educations,” said Andrea Swift, Chair, Documentary Department, New York Film Academy.

    This season’s memorable characters include US Senators navigating a Supreme Court confirmation in ADVISE & DISSENT; gay Orthodox Jews struggling for acceptance in TREMBLING BEFORE G-D (15th anniversary); train passengers in Albert Maysles’ final collaboration IN TRANSIT; kidnapped film stars in THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT; grandmothers living off radioactive land in THE BABUSHKAS OF CHERNOBYL; and the legendary restaurateur in FLORENT: QUEEN OF THE MEAT MARKET. Additionally, the creators of the acclaimed the FIELD OF VISION film group will present a night of new shorts.

    The STF spring season takes place at the IFC Center every Tuesday night at 7:30 for eight weeks (plus special screenings Thursdays May 19 & 26). The spring season closes on May 31. The full season schedule appears below.

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    Stranger Than Fiction: Spring 2016 Season 7:30pm Tuesdays at IFC Center, Apr 12 – May 31

    Each show features a Q&A with the director or other special guests

    • Apr 12: Opening Night of Spring Season – DOCUMENTARY NOW! DECONSTRUCTED (2015, Q&A w/ dirs. Rhys Thomas & Alex Buono)
    • Apr 19: ADVISE & DISSENT (2012, Q&A w/ dir. David Van Taylor)
    • Apr 26: TREMBLING BEFORE G-D (2001, Q&A w/ dir. Sandi Simcha Dubowski)
    • May 3: IN TRANSIT (2015, Q&A w/ dir. Lynn True, prod Erika Dilday)
    • May 10: THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT (2016, Q&A w/ TBA)
    • May 17: THE BABUSHKAS OF CHERNOBYL (2015, Q&A w/ dir. Holly Morris)
    • May 19: FLORENT: QUEEN OF THE MEAT MARKET (2010, Q&A w/ dir. David Sigal)
    • May 24: FIELD OF VISION (2016, Q&A w/ TBA)
    • May 26: Thursday Special – PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW (2015, Q&A w/ film subject Princess Shaw)
    • May 31: Closing Night – THE WITNESS (2015, Q&A w/ dir. James Solomon)

    Tickets for Stranger Than Fiction screenings are $16 for the general public and $13 for IFC Center members. A Spring Season Pass, good for admission to all 10 events from April 12-May 31, is available for $99 ($80 for IFC members).

    To Purchase Please Visit

    April 11, 2016 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 534

  • NYFA’s Louis Fantasia to Present “Murder, Lust, & Madness” at BritWeek

    Noted Shakespeare scholar and New York Film Academy Los Angeles Dean of Faculty, Louis Fantastia, is returning to write, direct and produce Murder, Lust, & Madness, in honor of Shakespeare’s 400th and BritWeek’s 10th anniversary. BritWeek is a non–profit organization, started in Los Angeles in 2007 by Nigel Lythgoe and the then Consul General Bob Peirce, to highlight the creative relationship between the United Kingdom and California.

    louis fantasia

    Shakespeare is every actor’s first love,“ says BritWeek chairman Bob Peirce, Founder and Chairman of BritWeek “And this wickedly delicious entertainment will show why as we honor the Bard’s understanding of human nature.”

    The performance will feature an all-star cast including, Jimmy Akingbola, Ashley Bell, Eric Braeden, Adan Canto, Jane Carr, Suzan Crowley, Karen David, Neil Dickson, Joely Fisher, Judy Geeson, Michele Greene, Ioan Gruffudd, Randy Guiaya, Harry Hamlin, Lexie Helgerson, Isabella Hofmann, Stacy Keach, Jen Lee, Jack Lowe, Jim Nowakowski, Timothy Omundson, Victoria Platt, Joe Spano, Sir Patrick Stewart, Joan Van Ark, Sherry Williams, Robert Wisdom and Michael York.

    “The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death will be marked with celebrations, performances, lectures and discussions all around the Globe!” says Fantasia. “Literally, all the world is still Shakespeare’s stage, and I am thrilled that we are kicking off this tenth anniversary year of Britweek, with an evening of some of Shakespeare’s most passionate plays—OTHELLO, MACBETH, ROMEO & JULIET, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM—in short, an evening of “Murder, Lust, & Madness“ in verse, prose, song and dance from William Shakespeare.“

    Mayor John Mirisch of Beverly Hills will proclaim April 23rd to be “Shakespeare 400 Day,” in the city of Beverly Hills. The show will be performed by over 28 of Hollywood’s most notable thespians at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills on April 23, 2016. Media preview was held at Beverly Hills City Hall on Thursday, March 24, 2016.

    Over the past ten years, BritWeek has become a global forum that highlights British excellence and influence in films television, music, fine art, street art, fashion, cuisine, architecture, design, automotive, computer science and sport. Key events include the BritWeek UKTI Business Innovation Awards on April 27 and BritWeek’s 10th Anniversary Red Carpet Celebration, a black tie gala at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica on May 1st.

    April 6, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 739

  • Tribeca Film Festival Selects Matthew Modine’s “Super Sex”

    The 2016 Tribeca Film Festival has officially selected Super Sex for its world premiere where it will compete for Best Narrative Short. The comedy stars Kevin Nealon, Elizbeth Perkins, Efren Ramirez, Ruby Modine, and the legendary Ed Asner. Super Sex was written for the screen and directed by Matthew Modine.

    “When we began production, I wanted to involve students from the New York Film Academy,” said Modine. “Jerry Sherlock was a dear friend and nothing made him more happy than when his students were involved with successful projects. I’m thrilled Super Sex is having its world premiere in the city Jerry loved and having students from NYFA participate.”


    Pictured Above: Elizabeth Perkins and Kevin Nealon | photo by Frank Masi

    Modine contacted NYFA’s CEO Jean Sherlock and Director Dan Mackler, hoping to involve students from the Academy’s “Industry Lab.” The Industry Lab is a student run production entity supervised by NYFA faculty. “The Industry Lab students had the invaluable opportunity of working with film veterans Modine and Director of Photography Julio Macat, an experience they won’t forget,” said Mackler. Julio Macat (Home Alone, Wedding Crashers, Pitch Perfect) met with the Lab and was impressed by their knowledge and the quality of equipment available to them for film production. Macat enlisted Evan Stulc of the Lab’s camera department to be his camera assistant, giving him an amazing opportunity to work with one of the leading cinematographers in the motion picture industry. “It was a fantastic experience. I learned so much about the craft working alongside a legend like Julio,” said Stulc.

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    Pictured Above: Julio Macat | photo by Frank Masi

    Super Sex Producer, Joe Toronto interviewed NYFA students eager to work on the film. Toronto chose Mara Topic as an Associate Producer. Joann Wong, Alyssa Manno, Egor Povolotskiy, Aaron Pong, James Geyer, David Mori, and Nick Ramsey worked in the art, lighting, and editorial departments. “It was wonderful working with the NYFA students,” said Toronto. “They were helpful and enthusiastic and worked hand-in-hand with experienced professionals. I feel the best way to learn a craft is by doing—and they did!”

    Super Sex anchors the California Dreaming short film program at the Tribeca Film Festival. Tickets for the premiere on April 15 and three additional screenings are now available to purchase here:

    April 1, 2016 • Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5673

  • NYFA Industry Lab Creates Video for Che’Nelle’s Youtube Channel

    Che’Nelle, a Malaysian Australian recording artist, signed with Universal Music Japan with her 2015 hit single “Fierce,” and is now giving back to the community by working with the Nashville based organization Soles4Souls. The non-profit global social enterprise is committed to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing.


    Recently, the New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab filmed Che’Nelle’s charitable cause, donating from her own closet with the help of Los Angeles based celebrity stylist from NBC’s Fashion Star and Eva Longoria’s Ready for Love, Daniel Musto, a current member of E! Style Collective and the Costumer Designers Guild.

    The concept for the video was written by New York Film Academy alumnus Todd Lien and directed by alumna and Director of Les Femmes du Ciné (New York Film Academy’s Women’s Club) Mariana Thome.


    Other notable crew members from New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab are alumnus producer, Davin Tjen, cinematographer Alejandro Talens, and sound mixer Steve Johnson. Along with current students, gaffer Jiaqing “Vince” Ge and sound mixer Anastasia Reinhard.

    Be on the look out for the video, which should be going live soon on Che’Nelle’s Youtube Channel.

    March 22, 2016 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 708

  • Matt Kohnen Wins Best Director at LA Indie Festival

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    Matt Kohnen awarded Best Director at LA Indie Film Festival

    Most of us aren’t too fond of attending funerals, but in the case of New York Film Academy instructor Matt Kohnen’s film, The Funeral Guest, the main character, Emily, feels a connection to mourners in the emotionally raw atmosphere. Produced and co-written with his brother, Sean, Kohnen’s dark comedy has been getting terrific responses from the festival circuit. Coming off its premiere at the Shanghai Film Festival and screening at festivals in Carmel and Bahamas, The Funeral Guest recently won both Best Actress for Julianna Robinson and Best Director for Kohnen at the LA Indie Festival.

    “Initially, The Funeral Guest was not written, just a vague idea,” said Kohnen. “But we hustled up and wrote a draft in a month and helped get it financed through the Eyde company, which does real estate in Lansing, MI, where we shot. It was a small budget, and a quick prep time, but we did it; and premiered at the Shanghai Film Festival, where I went and did some work with NYFA, talking to student groups.”

    Kohnen’s first feature as a director, Wasting Away/Aaah! Zombies!! was a horror/comedy that won the Audience Award at Screamfest LA, Best Picture Midnight Extreme at Sitge International SciFi/Horror Fest, Audience Award/Best Screenplay/Best Comedy at the Zompire Genre Fest, Best Picture at the Festivus Film Festival, and has been the hit of a host of other film festivals including the well-regarded London Sci Fi Festival and Lund Fantastik Film Festival, gaining Worldwide distribution.

    Repped by Verve Agency and Writ Large Management, Kohnen has also written for producers such as the aforementioned Rob Fried and developed with a wide array of companies such as Gold Circle Films (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), Spring Creek Productions (Blood Diamond), and Dark Horse Comics (Hellboy).

    With his brother Sean, he is currently working with Producer Michael Shamberg (Django Unchained, Erin Brockovich, Pulp Fiction) on a TV pilot set in the world of illegal arms, and has recently sold a pilot about money laundering to Universal Studios, with Omar Epps (House, Resurrection) attached.

    Next on the festival circuits for The Funeral Guest is the Capitol City Film Festival (Lansing, MI) and the Julian Dubuque Film Festival, and more to come!

    March 17, 2016 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Screenwriting • Views: 740

  • NYFA Hosts Exclusive Screening of “The Unknowns”

    Last week, the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) Veterans Services department held an exclusive screening of the documentary “The Unknowns” in collaboration with the organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). More than 50 veterans and guests from IAVA, Wounded Warrior Project, and local community colleges joined NYFA veteran students for the screening. Following the film, NYFA Veteran Service team member and US Navy veteran, Michael Kunselman, moderated a Q&A with “The Unknowns” Producer, Ethan Morse, Director, Neal Schrodetski, and Cinematographer, Matthew Noren. Mr. Morse and Mr. Schrodetski both served as Tomb Guard sentinels during their military service.

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    NYFA Veterans Staff with the “The Unknowns” Director, Neal Schrodetski, Producer, Ethan Morse, and Cinematographer, Matthew Noren with representatives from IAVA (Steven Padilla)

    The documentary focuses on the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and gives an in-depth overview of the grueling selection process that soldiers undergo to obtain the prestigious honor of becoming a US Army Sentinel Tomb Guard. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier—located in Arlington National Cemetery—represents the unidentified soldiers from World War I, Korean War, World War II and Vietnam who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Since 1937, Army sentinels selected for this duty are tasked with guarding the Tomb 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, regardless of weather conditions.


    Director Neal Schrodetski, Producer Ethan Morse, and Cinematographer Matthew Noren discuss the making of “The Unknowns” with the audience

    The Director, Producer, and Cinematographer of “The Unknowns” discussed the process of filming the documentary. Veterans in the audience asked panel members about their time in service as US Army Sentinels. Many attendees in the audience were fellow veterans and enjoyed learning the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    “The film really showed the detail and nuances that go into developing a soldier into a Tomb Sentinel. I really enjoyed seeing the process that the soldiers go through to guard such an important military memorial,” said Navy veteran and MFA Screenwriting student, Bartosz Tomaszewski.

    March 15, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 1109

  • NYFA Industry Lab Films Latrice Royale’s Music Video

    California native, Latrice Royale, an American drag performer and reality television personality, best known for her appearances in RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 4), RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, and RuPaul’s Drag U, filmed her latest music video, Here’s To Life in collaboration with New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab current students and alumni.

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    Assaad Yacoub, a recent graduate from the New York Film Academy’s MFA Filmmaking feature track, and a current industry lab member, directed the music video and is well known for working with drag performers in his short turned feature Cherry Pop.

    He is also well known for tackling social issues in his films that he made at his time at the New York Film Academy such as The Wing, which recently earned an humanitarian award for outstanding achievement from the 2015 Best Shorts Competition.


    Other notable crewmembers from New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab were current students: Bogdan Yansen (DP and Editor) Vanness Hughes (1st Assistant Director), Olamide Oladimeji (Key Grip), and Joann Wong (Grip), along with alumni: Alex Lampsos (Producer), Star Li (1st Assistant Camera), Alex Tobias (Grip), and Allyson Manno (Behind-the-Scenes Photographer).

    March 8, 2016 • Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1132

  • NYFA Veteran MFA Student Joins We Are the Mighty

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    2nd from the right: Lt. Colonel Daniel Smith, NYFA Producing Student, pictured with fellow students at the WGA Writers Workshop for Veterans

    Daniel Smith, a U.S. veteran, is a producing student at the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) who recently started interning with the organization We Are the Mighty’s social media team. Internet and social media marketing and production are the alternatives for getting content and stories out to audiences. More people watch creative content on the Internet than in theaters and conventional television.

    “The Veteran’s Team at NYFA has been instrumental not only in my enrolling at NYFA but assisting in providing information on additional education opportunities such as the Writers Guild of America Veteran’s Writing Program, organizing master classes, and information about a variety of internships such as We Are The Mighty,” said Dan.

    Dan recently received an MFA in Screenwriting at NYFA and has extensive work experience in various parts of the world, serving in Special Forces and the Intelligence communities. He began his military career as a Private and left as Lieutenant Colonel. Dan is familiar with global security issues and his experience is fodder for his script material. He completed an internship with Abbott Entertainment, writing coverage for twenty-five screenplays. He also completed two screenplays, two spec scripts and a comic. Dan is currently working on a television pilot and feature film script.

    March 7, 2016 • Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 807

  • Adventures on the Big Screen Series at Los Angeles Campus

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    Has this happened to you? You’re in a class, and the instructor asks, who has seen… and then they name some “classic” film.

    You’ve never seen it, but maybe you’ve heard about it. Or maybe you have seen it, but nobody else in the class has. And if you have seen it, ask yourself this, did you see it the way it was meant to be seen? In a theater, on a BIG SCREEN, with an audience?

    The best movie-going experiences gather us together in dark rooms with loved ones, friends and strangers, immersing us in the lives of characters who show us the best and worst of ourselves. Movies communally transport us to other worlds, extraordinary and ordinary, real and imagined. Great movies move us, enlighten us, and most importantly, entertain us. They make us laugh, cry and think.

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    ADVENTURES ON THE BIG SCREEN is all about great movies. Each one has been selected and will be presented by a New York Film Academy instructor. And they are all movies that anyone who wants to make movies must see!

    “Adventures on the Big Screen” series will be happening every other Monday at our NYFA Los Angeles Theater at 7:00pm.


    March 7 – Chungking Express (1994) – Directed by Wong Kar-Wai. 

    Even if all it had to offer were writer-director Wong Kar-Wai’s thrillingly distinctive visuals, this film would be well worth watching. But the thoughtfully drawn characters and naturalistic performances pack a potent dramatic punch. Presented by Mike Civille.

    March 21 (7:30 pm) – Do the Right Thing (1989) – Directed by Spike Lee. 

    One of the most important films of the 1980’s, writer-director-actor Spike Lee dives head-first into a whirlwind of social issues, all set on the hottest day of the year on one racially mixed Brooklyn block. Presented by Leander Sales, who worked on the film.

    April 4 – Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. 

    Widely regarded as the greatest movie musical of all time, this singing, dancing masterpiece also features a smart, funny screenplay set in a Hollywood transitioning from silent films to sound. Presented by Denise Carlson.

    April 18 – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) – Directed by Milos Forman. 

    Only 3 films in history have swept all 5 major Oscar categories (Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress), and this is one of them. Grounded by Jack Nicholson’s phenomenal performance as a mental institution rebel, it’s a movie that celebrates freedom and the human spirit. Presented by Greg Marcks.

    May 2 – Some Like it Hot (1959) – Directed by Billy Wilder. 

    Perhaps the great American comedy, this hilarious, cross-dressing satire features incomparable writing, direction and cast – Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. Presented by James Rowe.

    March 4, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 902

  • NYFA Veterans Movie Night: “Everest”

    It’s a Friday night, and the smell of pizza fills the corridors of the fourth floor at the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) Los Angeles campus. In NYFA’s state of the art facilities, laughter is shared amongst the veteran students, as they gather to watch a screening of the movie Everest (2015), an American-British film directed by Baltasar Kormákur. “This feels like I’m back in the military,” stated Nicholas Hagen, US Navy veteran and BFA Filmmaking student, describing what it felt like to come together with fellow student veterans.

    The film sets in 1996 where climbers from two commercial expeditions start their final ascent toward the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. With little warning, a violent storm strikes the mountain, engulfing the adventurers in one of the fiercest blizzards ever encountered by man. Challenged by the harshest conditions imaginable, the teams must endure blistering winds and freezing temperatures in an epic battle to survive against nearly impossible odds. The film was chosen as it portrays an exceptional example of survival, teamwork and selflessness, which are just some of the core ethos amongst service members.

    The event was facilitated and hosted by the NYFA Veterans Services team in order boost camaraderie amongst NYFA veterans, and foster the creation of a unique bond with one another. With the veteran students being a very diverse cohort in the NYFA community, and some of them being hundreds of miles away from friends and family, the screening provided a sense of a “home away from home” and familiarity to all those veterans who attended.

    -Jhonson Simeon

    March 3, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 897