February 9, 2017

New York Film Academy alumna Raphaela Neihausen’s short documentary film, “Joe’s Violin,” which she produced, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Kahane Cooperman directed the award-winning short, which has already won four Audience Awards and two Grand Jury Prizes.

Neihausen is also a partner in the New York Film Academy’s documentary screening series Stranger Than Fiction, and is expected to join the Documentary Department as a Master Class instructor in the coming year.

In the award-winning film “Joe’s Violin,” a donated musical instrument forges an improbable friendship between 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Joe Feingold and 12-year-old Bronx schoolgirl Brianna Perez, showing how the power of music can bring light in the darkest of times and how a small act can have a great impact.

The documentary came to life in an interesting fashion. The director, Kahane Cooperman, was driving to work one morning and listening to the radio when the WQXR promo came on asking people to donate instruments they didn’t use anymore, so that they could be redistributed to NYC public schools. The promo included a mention of several donations including Joseph Feingold’s violin, and that piqued her curiosity. At the first stoplight, she wondered what the violin’s story might be. At the second stoplight, she wondered whether the student recipient would ever know that story. At the next stoplight, she wondered about the student’s story. By the time she got to work, she was compelled by the idea that two strangers would be connected by one musical instrument.

“Lucky for all of us that traffic was slow that day, so that the whole film could really play out in her mind,” said producer, Neihausen. “When she got to the office, she immediately emailed the radio station to learn more, which was the first step in beginning to make this film.”

Neihausen is one of two NYFA graduates who produced a film that has been nominated for an Academy Award this season. Alumnus Jean de Meuron was executive producer on the Academy Award-nominated short film, “La femme et le TGV.”

The Oscars ceremony, which will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, airs Feb. 26 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.