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  • Meet NYFA Cinematography Instructor & ASC Member Tommy Maddox-Upshaw

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    At New York Film Academy, the faculty is an incredibly talented group of artists that teach the next generation of filmmakers and creators all while being active members in their industry. For NYFA Cinematography instructor Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, ASC, this is no exception. 

    Maddox-Upshaw has lensed fan-favorite shows like Empire, Snowfall, Tales, and On My Block, to name a few, and teaches 35MM, Advanced Lighting, and Stage to Screen for Actors in NYFA’s Cinematography department. 

    Maddox-Upshaw first got interested in the world of lensing and cinematography when his sister Kyla got him on set as a Production Assistant for a Hype Williams music video when he was 19 years old. “I saw how the Cinematographer worked with everyone and created such beautiful images and I already liked photography,” he shared. “I was like, ‘I want to do what he does’ and I set out to learn what I could even though my college didn’t have a film program and really no film studies.”

    Photo courtesy of Tommy Maddox-Upshaw

    From there, Maddox-Upshaw notes that the documentary film Visions of Light inspired him even further to pursue a career in cinematography, and the NYFA instructor began picking up work between his Boston hometown and New York City while continuing to further his education in cinematography. His work for commercial clients like Ford, Allstate, and HBO, to name a few, helped develop working relationships which led Maddox-Upshaw to eventually work alongside visionaries like Spike Lee and Matthew Libatique, ASC.

    He provided VFX additional photography on A Star Is Born, and worked on the second unit for Straight Outta Compton, both shot by Libatique, and shot additional photography on feature films Grown Ups 2, Beyond the Lights, and The Circle. Maddox-Upshaw also served as the director of photography (DP) for Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu, Hello Beautiful: Interludes with John Legend, Fixed, and more.

    Photo courtesy of Tommy Maddox-Upshaw

    Recently, Maddox-Upshaw was recognized by the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and was welcomed as a member of the ASC. The distinguished honor is one that names Maddox-Upshaw among the legacy of celebrated directors of photography over the last 100 years.

    “Becoming part of the ASC has been a goal of mine since the time I really started to study and read American Cinematographer Magazine and watch Visions of Light when I was about 20 years old,” revealed Maddox-Upshaw.

    For his students and aspiring cinematographers, Maddox-Upshaw encourages them to study more than what’s on the other side of the lens to become a good DP. 

    “Study the art of understanding good screenplays. understand the Black and White of the page so then you can make the correct emotional decision from what is written. Try and watch a movie a day; it makes a difference after a couple of years of doing it. You can recall so much and understand why certain things in cinema work,” Maddox-Upshaw explained. 

    No one can dream bigger for you. You have to enjoy the process of your own journey you should want to be on set and learn from other people. You can learn this on your own and don’t be afraid to make mistakes especially in a learning environment.”

    In addition to teaching at NYFA, Maddox-Upshaw recently photographed Season 6 of the Fox drama Empire. Additional credits from Maddox-Upshaw include season three of the FX drama Snowfall, season two of Netflix’s On My Block, and season one of the Netflix comedy Huge in France

    New York Film Academy congratulates Maddox-Upshaw on his recent induction into the ASC and is excited to have the opportunity for Maddox-Upshaw to continue to teach NYFA students about what it means to be a director of photography.

    To learn more about NYFA’s Cinematography programs, click here. Catch Tommy Maddox-Upshaw as NYFA’s upcoming 20/20 series guest on March 3, 2021. To register, click here

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    February 23, 2021 • Cinematography, Community Highlights, Diversity, Faculty Highlights • Views: 328

  • Akinola Davies Jr. Awarded Short Film Grand Jury Prize at Sundance For Film “Lizard”

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Akinola Davies Jr. has won big at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Short Film Grand Jury Prize for his film Lizard.

    Sundance announcement of “Lizard” winning the Short Film Grand Jury Prize

    The film was written by Davies and his brother Wale Davies, and was backed by BBC Film and producer Rachel Dargavel. Lizard follows an eight-year-old girl, Juwon, who has the ability to sense danger. After getting ejected from a Sunday school service, Juwon witnesses the underbelly in and around a Mega Church in Lagos, Nigeria. In addition to the Sundance win, the film was also nominated for an ALFS Award by the London Critics Circle Film Awards.

    Film poster for “Lizard”

    Davies has previously made short films Zazzau and Unity Is Strength. The UK-Nigerian filmmaker is known for his exploration of themes of community, race, spirituality, identity, and gender. Ultimately, through his work in film and music videos, Davies aims to navigate the collision of both colonial and imperial tradition, whilst advocating a return to indigenous narratives. His next slated project will be sci-fi film X Us.

    NYFA alum Akinola Davies Jr.

    “I’m overwhelmed and as much as I’d love to gloat, filmmaking is really crazy hard,” shared Davies on his Instagram after the winners were announced in a virtual ceremony. “Big love to all those who were part of the shorts program – it’s an honour to be amongst such brilliant films. I have to say this award is really for the whole cast and crew who worked so hard and committed their all to this little film pre and during a global pandemic. I’m so proud this was made in Lagos by the many hands that make up the beautiful people of Nigeria.”

    To view the full list of Sundance Film Festival winners, click here.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Akinola Davies Jr. on his important Grand Jury win at Sundance for his short film Lizard and looks forward to seeing the film’s impact and Davies’ upcoming projects.

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  • NYFA Alum Boise Esquerra’s “Blackwater” Screens at 2021 Slamdance Film Festival

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    Known both as a festival “by filmmakers, for filmmakers” and for its Oscar-qualifying short film awards, the Slamdance Film Festival has long been a mecca for emerging independent directors. This year NYFA alum Boise Esquerra, a graduate of the Los Angeles campus’s MFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting programs, will be right in the middle of the action when his episodic film Blackwater screens in the virtual festival February 12 – 25, 2021. 

    In the days leading up to the festival Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals, caught up with Boise to talk about the personal experience that inspired his series and the importance of filmmakers from diverse backgrounds telling their own stories.

    NYFA alum Boise Esquerra

    Cricket Rumley (CR): Hi, Boise! Congratulations on getting into Slamdance! Tell us a little about yourself.

    Boise Esquerra (BE): I’d be happy to. I am a Native (Hopi) and Mexican American filmmaker enrolled in the Colorado River Indian Tribes in Parker, AZ. I am a recent graduate of the New York Film Academy (MFA Screenwriting) and hold a BA in Digital Filmmaking and Video Production and an additional MFA in Filmmaking from NYFA. I love storytelling, creating, and everything that entails filmmaking from start to finish. Currently, I reside here in lovely Burbank, CA, and am represented by Sandra Avila at Inclusion Management.

    CR: Tell us about your film. What is it about and where does it take place?   

    BE: Blackwater is an episodic pilot about Native American country music star Birdie Blackwater whose career is fizzling due to excessive drinking that began 10 years ago. Upon moving back to her home reservation, barely clinging onto what little dignity she has left, Birdie is arrested for a barrage of drunken charges and lashing out at tribal police officers during a late-night performance. The next day, tribal courts order Birdie to complete 180 days of wellness therapy and intense probation or face two years in prison. Birdie now finds herself contending each week with a group of offbeat individuals who each possess their own…“unique” mental limitations. The story takes place on a fictional Native American reservation call Red Rock. 

    CR: Sounds very powerful. Can you tell us about the inspiration for this story? 

    BE: The inspiration for Blackwater came about in September of 2018… a tough experience. I had started a new class (Transmedia) at the New York Film Academy in Burbank, CA. The ultimate goal of the class: develop, write, and shoot a web series pilot. During the first half of the six-month course, I was given the news that my older brother Brandon had developed cirrhosis of the liver to such a serious extent that he would need a liver transplant. My brother had gotten this condition from depression and extreme alcoholism after the death of our mother in 2015. The additional news I would receive from him is that he would be opting for hospice care and wanted to just go peacefully with family for the remainder of his time. That news, to say the least, was devastating. 

    Shortly after his funeral, I returned to my Transmedia class. The project I had been working on up to that point was scrapped. I wanted to write something I was familiar with. I had felt my brother in my heart moving me to lean into all that I had experienced with drug addiction and dependency. I also wanted to heal from losing him to alcoholism. Thus, I put forward a new proposal to my instructors, which was Blackwater

    CR: Boise, I’m so sorry for your loss and the pain your family must have experienced. It’s truly inspiring how you were able to transform your personal tragedy into a meaningful story, and so quickly. 

    What was it like to direct the film?

    BE: My favorite experience directing Blackwater was working with such a phenomenal cast and crew who brought their A-game to each and every scene both on and off-screen. I mean, this was a set from heaven, and pulling off a thirteen-page script in just one day with minimal time, a skeleton crew, and several different scenes went by like clockwork. Heck, we even had an hour to spare after the whole thing was over! Directing that day was one of the best experiences I ever had on set.

    Kyla Garcia as Birdie Blackwater (“Blackwater”)

    CR: You directed a thirteen-page script in one day? Wow! Dare I ask what was the most challenging thing about making the film? 

    BE: It’s crazy because you usually are anticipating challenges that may or may not arise on the day of production, and they did of course, but they were minor and quickly remedied. No. The challenges here were definitely in the final days leading up to production. You would think that getting a simple location (an empty room) for the group scene would be easy-peasy in LA, but when you’re working with a shoestring budget, a simple task all of a sudden becomes a near impossibility. And that was the case up until the last week of location scouting. We finally locked our location, which was an old American Legion post here in Burbank. It was great because they had everything we needed for each scene! 

    The other difficult part was not in pre-production or production, but actually editing. Here I am, dealing with footage of numerous great takes from each actor/actress and reviewing them over and over. Now, you have to realize, that when you’re dealing with high caliber talent as we had, each throwing you grade-A performances with each take, it is extremely hard to pick the right one! This was mainly the case with our main character, Birdie Blackwater, portrayed by Kyla Garcia. What she brought was gold, I tell ya…GOLD. So for her, sorting through the stuff she gave us and settling on certain clips was by itself a two-month process. Keep an eye on Kyla, SHE IS AMAZING!

    CR: It’s true – Kyla is downright riveting to watch. Besides the editing, what did you learn while making this film?  

    BE: To say I didn’t learn much would be a “shooting myself in the foot” moment and never being able to walk right again, hahaha. I learned a hell of a lot. But I’ll narrow it down to one thing above others, and that was giving my talent the freedom they needed to experiment with their characters and craft on set. There was a lot of ad-libbing, and the more I stepped back and let them have at it, the more they gave. Their performances were elevated, and aside from the few adjustments I gave every now and then, I just kept my mouth shut and steered the ship. I believe this is extremely important because, by the end of any script, these people are going to be the ones who embody this person you wrote, and ultimately bring them to life – and not only the talent, but the entire crew as well. 

    As a director, I realized that you can only hold onto the material for so long before giving it up. You must trust your talent and pass the baton you have and be the coach they need, guiding them from the sideline. Hopefully, if you put in the hard work needed in pre-production and cast the film right, the process will fully evolve on its own. You only need to sit back and enjoy the show at that point. 

    CR: Can you talk about the development process for this pilot and the class you developed it in? 

    BE: Given I had changed my proposal during the six-month Transmedia course, development for Blackwater was done in a three-month period, which is not much time. But…it came very easily to me. The vision for it was clear, so it was really a matter of honing in on what was already in my head. I knew I wanted to do something that was set in a Native American world, and I completely cast with Indigenous talent. This was something I have always wanted to do, I just felt I hadn’t honed in on my craft enough back then. But now it was different. I felt confident enough to give it a try. It was a matter of finding the right, tone, cast, and overall theme, which it turned out to have many. 

    CR: Do you have any special shout-outs to faculty or staff who really helped or inspired you?  

    BE: One of the coolest things about the Transmedia 1 & 2 courses at NYFA were instructors Jenni Powell and Chris Modoono. Not only were they extremely wise and easy to talk to, but their guidance was priceless as they were able to get me from concept to a finished pilot. I can’t stress enough about the creative freedom Jenni and Chris gave us in class. I really owe the experience and opportunity to them and to NYFA. 

    CR: That is so cool. You know every teacher’s dream is to inspire and elevate students at the level you just described. 

    Let’s talk about the amazing festival run you’re having with Blackwater.  

    BE: Blackwater has garnered twenty festival selections, five of those being the Austin Film Festival, Slamdance, Nashville Film Festival, Hollyshorts, and Cinequest Film and VR Festival. 

    CR: That is any filmmaker’s dream list! So what are you looking forward to with Slamdance? 

    BE: I hope to get as much positive attention as possible and of course find a potential buyer or investor for continued production. Native American content and storytelling are so important in this day and age — and extremely hard to find. Slamdance is one of those benchmark experiences you constantly take a step back and go “Wow, I did something really cool here” and realize you’re on the right path. I also hope to network virtually and meet many of the talented filmmakers at this year’s festival! 

    Poster for “Blackwater” pilot

    CR: You will definitely have some great opportunities there. Do you have any advice for recent graduates making their way into the professional world?  

    BE: I would say be consistent, persistent, and honest in your work and what it is exactly you want for your future. Filmmaking and its many crafts are a life long pursuit. Pursuing it should make you happy, grateful, and full of good spirit to have such a calling. If it doesn’t, maybe take a step back and re-evaluate. Focus on what you want, whether that is screenwriting, directing (or both), and constantly sharpen your craft and talents in that world every day in some shape or form. Look to each day as an opportunity to move towards that ultimate goal, and eventually one day…you’ll find yourself there. But don’t forget to have fun and relax along the way. Be happy. 

    CR: Those are very wise words. And speaking of wise words, let’s talk about these trying times we live in today. Do you want to share any thoughts about the importance of film in the lives of humans living right now? 

    BE: Well, if I do share anything, it’ll be about the importance of diverse inclusion in today’s film industry and breaking the current mold at hand. And I am speaking specifically to Native American inclusion. Native Americans are perhaps the most underrepresented culture in the film and television industry right now in terms of film and television content, screenwriters, directors, and leading talent. We as Native Americans have been fighting an extremely uphill battle in finding large, fair platforms or opportunities to tell “our own stories,” tell our own history, and voice our own point of view. Since the dawn of cinema, history has been flat-out brutal in our depiction, reducing us to “elk skin and feathers,” mascots, savages, and whatever else the multitude of history books will have you believe. We as a people, as a culture, need to be allowed to write and depict our own stories, our own views, and our own history. Blackwater is one such example out of the 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States. The time for diverse inclusion is now, and Hollywood needs to comply accordingly. 

    CR: The time is definitely now, and I’m so happy that you and your work are a solution to this lack of diversity in Hollywood.

    So how we can watch your film during Slamdance and see your Q&A? 

    BE: Slamdance is an online format this year, meaning anyone with a computer or smart TV can access it for only ten bucks. Yes… $10. We’re talking the crème of the crop here, people! Although the official schedule of events isn’t out yet, getting your pass now will ensure you do not miss a single screening. All films will be viewable throughout the festival from February 12th – 25th

    Blackwater will be screening in the “Episodes” block with many other awesome filmmakers and their films, and you will also be able to watch our Q&A as a bonus feature. Go to www.slamdance.com now for your ticket! 

    CR: Thanks for stopping by, Boise. Congratulations and best of luck!

    [NOTE: NYFA students can get their festival passes for $5 by using their NYFA email address].

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  • NYFA Alum Lana Condor Stars in “To All The Boys: Forever and Always” on Netflix

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Lana Condor returns as Lara Jean Covey in Netflix’s original film To All The Boys: Always and Forever. The film is the third and final installment in the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series adapted from the novel series of the same name from Jenny Han.

    Lana Condor and Madeleine Arthur and in “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” (Netflix)

    After attending Acting for Film at NYFA’s camps, Condor graduated high school and had her film debut as the popular mutant Jubilee in the summer blockbuster X-Men: Apocalypse. Immediately following, Condor appeared in the Mark Wahlberg thriller Patriots Day, co-starring alongside fellow NYFA alum Themo Melikidze. Condor has also appeared in Alita: Battle Angel, the TV series Deadly Class, and the coming-of-age film Summer Night.

    To All The Boys: Always and Forever will have fans seeing beloved character Lara Jean (Condor) faced with the difficult decision of what to do after she graduates high school and whether her future includes long-term boyfriend Peter, played by Netflix favorite Noah Centineo (The Perfect Date, Sierra Burgess is a Loser). From the film series beginning with 16-year old Lara Jean having her secret love letters go public to all of her crushes, to the unexpected twists along the way leading up to the third film, fans will have to say goodbye to Condor’s character as she closes her high school chapter.

    Noah Centineo and Lana Condor in “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” (Netflix)

    What is the NYFA alum up to now that the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy has concluded? Condor is still booked and busy and will appear in the upcoming films Moonshot and the edgy comedy Girls Night. In her spare time, the actress has been known to share style and beauty tips on her social media channels and was most recently profiled by Vogue.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Lana Condor for bringing the character Lara Jean Covey to life over the past few years and looks forward to her future roles in Hollywood and beyond. To All The Boys: Always and Forever will be available to stream on February 10, 2021, on Netflix.

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    February 10, 2021 • Acting, Diversity, Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 525

  • NYFA Community Among Shortlist for 93rd Academy Awards

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    After teasing the annual announcement of shortlists for this year’s upcoming Oscar nominations, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally announced nine categories of shortlists on Tuesday afternoon. Included among the list in the Documentary Feature category was All In: The Fight For Democracy from NYFA alum and producer Lisa Cortés; Boys State from Documentary Cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke; and Dick Johnson is Dead from Cinematographer instructor John Foster. 

    The shortlists for the 93rd Academy Awards were announced for: Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, International Feature Film, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Music (Original Song), Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film and Visual Effects.

    NYFA alum Lisa Cortés

    Cortés co-directed and produced the documentary All In: The Fight For Democracy, released September 18, 2020, on Amazon Prime. The film follows Georgia’s Stacey Abrams and the struggle against voter suppression. As of February 10, 2021, the film holds an approval rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been met with widespread critical claim with Kevin Crust from the Los Angeles Times writing “All In manages the triple-E feat of being entertaining, educational, and enlightening.” 

    This past year, Cortés attended the NYFA’s Rock The Vote Rally rally in October, where she brought a special sneak preview of Janelle Monae’s end-credit song, “Turntable,” song written exclusively for the film. Cortés also spoke about how her NYFA Producing education proved to be valuable in pulling together a project like All In during such challenging times. 

    Lisa Cortes, Lee Daniels, and Mo’Nique (Photo Credit: WireImage.com)

    The producing alum has had an extensive career prior to her success with All In. Cortés co-produced NYFA guest speaker Nicole Kassell’s film The Woodsman, co-directed The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion, produced The Apollo, and executive produced Academy Award-winning film Precious from Lee Daniels. 

     Documentary Cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke was an additional cinematographer on the set of the shortlist contender Boys State from A24. The film follows an unusual annual experiment in Texas that joins together a thousand 17-year-old boys from across the state to build a representative government from the ground up. The film won the U.S Documentary Competition Grand Jury at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and is currently available to stream on Apple TV+.

    Shortlist contender Dick Johnson is Dead was worked on by Cinematographer instructor John Foster.  The documentary film directed by Kirsten Johnson focuses on Johnson’s father Richard, who suffers from dementia, portraying different ways—some of them violent “accidents”—in which he could ultimately die. The comedic and heartfelt film premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Award for Innovation in Non-fiction Storytelling. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates Lisa Cortés, Claudia Raschke, and John Foster for their films making the 2021 Oscars Shortlist for Best Documentary Feature and wishes all the projects that made this year’s Academy shortlist the best of luck when the full list of nominations are announced on March 15, 2021.

    The full shortlists for each announced category can be found below:

    DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

    “All In: The Fight for Democracy”
    “Boys State”
    “Collective”
    “Crip Camp”
    “Dick Johnson Is Dead”
    “Gunda”
    “MLK/FBI”
    “The Mole Agent”
    “My Octopus Teacher”
    “Notturno”
    “The Painter and the Thief”
    “76 Days”
    “Time”
    “The Truffle Hunters”
    “Welcome to Chechnya”

    DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

    “Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa”
    “Call Center Blues”
    “Colette”
    “A Concerto Is a Conversation”
    “Do Not Split”
    “Hunger Ward”
    “Hysterical Girl”
    “A Love Song for Latasha”
    “The Speed Cubers”
    “What Would Sophia Loren Do?”

    INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

    Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Quo Vadis, Aida?”
    Chile, “The Mole Agent”
    Czech Republic, “Charlatan”
    Denmark, “Another Round”
    France, “Two of Us”
    Guatemala, “La Llorona”
    Hong Kong, “Better Days”
    Iran, “Sun Children”
    Ivory Coast, “Night of the Kings”
    Mexico, “I’m No Longer Here”
    Norway, “Hope”
    Romania, “Collective”
    Russia, “Dear Comrades!”
    Taiwan, “A Sun”
    Tunisia, “The Man Who Sold His Skin”

    MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

    “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn”
    “Emma”
    “The Glorias”
    “Hillbilly Elegy”
    “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”
    “The Little Things”
    “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
    “Mank”
    “One Night in Miami…”
    “Pinocchio”

    MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

    “Ammonite”
    “Blizzard of Souls”
    “Da 5 Bloods”
    “The Invisible Man”
    “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”
    “The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)”
    “The Little Things”
    “Mank”
    “The Midnight Sky”
    “Minari”
    “Mulan”
    “News of the World”
    “Soul”
    “Tenet”
    “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

    MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

    “Turntables” from “All In: The Fight for Democracy”
    “See What You’ve Done” from “Belly of the Beast”
    “Wuhan Flu” from “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”
    “Husavik” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”
    “Never Break” from “Giving Voice”
    “Make It Work” from “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”
    “Fight For You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    “Io Sì (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)”
    “Rain Song” from “Minari”
    “Show Me Your Soul” from “Mr. Soul!”
    “Loyal Brave True” from “Mulan”
    “Free” from “The One and Only Ivan”
    “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami…”
    “Green” from “Sound of Metal”
    “Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

    ANIMATED SHORT FILM

    “Burrow”
    “Genius Loci”
    “If Anything Happens I Love You”
    “Kapaemahu”
    “Opera”
    “Out”
    “The Snail and the Whale”
    “To Gerard”
    “Traces”
    “Yes-People”

    LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

    “Bittu”
    “Da Yie”
    “Feeling Through”
    “The Human Voice”
    “The Kicksled Choir”
    “The Letter Room”
    “The Present”
    “Two Distant Strangers”
    “The Van”
    “White Eye”

    VISUAL EFFECTS

    “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn”
    “Bloodshot”
    “Love and Monsters”
    “Mank”
    “The Midnight Sky”
    “Mulan”
    “The One and Only Ivan”
    “Soul”
    “Tenet”
    “Welcome to Chechnya”

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    February 10, 2021 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 883

  • NYFA Celebrates Nominations for 52nd NAACP Image Awards

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    On February 2, 2021, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced its list of nominations for this year’s NAACP Image Awards, an annual awards ceremony crediting the outstanding performances in film, television, music, and literature of the past year. This year, NYFA alumni and guest speakers were among the list of distinguished nominees across multiple categories.

    Presenting this year’s nominees were Anika Noni Rose, Chloe Bailey, Erika Alexander, Nicco Annan, and T.C. Carson. The announcement also featured a statement from NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson:

    “We are excited to recognize and celebrate this year’s nominees, who at times throughout this unprecedented year have provided moments of levity, brought our communities together, and lifted our spirits through culture when we needed it the most.”

    Topping off the nominees was Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, featuring Academy-Award winner Viola Davis and NAACP Image Award-winner and the late Chadwick Boseman. The film garnered multiple nods, including a Best Actress nomination for Viola Davis and a posthumous nod for Best Supporting Actor for Chadwick Boseman, who sadly passed away last August after a battle with colon cancer. Boseman is also nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category for his role in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods.

    Still from “Jingle Jangle” (Netflix)

    Netflix, which led this year’s nominations with a whopping 48 nominations, also received multiple nods for the beloved family Christmas film Jingle Jangle from David E. Talbert. The film garnered ten nominations alone, including Best Motion Picture. NYFA alum, Francesco Panzieri, worked as the in-house compositing supervisor for the film which required multiple CGI sequences.

    NYFA alum Issa Rae in “Insecure” episode “Lowkey Feelin’ Myself” (HBO)

    Trailing behind Netflix in second for nominations was HBO, which scored 25 nominations including multiple nods for NYFA Filmmaking alum Issa Rae’s beloved show Insecure, which recently announced its fifth and final season to debut in 2021.

    Rae swept this year’s award nominations in all the top categories not only for Insecure but for her lead role in Universal’s The Photograph and guest appearance on the 46th season of Saturday Night Live. Rae’s full list of nominations can be found below:

    • Outstanding Comedy Series – Insecure
    • Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series – Issa Rae – Insecure
    • Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series – Issa Rae – Insecure (“Lowkey Feelin’ Myself”)
    • Outstanding Guest Performance – Comedy or Drama Series – Issa Rae – Saturday Night Live
    • Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture – Issa Rae – The Photograph

    Veteran and NYFA Alum Paquita Hughes

    HBO also received a nomination for HBO Max’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion, featuring NYFA alum Alfonso Ribeiro, for Outstanding Variety Show in which he, along with the cast, paid tribute to former castmate and NYFA guest speaker James Avery. Ribeiro also received a solo nomination for Outstanding Host in a Reality/Reality Competition, Game Show, or Variety Series for his work on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

    Not to be forgotten in the streaming competition, Hulu landed two nominations, including one for Outstanding Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special for Little Fires Everywhere, adapted from the 2017 novel of the same name by Celeste Ng. NYFA alum Paquita Hughes worked on the production team for the Hulu drama, starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon.

    Poster for “All In: The Fight For Democracy”

    All In: The Fight for Democracy from Amazon Studios earned producer and NYFA alum Lisa Cortes an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary Film. The documentary, which currently holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, observes the history and current activism surrounding voter suppression with appearances by Stacey Abrams, Jayla Allen, Carol Anderson, and others.

    Acting for Film alum Tyler D’Andrea Lambert on “The Neighborhood” with Cedric The Entertainer

    Also receiving recognition this year is NYFA guest speaker, stand-up comedian, and actor Cedric The Entertainer. The actor, known for his iconic roles in Barbershop, Johnson Family Vacation, and Ice Age, has received a nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series for his lead role as Calvin Butler in the comedy series The Neighborhood from CBS. NYFA Acting for Film alum Tyler D’Andrea Lambert had the opportunity to work alongside the acclaimed actor for the nominated series.

    New York Film Academy congratulates all the nominees for this year’s NAACP Image Awards and encourages everyone to cheer on this year’s nominees when the 52nd NAACP Image Awards air on March 27, 2021, on BET, CBS, BETHer, VH1, MTV, MTV2, and Logo.

    View the full list of nominations below:

    SPECIAL AWARD CATEGORIES

    Entertainer of the Year
    D-Nice
    Regina King
    Trevor Noah
    Tyler Perry
    Viola Davis

    Social Justice Impact
    April Ryan
    Debbie Allen
    LeBron James
    Stacey Abrams
    Tamika Mallory

    TELEVISION + STREAMING CATEGORIES

    Outstanding Comedy Series
    “#blackAF” (Netflix)
    “Black-ish” (ABC)
    “Grown-ish” (Freeform)
    “Insecure” (HBO)
    “The Last O.G.” (TBS)

    Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series
    Anthony Anderson – “Black-ish” (ABC)
    Cedric the Entertainer – “The Neighborhood” (CBS)
    Don Cheadle – “Black Monday” (Showtime)
    Idris Elba – “In the Long Run” (Starz)
    Tracy Morgan – “The Last O.G.” (TBS)

    Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series
    Issa Rae – “Insecure” (HBO)
    Folake Olowofoyeku – “Bob Hearts Abishola” (CBS)
    Regina Hall – “Black Monday” (Showtime)
    Tracee Ellis Ross – “Black-ish” (ABC)
    Yara Shahidi – “Grown-ish” (Freeform)

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
    Andre Braugher – “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC)
    Deon Cole – “Black-ish” (ABC)
    Jay Ellis – “Insecure” (HBO)
    Kenan Thompson – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
    Laurence Fishburne – “Black-ish” (ABC)

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
    Jenifer Lewis – Black-ish” (ABC)
    Marsai Martin – “Black-ish” (ABC)
    Natasha Rothwell – “Insecure” (HBO)
    Tichina Arnold – “The Neighborhood” (CBS)
    Yvonne Orji – “Insecure” (HBO)

    Outstanding Drama Series
    “All Rise” (CBS)
    “Bridgerton” (Netflix)
    “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
    “Power Book II: Ghost” (Starz)
    “This Is Us” (NBC)

    Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
    Jonathan Majors – “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
    Keith David – “Greenleaf” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
    Nicco Annan – “P-Valley” (Starz)
    Regé-Jean Page – “Bridgerton” (Netflix)
    Sterling K. Brown – “This Is Us” (NBC)

    Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
    Angela Bassett – “9-1-1” (FOX)
    Brandee Evans – “P-Valley” (Starz)
    Jurnee Smollett – “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
    Simone Missick – “All Rise” (CBS)
    Viola Davis – “How to Get Away With Murder” (ABC)

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
    Clifford “Method Man” Smith – “Power Book II: Ghost” (Starz)
    Delroy Lindo – “The Good Fight” (CBS All Access)
    J. Alphonse Nicholson – “P-Valley” (Starz)
    Jeffrey Wright – “Westworld” (HBO)
    Michael Kenneth Williams – “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
    Adjoa Andoh – “Bridgerton” (Netflix)
    Aunjanue Ellis – “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
    Lynn Whitfield – “Greenleaf” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
    Mary J. Blige – “Power Book II: Ghost” (Starz)
    Susan Kelechi Watson – “This Is Us” (NBC)

    Outstanding Television Movie, Limited–Series or Dramatic Special
    “Hamilton” (Disney+)
    “Little Fires Everywhere” (Hulu)
    “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” (Netflix)
    “Sylvie’s Love” (Amazon Studios)
    “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” (Lifetime)

    Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited–Series or Dramatic Special
    Blair Underwood – “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” (Netflix)
    Chris Rock – “Fargo” (FX)
    Daveed Diggs – “Hamilton” (Disney+)
    Leslie Odom, Jr. – “Hamilton” (Disney+)
    Nnamdi Asomugha – “Sylvie’s Love” (Amazon Studios)

    Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited–Series or Dramatic Special
    Aunjanue Ellis – The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” (Lifetime)
    Kerry Washington – “Little Fires Everywhere” (Hulu)
    Michaela Coel – “I May Destroy You” (HBO)
    Octavia Spencer – “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” (Netflix)
    Tessa Thompson – “Sylvie’s Love” (Amazon Studios)

    Outstanding News/Information (Series or Special)
    AM Joy: Remembering John Lewis Special (MSNBC)
    Desus & Mero: The Obama Interview (Showtime)
    The Color of COVID (CNN)
    The New York Times Presents “The Killing of Breonna Taylor” (FX)
    The Reidout (NBC)

    Outstanding Talk Series
    Red Table Talk (Facebook Watch)
    Tamron Hall (Syndicated )
    The Daily Show With Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
    The Oprah Conversation (Apple TV+)
    The Shop: Uninterrupted (HBO)

    Outstanding Reality Program, Reality Competition or Game Show (Series)
    “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC)
    “Iyanla: Fix My Life” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
    “Shark Tank” (ABC)
    “United Shades of America With W. Kamau Bell” (CNN)
    “Voices of Fire” (Netflix)

    Outstanding Variety Show (Series or Special)
    “8:46” (Netflix)
    “Black Is King” (Disney+)
    “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion” (HBO Max)
    “Verzuz” (APPLE TV)
    “Yvonne Orji: Momma I Made It!” (HBO)

    Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited–Series)
    Alex R. Hibbert – “The Chi” (Showtime)
    Lexi Underwood – “Little Fires Everywhere” (Hulu)
    Lyric Ross – “This Is Us” (NBC)
    Marsai Martin – “Black-ish” (ABC)
    Miles Brown – “Black-ish” (ABC

    Outstanding Guest Performance – Comedy or Drama Series
    Chris Rock – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
    Courtney B. Vance – “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
    Dave Chappelle – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
    Issa Rae – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
    Loretta Devine – “P-Valley” (Starz)

    Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Television)
    Katori Hall – “P-Valley” (Starz)
    Keith Knight – “Woke” (Hulu)
    Ramy Youssef – “Ramy” (Hulu)
    Raynelle Swilling – “Cherish the Day” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
    Teri Schaffer – “Cherish the Day” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)

    RECORDING CATEGORIES

    Outstanding New Artist
    Chika – “High Rises” (Warner Records)
    Doja Cat – “Say So” (RCA Records/Kemosabe )
    D Smoke – “Black Habits” (WoodWorks Records/Empire)
    Giveon – “When It’s All Said and Done” (Epic Records)
    Skip Marley – “Higher Place” (Island Records/ Tuff Gong Records)

    Outstanding Male Artist
    Big Sean – “Detroit 2” (Def Jam Recordings/G.O.O.D Music)
    Black Thought – “Streams of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane & Able” (Republic Records)
    Charlie Wilson – “All of My Love” (P Music Group/BMG)
    Drake – “Laugh Now, Cry Later” (Republic Records)
    John Legend – “Bigger Love” (Columbia Records)

    Outstanding Female Artist
    Beyoncé – “Black Parade” (Columbia Record/ Parkwood)
    H.E.R. – “I Can’t Breathe” (RCA Records/MBK Entertainment)
    Jazmine Sullivan – “Lost One” (RCA Records)
    Ledisi – “Anything for You” (Listen Back Entertainment/BMG)
    Alicia Keys – “Alicia” (RCA Records)

    Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album
    “I Can’t Breathe” – H.E.R. (RCA Records/MBK Entertainment)
    “Anything for You” – Ledisi (Listen Back Entertainment/BMG)
    “Black Is King” – Beyonce´ (Columbia Record/ Parkwood)
    “Brown Skin Girl” – Beyonce’ feat WizKid, Saint Jhn, Blue Ivy Carter (Columbia Record/ Parkwood)
    “Do It” – Chloe x Halle (Columbia Record/ Parkwood)

    Outstanding Album
    “Alicia” – Alicia Keys (RCA Records)
    “b7” – Brandy (Brand Nu/eOne)
    “Bigger Lov”e – John Legend (Columbia Records)
    “Chilombo” – Jhené Aiko (Def Jam Recordings)
    “The Wild Card” – Ledisi (Listen Back Entertainment/BMG)

    Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album
    “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Music from the Netflix Film) – Branford Marsalis (Milan)
    “Insecure: Music From the HBO Original Series” – Various Artists (Atlantic Records)
    “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” – Various Artists (Atlantic Records )
    “Soul Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste and Tom MacDougall (Walt Disney Records)
    “The First Ladies of Gospel: The Clark Sisters Biopic Soundtrack” – Donald Lawrence (Relevé Entertainment)

    MOTION PICTURE CATEGORIES

    Outstanding Motion Picture
    “Bad Boys for Life” (Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Entertainment)
    “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
    “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (Netflix)
    “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
    “One Night In Miami” (Amazon Studios)

    Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
    Anthony Mackie – “The Banker” (Apple)
    Chadwick Boseman – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
    Delroy Lindo – “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
    Forest Whitaker – “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (Netflix)
    Will Smith – “Bad Boys for Life” (Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Entertainment)

    Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
    Issa Rae – “The Photograph” (Universal Pictures)
    Janelle Monáe – “Antebellum” (Lionsgate)
    Madalen Mills – “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (Netflix)
    Tracee Ellis Ross – “The High Note” (Focus Features)
    Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
    Aldis Hodge – One Night In Miami… (Amazon Studios)
    Chadwick Boseman – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
    Clarke Peters – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
    Colman Domingo – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
    Glynn Turman – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
    Anika Noni Rose – “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (Netflix)
    Gabourey Sidibe – “Antebellum” (Lionsgate)
    Nia Long – “The Banker” (Apple)
    Phylicia Rashad – “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (Netflix)
    Taylour Paige – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)

    Outstanding Independent Motion Picture
    “Emperor” (Universal Home Video)
    “Farewell Amor” (IFC Films)
    “Miss Juneteenth” (Vertical Entertainment)
    “The 24th” (Vertical Entertainment)
    “The Banker” (Apple)

    Outstanding International Motion Picture
    “Ainu Mosir” (Array)
    “His House” (Netflix)
    “Night of the Kings” (Neon)
    “The Last Tree” (ArtMattan Productions)
    “The Life Ahead” (La vita davanti a se) (Netflix)

    Outstanding Breakthrough Performance in a Motion Picture
    Dayo Okeniyi – “Emperor” (Universal Home Video)
    Dominique Fishback – “Project Power” (Netflix)
    Jahi Di’Allo Winston – “Charm City Kings” (HBO Max)
    Jahzir Bruno – “The Witches” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
    Madalen Mills – “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (Netflix)

    Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture
    “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
    “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (Netflix)
    “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
    “Soul” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
    “The Banker” (Apple)

    WRITING CATEGORIES

    Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series
    Issa Rae – “Insecure” – “Lowkey Feelin’ Myself” (HBO)
    Lee Eisenberg, Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon – “Little America” – “The Rock” (Apple TV+)
    Michaela Coel – “I May Destroy You” – “Ego Death” (HBO)
    Mindy Kaling, Lang Fisher – “Never Have I Ever” “Pilot” (Netflix)
    Rajiv Joseph – “Little America” – “The Manager” (Apple TV+)

    Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series
    Attica Locke – “Little Fires Everywhere” – “The Spider Web” (Hulu)
    Erika L. Johnson, Mark Richard – “The Good Lord Bird” – “A Wicked Plot” (Showtime)
    Jessica Lamour – “Little Voice” – “Love Hurts” (Apple TV+)
    Katori Hall – “P-Valley” – “Perpetratin’” (Starz)
    Tanya Barfield – “Mrs. America” – “Shirley” (FX)

    Outstanding Writing in a Television Movie or Special
    Diallo Riddle, Bashir Salahuddin, D. Rodney Carter, Emily Goldwyn, Rob Haze, Zuri Salahuddin, Bennett Webber, Evan Williams, Will Miles – “Sherman’s Showcase Black History Month Spectacular” (IFC)
    Eugene Ashe – “Sylvie’s Love” (Amazon Studios)
    Geri Cole – “The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special” (HBO Max)
    Lin-Manuel Miranda – “Hamilton” (Disney+)
    Sylvia L. Jones, Camille Tucker – “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” (Lifetime)

    Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture
    David E. Talbert – “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (Netflix)
    Kemp Powers – “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
    Lee Isaac Chung – “Minari” (A24)
    Pete Docter, Kemp Powers, Mike Jones – “Soul” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
    Radha Blank – “The Forty-Year-Old Version” (Netflix)

    DIRECTING CATEGORIES

    Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series
    Anya Adams – “Black-ish” – “Hair Day” (ABC)
    Aurora Guerrero – “Little America” – “The Jaguar” (Apple TV+)
    Eric Dean Seaton – “Black-ish” – “Our Wedding Dre” (ABC)
    Kabir Akhtar – “Never Have I Ever” – “…started a nuclear war” (Netflix)
    Sam Miller, Michaela Coel – “I May Destroy You” – “Ego Death” (HBO)

    Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series
    Cheryl Dunye – “Lovecraft Country” – “Strange Case” (HBO)
    Hanelle Culpepper – “Star Trek: Picard” – “Remembrance” (CBS All Access)
    Misha Green – “Lovecraft Country” – “Jig-a-Bobo” (HBO)
    Nzingha Stewart – “Little Fires Everywhere” – “The Uncanny” (Hulu)
    Steve McQueen – “Small Axe” – “Mangrove” (Amazon Studios)

    Outstanding Directing in a Television Movie or Special
    Beyoncé Knowles Carter, Emmanuel Adeji, Blitz Bazawule, Kwasi Fordjour – “Black Is King” (Disney+)
    Christine Swanson – “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” (Lifetime)
    Chuck Vinson, Alan Muraoka – “The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special” (HBO Max)
    Eugene Ashe – “Sylvie’s Love” (Amazon Studios)
    Kamilah Forbes – “Between The World and Me” (HBO)

    Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture
    David E. Talbert – “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (Netflix)
    George C. Wolfe – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
    Gina Prince-Bythewood – “The Old Guard “(Netflix)
    Radha Blank – “The Forty-Year-Old Version” (Netflix)
    Regina King – “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)

    LITERARY CATEGORIES

    Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction
    “Black Bottom Saints” – Alice Randall (HarperCollins Publishers)
    “Lakewood” – Megan Giddings (HarperCollins Publishers)
    “Riot Baby” – Tochi Onyebuchi (TorDotCom Publishing, imprint of Tom Doherty Associates)
    “The Awkward Black Man” – Walter Mosley (Grove Atlantic)
    “The Vanishing Half” – Brit Bennett (Riverhead Books)

    Outstanding Literary Work – Nonfiction
    “A Black Women’s History of the United States” – Daina Berry (Beacon Press)
    “A Promised Land” – Barack Obama (Crown)
    “Driving While Black” – Gretchen Sorin (W. W. Norton & Company)
    “Long Time Coming: Reckoning With Race in America” – Michael Eric Dyson (St. Martin’s Press)
    “We’re Better Than This” – Elijah Cummings (HarperCollins Publishers)

    Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author
    “A Knock at Midnight” – Brittany Barnett (Penguin Random House)
    “Greyboy: Finding Blackness in a White World” – Cole Brown (Skyhorse)
    “Lakewood” – Megan Giddings (HarperCollins Publishers)
    “The Compton Cowboys” – Walter Thompson-Hernandez (HarperCollins Publishers)
    “We’re Better Than This” – Elijah Cummings (HarperCollins Publishers)

    Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Autobiography
    “A Most Beautiful Thing: The True Story of America’s First All-Black High School Rowing Team” – Arshay Cooper (Macmillan)
    “A Promised Land” – Barack Obama (Crown)
    “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice” – Deborah Draper (Simon & Schuster)
    “The Dead Are Arising” – Les Payne, Tamara Payne (W. W. Norton & Company)
    “Willie: The Game-Changing Story of the NHL’s First Black Player” – Willie O’Ree (Penguin Canada)

    Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry
    “Homie” – Danez Smith (Graywolf Press)
    “Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry” – John Murillo (Four Way Books)
    “Seeing the Body” – Rachel Eliza Griffiths (W. W. Norton & Company)
    “The Age of Phillis” – Honorée Jeffers (Wesleyan University Press)
    “Un-American” – Hafizah Geter (Wesleyan University Press)

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    February 4, 2021 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 661

  • NYFA Alum Rozette Rago Named an Honoree in 2020 Edition of Annual Photographers List

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    She has shot some of your favorite icons from Natalie Portman and Will Smith, to Steven Spielberg and Ryan Coogler, and capturing music icons U2, Metallica, Kanye West, and more. The NYFA Filmmaking alum, Rozette Rago, has had quite the career and she is only getting started, having recently nabbed a spot on the coveted list of “The 30.”

    The 30 is recognized throughout the professional photography industry as a “go-to” outlet to discover some of the best photographers in the world and serves as a platform to elevate emerging photographers growing their careers. Each year, The 30 are selected through a nomination and jurying process that includes the input of established photographers, photo editors, art directors, curators, and other industry leaders that are cultivated by Photo District News Magazine.

    Rago attended an 8-Week NYFA Filmmaking program in 2010 and has since gone on to shoot for The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, Vanity Fair, The FADER, HBO, A+E Networks, Rolling Stone, and many more. She has also been profiled by CNN and Masterpiece for her body of work and has been hailed by Culture Photo Editor at The Times as “one of those photographers who elevates the ordinary,”

    NYFA alum used for U2’s promotional materials (Photo by Rozette Rago)

    After arriving on the scene in Los Angeles, Rago shot for bands like U2, Interpol, and Metallica, which then allowed her to leverage her portfolio to get a job as a photo editor at Time Out Los Angeles. For the past three years, she’s been a photo editor at Wirecutter in addition to contributing to other publications and networking with other women in the industry. She’s a member of groups including Authority Collective, Women Photograph, and Diversify Photo.

    Steven Spielberg (Photo by Rozette Rag0)

    The Filipino-American photographer shared with The 30 that she is grateful for the path that she has taken and shares it has “landed me exactly where I want to be,” with a career that has captured stories, scenes from music, performers, and more.

    The cast of “Crazy Rich Asians” and Director Jonathan Chu by Rozette Rago

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Rozette Rago on her incredible journey and for the well-deserved recognition by her peers on being named in The Annual 30 Photographers List.

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  • Sony’s Gemstone Studios’ Inaugural Rising Storytellers Search Names NYFA Alum Krystina Christiansen as a Finalist

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    Originally reported in Deadline, NYFA Producing alum Krystina Christiansen was named one of four finalists competing for a chance to sign a deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT) and win additional prizes in Gemstone Studios’ inaugural Rising Storytellers Search.

    The Houston, TX native originally received her BA in Public Relations at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX before coming to New York Film Academy. “I have been running around with a camera in hand since I was a kid,” shared Christiansen. “I didn’t know what I was doing was called filmmaking and I didn’t grow up obsessing over the art of filmmaking. I just really love storytelling.”

    NYFA producing alum Krystina Christiansen

    “When I got to college, I didn’t see a ‘reasonable’ path to filmmaking outside of being an entertainment lawyer so I went to law school in San Diego with that intent,” she revealed. Not long after, Christiansen recalled sitting in a class one day watching a documentary and it was there she realized she would rather be the person who made that documentary than the student watching it, leading her to study at New York Film Academy.

    “What I got from my time at NYFA was what education has always given me – the confidence I feel I need to move towards my goals. Specifically to NYFA, I love how diverse the community is; I was one of 3 Americans in my class.”

    NYFA producing alum Krystina Christiansen

    After pursuing her MFA in Producing at NYFA, Christiansen worked on an array of productions, directing and producing music videos and a web series, followed by a handful of short films. “I realized I was burning myself out working on shoe-string budget passion projects so I started working as a coordinator.” She then landed her first feature with Black-owned production company Hidden Empire Film Group as a Travel Coordinator for the film Traffik starring Omar Epps and Paula Patton.

    “The cinematographer on Traffik, Dante Spinotti, taught me so much with his actions. He really raised the bar of expectations on the type of people I want to work with. Talent is great, but kindness is key,” shared Christiansen.

    Since then, the NYFA alum has been working in the digital and commercial space as a coordinator and has worked her way up to production managing and producing with companies like Participant’s digital arm SoulPancake, and in 2020 she produced, wrote, and directed for TikTok, The Redford Center, USC Keck Medicine, and others in the commercial and doc space.

    Krystina Christiansen behind the scenes shooting “Closing the Gap” for The Redford Center

    Now Christiansen is being recognized for her work and ideas for her project The Narrative by Sony’s Gemstone Studios by being named one of the four finalists in the inaugural Rising Storytellers Search. Her entry pitch for her project, The Narrative, a hybrid docudrama that takes an anthropological view of decades of civil unrest in Houston.

    “When I was 13, I overheard a newscaster talking about the 30 year anniversary of a trial in Houston called ‘The Houston 12.’ While watching it I recognized one of the men was my dad,” she revealed. “He was working overseas at the time and there’s nothing about this trial online so I kept hitting walls anytime I’d inquire about it. My dad is incredibly humble about this, but I knew there was a story here and as mentioned, I love a good story.”

    Christiansen did everything she could to dig deeper into her research to uncover the truth behind The Houston 12 and spent 2019 flying back and forth to Houston to sit in Rice University’s basement reading two decades of microfilm to do research for the story. Throughout that process, she noticed alarming patterns within media stories that revealed covered up corruption and, eventually, the articles detailing the Houston 12 trial.

    Krystina Christiansen shooting “Closing the Gap” for The Redford Center

    The four finalists for Gemstone Studios’ inaugural Rising Storytellers Search, including Christiansen, will receive tools from Sony Alpha and team up with mentors from both SPT and Ideas United to refine their final pitch reels before presenting them for judging in November. In addition to a deal with Gemstone, the creator of the winning proposal will take home equipment from Sony and get access to the company’s Digital Media Production Center (DMPC) technical-virtual training. All finalists will also be given a 24-month subscription to Celtx Video Production Studio Software and Josefinas products.

    New York Film Academy is thrilled to share the exciting news about Krystina Christiansen being named a finalist and wishes the NYFA alum the best of luck and all the support for her biggest and most personal project yet, The Narrative

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    November 19, 2020 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 688

  • Hans Augustave Unveils New, Powerful Short Film ‘Before I Knew’

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    “This was before I felt the need to make up for my imposing stature and hue by developing an overly gentle and inviting persona.

    This was before George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castille, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice…”

    This is before I knew I was Black.”

    These statements and more are included in Hans Augustave’s latest short film Before I Knew, a visual poem that he wrote, directed, produced, and appeared in. 

    The Haitian-American filmmaker attended NYFA’s One Year Conservatory Program in Producing and then became a digital video producer for BLUR, a tech startup with an in-house production team. There, he directed, shot, and edited dozens of ads for the digital space. He then moved to the independent film world where he currently works as an Assistant Director. 

    Also a Dj (DJ Hanzi), Augustave’s storytelling journey has taken him from the art of spoken word, to the stage with his one-man show The Lost and Found and now to the screen with his latest project Before I Knew; a visual poem depicting the subtle and not so subtle ways Black men come to the realization that they are seen as less than human. 

    While working on the film, Augustave was introduced to sound mixer Edward Morris II, who worked on Before I Knew. After having started to mix the sound, Augustave found out that Morris’ cousin was Elijah McClain, a young Black man who was killed by the police and whose story broke to the media when Before I Knew was in post-production.

    Augustave is also co-producer on a documentary feature film The Forgotten Occupation  which examines the United States’ occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934 and the  negative impacts on Haiti’s current political climate. 

    As DJ Hanzi, Augustave founded the popular and growing sober-curious dance party, Reprieve. “It’s part Funk, part House, part Pride, very Black and ALL Love,” shared Augustave. “It’s defying the misconception that no booze & no drugs = no fun.” 

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Hans Augustave on his powerful short film Before I Knew and encourages readers to watch and have their own discussions about the short film. 

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    September 18, 2020 • Diversity, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 797

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Filmmaking Alum Drama del Rosario Awarded ‘Juried Prize’ in The 2020 PBS Short Film Festival

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    In late July, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Drama del Rosario received one of the two awarded prizes for the 2020 PBS Short Film Festival. The documentary filmmaking alum caught the eye of voters and the prestigious Jury for the competition and ultimately received this years ‘Juried Prize’ for his film In This Family

    Del Rosario was awarded the prestigious prize by eight jury members, who selected the NYFA alum’s film as their favorite out of all the festival selections. In addition to del Rosario’s film, all festival selections are available to the public to watch online.

    ‘In This Family’ film poster

    Del Rosario is a Filipinx documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He is the recipient of the 2019 BAFTA-GSA Commissioning Grant for his documentary film, I’m Okay (And Neither Are You), which touches on sexual assault trauma from a gay couple’s perspective. The NYFA alum is known for creating documentary films that challenge the Filipinx Catholic background and he has worked with many international names including BeBe Zahara Benet (Winner, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 1) and Sophie Sumner (Winner, America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 18). 

    His latest documentary, In This Family, is a twelve minute short film that chronicles what happens after del Rosario’s teach outs him as a gay man and includes recordings of his family’s reaction to the news.

    “Thank you so much to everyone who watched and voted for my documentary! Your support has been so overwhelming, and I am so moved by all the messages from queer youth, parents of queer children, and teachers of queer students,” shared del Rosario. “I hope this documentary moves us closer to helping the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and loved, especially within Asian families and schools.”

    Del Rosario also credits NYFA alum Naya Rivera, who tragically passed away in early July, as a source of inspiration for his short film. “In the documentary, I reference various queer programs, Glee especially. Naya Rivera’s character, Santana Lopez, was one of the crucial queer characters that helped me and my family get to where we are now. It is a testament to how much queer entertainment can change the life of a family on the other side of the world. Rest in Power, Naya Rivera.”

    The NYFA alum also shares that this documentary is an important release in his native country as it is produced by Cinematografo, which is under the Filipino production company ABS-CBN International. “It has been so humbling to have this documentary represent how important it is to keep Philippine media alive and growing! Our voices need to be heard!” His full statement can be found below.

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    WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!!!!!!!! 🎉🔥✨💕😭🎊⭐️🏆 My documentary film “IN THIS FAMILY” is officially the JURY WINNER for this year’s PBS Short Film Festival! This is so huge coming from a very, very stacked jury! 😱 Thank you so much to everyone who watched and voted for my documentary! Your support has been so overwhelming, and I am so moved by all the messages from queer youth, parents of queer children, and teachers of queer students. I hope this documentary moves us closer to helping the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and loved, especially within Asian families and schools. ❤️ Furthermore, showcasing this documentary at this particular time has been special to me for two reasons… 1️⃣ First, this documentary is executive produced by Cinematografo, which is under ABS-CBN International. As a lot of people know, ABS-CBN and Philippine media in general are not in a good place right now because of Philippine politics. It has been so humbling to have this documentary represent how important it is to keep Philippine media alive and growing! Our voices need to be heard! 2️⃣ Second, I am extremely touched by all the messages from Glee fans regarding the recent death of Naya Rivera. In the documentary, I reference various queer programs, Glee especially. Naya Rivera’s character Santana Lopez was one of the crucial queer characters that helped me and my family get to where we are now. It is a testament to how much queer entertainment can change the life of a family on the other side of the world. Rest in Power, Naya Rivera. ❤️ I am incredibly honored to receive this award. Thank you so much to CAAM (@caamedia and their superstar team @czarinagee, @akolaurenlola, @livinproofsf, @gracehwanglynch, @krakauer, @sushboy34 ++) for believing in my film as your official entry and for always supporting my career as a documentary filmmaker. Thank you so much to PBS (@pbs) for putting together an amazing film festival with an amazing film line-up and jury. And most of all, thank you so much to my family for continuing to change and grow. I would not be where I am right now had you not powered through the discomfort of growth and change. ALL MY LOVE! 🏆💕

    A post shared by Drama Del Rosario (@dramadelrosario) on

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Drama del Rosario for his latest achievement and looks forward to what is next from the talented filmmaker. 

    To watch the full documentary, view below or click here

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