Film Festivals

  • NYFA Alumni Films at The American Pavilion



    NYFA Faculty Suki Medencevic is DP on Shining Vale

    May 26, 2022

    Once a year, every year, the south of France becomes the premium destination for filmmakers and producers to gather at various film festivals like the Cannes Film Festival, the Cannes Series Festival and the American Pavilion.

    Since 1989, The American Pavilion has been the central hub for American filmmakers at The Cannes International Film Festival. The American Pavilion’s mission is to bring professional and emerging filmmakers together through programming and film screenings like the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase allowing student filmmakers to showcase their work to Cannes Festival and Film Market attendees.

    In 2020 and 2021, the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase went virtual, due to Covid-19. This year, the American Pavilion is giving those films a live in-person screening. Among the films selected to be screened are three films by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni:

    Meital Cohen Navarro

    NYFA MFA Filmmaking alum Meital Cohen Navarro is an award-winning, Israeli-born narrative and documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles.

    Navarro makes her Cannes debut with the screening of Over My Dead Body, the story of a young Jewish Persian-American woman, who reveals to her parents that her fiancé is Muslim right after announcing her engagement. Her parents are devastated by the news and give her an ultimatum: her fiancé or her family. The film explores the internal conflict surrounding a family of Jewish immigrants from Iran now living in Los Angeles.


    Navarro spoke with NYFA about shooting a film in a foreign language, the importance of cinema at a time like this and how food brings us together.

    Dr. Ariel Orama López

    NYFA Acting for Film Alum Dr. Ariel Orama López is an award winning filmmaker, actor and producer. His film 2ḦOOM [Zoom], a live-action/animation hybrid short film filmed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic centered on the lives of two brothers who reconnect using Zoom, is finally getting it in-person screening at The American Pavilion. The selection of 2ḦOOM for the Emerging Filmmakers Showcase marks the first time a short film filmed and created by a Puerto Rican person is screened at The American Pavilion.

    Dr. Ariel Orama López spoke with NYFA about the inspiration behind 2ḦOOM and filming during a pandemic. Read the interview here.

    Lopez is no stranger to the festival circuit, his film One, about Hurricane Maria and its impact on Puerto Rico in 2017 won 36 international laurels and ten international prizes.

    Robby Sun

    NYFA BFA Filmmaking alum Yueh-Tzu “Robby” Sun is a Taiwan-born filmmaker and writer with experience as a director and editor. Sun’s film, A-Tien, is about a freelance taxi driver who is upset by a big 5-Star taxi company snatching customers and decides to form a protest.


    Meital Cohen Navarro on the red carpet.

    NYFA Alumni Dr. Ariel Orama López and Robby Sun at the American Pavilion.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Meital Cohen Navarro, Dr. Ariel Orama López and Robby Sun on their screenings and their success!


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


    May 26, 2022 • Film Festivals • Views: 163

  • Q&A With NYFA Student Israa Al-Kamali


    NYFA MFA Filmmaking student Israa Al-Kamali decided not to bring a seat to the table but instead build a table of her own. Israa, who is of Iraqi origin, co-founded the Independent Iraqi Film FestivalIIFF is a community driven, not-for-profit platform dedicated to supporting films from and about Iraq.

    Israa Al-Kamali spoke with NYFA about what inspired her to bring this festival to life and the importance of Iraqi stories.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What did you study and what made you decide to come to New York Film Academy?

    Israa Al-Kamali (IA): I graduated with a BSc. in Foreign Service in Culture and Politics, at Georgetown University. I am currently studying MFA in Filmmaking at NYFA, LA. Ever since I was a kid, I was writing stories and over the years I began to notice that my stories are very visual; I would imagine the way the camera would move or what the soundtrack would sound like. I decided on NYFA because I wanted a hands-on intensive experience with a holistic approach to the art of directing. The NYFA LA campus is located in one of the hot spots of the filmmaking industry in the US. Therefore, I chose NYFA-LA.

    NYFA: Do you have any advice for incoming students? What about international students coming to study at NYFA?

    IA: My advice would be to make sure to always be visible and that happens through collaboration with other students, take advantage of networking opportunities, be professional, carry a good attitude, and try new things. I know it’s easier said than done but as long as you carry your passion with you, people will notice it.  The second piece of advice I want to give is that your education and your degrees not only depend on the classes you take but also on the way you shape them; use the resources at the school to network with people in the industry, look for like-minded individuals who have similar goals and approaches in their creativity. Do not limit yourself to your classrooms, venture out and seek fellow creatives who focus on similar interests. 

    NYFA: Can you tell us more about your career and more about starting Iraq’s first independent film festival?

    IA: After graduating from Georgetown, I worked in PR, social media, and content development, but I was writing scripts and stories on the side. It became unavoidable. I had to start working on my dreams.  Independent Iraqi Film Festival (IIFF) is a community-driven platform dedicated to supporting films from and about Iraq, facilitated by me and three other Iraqi volunteers working in the creative industry. The seven-day festival is online and free, featuring shorts programs, feature films, and Q&As. It can be viewed worldwide, with English subtitles. Sharing the most exciting work by emerging and established Iraqi filmmakers, our aim is to showcase the diversity and resilience of our people, as well as the breadth of our culture to a global audience. 

    NYFA: Why is the film festival market an important place for independent film festivals? Can you explain the significance of this particular film festival in Iraq? 

    IA: The Independent Iraqi Film Festival was born out of my love for films and Iraq as well as the urgent need to create a platform and space for Iraqi stories and storytellers. From conversations with Iraqi communities both in Iraq and in the diaspora, I and my fellow co-founders knew that there was an appetite and curiosity regarding Iraqi stories by Iraqis. Our experiences are complex whether back in Iraq or in the various Iraqi communities in the diaspora. Iraq is rich in culture, history, and diversity, and it is time for our stories to be highlighted and brought to global audiences. 

    We created this first-of-its-kind festival to uplift filmmakers, inspire audiences, and engage the film industry in the country. Iraqi films are not given the spotlight they deserve and it is not because there aren’t any films made by Iraqis; the 90+ submissions we received this year and the 5000 online viewers we had last year are an indicator that there is a lot of talent and passion out there.

    Iraqis have watched their experiences and stories being told by others through films that are usually filled with racism and stereotypes; War and destruction is the only point of reference and it often ignores the nuances of the Iraqi experience whether in Iraq and outside the homeland. Our festival created a space for Iraqi creatives from all communities to come together to tell our stories. This festival is for Iraqis in Iraq and in the diaspora, for every resilient Iraqi who is fighting the everyday battle to preserve our history, culture, and experiences. It is for the creatives and storytellers. It is definitely for non-Iraqis too to come and watch our stories on screen, celebrate people’s resilience, learn more about our rich and complex experiences in the homeland and beyond. It is for the emerging young Iraqi filmmakers to get a chance to showcase their talents to global audiences and for the established filmmakers to give more people the chance to enjoy and engage with their films.

    NYFA: How do you hope to see IIFF grow in the next few years?

    IA: Our first edition of the festival, August 2020, was very successful. We had 80+ submissions last year and 5000 total online viewers. For our closing night, we hosted an in-person premiere of Baghdad in my Shadow (2019) by Dir. Samir in London. Our festival was covered by various international news outlets, radios, and magazines such as GQ Magazine, Al Jazeera, Grazia, Middle East Monitor, Monte Carlo Radio in Arabic, etc.

    We are hoping to continue to grow as a festival and showcase more Iraqi stories, host lectures, workshops, and screen more films in person. 

    NYFA: Do you have any upcoming projects coming up that you can share?

    In addition to working on the festival, I am currently working on my first feature film at NYFA. Right now I am in the development stages and I hope I see it come to life.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Israa on all the work she’s done with the Independent Iraqi Film Festival – we can’t wait to see this festival continue to grow!





    March 9, 2022 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 823

  • Q&A with NYFA Screenwriting Alum Shreyas Ayaluri


    NYFA One-Year Screenwriting alum Shreyas Ayaluri hails from India and currently resides in Los Angeles, California were he’s been working as a screenwriter since graduating in 2018.

    Shreyas’ recent film Elvis Escobar & Juniper Lea has been gaining traction in the film festival circuit and was Second Rounder at the Austin Film Festival. Second Rounders were chosen from a record field of 14,648 scripts entered in Screenplay, Digital Series, Playwriting, and Fiction Podcast Competitions at AFF.

    Shreyas spoke with NYFA about his passion for storytelling, his process and his “pandemic baby” Elvis Escobar & Juniper Lea.

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

    Shreyas Ayaluri (SA): At the age of 22, I decided that I want to tell stories for a living, and quit my perfectly fine advertising job. I moved to the states from India with little-to-no knowledge of screenwriting and film history. I had heard good things about New

     York Film Academy’s screenwriting program and I knew I had to start there. So I started my storytelling journey in the spring of 2018, among aspiring artists and working professionals, and it was probably the best decision I’ve ever made.

    NYFA: Why have you decided to focus on screenwriting?

    SA: Ever since I was a little kid, I was obsessed with Hollywood and storytelling. I grew up watching Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, The Karate Kid and I would conjure up characters, situations, set pieces in my head and put that on a piece of paper. I always had a certain bond with paper and  pen that grew and transitioned to a keypad and a screen. It sounds anticlimactic but the point is I would always write. I just had a lot of stories in me that I wanted to share. I would later write short stories, experiment with genres and linearity and post it on my since-deleted blog. My friends and family seemed to really like my work, but then again they are friends and family. I was later able to secure a copywriting job because of that very blog. And one day as I was driving back home from my copywriting job, I stopped at a billboard of an ad I wrote, and that was it, when I saw my words spread across that massive billboard, it hit me – I finally knew what I really wanted to do with my life.

    NYFA: What are your day-to-day duties as a screenwriter?

    SA: The world of screenwriting hasn’t changed much, maybe the last change was the transition to laptops from typewriters. That reminds me, I’ve always wondered what they did back in the day when they had a typo in the second to last line, but I digress. “Screenwriting” sounds fancy but for me, it’s really a lot of observation, contemplation and introspection. I love it. The day’s writing usually begins with an idea I scribbled down before I went to bed the previous night, and knitting an idea mentally before I put it down on the paper and from there it’s a lot of testing and seeing what sticks. And I spend at least an hour digging through various rabbit holes to find the perfect music for a specific scene. When I’m able to churn out good five to ten pages, it’s like a VIP pass to Coachella with your favorite artists headlining. The feeling is euphoric. No, I’ve never been to Coachella.

    Every story idea blossoms from my memories or the ones that I think are memories, stories I hear, someone I met, some experience I had, felt and from there I pull myself out completely and try and write that very thing objectively.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your most recent film? What inspired it? 

    SA: I wrote a silly idea I had into a full blown screenplay during the pandemic called “Elvis Escobar & Juniper Lea” as an ode to Jeff Goldblum and also to bring some laughter during those testing times, and little did I know the screenplay took off and garnered some great reviews! Today EEJR, my pandemic baby, has been gaining great traction in the festivals, and has been placed as:

    Screencraft Comedy 2021— Quarterfinalist

    Austin Film Festival 2021— Second Rounder

    StoryPros Awards 14th Annual — Semifinalist

    Filmmatic Comedy Screenplay Awards Season 6 — Quarterfinalist

    Still awaiting results from other top-tier festivals. And through all of that, I was able to get Elvis Escobar & Juniper Lea in front of some really influential people in the industry, and is currently being viewed and vetted by a few managers.

    NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on?

    SA: I’m working on a couple of different projects at the moment: a sci-fi feature, an unscripted TV show pitch, and my passion project, a limited series that I’ve been ideating for years. The show sprouts from childhood memories that couldn’t be more far from reality. I know, what kind of an elevator pitch was that? But that’s how my mind works. I’m also currently shopping for representation.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work?

    SA: The school taught me all there is to learn in screenwriting. NYFA gave me the skills I needed to adapt and grow with the industry and its needs. 

    Also, the courage to break a few rules here and there once I was well-versed on the subject. Instructors at NYFA are simultaneously working in the industry or at least have one foot in the industry so they’re not only teaching you the subject but are also sharing their industry experience as they live it. And you want all those tidbits, their experiences, the tales they remember from the backlot and that’s what makes NYFA so wholesome. Jerry Shandy & Benjamin Sztajnkrycer were two such instructors who went along with my idiosyncrasies and pushed me to further explore and create.

    I graduated from NYFA’s one-year screenwriting program in 2018, and the feature screenplay that I developed while in the program “Amuse Me” fetched me an award for Best Screenplay and a bunch of accolades from top tier festivals, and is still going strong. The script went to Austin twice. There were queries from the industry members for the script – and this was my first ever screenplay! And since then I have written over 7 screenplays including features & tv (most of them placed in top-tier film festivals) produced multiple award-winning shorts and went on to write a song for Broadway.

    NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

    SA: NYFA’s curriculum is such that, they not only teach you the subject but they also guide you through all aspects of filmmaking, and and at the end of it, you can have your first screenplay, your directorial debut, your first film that you produced and your acting reel for Curb Your Enthusiasm season 15. 

    Think of NYFA as the coolest and the fastest DMV that has international staff and comes with its own driving school that not only provides you with the license but also teaches you how to drive a car, a truck, a jet-ski, and also a Segway, even if you went there only for a scooter. 

    You’re surrounded by such talented people from all walks of life, you’re always learning. The exposure, the experience and the knowledge is irreplaceable. NYFA is the best place to create, experiment, fail and to rinse & repeat. 

    NYFA: What is next for you?

    SA: I believe the world has seen and had enough. Especially this past year and honestly everyone needs a break. People are just running crazy, there’s so much stress and anxiety everywhere. I just want to bring laughter into this world. I want to be an enabler in all this. And that’s what I’m trying to do through my stories. I want to bring back the charm and the fun of the 80’s and 90’s with today’s relevance and themes wrapped in a delightful, light package, and leave all the preachings, the teachings and the Oscar tales to the wiser ones.

    NYFA congratulates Shreyas on his successes and Elvis Escobar & Juniper Lea!


    February 18, 2022 • Diversity, Film Festivals, International Diversity, Screenwriting • Views: 1291




    NYFA Celebrates Oscar 2022 Nominations

    The nominations for the 94th Annual Academy Awards are in! This year’s nominees were
    announced by the internet’s favorites Tracee Ellis Ross and Leslie Jordan on Tuesday,
    February 8th.

    By the pricking of my thumbs, some nominations this way come.

    There were some snubs, firsts, surprises and some not-so-surprising but entirely welcomed
    moments, like Denzel Washington dethroning himself as the most-nominated Black actor with
    his 10th nomination for The Tragedy of Macbeth.

    The Power of the Dog leads with 12 Oscar nominations including Best Picture,
    Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Adapted Screenplay and director Jane Campion makes
    history as the first female director to be nominated for Best Director twice.
    The Power of the Dog’s
    Cinematographer Ari Wegner could make history as the first woman to win Best Cinematography.

    Coming in close second this year is Dune with 10 Oscar nominations
    including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Visual
    Effects. NYFA 3D Animation and VFX Alum Francesco Panzieri was the in-house compositor for
    the adaptation of the Frank Herbert classic. In a Q&A with NYFA about the film, Panzieri
    told NYFA that he had been tapped for the project long before it began production; the
    in-house team at Wylie VFX sought his collaboration after Panzieri’s work on Terminator: Dark Fate.

    Also nominated for Best Picture is NYFA Guest Speaker Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. NYFA Musical Theatre Alum Ilda Mason was casted as Luz, a member of the sharks in Spielberg’s remake, shortly after her run on Broadway in Ivo van Hove’s Broadway revival of West Side Story in 2020. The on-screen revival is also nominated for Best Cinematography making it the 7th Academy nomination for Spielberg’s long-time collaborator and NYFA Guest Speaker Janusz Kaminski. But perhaps most outstanding is Steven Spielberg’s nomination for Best Director; with this nomination, Spielberg became the first director to be nominated 11 times in the category, dethroning former record holder and cult-favorite, Martin Scorsese.

    Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter has been all the rave since premiering last December
    and the debut feature is not letting up. Gyllenhaal is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay
    for her adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s classic of the same title. The film is also
    represented in the Best Actress category, with Olivia Colman nominated for her
    outstanding performance in Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut alongside Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers), Nicole Kidman (Becoming the Ricardos), Kristen Stewart (Spencer), Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye). Also nominated for her work on The Lost Daughter is Jessie Buckley for Best Supporting Actress. The film’s producers Osnat Handelsmen – Keren and Talia Kleinhendler spoke at length with the Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, Tova Laiter, during a Q&A about the process (and difficulty) of securing the rights to adapt an Elena Ferrante novel and filming during a pandemic with closed borders and a mostly international cast and crew. It seems it was worth it in the end as the film continues to collect nominations this award season. Not too bad for a directorial debut.

    Beloved animated film Luca brings in a nomination for Best Animated Film for Pixar Studios.
    NYFA Alum Raquel Bordin is part of Pixar’s International Editorial Department, where she
    worked for 11 weeks putting the final touches on the coming-of-age Italian film. More of
    Bordin’s work is headed to the big screen. She recently confirmed with us that she is
    working on the animated sci-fi feature, Lightyear, set to release this summer.

    Also in the Best Animated Film category is NYFA Guest Speaker Amy Smeed who continues to
    soar as Head of Animation at Walt Disney Animation Studio and co-head animator for
    Raya and The Last Dragon
    which has been nominated for Best Animated Film. The animated Danish documentary, Flee, is also nominated and makes Oscar history as the first film to be nominated for Best Animated Film, Best International Feature and Best Documentary.

    Nominated alongside Dune for Best Visual Effects is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Director Destin Daniel Cretton and actor Simu Liu spoke with NYFA during a Q&A curated and moderated by Tova Laiter about bringing the Marvel comic to life, representation and working with special effects.

    Lastly, Drive My Car, adapted from Haruki Murakami’s short story by the same name and
    directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, is the first Japanese film to be nominated for Best Picture
    and the first Japanese film to be nominated in more than one category including
    Best International Feature, Best Directing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

    NYFA congratulates all the nominees, alumni and guest speakers for their nominations at the
    94th Annual Academy Awards! We look forward to hearing the winners on March 27th, 2022 on

    Check out the complete list of nominees below:


    “CODA” – Winner
    “Don’t Look Up”
    “Drive My Car”
    “King Richard”
    “Licorice Pizza”
    “Nightmare Alley”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “West Side Story”


    Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter”
    Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story” – Winner
    Judi Dench, “Belfast”
    Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog”
    Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”


    Ciaran Hinds, “Belfast”
    Troy Kotsur, “CODA” – Winner
    Jesse Plemons, “The Power of the Dog”
    J.K. Simmons, “Being the Ricardos”
    Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog”


    “Drive My Car” – Winner
    “The Hand of God”
    “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom”
    “The Worst Person in the World”


    “Lead Me Home”
    “The Queen of Basketball” – Winner
    “Three Songs for Benazir”
    “When We Were Bullies”


    “Summer of Soul” – Winner
    Writing with Fire”


    “King Richard”
    “No Time to Die” – Winner
    “Four Good Days”


    “Encanto” – Winner
    “The Mitchells vs. The Machine”
    “Raya and the Last Dragon”


    “CODA” – Winner
    “Drive My Car”
    “The Lost Daughter”
    “The Power of the Dog”


    “Belfast” – Winner
    “Don’t Look Up”
    “King Richard”
    “Licorice Pizza”
    “The Worst Person in the World”


    Javier Bardem, “Being the Ricardos”
    Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog”
    Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick… Boom!”
    Will Smith, “King Richard” – Winner
    Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”


    Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” – Winner
    Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter”
    Penelope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers”
    Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos”
    Kristen Stewart, “Spencer”


    Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”
    Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
    Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”
    Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog” – Winner
    Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”


    “Dune” – Winner
    “Nightmare Alley”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
    “West Side Story”


    “Dune” – Winner
    “Nightmare Alley”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
    “West Side Story”


    “Cruella” – Winner
    “Nightmare Alley”
    “Westside Story”


    “Dune” – Winner
    “No Time to Die”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “Westside Story”


    “Affairs of the Art”
    “Robin Robin”
    “The Windshield Wiper” – Winner


    “Ala Kachuu — Take and Run”
    “The Dress”
    “The Long Goodbye” – Winner
    “On My Mind”
    “Please Hold”


    “Don’t Look Up”
    “Dune” – Winner
    “Parallel Mothers”
    “The Power of the Dog”


    “Dune” – Winner
    “Free Guy”
    “No Time to Die”
    “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
    “Spider-Man: No Way Home”


    “Don’t Look Up”
    “Dune” – Winner
    “King Richard”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “Tick, Tick… Boom!”


    “Coming 2 America”
    “Cruella” – Winner
    “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” – Winner
    “House of Gucci”

  • Q&A With NYFA Alum Marija Apcevska on Her Selection at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival


    Film and Media Production alum, Marija Apcevska caught up with NYFA to share some exciting news. Her latest work, Severen Pol (North Pole) was selected in this year’s 2021 Cannes Film Festival. Apcevska is a graduate of the Film and Media Production MA program at the Los Angeles campus and represents North Macedonia (her home country) in this year’s festival. Severen Pol (North Pole) competes with nine other films across Iran, Denmark, France, Brazil, and others. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Can you provide a synopsis of Severen Pol?

    Marija Apcevsk (MA): The film takes place in a misty field and crowded locker room. Margo belongs to neither. Maybe if she loses her virginity, she will finally find her place.

    North Pole film poster

    Severen Pol (North Pole) was selected at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival

    NYFA: What was your reaction when your film was selected for the Cannes Film Festival 2021? How did you find out?

    MA: I received a phone call from them and it was such a surreal experience and feeling. At first, I couldn’t believe it and then it quickly transformed into a total mix of emotions. Obviously, publishing the information was not allowed until the official release of the selection, so it was difficult for both me and the producer, Robert Naskov, not to share the joy immediately. Being selected at Cannes is a tremendous honor for everyone but for us, this was even bigger as North Pole is the first film ever from our country to be selected at Cannes Film Festival. We have never had a film before, in any section. 

    Marija Apcevska headshot

    Director and Filmmaker, Marija Apcevska

    NYFA: What other projects have you worked on during these past few years? Have they won any additional awards or showcased in any festivals or competitions?

    MA: I previously shot another short film, Ambi, which also had a festival run. It was actually screened in LA as well, at Hollyshorts 2017. Apart from that, I have directed and worked as a second unit director on TV series in North Macedonia, I have been directing ads and I also worked as a teaching assistant at a directing department for two years.

    NYFA: Tell us more about your latest project & how you got involved.

    MA: North Pole is an intimate story about acceptance and belonging, told from the perspective of the teenage girl, played by an amazing young actress, Antonija Belazelkoska. I had an idea about it for quite a while and I wrote the script in 2018. We then applied to the European Short Pitch, a development platform, where they select only 16 scripts. We won one of the awards at the pitching session there and we also met our co-producer from Serbia during this time. The film was scheduled for shooting in the winter of 2019/2020, but due to weather conditions and then Covid 19, it got pushed to 2020/2021. We shot it in January 2021, on 16mm film, on locations in North Macedonia, and then immediately started with post-production. It was a challenging shoot from many aspects, including working with strict Covid protocols.

    Set photo from North Pole featuring Director, Marija Apcevska

    Set photo from North Pole featuring Director, Marija Apcevska (middle)

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

    MA: I love the time I spent at NYFA and always look back at it with nostalgia. One of the main things I carry with me from NYFA is respect and togetherness with the crew. It takes a lot of effort to make films and that is only possible when there is mutual understanding and support. I already had a BA in directing when I enrolled at NYFA for my masters, but nevertheless, the way the studies are organized, I got to work on different student projects as grip, boom operator, AD, etc. I think this practical approach toward film education is very important because even if you know that, it reminds you how crucial each role is and how important teamwork is. It basically reminds you to stay humble. And being humble and grateful is very important to me, in filmmaking, and in life in general. 

    Severen Pol (North Pole) production still

    Severen Pol (North Pole) production still

    NYFA: Are there any other upcoming projects we should know about?

    MA: North Pole is now traveling to festivals and I am currently developing the script for my first feature film, Spring Cleaning. Spring Cleaning was selected for development at LIM Less is More 2021, a program led by Le Groupe Ouest (France), and also selected at Cannes Focus COPRO 2021. The film touches on themes of life after death, following the story of a young woman who faces a difficult relationship with her home country once she returns home after her mother’s suicide.

    You can keep up-to-date with Marija, her latest work, and existing news on her Instagram (@mapcevska). New York Film Academy congratulates Marija on this well-deserved selection and wishes her much success in the future. 


    October 22, 2021 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1284

  • Filmmaking Alum Jameelah Rose Lineses Discusses The Khatak Film Society


    Jameelah Rose Lineses, a New York Film Academy (NYFA)  1-Year Filmmaking alum spoke with us about her recent work founding the film organization Khatak Film Society

    Khatak Film Society

    Founded in 2020 and based in New York City, the Khatak Film Society aims to shine a spotlight on emerging filmmakers from eastern Asia. The Society showcases films from filmmakers located in other regions of the Himalayas and Tibet and recently finished Season 2 programming at the International Film Festival Manhattan (IFFM) in May 2021. Rose Lineses is also member of the jury for the IFFM 2021 in Manhattan. This will be her second time as a jury member in the October Autumn 2021 Edition.

    Since completing her education at NYFA, Jameelah has won several awards for her various film projects, including Best Cinematography Award at the 8th Annual IFFM for her music video, Atareek in 2018. 

    Jameelah is a Saudi Arabian-born director and a member of the New York Women in Film and Television Organization. Inspired by the Tibetan people she met on social media, she founded the Khatak Film Society as a platform to “discover and nurture Tibetan/Himalayan up-and-coming filmmakers.”

    Jameelah Rose Lineses

    Jameelah Rose Lineses (right)

    Since 2020, the Society has screened two seasons worth of special programming for the IFFM. In their first season, the Society awarded ‘Best Music Video’ to Bhuchung and Karma Yeshi Namdak for their video, Tsedung. In the Spring of this year, the Khatak Film Society showcased Tibetan films as well as Ladakhi, Nepali, and Bhutanese films at their screenings. They awarded ‘Best Upcoming Filmmaker’ to Ngawang Dhargyal.

    The Khatak Film Society is currently gearing up for Season 3 of its programming for the IFFM, which will take place between October 14th and October 17th, 2021. The programming includes both in-person and virtual events including:

    October 14, 2021
    Opening Night and Awards Ceremony
    Location: Kalayaan Hall, Philippine Center

    October 16 & 17, 2021
    Virtual Film Screenings with select live screenings
    Location: Producers Club

    New York Film Academy congratulates Jameelah for the success of the Khatak Film Society and their third programming. You can see some of the conversations, films, and more on the Khatak Film Society YouTube channel.



    October 7, 2021 • Alumni Events, Film Festivals • Views: 1284

  • NYFA Student Israa Al-Kamali Produces 2nd Annual Independent Iraqi Film Festival


    NYFA Filmmaking student Israa Al-Kamali is co-founder of the Independent Iraqi Film Festival (IIFF) which is now celebrating its second year with a series of screenings of Iraqi-based films. The second annual IIFF takes place from October 1st until October 7th, 2021. The festival will screen four feature-length films, followed by Q&A-style discussions with the filmmakers, and ten short films which will be showcased live and virtually. All showings are free of charge and will include English subtitles for non-Arabic speakers. 

    The feature-length films to be screened include Tonight, Next Week directed by Khalid Alzhraou, Iraqi Women: Voices From Exile directed by Maysoon Pachachiwhich, Balanja directed by Ali Raheem, and Leaving Baghdad directed by Koutaiba al Janabi. 

    The Iraqi Film Festival poster

    The Iraqi Film Festival (IIFF) begins on October 1, 2021

    The festival’s first circuit was held virtually in the Summer of 2020, showcasing 13 Iraqi short and feature-length films from emerging and established Iraqi filmmakers, and saw a turnout of over 5000 online viewers.

    The IIFF is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting films from and about Iraq through online screenings, real-life festivals, educational programs, images, sound projects, and various industry initiatives. The IIFF’s mission is to empower directors, actors, screenwriters, producers, designers, sound artists, and other creatives to tell the story of Iraq, the resilience of its people, and the breadth of its culture to a global audience.

    Al-Kamali describes the origins of the festival, “The Independent Iraqi Film Festival was born out of my love for films and Iraq as well as the urgent need to create such a platform and space for Iraqi stories and storytellers. Our experiences are so complex whether back in Iraq or in the various Iraqi communities in the diaspora. Iraq is rich in culture, history, and diversity, and it is time for our stories to be highlighted and brought to global audiences. We created this first-of-its-kind festival to uplift filmmakers, inspire audiences, and engage the film industry in the country. Iraqi films are not given the spotlight they deserve and it is not because there aren’t any films by Iraqis.”

    Israa Al-Kamali headshot

    Iraqi Film Festival (IIFF) Founder & Filmmaker, Israa Al-Kamali

    The founder also describes the challenges of maintaining the Iraqi voice without a global stage to present uniquely Iraqi stories, “Iraqis have watched their experiences and stories being told by others usually through films that are filled with racism and stereotypes; War and destruction is the only point of reference and it often ignores the nuances of the Iraqi experience whether in Iraq or outside the homeland. Our festival created a space for Iraqi creatives from all communities to come together to tell our stories. This festival is for Iraqis in Iraq and in the diaspora, for every resilient Iraqi who is fighting the everyday battle to preserve our history, culture, and experiences. It is for the creatives and storytellers. It is definitely for non-Iraqis too to come and watch our stories on screen, celebrate people’s resilience, learn more about our rich and complex experiences in the homeland and beyond.”

    Al-Kamali is a student of NYFA’s MFA Filmmaking program, and writer/director of the short Open Sesame (2022), which follows the story of a woman dressed as a man and answers misogynistic riddles by predatory-animal-headed individuals to ensure her safe return home. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Al-Kamali for her success and founding of the Iraqi Film Festival (IIFF). We also congratulate all those who worked on the films chosen as official selections for this year’s IIFF screening. You can follow news and events about the festival on Instagram or by visiting their website.


    September 30, 2021 • Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1697

  • 7th Annual Nordic International Film Festival Partners with NYFA for Workshop Scholarship


    NIFF 7th year LOGO BLACK

    The largest Nordic film festival outside of Europe takes the stage in its seventh year to showcase the power of international film. The 7th Nordic International Film Festival (NIFF) will take place between 8/25 and 8/29 this year in the heart of Manhattan. The Park Avenue location, Fotografiska, will feature films from an array of internationally recognized filmmakers. Included in this year’s selection: Persona Non Grata, Come to Harm, and Abyss of the Birds. Check out the full 2021 selection here

    persona non grata film poster

    Persona Non Grata (2021) directed by Lisa Jespersen

    Fotografiska, the largest photography museum in the world, is a key partner of NIFF. With a mission to inspire a more conscious world, the museum’s exhibits are developed by the artists themselves. 

    The festival was founded by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni, Johan Matton and Linnea Larsdotter. Actor and Producer, Johan Matton graduated from NYFA’s 2-year Acting for Film conservatory at the New York City campus, as well as the 2-day Line Producing workshop. Actress and Producer, Linnea Larsdotter graduated from NYFA’s 2-year Musical Theatre program also at the New York City campus.

    come to harm film poster

    Come to Harm (2021) directed by Anton Kristensen & Ásgeir Sigurðsson

    New York Film Academy has partnered with the Nordic International Film Festival for the third consecutive year to award a scholarship to the winner of the Aurora Borealis category. The award will be presented by NYFA New York Acting For Film Creative Director, Amy Van Horne.

    The two acclaimed Producers co-founded NIFF with the hopes of bridging the divide between Nordic film and the international film community. In keeping with its mission, NIFF dedicates its efforts to support the Black Lives Matter movement and gender equality in the filmmaking community. 

    abyss of the birds film poster

    Abyss of the Birds (2021) directed by Jacob Krzysztof Glogowski

    Caption: Abyss of the Birds (2021) directed by Jacob Krzysztof Glogowski

    In 2020, NIFF pivoted along with every other organization to keep its attendants and participants safe by re-structuring its film showings in response to COVID-19. They included outdoor film screenings and COVID-19 safety restrictions. Back with an in-person venue, the festival is ready to continue its work in maintaining a safe environment in adherence to CDC guidelines. 

    In keeping with its mission, NIFF allocated 50% of its 2020 Official Selection ticket sales to the Brown Art Ink and the Black Independent Filmmaker app. In 2019, the festival touted a staggering 250% more female directors showcased than in the top 250 grossing films in the US, which was a mere 13% in the same year. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA alumni Johan Matton and Linnea Larsdotter on the continued success of the Nordic International Film Festival as well as this year’s Aurora Borealis winner, Lisa Meyer who directed Birds of Passage.


    August 23, 2021 • Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1573

  • Films From NYFA Australia Alumni Will Screen at 2021 Gold Coast Film Festival


    New York Film Academy Australia is excited to share that alumni Stephen Osborne, Josh Hale, and Luke Speech have been selected to screen their films at the 2021 Gold Coast Film Festival (“GCFF”). This year, NYFA Australia is the only film school to have more than one alum featured among the festival’s robust lineup of curated film selections.

    An official GCFF selection, Osborne was invited to screen his film Strangeville at this year’s festival and compete in the Best Australian Indie Film category. The sci-fi dramedy centres in on an outback town, plagued with alien abductions, that must battle unknown forces and dismantle a law enforcement cover-up in the process.

    Still from Stephen Osborne’s “Strangeville”

    Osborne has previously received recognition for the short film Roommate Wanted For The End of The World, winning Best Short Screenplay at the Rome Prisma Independent Film Awards and Screenwriter of The Month for The Monthly Film Festival. His short film Jane also earned Osborne an award for Best First Time Director at the Oniros Film Awards, which he completed during his studies at New York Film Academy.

    In addition to being written and directed by Osborne, Strangeville also includes 21 members of the cast and crew who also attended NYFA’s Gold Coast campus. Among them is Vito Leo who plays Miles in one of the film’s leading roles. Leo has worked most notably on Thor: Ragnorok and the highly-anticipated Godzilla vs. Kong.

    Also on the slate for the GCFF is Hale’s House of Inequity, which will appear in the ‘Dark Nights and Fantastic Fans’ portion of the program, alongside screenings of Willy’s Wonderland and The Lord of The Rings trilogy. The film follows a group of friends that experience a day trip gone wrong after investigating an abandoned house where they must figure out how to survive the night.

    Still from Josh Hale’s “House of Inequity”

    The NYFA Australia alum is known for his critically acclaimed film Digital Athlete: The Road Set League, which earned Hale an IndieFEST Film Award of Merit, a Festival Award at the Festigious International Film Festival, and a Best of the Year Award nomination at the Gold Movie Awards. The producer-director is also in production on the documentary Do or Die and is currently in the development of the thriller Force of Evil.

    Hale’s House of Inequity was originally supposed to have its world premiere at the 2020 GCFF but was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film credits 17 NYFA Australia alumni among the film’s cast and crew and features the work of NYFA Australia faculty members Stuart Lumsden (NYFA Australia Deputy Chair of Acting for Film), sound design instructor Vic Kaspar (House of Flying Daggers, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban), and Patrick Ryan (NYFA Australia Associate Chair of Short-Term Filmmaking).

    “I am so proud of what we achieved,” shares Hale. “A local cast and crew utilising the incredible Gold Coast and its glorious production value. I am proud of this film.”

    Film poster for “Paint” by Luke Speech

    Also screening at GCFF is Speech’s Paint. The NYFA Australia alum’s film will screen as part of the EMERGE! showcase of short films that celebrates the best and brightest film talent from Queensland’s next generation of filmmakers.

    NYFA Australia is proud of Filmmaking alumni Stephen Osborne, Josh Hale, and Luke Speech, as well as the incredibly talented group of NYFA Australia alumni and faculty who served as the cast and crew for Strangeville and House of Inequity.

  • New York Film Academy Partners with the 2021 FOLCS – International Short Film Competition


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is excited to announce another year of partnership with the Forum on Life, Culture and Society (FOLCS) International Short Film Competition in a five-day virtual event, culminating in an Awards Night on April 8, 2021.

    FOLCS is a non-profit organization that houses culturally relevant conversation topics, providing a unique and enriching experience for audience goers that speaks to the moment with captivating conversations from special guests across multiple industries. NYFA has been a co-host on the FOLCS series of events for the last three years. 

    The annual FOLCS – International Short Film Competition (F-ISFC) is a special event that showcases short films that explore themes of justice, human rights, and the law by emerging filmmakers from all over the world. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the very first time, FOLCS, in partnership with NYFA, will be virtually hosting its annual short film competition, allowing viewers to screen all of the finalist entries over the course of five days starting April 5, 2021.  

    Finalist films for the FOLCS – International Short Film Competition

    This year’s official film selections include titles from Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Malaysia, and the United States, giving entrants the opportunity to have their films shown to a wide audience and films viewed by distinguished professionals including renowned filmmakers, actors, writers, and journalists. Previous F-ISFC judges from NYFA include Cinematography Chair Piero Basso, Screenwriting Chair Randall Dottin, Filmmaking Chair Andrea Swift, and Filmmaking instructor Jonathan Whittaker.

    Actor William Fichtner

    All ISFC attendees will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite short, which will be counted towards the Audience Favorite Award which will be announced during Awards Night on April 8, 2021. The awards night is open to all F-ISFC ticketholders and will feature a discussion with the finalist filmmakers, NYFA’s own President Michael Young, and actor William Fichtner (Black Hawk Down, Prison Break, The Perfect Storm, The Dark Knight), who will present the award for The Best Short.


    The first 200 people to register for this year’s F-ISFC will receive tickets for the virtual film screenings free of charge, while all other registrants will be charged a $2 fee to unlock the official film selections. To view the F-ISFC slate of films selected for this year’s competition, click here. 

    New York Film Academy is a proud partner of this year’s FOLCS – International Short Film Competition and looks forward to being part of this special event celebrating aspiring independent filmmakers from around the globe.