The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) has snagged two film festival wins for its original movie musical Plus One. The epic short film utilizes original music as it follows three generations of women, two unexpected pregnancies, and a time-traveling secretary with the key to their futures.
After a successful run at the NOVA Fest,Plus One went home with the top trophies for Best Musical and Best LGBT Film.
Plus One’s trophies will be proudly displayed in the Musical Theatre office at the NYFA New York City campus. Stop by and check them out, and learn more about PCMT’s work!
Two-Year Conservatory students at PCMT have had the opportunity to perform in original movie musicals since the program began in 2012. The unique experience allows conservatory students to prepare for the film and television industry as well as the stage. Each PCMT original movie musical is created from scratch with original stories and scores, and executed through collaborations with working industry professionals. Past films have featured collaborators such as Tony Award-winner James Monroe Iglehart and Tony Award-nominee Charlotte D’amboise. Yet each PCMT movie musical maintains its focus on its student performers, allowing the next generation of artists to truly shine.
The regular Stranger Than Fiction spring season is shown at IFC Center every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. for eight weeks, plus two Thursday night screenings, all starting April 17.
The new season’s lineup kicked off with Sara Driver’s Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat (April 17), about the pre-fame years of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat; and will close with Jason Kohn’s Love Means Zero (June 5), about the controversial tennis coach Nick Bollittieri. Other works include New York rappers Nas and Dave East in Rapture (May 1).
Legendary Queens rapper Nas
Each event includes a discussion with the filmmaker or special guests, followed by a gathering at a nearby bar. The full season schedule appears at the bottom of the blog. For detailed information, visit here or IFC Center’s website.
Tickets for Stranger Than Fiction screenings are $17 for the general public and $14 for IFC Center members. A Season Pass, good for admission to all 10 evenings, is available for $99 ($80 for IFC members). A NYFA ID gets you nearly a 20% discount at the door!
View the full schedule below:
Jean-Michel Basquiat from Boom For Real
April 17 – Opening Night: BOOM FOR REAL: THE LATE TEENAGE YEARS OF JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (2017, 78 min) Q&A w/ dir Sara Driver
April 19 – Thursday Special:HAIKU ON A PLUM TREE (2016, 78 min) Q&A w/ dir Mujah Maraini-Melehi
April 24: THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND (2003, 92 min) Q&A w/ dir Sam Green & prod Carrie Lozano
May 1: RAPTURE: NAS & DAVE EAST (2018, 63 min) Q&A w/ dir Sacha Jenkins & EP Ben Selkow
May 8: GOTTI: GODFATHER AND SON (2018, 90 min) Q&A w/ dir Richard Stratton & subject John Gotti Jr
May 15: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ANDRÉ(2017, 94 min) Q&A w/ dir Kate Novack
May 22: THE FOURTH ESTATE (2018, 90 min) Q&A w/ dir Liz Garbus
May 24 – Thursday Special:A JIHAD FOR LOVE (2007, 81 min) Q&A w/ dir Parvez Sharma
May 29: ATOMIC CAFE (1982, 92 min) Q&A w/ dirs. Pierce Rafferty, Kevin Rafferty & Jayne Loader
June 5 – Closing Night:LOVE MEANS ZERO (2017, 89 min) Q&A w/ dir Jason Kohn
HBO’s Women in Comedy Festival (WICF) is an inclusive event focused on smashing gender inequality in comedy, where they flip the usual gender ratio in comedy: 80% of WICF performers are women.
The ninth annual WICF will be held April 19-22 in Boston. Along with HBO, this year’s event is sponsored by NBC, ImprovBoston, and Le Chevalier. Major stars are headlining, including Wanda Sykes and Tig Notaro, with additional performances by Kat Radley, Gina Yashere, Emma Willman, and Kelly McFarland.
Although Wynona Barbera studied documentary filmmaking at NYFA, El Cat is a fiction film — which just goes to show how NYFA students can apply their skill set in so many ways as they forge their own paths as storytellers.
“Congratulations to Wynona,” said NYFA New York Chair of Documentary Filmmaking Andrea Swift. “HBO’s Women in Comedy Festival is a major player in launching the next generation of leaders and innovators in comedy. It just goes to show the skills NYFA Documentary Filmmaking students develop here can be applied to all kinds of content, especially fiction films. Can’t wait to see what’s next!”
El Cat will be competing in the The HBO Insider Comedy Short Challenge and WICF Comedy Short Contest with Paul Feig on Saturday, April 21, in Cambridge, MA. #WomeninFilm #WomenOfNYFA
The New York Film Academy recently hosted screenings, a Q&A, and panel presented by the Hip Hop Film Festival and 247films.tv. The event at NYFA’s Battery Park theatre was entitled “WeWatch: Femme Fatale Edition” and was presented as part of a series of Women’s History Month events hosted by NYFA. The hip-hop-focused festival is based in Harlem, and was founded in 2015. The third annual festival will take place this year from August 2-5 in Harlem.
The WeWatch event began with food and drinks presented by Revive Kombucha. Attendees shifted into the theatre for the three-hour screening and Q&A portion of the event. Hip Hop Film Festival founder C R Capers introduced and moderated the event.
After the first screening of comedy web series Shampagne, Capers sat down with series creator and lead actress Melissa Mickens to talk about her process and what served as inspiration. Mickens’ real life experiences of being pigeonholed during auditions spurned her desire to shift focus and pursue a rap career. She also discussed filming on a budget and in Harlem, where she resides.
Next up was Australian filmmaker Bella Ann Townes’ Hip Hop & Holiness,which profiled Matthew “Mystery” Peet, a breakdancer, rapper, and graffiti tagger who also happens to be a pastor at church. Peet discusses his relationship to both hip hop culture and religion and how he does not feel they should be mutually exclusive. Townes won Best Emerging Australian Director for the documentary short at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival in 2017.
Seattle creative Voleak Sip’s short film Floatwas third in the lineup.Sip was unable to attend the event, but she recorded a video explaining how her older brother was the inspiration behind the main character, Rocky, who is a Cambodian hustler still living with his parents. The music was a key element of the film, and sound editor Jono Hillwas on hand to speak to C R about his process. While the film is set in the ’90s, the music was created by present-day producers and musicians who provided a fresh take on the prominent ’90s boombap hip-hop sound.
The event concluded with Jasmine Callis’ powerful documentary short set entirely in North Philly. Stay Black, Baby: The Mixtape is a complex portrait of Black youth rising, Black art glorified, Black voices uncovered, Black struggle acknowledged, and Black empowerment revered. Over the course of 20 compelling minutes, the film shifted seamlessly from motivational to heartbreaking and back again, covering topics from Black pride and resilience to police brutality and misogyny.
Callis, who currently works at New York Film Academy as a video editor and producer, attended the event and discussed her inspirations, including Spike Lee and Philadelphia hip-hop legends The Roots. During the Q&A, Capers raved about Callis’ work, which she said belongs in a museum.
Keep an eye on the Hip Hop Film Festival’s website for upcoming events and details on the 2018 iteration of the festival.
Held at the Laemmle Theater in North Hollywood, the festival featured films by women, for women. The powerful stories portrayed in the Luna Fest touched each NYFA staff and faculty member in the audience.
“This film festival is a two-hour slate of films that inspired me like nobody’s business,” NYFA Los Angeles Festivals Advisor and Liaison Crickett Rumley said. “Female friendship isn’t always depicted accurately in the media. These films put female friendship at their center. I’ll absolutely be suggesting that my students, both male and female, check out the film festival next year.”
The Luna Film Festival is just one way in which the local chapter of Zonta International helps female filmmakers. Proceeds from the Luna Film Festival ticket sales help fund the Wings Grant, which helps support women looking to further their education after enduring a hardship.
The Wings Grant was established eight years ago, and this year, Falu-Carrion is the recipient. About the Wings Grant, Zonta Club of Burbank Foundation President Nickie Bonner explained, “We chose to help support the education of older women because there isn’t a lot of financial aid available to them.”
Falu-Carrion shared her story of how the Wings Grant helped to open new possibilities for her at a crossroads in her life. When her husband died, Falu-Carrion wasn’t sure what to do with her life next. The former event planner found solace in watching films.
“I was stuck for a very long time,” Falu-Carrion said. “I thought there was no use for me anymore. I couldn’t find my identity. I just existed. I began watching more and more films. All of a sudden, my imagination was running.”
As Falu-Carrion watched new movies being released, she realized she didn’t see a lot of characters that looked like her.
“My family is originally from Puerto Rico,” she explained. “I’m all kinds of mixed. Plus, I’m a military brat. I have so many different life experiences and cultural differences that I want to include in my storytelling.”
Falu-Carrion began taking online screenwriting classes at NYFA, and then she decided she would need to immerse herself in a full-time graduate program. If she was ever going to achieve her dream of seeing her story on the big screen, she felt she had to “go big or go home.”
NYFA MA Screenwriting alum Rosa Falu-Carrion.
Falu-Carrion credits the “intenese” education she received in the New York Film Academy Los Angeles’ MA Screenwriting program with her success. “I was surprised, at my age, that I had enough brain energy,” she joked.
The intensity of the MA program was a motivator for Falu-Carrion, who said she never backs away from a challenge. Called “Mama Rosa” by her classmates, she was inspired by her instructors and motivated by her classmates.
“I had a wonderful time at NYFA,” she said. “I made some great friends.”
The first graduating MA class at NYFA Los Angeles was small but mighty. “We were tight,” Falu-Carrion recalled. “We helped each other through it.” She boasted that the entire class made sure they graduated as a team. “We left no man behind,” she said.
Falu-Carrion encouraged anyone hesitant about getting into the industry to think of her story.
“I was scared on my first day,” she admitted. “I was 45 years old. I thought, ‘What am I doing with these 20-year-olds?'” Yet, she knew that her perspective was a unique one and it didn’t take long for Falu-Carrion to see the fruits of her labor. At the end of the program, she had a script ready to sell.
“If you feel that you missed your opportunity,” Falu-Carrion said, “That’s when you need to go grab the opportunity.”
The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Rosa Falu-Carrion on for being selected for the Wing Grant and for her keynote speech at this year’s Luna Fest.
The application for the Wings Grant opens on April 30 and September 30. To learn more about Zonta of Burbank click here.
The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre’s original movie musicals Alma Mater and Plus One are Official Selections of the Fourth Annual Northern Virginia International Film & Music Festival, and both films have received a number of award nominations.
Plus One has been nominated for Best Musical, Best Director (Short Film), Best Screenplay (Short Film), Best LGBT Film, and Best Visual Effects, while Alma Mater is nominated for Best Musical and Best Acting Ensemble.
In addition to its honors at the Nova Fest, NYFA’s movie musical Plus One will also screen at the Manhattan Film Festival April 21, at 1-3 p.m. Click here for program and ticket info. The Manhattan Film Festival will also screen NYFA movie musical Walk the Walk April 26, at 4-5 p.m. For those details and ticket info, click here.
That is not the only honor the Conservatory has received from the prominent festival. Two other NYFA musicals will be included in the Artist Circle: Food Like Love and Bang Boom Pow.
As the festival explains, The Nova Fest “offers a fertile environment for distributors, sales agents, buyers, filmmakers, and writers to converge, negotiate and close film, series, and script deals on all media platforms.“ Films are screened from around the world, from countries including Canada, Australia, England, India, Pakistan, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, France, Kosovo, Albania, Spain, and the U.S.
The NYFA Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre has been creating original movie musicals since 2012, offering its second-year students the remarkable opportunity to perform in new stories, written for them, alongside industry professionals — including Tony Award-winner James Monroe Iglehart and Tony Award-nominee Charlotte D’amboise. Yet even with these high-profile ties to Broadway, each film is focused on the student performers.
“We’re so excited by this program because of the quality of what the students experience in the classroom, and the quality of what they put on film,” NYFA Senior Executive Vice President David Klein told Variety. “There is so much opportunity for them.”
For tickets and more information on the NYFA movie musicals screening at The NOVA Fest, check out the festival website. D.C. friends — you can catch a screening of Plus One (Weds. April 4) and Alma Mater (Sat. April 7) at Angelika Film Center in Fairfax, Virginia.
As International Women’s Day approaches, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) is excited to announce that we’re giving away a number of tickets to a lucky few NYFA students at the New York City campus to attend the Women’s International Film & Arts Festival (WIFF). Though this year is the first time the festival is held in New York City, WIFF is celebrating its 12th anniversary.
Launched in Miami, WIFF is a leading international film festival and two-day conference. This year, it will screen more than 40 films made by or about women in addition to hosting panels, lectures, and conversations about the state of the industry.
The New York Film Academy is hosting a raffle for students to enter for a chance attend the red carpet premiere of Culture of Fear on March 8. Set in a dystopian future, the film examines the abuse of power after the internet is banned from society. Golden Globe nominee Malcolm McDowell, Steven Bauer, and director Kayla Tabish will also attend the premiere.
NYFA raffle winners will also get a chance to attend WIFF’s Women in Film and Entertainment Conference. Some panels will look into what happens as women navigate from film school to film set, while others will provide tips for how to build a successful pitch. The full agenda is available on the WIFF site. For students who’d like to attend, there are tickets available for purchase as well. You can learn more here.
To continue the celebration of Women’s History Month even beyond International Women’s Day, NYFA is sharing daily #WomenOfNYFA tweets on social media. Every day throughout the month, a new graduate will be showcased via the @NYFA account. Tune in to learn more about our illustrious alumnae.
On Sunday, February 18 the New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted the second annual Young Saudi Film Festival (YSFF) at the Harmony Gold Preview House in Hollywood, California. In the festival’s first year, the goal was to provide Saudi filmmakers a space to screen their work. This year the festival grew in audience and scope, receiving over 80 submissions and featuring eight outstanding films that told stories ranging from comedy to tragedy. With the ban on movie theaters lifted in Saudi Arabia it is a great time to showcase the next generation of Saudi filmmakers.
The highly anticipated event was well attended by internationals and locals alike including NYFA students and alumni, local Saudi community members, producer and film distributor Diane Taren, and representatives from the Kuwaiti and Emirati consulates.
NYFA MFA Filmmaking Alumnus, Maan bin Abdulrahman of Prince of Arabia Entertainment, hosted the evening. He introduced Director of NYFA Los Angeles, Dan Mackler who, in his opening remarks, emphasized how storytelling is a universal means of uniting different cultures, “The New York Film Academy believes that storytelling unites us internationally, across cultures and through perceived differences. We’re very proud of the films we’re screening tonight because they exemplify those ideals.”
President of the YSFF, Rakan Anneghaimshi (Spring 2016 BFA Acting for Film), spoke briefly to the audience thanking everyone who made the event possible and congratulating the participants on their hard work. Finally, NYFA Instructor and one of the judges of the competition, James Rowe, addressed the audience.
In a moving speech, Rowe detailed his experience as one of the members of the selection committee. “Submissions to this festival have come from all over the world. We were looking for stories and perspectives that surprised us and left us feeling something long after the credits had rolled.”
Rowe attributed the great stories coming out of Saudi Arabia to a need humans have to share their experiences. “Great art is born out of urgency,” Rowe began. “There is a burning need to tell stories that have gone untold for some time. There exists a desire to express ideas that have remained unspoken.”
Rowe concluded, “One of the true joys I get from teaching at the New York Film Academy is teaching students to discover that they do have something unique and personal to say right now. All of the films here tonight, clearly have something to say. They are a reminder that art captivates and compels us most when it feels urgent; as if the artist couldn’t have waited one more moment to tell us their story.”
Following the screenings, there was a Q and A session with the filmmakers who joined Maan bin Abdulrahman on the stage to take questions from the audience. The first question went to filmmaker Yassin Koptan (Filmmaking, 2014). His film, Piece of Wood, follows skateboarders in Egypt and the discrimination they face. He was asked what the skateboard in his film symbolized. “It’s a symbol for resistance,” he responded. “It’s a symbol for unity. It’s a symbol for fighting for what’s rightfully yours.”
Maan bin Abdulrahman wanted to know how filmmaker Meshaal Al Jaser (Screenwriting, 2019) was able to pull such a captivating performance from a child actor. In his film, Under Concrete, a Syrian girl relives instances from her life while buried under rubble following the bombing of her home. “All of the actors were Syrian. They were already heartbroken. They felt it more than I ever could.”
President Anneghaimshi wrapped up the Q&A stating, “We try, as much as possible, to reflect society as we see it,” he began. “We want to see the authentic stories coming out of our community. One of the goals of the YSFF was to help bring our global community together. We had comedic films, we had dramatic films, and we had family-oriented films. I couldn’t be more proud.”
The New York Film Academy would like to thank all of the participants, the audience, and the Young Saudi Film Festival for allowing us to take part in such a special and momentous evening.
Bloodline written and directed by Saud Al-Moghirah, produced by Javier Olmo
Coexistence by Musab Alamri
Hero Complex written and directed by Mohamad AlYamani, produced by Mohamad AlYamani and Douglas Spain
The Nostalgia written by Sarah Lotfy, directed and produced by Moataz Badran
Piece of Wood by Yassin Koptan
The Scapegoat written by Charlie H. Millen & Stephen Ranieri, directed by Talha B., produced by Maan B.
The New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Screenwriting student Ines Carolyne de los Santos Almanzar and her all-NYFA crew for winning the Runner-Up prize in the All Rise Film Competition.
Founded by Simone Benhayon in 2015, All Rise is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to eradicate cyberbullying. Through legislation, reform, and education, All Rise has empowered thousands to take a stand against cyberbullying. Part of their education initiative is an annual film competition that draws attention to many of the issues surrounding online bullying.
This year, the theme of the film competition was “Is Cyber Abuse an International Crime?”
The youth competition is divided into two categories. The first is a children’s competition, featuring filmmakers between the ages of 10-15. The second is a young adult’s competition, featuring filmmakers between the ages of 16-21. Films can’t be more than three minutes in length. Other than that, creators are able to tell their story in whatever cinematic format they chose.
Initially, Almanzar wasn’t sure what story she would tell, but she relied on her own experiences.
“I was a victim of cyberbullying, myself,” Almanzar said. “I know how tough it can be to survive cyberbullying. You want to ask for help, but most people don’t think this is a big issue.”
With polls showing that anywhere from 35-50 percent of teens have been bullied online, it is clear that cyberbullying is, in fact, a very big deal.
Almanzar’s film Isn’t This a Crime follows a plus-size woman as she tries internet dating for the first time. She struggles through date after date. She is told she isn’t pretty enough. One man explains that her need to have kids makes her undesirable. Everything from the way she dresses, to her desire to study art, is insulted. Later, the emotional abuse she has endured begins to manifest itself physically as bruises all over her body. When she tries to report the abuse, she’s informed that the police cannot help her.
The film is incredibly impactful, and Almanzar’s entire crew was made up of current NYFA students and NYFA alumni. Almanzar said she relied heavily on her crew to help complete the project.
When asked why she liked working with NYFA students, Ines said, “Since we’re all students we already had a kind of shorthand on set. Communication is vital to the success of a set. We were able to move quickly and resolve issues as they happened.”
You can watch Isn’t This a Crime and all of the finalist films here:
With award season upon us, we’re always excited to hear from our alumni around the world as they find success screening their work. New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Filmmaking graduates Talha (“B.”) Bin Abdulrahman and Maan Bin Abdulrahman have already seen their NYFA thesis film, The Scapegoat, celebrated at the Middle East’s leading film festival, the 14th Dubai International Film Festival. There, it was an official selection.
The short was an official selection at the following other festivals:
The Irvine International Film Festival
Orlando Film Festival
San Antonio Film Festival
Chandler Film Festival
The Scapegoat continues its momentum as an official selection at the second annual Young Saudi Film Festival, screening at NYFA Los Angeles Feb. 18.
Talha B. was able to take some time during his busy festival schedule to tell the NYFA Blog a bit more about his experience directing The Scapegoat.
NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about your journey in filmmaking and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?
TBA: Let me just start this by saying that I feel incredibly fortunate to be a filmmaker. After graduating from high school almost nine years ago, I have gone through several academic paths before I found out that my real passion is filmmaking, which is how I ended up at NYFA — a decision that changed the course of my life, for the better.
NYFA: Why filmmaking? What inspires you most about the medium?
TBA: Ever since I was a kid, I was a big fan of watching and talking about films. I believe filmmaking is a format that contains a beautiful package of many different art forms, to tell stories that provoke emotional responses from viewers from all over the world. I always found that inspiring and compelling.
NYFA: Can you tell us more about your film The Scapegoat? What is the story, and what about the project grabbed you?
TBA: The Scapegoat is a 22-minute short I directed as my thesis project for the New York Film Academy’s BFA filmmaking program. The Scapegoat is about Paul Dugan, a former best-selling author who is in search of his next novel. Feeling the pressure to live up to his earlier success, he shelters himself in an isolated cabin in the woods to confront his internal demons.
Every creative person goes through some [form of] writer’s block, so the story was appealing to me, to represent that visually by telling this story. A creative mind can be its own worst critic, because it is continuously working — especially when there is too much pressure and a lot at stake.
To not do a project that deals with this topic would be madness.
NYFA: Were there any surprises or challenges along the way during production, and how did you adapt?
TBA: I’ve never directed a project that involved a single actor playing multiple roles all at once. In this case it was four distinct characters.
It was quite the brain teaser to think of all the factors in each scene we shot, from camera blocking to hair and makeup. It required an extra level of planning and coordination between every single person working on set.
I believe the biggest challenge I faced was when I learned that my actor’s body double refused to shave his facial hair to match the lead actor changing between character looks. Luckily enough, two talented performers stepped in to save the day.
The critical lesson overall for me was to believe in your crew, because it takes a village to make a film — no matter how big, or small.
TBA: Thank you, it was a pleasant experience. My producer Maan B. attended on behalf of myself and the team. The film was positively received by the audience, which is something I was delighted to hear.
TBA: Just one piece of advice that one of my instructors had shared with me, which is to be one of the first people who apply to the festival. Sometimes it’s good to be early, for your film to be noticed.
NYFA: What is next for The Scapegoat?
TBA: More festivals will pick it up, hopefully.
NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
TBA: Excited about directing a feature with a working title of The Alien.
It is a stylized dramedy following the story of an unworldly immigrant who dares to go after his dream as an artist, despite the harsh reality he faces. It will be a collaboration with the same talented writers and producer behind The Scapegoat.
The New York Film Academy congratulates Talha, Maan and The Scapegoat team on their success! To see The Scapegoat (along with seven other excellent selections) at the Young Saudi Film Festival Sunday, Feb. 18, at 4 p.m., please RSVP here.