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

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    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. 

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    October 22, 2021 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 837

  • Filmmaking Alum Jameelah Rose Lineses Discusses The Khatak Film Society

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    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.

     

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    October 7, 2021 • Alumni Events, Film Festivals • Views: 1051

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

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    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.

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    September 30, 2021 • Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1440

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

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    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.

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    August 23, 2021 • Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1249

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

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    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.

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

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    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.

    HOW TO WATCH THE FILMS & VIRTUALLY ATTEND:

    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. 

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  • NYFA Alum Rajni Mysore Chamaraj on Working With Her Sister and Studying in Los Angeles

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    Rajni Mysore Chamaraj, along with her younger sister Shynica Mysore Chamaraj made The Day I Met Joshua, a short film about a social media influencer who encounters a path of self-discovery in the desert. The film was written, directed, and edited by both Chamaraj and Shynica and was screened at the Canadian Academy qualifying festival, Yellowknife Film Festival. The short film also garnered Chamaraj a Best Debut Director award at the Hollywood Film Awards and the Best Editor award in the New York Movie Awards. 

    Film poster for “The Day I Met Joshua”

    “I always felt that film combined the paradox of human nature so well, sometimes the simplicity of a character has left a deep impact. It brought about many changes, subtle, yet life-changing for me. This thought always lingered as to how visual storytelling overcomes all the barriers, be it geography, the human mindsets, or cultural barriers.” – Rajni Mysore Chamaraj

    Chamaraj got her start in Mumbai as the Assistant Creative Director for a television show on Star Plus, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, and eventually became involved in sports broadcasting as an Assistant Producer, creating live and pre-recorded content for sports including NBA games, Champions League, FIFA-U19 World Cup, French Open, World Rally Championship, PGA tours exclusive for the Indian audience. 

    NYFA alum Rajni Mysore Chamaraj (Right) and sister Shynica Mysore Chamaraj (Left)

    After nearly working for four years in the television industry, Chamaraj took her first step to follow her dream of being a storyteller and made the tough decision to leave her job and take-up full-time filmmaking. Her younger sister Shynica, also a filmmaker, was a big influence on that decision. With both siblings having a strong love of the universal language of film and understanding of the other, both knew they needed to pursue filmmaking and eventually work together. 

    “As siblings, we always influenced each other synergistically through our 3:00 a.m. philosophical discussions or just staring randomly into the cityscape of Mumbai with the Arabian Sea in the backdrop,” recalled Chamaraj. “It’s during one such moment, it struck me that I should also get into serious filmmaking and that my sister and I would make a brilliant team. So our idea of teaming up as a family was born with an idea to create an entertainment company that creates multimedia content inspired by regional themes for a worldwide audience. Essentially, we want to use the power of filmmaking to create content that inspires and elevates the human spirit and Entertainment studio that nourishes and mothers evolved, elevated entertainment.” 

    Before venturing into the business of filmmaking, however, Chamaraj wanted to hone her skills and began talking to friends and colleagues about their own film industry journey, leading Rajni to learn more about New York Film Academy. 

    “I attended a two-month program in NYFA Mumbai and instantly fell in love with their teaching methods. You shoot and learn from your mistakes, and there was more hands-on experience than theory classes. The faculty were from around the world which gave me a glimpse into how a long-term program would look like.”

    Photo courtesy of Rajni Mysore Chamaraj

    Eventually, Chamaraj applied and got accepted into the Film & Media Production MA program at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. “While living in Los Angeles and studying in NYFA, the biggest advantage I got was that I worked on projects that had crew members from around the world. You get real-life experience of working on a film set right In the collage. [Students] can use this wonderful opportunity and make mistakes and learn from them too. It’s just a preparation for you to face the real world that’s not always as conducive as you would like it to be.” 

    “I am an Indian, the whole process of filmmaking is pretty different in India compared to the American way, so I had to learn a lot of new things such as division of work, laws of the land, and constantly update myself with the latest equipment, and technologies. So as an international student, you need to learn to adapt. You’ll learn that this is an important key that can make your career as a filmmaker outside your home country a little less stressful and a little more enjoyable. Go put your best foot forward, The staff and faculty at NYFA will be with you every step of the way. There were always there for me when I needed them.” – Rajni Mysore Chamaraj

    Poster for “The Day I Met Joshua”

    Now, Chamaraj and her sister are in the thick of their careers, with the recent success of their short film The Day I Met Joshua, which received a positive global response on the film festival circuit. 

    The film is based on Chamaraj’s own experience while on a vacation in Florida. “My phone became unusable as its entire software crashed. That night, I had a sense of awakening because it felt like a personal loss, How could a mere gadget have such a deep impact on me?” 

    Chamaraj and Shynica then wrote the film and shot it in the Mojave desert. “It was both a challenging and exciting experience. On the third day of the shoot, we even had unexpected rain, we had to stop shooting for a bit,” she remembered. “While shooting in nature, we have to be extra prepared as we are fighting the uncontrollable elements and all this with a cool head.”

    Shooting “The Day I Met Joshua”

    “We had crews representing almost nine different counties, from India, the USA, Cuba, Ireland to China. So as a team, we had to learn to communicate with each other effectively, considering each one of us was from different cultural backgrounds, it was important to keep the overall morale of the whole team-high and positive.”

    In post-production, the film took its shape. With the film marking the first time Chamaraj and Shynica were officially working together, their whole family celebrated their Best Original Story win at Hollywood Gold Awards. “Even more surreal was when our film was screened to a private audience at the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank in the very same auditorium where an iconic film like Casablanca was screened for the very first time.”

    Poster for “Finding Home”

    Chamaraj currently resides in India and is working on getting her work visa in the U.S. During the pandemic, the NYFA alum wrote, directed, and edited a short Spanish web series in LA called Finding Home, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime UK and US. As of now, Chamaraj is working on a four-part anthology series about the lives of four urban Indian girls living in different cities of India. 

    “We just shot the first part in Hyderabad city,” she shared. “I am also working as a screenwriter for an Indo-American feature film to be shot in mid of 2022. It’s going to be an exciting ride, I am looking forward to following my heart and dedicating all my energies to bring to life the stories that have had a deep impact on my life.”

    New York Film Academy is excited to share the success of Rajni Mysore Chamaraj and her sister for the film The Day I Met Joshua and looks forward to seeing Chamaraj’s upcoming projects come to fruition in the near future.

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  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Meital Cohen Navarro Wins George Sidney Independent Film Competition For Best Narrative Short

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is thrilled to announce that MFA Filmmaking alum Meital Cohen Navarro has won the George Sidney Independent Film Competition at the world-class San Luis Obispo International Festival (SLO Film Fest) for her NYFA thesis film, Over My Dead Body. The film screened at the festival March 9 – 14, 2021.

    Film poster for “Over My Dead Body”

    Over My Dead Body is written, directed, and produced by Israeli-born female filmmaker Meital Cohen Navarro. Her short film explores the taboo of religious intolerance and inter-cultural marriage after a young Jewish Persian-American woman named Isfahan tells her parents that her fiancé is Muslim.

    Over My Dead Body had its world premiere at the prestigious UK Jewish Film Festival in London last November and its North American Premiere at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. Ahead of the film’s West Coast premiere at SLO Film Fest last week, Cohen Navarro also received critical acclaim for Over My Dead Body from Voice of AmericaNational Magazine Kayhan London, and the Jewish Journal.

    NYFA alum Meital Cohen Navarro

    “As a grandchild of immigrants, making this film was an amazing journey,” recalled Cohen Navarro. “I hope the film helps families with intergenerational rifts to better understand each other: for parents to see the toll it has on their children and for the younger generation to acknowledge their parents’ equally heartbreaking cultural challenges.”

    Behind the scenes during filming “Over My Dead Body”

    Shot in English and Farsi, Over My Dead Body features Muslim, Christian, and Jewish actors and iconic stars of Persian cinema Mary Apick (Dead End) and Bahram Vatanparast (Zan-e bakere) in leading roles.

    “I believe our role as filmmakers is to project a view of our daily lives onto the silver screen with such sincerity and honesty as possible,” shared Apick. “Each character must face all challenges and obstacles that we all face every day in today’s world. Meital Cohen Navarro has certainly accomplished that delicately and beautifully in the film Over My Dead Body.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Meital Cohen Navarro on her well-deserved win for her film Over My Dead Body at the SLO Film Fest, and looks forward to when her short film will be available to the public.

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  • “Invisible Love” From NYFA Chair Bill Einreinhofer Wins Big at Paris International Film Festival

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    Chair of the Broadcast Journalism department at New York Film Academy, Bill Einreinhofer has a lot to celebrate after his film Invisible Love won three major awards at the Paris International Film Festival in February.

    Bill Einreinhofer on set of “Invisible Love”

    Coming off on its premiere at the Marche du Film, associated with the Cannes International Film Festival, in 2020, Invisible Love has racked up three awards including Best Narrative Feature Film, Best International Actor (Hoang Phuong), and Best International Collaboration. 

    In addition to Einreinhofer executive producing Invisible Love, NYFA’s roots run deep in the film, with Acting for Film alum Kazy Tauginas playing one of the male leads and former NYFA staffer Nancy Hanzhang Shen serving as both a Producer and the 1st AD on a set working in three languages (Vietnamese, Mandarin, and English).

    Hoang Phuong in “Invisible Love”

    Invisible Love takes place during the 1930s during the era of French Indochina and follows the story of one woman’s search for love, and how time and again her dreams are betrayed. “The subtext of the film is the nature of colonialism, and the corrosive effect it has on both the colonizers as well as those colonized,” explained Einreinhofer. “There is plenty of melodrama in this film and enough plot for perhaps three movies. While in North America and Europe Invisible Love is considered an ‘art house’ film, in Vietnam and China it is popular entertainment.”

    Einreinhofer is no stranger to working heavily with international markets and met the film’s director, Guo Xiang, while working on Einreinhofer’s documentary Shanghai 1937: Where World War II Began. We found we had a lot in common, even though we are totally different and each doesn’t speak the other’s language,” recalled Einreinhofer. “Director Guo valued my experience in international co-production and distribution while I admired his cinematic vision and resourcefulness. He wanted to bring authenticity to this period film [Invisible Love], and my background in non-fiction video and familiarity with Asian cultures helped to ensure historic elements of the film rang true.”

    Nancy Hanzhang Shen (Left) and Bill Einreinhofer (Right)

    The Broadcast Journalism Chair even makes a cameo appearance in the film as Dr. Sawyer, the director of a Western-run hospital in DaNang, where two of the key characters work. “It [acting] helped me better appreciate the ability of the actors to do the same scene time after time, with no slip-ups in dialogue and always hitting their marks, which I find challenging,” he shared. 

    Einreinhofer also explained that he was able to rely on Tauginas while on set to give him a quick tutorial on the do’s and don’ts of film performance as well as Shen, who served as a producer and 1st AD on the film. “I was also much taken by the sheer beauty of Vietnam, and how welcoming the people there are to Americans. For my generation, Vietnam was a war, not a place.”

    For those who see the film, Einreinhofer hopes that Invisible Love will speak to the notion that, regardless of culture or societal norms, love knows no barriers and surpasses all universal emotions. 

    The film now continues on the festival circuit for the next six months, after which Einreinhofer and the crew hope to sign agreements with distributors to get into the prime markets and platforms for a larger audience to view the film.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Broadcast Journalism Chair Bill Einreinhofer on his continued success with Invisible Love and looks forward to announcing when the film is available to view for the public. 

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  • 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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