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  • New Wave of Chinese Talent from New York Film Academy (NYFA) Win Big at Los Angeles Shorts International Film Festival

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    On July 25, the LA Shorts International Film Festival held its final awards ceremony, where alumni from New York Film Academy (NYFA) swept the entire “Chinese New Wave” film category.

    Alumni Shi Tanxuan and Jin Lingxi were awarded “The Best Chinese New Wave Filmmaker” award and “Special Mention in the Chinese New Wave,” respectively. The films of both alumni beat out several highly competitive films from other prominent and respectable film and art universities. 

    Shi Tanxuan started the MFA in Filmmaking program at New York Film Academy in Summer 2017 at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. His film, Lip Reader: Game of Detective, which he wrote and directed, has a cast and crew of several other Chinese students and alumni from NYFA, including:

    General Executive ProducerLip Reader: Game of Detective - Shi Tanxuan
    Peipei Duan
    2017 Fall MFA Producing

    Second Unit Director
    Kaibo Xu
    2017 Fall MFA Filmmaking

    1st & 2nd Assistant Director
    Fei Chen
    Mengmeng
    2018 Fall BFA Filmmaking

    Post Supervisor
    Cherry Cao
    2015 Fall MFA Filmmaking

    Post Production Coordinator
    Zhenghao Yang
    2016 Fall MFA Filmmaking

    Cast:
    Klay Li
    2016 Spring MFA Filmmaking

    Demi Ke
    2015 Spring MFA Acting for Film

    Xinran Cao
    2018 Summer MFA Acting for Film

    Yiwen Sun
    2016 Fall BFA Acting for Film

    Jiani Yang
    2017 Fall BFA Acting for Film

    Shi’s previous work has earned several awards and accolades, including from the Beijing University Student Film Festival, the Guangzhou University Student Film Festival, and other domestic and international film festivals. 

    Jin won for his film, The Outlying Islands, which was also produced and shot by a group of NYFA alumni. Production took place at the gorgeous Shengsi Islands in Zhejiang province, China. The film perfectly showcased the specific vision and style of Jin, who recently graduated from New York Film Academy with a BFA degree in Filmmaking. The crew of The Outlying Islands included multiple NYFA alumni:

    Producer
    Zexia Wang
    2015 Spring MA Film and Media

    Screenwriter & Assistant Director
    Jingwei Zhou
    2016 Spring MFA Filmmaking

    Cinematographer
    Gaofei Zheng
    2013 Fall MFA Cinematography

    Colorist
    Egor Povolotskiy
    2013 Spring MFA Cinematography

    The film has received several awards and accolades at various film festivals, including the Singapore International Short Film Festival, Shanghai Pride Film Festival, and other domestic and international film festivals.

    The Los Angeles International Short Film Festival (LA Shorts) is one of the world’s largest international short film festivals. It was founded in 1997 and has been successfully held 23 times, with more than 300 films per year. LA Shorts is hailed as the largest international short film festival on the West Coast and not only has a high degree of recognition in the American film industry, but also is accredited by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) and the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. LA Shorts is an official qualifying event for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) short film awards.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA alumni Shi Tanxuan and Jin Lingxi on their awards at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival!

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    August 15, 2019 • China, Film Festivals, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 335

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing Students Aliza Jafri and Jon Legarda Win LA Live Score Film Festival

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Producing student Aliza Jafri and 1-Year Producing student Jon Legarda won big at this year’s Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival, coming away with both Best Film and Best Composer. The two students teamed up to produce documentary short A Deep Breath, which focuses on freediving as a place of solace from stress and the emotions tied into being far from home.

    LA Live Score Film Festival 2019

    The Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival is in its sixth year and featured selected works from local film schools that were paired with professional composers to create original scores. The films were screened on July 22 at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, with their new scores performed live by renowned performance and recording ensemble Helix Collective.

    The film was curated for the festival by Crickett Rumley, Director of the NYFA Los Angeles Film Festival Department, after a rigorous school-wide competition. “When I first heard about Jon and Aliza’s project, I thought it was incredibly ambitious and wondered how they could possibly meet the deadline,” says Rumley.

    She adds, “Then I saw the rough cut and knew immediately it would be a festival hit. The freediving is so peaceful and beautiful, and the interviews with Jon and his mother are incredibly charming. I look forward to seeing where the film goes next.”

    Jafri and Legarda’s hard work paid off: “It was an amazing feeling because all the late nights staying up editing and trying to push this movie out by the deadline of this festival were really hard,” says the filmmaker. “It gave us a chance to collaborate with a composer and see how that whole process works from beginning to end. It was an amazing experience to see how Cali Wang, the composer, brought life to our film with the score she composed.”

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    August 2, 2019 • Film Festivals, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 473

  • New York FIlm Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Swati Chugh Finds Success With ‘New Heaven’

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    New Heaven, the final film project of New York Film Academy (NYFA) 4-Week Filmmaking Workshop alum Swati Chugh, has been steadily amassing awards since recently entering the international festival circuit. Swati Chugh - New Heaven

    Chugh is originally from India and made the film in April 2019 as part of graduating the 4-week Filmmaking Workshop at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus. New Heaven is about a middle-aged woman who is struggling to come to terms with aging and mortality. The film explores how she finds fulfillment while dealing with the memories of her younger days.

    “As a filmmaker,” Chugh tells NYFA, “I want to tell stories that bring hope and inspiration to the audience. If I manage to touch hearts and inspire people to view things differently, I believe my purpose is met. New Heaven is one such story … Age is a factor that affects us all and many times we tend to get stuck in the past on how we used to look earlier versus how we look like now … The story shows [the protagonist’s] struggles, conflict, and journey towards getting her self-worth back.”

    Since entering the festival circuit, New Heaven has won:

    Best Silent Film – Crownwood International Film Festival, India
    Best Silent Film – Druk International Film Festival, Bhutan
    Best Super Short Film – Five Continents Film Festival, Venezuela
    Special Mention Editing Short Film – Five Continents Film Festival, Venezuela
    Semifinalist for Best Writer – AltFF Alternative Film Festival, Canada
    Semifinalist for Best Actress – AltFF Alternative Film Festival Canada
    Official Selection – Florence Film Awards, Italy
    Official Selection – CKF International Film Festival, UK
    Official Selection – Berlin Flash Film Festival, Germany

    The film was a collaboration between multiple New York Film Academy alumni, including co-star Omega Melhem (8-Week Acting for Film), actor and director of photography Jialu Liu, (4-Week Filmmaking), and assistant camera Matias Alvarado (4-Week Filmmaking). Chugh praised both her cast and crew as well as the NYFA faculty who helped teach her the filmmaking craft.

    “The filmmaking course at NYFA was beyond what I had expected,” adds Chugh. “It was a fast-paced course, but that is what made it so exciting.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Filmmaking alum Swati Chugh on the growing list of accolades for New Heaven and wishes her ongoing success as she continues her filmmaking endeavors.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students & Alumni Screen at 2019 Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival

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    This spring, four New York Film Academy (NYFA) students and alumni had the opportunity to collaborate on their films with professional composers through a partnership with the Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival. After being selected through a rigorous school competition, students Ion Legarda, Aliza Jaffri, and Jonathan Samukange, and alum Savannah Sivert were matched with professional composers who then wrote scores for their films.

    Since the dawn of the silent film era, music has played a critical role in cinematic storytelling. It accentuates emotion, sets a tone, and underscores conflict. Filmmakers work closely with their composers to create the right sound for their films. For these filmmakers just beginning their careers, the chance to have professionals score their films is a fantastic opportunity.

    On Saturday, July 20, they will have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching their films on the big screen at the Barnsdall Art Gallery Theater while the orchestra Helix Collective plays the new composed score live. 

    NYFA caught up with the filmmakers ahead of the Live Score Film Festival and asked them about their experiences working with their composers.

    Ion Legarda (Spring 2019 1-Year Producing) & Aliza Jafri (Spring 2019 MFA Producing)

    Title of Film: A Deep Breath
    Composer: Cali Wang
    Genre: Documentary
    Logline: After relocating to the United States, Ion Legarda uses his passion for free diving to cope with the stresses of starting a new life, taking us with him on an exploration of the magnificent world that exists underwater.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Tell us about your film.  

    Ion Legarda & Aliza Jafri (IL/AJ): We were building this movie around having beautiful cinematic underwater shots to take the crowd with the free diver to show the peaceful magnificent world under the surface. We had only one day on a boat with the underwater camera operator, the crew, and equipment. We prepared everything, even went to sleep on the boat.

    When the day came, Aliza, the director, together with the two co-producers and the person who was supposed to be our underwater camera operator got SEASICK. So, Isaac and Ion, the free divers, had to learn how to operate the underwater camera, and shoot all the footage by themselves. Because they weren’t exactly experienced, we had to find diving archival footage from Ion’s past. Most of the underwater footage in the movie was not shot intentionally for this film.

    NYFA: What has it been like to work with your composer?

    (IL/AJ): It was our first time. Cali is a very talented composer and made it really easy on us. After sending her a few examples and references, she knew exactly what we were looking for, and sent us revisions every week or two for us to give her corrections. Everything worked easily and smoothly.

    NYFA: What have you learned in this process?

    (IL/AJ): That communication and setting expectations in the beginning is the key to good work with a composer.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to in the live screening?

    (IL/AJ): To hear Cali’s score being played live while our movie is on the screen.

    Live Score Film Festival

    Jonathan Samukange (Summer 2019 BFA Filmmaking)

    Title of Film: Honest
    Composer: Michael Paraskevas
    Genre: Drama
    Logline: When adolescence hits, a stubborn young man must choose to listen to his father’s wisdom or risk it all to find his own path.

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Jonathan Samukange (JS):
    What’s special about this movie is that it’s crewed and cast by first-time filmmakers. Most of the people in this film had never seen a film camera before in their lives. That’s special. I traveled all the way home to Zimbabwe to film it. At first, I had two months to prepare, but my visit was cut short by unexpected events. I was left with just six days to write, cast, crew, find locations and equipment.

    I almost quit as the stress increased, but I couldn’t. You can’t quit just because it’s hard or no one believes in you. I looked like a wacko jacko making this movie. No one understood why I was driving up and down the place like a crazy man, but I did. That’s all that mattered. When no one understands you, don’t be discouraged by it. Embrace it. You’ll be surprised what you find on the other side.

    NYFA: What has it been like to work with your composer?

    JS: My composer was chosen for me, and what a fine choice Michael Paraskevas was. From the moment we met, it felt like we’ve always known each other—we just gelled. My vision for the score was simple. I asked Michael to put his heart and soul into it and to be inspired by what he sees, to follow his gut. He went for it. Freedom is at the heart of collaboration. When we give each other a chance to shine, the whole project benefits immensely.

    You must come to the screening to experience this magic with your friends and family. We would be honored to have you, and it will surely be a show to remember.

    Live Score Film Festival

    Savannah Sivert (Fall 2015 MFA Filmmaking)

    Title of Film: Siblings
    Genre: Drama
    Composer: Alex Robert Heinrich
    Logline: Three siblings must find a way to accept the death of their mother.

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Savannah Sivert (SS): This film is heavy in the way that it is a personal reflection of the death of my mother, with the twist of what I wish my siblings and I would have done at her funeral reception. Two words: stink bomb. It’s drama that serves the point of view of a child amidst grief.

    NYFA: What has it been like to work with your composer?

    SS: The experience completely surpassed my expectations. Alex was so easy to work with and extremely knowledgeable. More often than not, Alex was finishing my sentences as we discussed the composition. He understood the tone of the film and truly enhanced what was important.

    NYFA: What have you learned in this process?

    I learned how refreshing post-production can be for a film. My collaboration with my composer has deepened my understanding of how to use music as a tool in storytelling.

    SS: What are you looking forward to in the live screening?

    I have absolutely never experienced a film of mine being screened while a live band plays the score. That’s a first for sure! My film has evolved into something else because of my collaboration with Alex Robert Heinrich. It will be the very first screening of what the film has developed into because of this process. I can’t wait to watch.

    Live Score Film Festival

    The New York Film Academy community is invited to attend the LA Live Score Film Festival this Saturday, July 20, 2019, from 6 – 10 p.m. at Barnsdall Art Park. To purchase tickets, please click here and use the code NYFA to get a $5 discount.

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    July 16, 2019 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 630

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking Student Bruklyn Miller Wins Wolfson CinemaSlam Works in Progress Award

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) South Beach student Bruklyn Miller hasn’t completed her MFA in Filmmaking yet, but she’s already making waves in the festival circuit with her film, Celestial. The project was recently selected to receive the Wolfson CinemaSlam Works in Progress Award from the Miami Film Festival’s CinemaSlam section.

    Bruklyn MillerMiller is currently enrolled in the MFA in Filmmaking program at NYFA’s South Beach campus in Miami, Florida. As part of her studies, the young filmmaker will receive 2,000 hours of hands-on instruction and production experience on a variety of high-end digital and analog film cameras.

    Celestial is Miller’s intermediate film. The social thriller focuses on Nola Dubois, an intentionally standoffish girl gifted with the ability of touch sensitivity. As she begins to unravel mysterious secrets about her parents’ church, Dubois finds herself haunted by tragic and disturbing events. 

    “As a filmmaker, you are often put in positions of struggling to make it closer to your dreams,” says Miller. “Celestial is the reason I applied to New York Film Academy. Working with the cast and crew for Celestial allows this to feel real. Everyone is so committed to creating something that goes beyond a typical horror film. We want to create something that haunts our audience even when it isn’t making them jump; something that is hushed and character driven—the real terror goes beyond the central purpose and more so with the byproduct of a ruthlessly specific agenda and the effects it has on our main character.”Bruklyn Miller Celestial

    The film was selected to receive a $2500 Wolfson CinemaSlam Works in Progress Award. As part of the grant, the film will be enrolled at no cost in next year’s Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation CinemaSlam Competition. The prestigious section of Miami Film Festival’s CinemaSlam aims to support Miami-area student filmmakers and help them navigate the film festival circuit, as well as encouraging students to use archival materials in film and video production, specifically material housed at the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Media Center.

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA in Filmmaking student Bruklyn Miller on her award and looks forward to the completion of Celestial and its screening at next year’s CinemaSlam Competition!

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    July 2, 2019 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 793

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Filmmaking Alum Hani Alqattan Makes Award-Winning Film ‘Amal’

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    Amal, the award-winning film written and directed by BFA Filmmaking Alum Hani Alqattan, has been steadily picking up festival screenings as well winning Best Shorts Competition.Hani Alqattan Amal

    Alqattan always had a general interest in film, which he eventually followed by writing and directing several shorts before enrolling at New York Film Academy. In 2017, he earned his BFA in Filmmaking from NYFA’s Burbank-based campus.

    Since graduating, Alqattan has hosted a filmmaking workshop at WOW Middle East in Dubai and was a guest speaker at the Women Economic Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia—the first of its kind. Additionally, he has served as administrative director at Areen Academy in Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

    In 2016, Alqattan began production on Amal, a short film about a young girl whose father dies in a Paris attack and must deal with the repercussions the tragedy takes on her and her mother. 

    Amal Film – Directed by Hani Alqattan from Kartikye Gupta on Vimeo.

    Hani Alqattan AmalIn addition to winning Best Shorts Competition, Amal was a finalist in both the World of Women Film Fair Middle East and Miami Epic Trailer Festival, as well as a semi-finalist in the San Mauro Film Festival. It has also been an Official Selection at numerous other fests, including the Largo Film Awards, Kazan Film Festival, Ouchy Film Awards, Los Angeles CineFest, Fair International Film Festival, Qumara International Film Festival, 2nd Asian International Film Festival, WIND International Film Festivals & World Humanitarian Awards, and Steps International Short Film Festival

    Alqattan is keeping busy as a filmmaker and is currently shooting a proof of concept short for Needle in Thread, as well as working on the feature version of the script.

    New York Film Academy congratulates BFA Filmmaking alum Hani Alqattan on the success of Amal and wishes him the best of luck as his career after NYFA continues to steadily move forward!

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  • ‘Debris’ by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Instructor Julio O. Ramos In Competition at Palm Springs International Shortfest

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    Debris, the award-winning short film by New York Film Academy (NYFA) instructor Julio O. Ramos, is screening in competition at this year’s Palm Springs International Shortfest. Ramos is an acting instructor at NYFA-Los Angeles’s Burbank-based campus.Julio O. Ramos

    The film was written by Lucas Micelles from a story by Ramos, who directed the short as well. Debris is a thriller set against the bleak backdrop of human labor trafficking and focuses on Armando (Tenoch Huerta), a hard-working construction foreman who needs to resort to unconventional methods to deal with an accident on his site. After the contractor (Karren Karaguilian) discovers what Armando is up to, Armando is forced to face the consequences of his actions.

    “My intention with Debris is to shed light over this grim world of labor trafficking, focus on the vulnerable lives of illegal construction workers, and break the stereotypical notion that labor trafficking only happens somewhere else,” says Ramos. “We must ask ourselves: Who are the people building the homes of America? Where did they come from? Who hired them? America’s obsession with cheap labor has led to a complicated immigration policy intertwining the everyday American life with the global transgressions of labor trafficking.” 

    Ramos adds, “It happens right here in America and, arguably, we are all responsible.”

    Debris premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and since then has competed in nearly 100 film festivals, picking up awards including Best Narrative Short at the 2018 Sidewalk Film Festival, Special Mention of the Jury at the 2019 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, and two Jury Awards for Best Narrative Short Film and Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi.

    Julio O. Ramos

    The film’s latest achievement is screening at the 2019 Palm Springs International Shortfest. The festival, now in its 25th year, takes place across seven days every June, hosting more than 350 short films annually as well as a series of panels, seminars, roundtable discussions, and master classes.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Acting instructor Julio O. Ramos on the success of Debris and wishes him the best of luck at Palm Springs International Shortfest.

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    June 21, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights, Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 493

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Filmmaking Student Drama Del Rosario In Doc Edge Pride Festival

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    In This Family, the BAFTA-shortlisted documentary film by New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Filmmaking student Drama Del Rosario is now an Official Selection of the Doc Edge Pride Festival. The prestigious festival is Oscar-qualifying and one of the biggest events In This Family will screen at to date! 

    The Doc Edge Pride Festival is held in New Zealand and is celebrating its fourteenth year. Its mission is “to lead and support filmmakers to develop and make compelling documentary films and to inspire the creative, business, and wider communities to celebrate local and international documentary stories.”

    The fest will be held in Auckland, New Zealand from May 30 – June 9 and then in New Zealand’s capital city Wellington from June 13 – 23.
    drama del rosario in this family

    Drama Del Rosario is a documentary filmmaker originally from Manila, Philippines, whose film focuses on complex themes surrounding culture, religion, commercialization, and LGBTQIA+ issues. In Fall 2017, he began studying for his MFA in Documentary Filmmaking from New York Film Academy at our Los Angeles campus.

    In This Family is a 12-minute short that tells the story of one Filipino family’s reaction to finding out their son is gay, while weaving in the filmmaker’s own story to offer an eye-opening perspective into the process of coming out to and finding acceptance from a very traditional Catholic tradition. Last year, the film was shortlisted for the BAFTA Student Film Awards.

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Documentary Filmmaking student Drama Del Rosario on the latest success of his film In This Family and looks forward to seeing where his journey takes him next!

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts First Annual John Burroughs High School Film Festival

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was proud to host the first annual John Burroughs High School Film Festival earlier this month on May 5. The festival featured four films made by the young students. Students used their own equipment—smartphones, high-quality cameras, and sound equipment—to film their movies, which ranged in length from two to 10 minutes.

    John Burroughs has a film club filled with students that have a great passion for film. The president of the film club approached NYFA in the fall of 2018 with interest in visiting the campus and starting a film festival. NYFA was very excited to help them achieve this goal. 

    John Burroughs HS Film Festival 2019
    A 1-week workshop scholarship was awarded to one of the filmmakers, chosen by the audience.   The winning film was the four minute short, Time Machine.

    The festival garnered the attention of the LA Times, where journalist Andrew J. Campa wrote about the event and interviewed John Burroughs High School Film Club President Orion Spatafora and NYFA Senior Outreach Specialist Jody Burns.

    “It was so much fun to see the students’ hard work pay off,” Burns told the LA Times. “It was so exciting for us at New York Film Academy to see the hard work they put into their films. The students also loved getting to see their work on the big screen in a theater setting.”

    John Burroughs HS Film Festival 2019

    The festival was small this year, but both NYFA and Spatafore expect more students of John Burroughs to participate in the second annual event. “We’re already planning next year’s film festival now,” Spatafora told the LA Times. “We want more students involved, and we want to get this out to the community.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates the filmmaking students on jobs well done and looks forward to next year’s John Burroughs High School Film Festival! 

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    May 23, 2019 • Film Festivals, Film School, Outreach • Views: 558

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Students Attend Palm Springs Photo Festival

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    This May, The Photo Arts Conservatory at New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) attended the Palm Springs Photo Festival for the fourth consecutive year in a row.

    Each year, the festival provides an opportunity for our students to meet with legendary photographers, share their portfolios in the celebrated portfolio review program, check out the latest photo gear, enjoy evening presentations by world famous image makers, and attend cutting-edge seminars, symposiums, and networking events. NYFA Photography students gain incredible insight into the current photo market and make new connections with industry leaders. 

    Palm Springs Photo Festival 2019
    “The part I enjoy most about the Palm Springs Photo Festival is that it gives me the opportunities to meet with a lot of great photographers of different genres,” shares Cindy Chiang, a 1-year Photography student at NYFA. “In addition to the portfolio review, which is helpful in itself, I’m inspired by different artist talks that enable me to think further about my own project.”

    This year our students met with Paris Chong, curator of the Leica Gallery Los Angeles; Emily Shornick who is the managing photo editor for InStyle.com; and Virginia Heckert, curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum, among others. 

    Palm Springs Photo Festival 2019“Palm Springs was a very enriching experience,” says Maria Antonella Moisello (1-year Photography). I’ve not only learned a lot about my own work, but I’ve also had the opportunity to share with my colleagues and network with really cool people.”

    In addition to portfolio reviews, our students attended a symposium on women photographers and were honored to attend this moving conversation. The speakers included Barbara Davidson, a three-time Pulitzer Prize- and Emmy award-winning photojournalist best known for her work on victims of gang violence in Los Angeles; artist Mona Kuhn’s whose work has been exhibited and/or included in the collections of The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Pérez Art Museum, and many more; and Melanie Pullen, a fine-art photographer whose work focuses on both social values and taboos while purposely taking aim at the media’s exploitation of sex, gender, and violence. 

    Other lectures were given by industry legends such as Stephen Wilkes, Jay Maisel, Nadav Kander, and Duane Michaels.

    “It’s incredible to get a chance to see so many legendary image makers speaking about their unique journey,” remarks Amanda Rowan, NYFA Photography instructor. “It’s a great way for our students to gain insight and perspective on there own creative journey.” 

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    May 22, 2019 • Film Festivals, Photography • Views: 383