November 14, 2016

For the second year in a row, the New York Film Academy Documentary Department held a screening at the prestigious DOC NYC at the IFC Center in New York City. Brainchild of the Toronto International Film Festival’s celebrated programmer Thom Powers, DOC NYC has been voted one of MovieMaker Magazine’s “five coolest documentary film festivals in the world.” It’s also one of the most respected, and America’s largest. Based at the West Village’s IFC Center, Chelsea’s SVA Theater and Bow Tie Chelsea Cinema, the eight-day festival showcases new achievements in documentary film along with panels and conversations.

“We are the few, the proud, the documentary program,” said NYFA Documentary Chair Andrea Swift, who introduced the four student thesis films that screened at the festival. “Whether breaking your heart, opening your eyes or keeping you laughing for 16 minutes straight, these four films announce the arrival of a group of fast rising new Doc-Stars. And they are but the tip of an iceberg. We couldn’t be prouder to see them premiere at one of the top documentary festivals in the world.”

The four remarkable films screened in the following order:

Directed by Anais Michel

Story: Coach Mike instills strict Russian discipline, expects perfection and relentlessly demands that his boxers deliver — even though they are only 6 years old and mostly just want to get through elementary school in one piece.

Words from Anais on why she chose Coach Mike as her subject:

“For me it was about finding a character, and I found Coach Mike. I clicked with him and the kids. The kids were so spontaneous. I had an amazing crew. I was so lost and the teachers supported me. I had to get rid of more than half of my footage to make a 15-minute movie. I had to sacrifice my baby.”

Advice from Anais:

“Don’t be afraid to ask people to tell their story. They’re actually flattered.”

Directed by Laura Snow

Story: When Laura was five years old, her father moved out of the home and into a trailer in the backyard. Twenty years later, Laura sets out to discover why in this unsentimental, unvarnished family mystery. For anyone who grew up with a father just out of reach, and for veterans and their families still haunted by the horrors of war.

Laura on making the film:

“There’s a lot of support from the faculty and my classmates. I had support as I was crying over my Final Cut Pro. Cutting the story was difficult and sometimes painful.”

Advice from Laura:

“My advice is to forget what you think you know about a subject and try to listen to your interview subjects and your research.”

Directed by Pavan Kumar Indla

Story: There’s a hotel in India where people go to die. Here, Narayan seeks Moksha above the roar of the giant ritual fires that cremate the ceaseless stream of dead brought to Varanasi to enter the sacred river Ganges. If one can leave the body behind in Varanasi, it is believed they will be released from the cycle of birth and death, achieving Moksha. Narayan’s is a deep, intimate spiritual journey toward that end.

Why Pavan chose his subject and location:

“My intention was to convert philosophy through story. I still don’t fully understand the Indian philosophy. I think I began to feel it.”

Advice from Pavan:

“Stick to what you feel is right and do what you want to do.”

Directed by Ida Myklebost

Story: Six year-old Menwar and his family live in a tent at a gas station in Greece. Having fled the Syrian Civil War, they now face the biggest decision of their lives: Will they follow the other refugees to a prison-like government camp or break all the rules and make an illegal run for the border?

A few words from Ida on her film, “Unwelcome”:

“To make a film in a language I didn’t speak was a big challenge. I had really researched it. I had a contact person at all of the camps, which really helped. I also had a lot of help from my team and my D.P.”

The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate our documentary students and the documentary filmmaking department for their fine work at DOC NYC.