Netflix’s binge-worthy new limited series is Behind Her Eyes and it has everyone talking about all the twists and turns. The series, which released on February 17, stars NYFA alum Eve Hewson as lead character Adele.
Eve Hewson studied at NYFA in 2008 in the Acting for Film program and has since appeared with Sean Penn and Frances McDormand in This Must Be the Place and Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. Hewson also appeared alongside Taron Egerton and Jamie Foxx in Robin Hood. She recently appeared in the BBC adaption of Eleanor Catton’s novel The Luminaries as Anna Wetherell that premiered in the U.S on February 14, 2021, on Starz.
Eve Hewson as Adele in “Behind Her Eyes” (Netflix)
Hewson’s latest project, Behind Her Eyes, is a psychological thriller adapted from Sarah Pinborough’s 2017 novel of the same name. The story follows the love triangle of single mother Louise and married couple Adele (Hewson) and David. With a series of shocking twists, and a highly talked about ending, the story is nothing short of gripping, where nothing is what it seems.
Poster for “Behind Her Eyes” (Netflix)
Hewson’s character Adele is married to David, who is having an affair with the new resident to the town, Louise. Adele, surprisingly, is interested in forming a friendly connection with David’s new lover but sets off an entangled web of twisted circumstances and conspiracy.
New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Eve Hewson on the release of her latest project and encourages everyone to check out the new limited series, now streaming on Netflix.
Spanish producer Irene Mendez has always been interested in visual storytelling. With her degree in communications coupled with her education from NYFA’s 1-Year Producing Conservatory, Mendez is seeking change in the production space, aiming to make all media projects more sustainable across the industry.
Coming to NYFA, Mendez knew it would give her a new perspective on film production. “I’ve always thought it is essential to know and understand how movies are made in different countries, and I saw in NYFA the opportunity to do so,” she shared. “NYFA has some of the best professionals teachers, including instructors who have won BAFTAs and have been in some of the most important film festivals.”
NYFA alum Irene Mendez
From her time at NYFA, Mendez has learned that preproduction is the most essential part of any project. “Work before you get to the set. Study every possibility that might happen once you are filming,” she emphasized. “Be ready for any inconvenience. It is so vital to plan what might happen and be prepared for any kind of problem. It is funny cause it’s actually the same advice I will give to anyone who wants to make a more sustainable film.”
Mendez first got involved in sustainability in filmmaking after attending Madrid’s Another Way Film Festival in Madrid, which focused on sustainable progress in filmmaking. “I realized that we can do much more. There are many things we can change to create the same entertainment content in a much better way,” urged Mendez. “We can tell the same great stories without hurting the planet and its future. Even more, we can help to be part of the change.”
Mendez is now involved with Fiction Changing the World, an organization that specializes in sustainable audiovisual productions, working both in reducing the negative impact of productions and creating fiction and entertainment formats that convey important info about sustainable development to the viewers. “There is a lot of things that we can do when we work on a project to reduce the negatives impacts and create good ones. Not only on how we do things but also in how we tell the stories and entertain.”
This past year, Mendez worked with Fiction Changing the World on a UN campaign to show the world that a new way to make content is possible. “Being part of the UN campaign and seeing Paloma Andres and Rhoda N. Wainwright (Founders of Fiction Changing the World) speak beside people with innovative ideas and famous names as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones), makes you understand that we are not alone. There is a lot of people trying to be part of the change. Thousands of unique ideas can help us all to do our bit.”
Fiction Changing the World has also started their campaign The Dante Movement, which focuses on creating fictional media that will inspire sustainable action and change in the world among others to do their part. “Documentaries are a wonderful way to bring attention to different topics, but they have a couple of problems when it comes to reaching the general public,” shared Mendez when asked why the fictional format is a better medium for the campaign as opposed to documentary filmmaking.
Irene Mendez on set
“They [documentaries] often focus on particular topics, which is fine, but it is more difficult to get millions of people interested in very a specific issue. Also, documentaries are not always the first choice of entertainment for the general public. On the other hand, fiction is a format that is consumed by everyone on the planet; it leaves no one out. It is a more global and entertaining way to send a message and to educate and raise awareness.”
“For example, I would dare to say that the vast majority of Spaniards of my generation know that water rotates in a different direction in each hemisphere thanks to an episode of The Simpsons in which Bart travels to Australia,” Mendez said. “Fiction is a way to reach every home. We all get motivated watching the Avengers fighting together against Thanos. In our universe, we can all unite to fight our own common enemy.”
Though The Dante Movement is focused on fictional stories to get the message across to viewers, Fiction Changing the World still allows for other formats to be used to reach different people, like documentaries. In addition to working with the organization, Mendez has also been working on the TV series Foundation for Apple TV+ here in Spain, but what Mendez expressed she is most proud of is producing the first certified Positive Carbon Footprint spot for Greenpeace.
“This proves that it is possible to create sustainable content. We had to think from the script in how to make it more environmentally friendly way,” shared Mendez. “I had several meetings with the screenwriters and the production company to explain to them what are the points that make a film create more or fewer carbon emissions and what makes more negative impacts. They quickly understood what was needed and realized that thinking in a sustainable way doesn’t have to compromise the project’s creativity.”
As a lover of making films and the environment, Mendez is an advocate for change in the industry, working to make sets reduce their negative impact on the environment from issues like not recycling properly and consuming more on set than necessary. “The reality is that there are many more things we aren’t doing right. The material we use to build a set, the fabric to sew amazing costumes, and the places we choose to use as scenarios are decisions we can make to reduce the negative impact of production,” she explained. “Our responsibility as filmmakers is not solely to entertain, but also to inform and inspire our audiences. We have the power to reach every single soul, and we should use it.”
New York Film Academy would like to thank Irene Mendez for taking the time to share more about the sustainability movement that is taking place on sets all over the world. With the urgency to act, filmmakers like Irene can continue to make a difference and be agents for change across the industry. NYFA looks forward to seeing what’s next from the alum and to hear more updates on Mendez’s mission for film sustainability.
New York Film Academy (NYFA) is excited to announce the eligibility of three alumni projects that are officially qualified to be nominated in the upcoming 93rd Academy Awards for the Live Action Short Film category. With the Oscars ceremony pushed to April 25, 2021, the Academy will announce the shortlist of potential nominees on February 9, 2021, with the second round of voting narrowed to five official Oscar nominees on March 15, 2021.
The following short films from NYFA alumni have qualified to be nominated for the 2021 Oscars in the Live Action Short Film Category:
Screenwriting BFA alum Meshal Aljaser with Arabian Alien
Acting for Film Workshop alum Dr. Ariel Orama López with 2ḦOOM[Zoom]
1-Year Filmmaking alum Tushar Tyagi with Saving Chintu
Short films can qualify for nomination in one of three ways: a seven-day theatrical run in one of six major US cities, winning a qualifying award at a competitive film festival or winning a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Medal in the Student Academy Awards.
Arabian Alien, written and directed by Saudi filmmaker Meshal Aljaser and produced by NYFA Producing alum Almotaz Aljefri, tells of a married Muslim man, who gets over his depression after a space alien is introduced into his life. The film had its world premiere at the prestigious Sundance 2020, where it won the Vimeo Jury Award and later went on to be the winner of the Atlanta Film Festival (AFF) Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short Film where it was hailed “a layered, suspenseful and powerfully strange tale of societal taboos and marital tension, told with emotional precision, silent-film-evoking visuals, cultural authenticity, and startling humor.”
The AFF win for Arabian Alien, which cemented the film for Oscar consideration, catapulted the film to further critical acclaim including a feature in GQ Middle East, among others, applauding the work of Aljaser and Saudi influencer and actor Mohammed Alhamdan (Warchief), who starred in the film.
2ḦOOM[Zoom] from Dr. Orama López is an experimental live-action and animation hybrid short film about two brothers from the Caribbean who discover what unifies them. Using the backdrop of the current pandemic and the all-too-familiar COVID communication platform of choice, Zoom, the film includes voices and talents from the Caribbean, Latin America, Spain, and Italy.
This is Dr. Orama López’s second consecutive nod for Academy Award consideration with his previous short film, One, qualifying for an Oscar nomination in 2020. “I feel blessed by the opportunity to qualify for the Oscars two years in a row,” Dr. Orama López shared. “I believe that films, more than entertain, can heal us, and represent who we are, as humans.”
Saving Chintufrom Tyagi tells of an American-Indian gay couple who travel to India to adopt a child living with HIV in an orphanage and encounter cultural challenges along the way. Starring Adil Hussain (Life of Pi, Star Trek: Discovery), the film appeared as an official selection at numerous film festivals and received notable critical acclaim, most recently being hailed by both Variety and Rolling Stone India.
The NYFA alum shared that being part of the 2021 Oscars race is “almost unbelievable” and having Saving Chintu “being watched and celebrated at the top film festivals and praised by so many is a very blissful feeling.”
NYFA congratulates the alumni who have qualified for Academy Award consideration and wishes them the best of luck when the shortlist is announced on February 9, 2021.
Last Friday, Evgeniia Vlasova and I wrapped up a three-day online follow-up to last August’s Moscow Journalism Summer School (JSS). We ended early afternoon New York time, early evening Moscow time and after midnight Siberia time. About two-thirds of the JSS Summer attendees participated at some point over the three days. Some had personal obligations that precluded them from attending. One is a physician, once again treating desperately ill COVID-19 patients.
Each of the workshop participants produced a story on the theme “2020: The Year No One Expected.” While they all had a common subject, each approached the assignment in a unique way. Genia and I were very impressed by the maturity of the presentations. They were definitely better than what they did last August, although those were pretty good too.
We had two guest speakers. Jeff Platt is a general assignment reporter in Bakersfield, California. We invited him to talk about practicing digital journalism when you have limited resources. The other guest was Lara Gato, a NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduate and a Producer with CBSN, the digital streaming service of CBS News. We discussed the differences in producing stories for broadcast/cable television and digital platforms.
Gillian Kemmerer, Host of The Faceoff & Ice Diaries, guest lectured this Summer and tweeted out her support of the incredible NYFA Moscow Broadcast Journalism students.
I had the chance to guest lecture the @NYFA Moscow students remotely this summer. Seeing their final projects leaves me in awe of what they learned. This is an evocative look at how orthodox churches are handling (or not) COVID from Anastasia Dzutstsati. https://t.co/RzlGHFyVWD
One of the differences between August and January was a more pronounced emphasis on career development. For the final session, each participant answered four questions:
Where do you want to be in one year?
Where do you want to be in three years?
What do you have to do to reach these goals?
What is one concrete step that you can take in the next two months to advance your career?
These folks gave up part of their Christmas vacations to attend this workshop. I think it is indicative of the value they assign to the Moscow JSS. We ended by asking them to recommend friends and colleagues who would be suitable candidates for the NYFA Moscow JSS II.
In July, four of the JSS I participants will be in New York for four weeks to study at NYFA. All travel, housing, meal, and tuition costs will be paid by the U.S. State Department.
In August 2021, we will be holding JSS II. Ideally in Moscow, otherwise online. It too will be fully funded by the State Department.
For more information on NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism School, click here.
Elsabet Ademe was born in Ethiopia, and as a teenager, she embarked on the most dangerous journey of her life – traveling the treacherous smugglers’ route toward the West, living in several countries, and working in each one to save money. Her goal was to make it to the United States to pursue a career in film. Years later, Ademe is a U.S. citizen and BFA graduate from New York Film Academy with an active career in Los Angeles.
Acting for Film Alum Elsabet Ademe
“I had a dream of becoming an actress since I was six years old, so when I got a chance to follow my dream, I decided to go to school first,” said Ademe. “I did my research about a film school, then I came across the New York Film Academy in 2014. I took the Acting for Film 1-Year Conservatory program in New York, then I did few theaters in NYC. In 2016, I moved to LA and started the NYFA’s Acting for Film BFA program.”
After Ademe graduated in 2018, she picked up acting, casting directing, producing, and writing projects. Her first web series pilot, The Bartender, got picked up by PAN Africa Film Festival.
Ademe recently wrote a book called Behind Sunrise, based on true events, which is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more. The book’s synopsis reads:
The story of the bright and positive, yet ferociously determined, Sarah Belay.
Sarah is a sixteen-year-old Ethiopian girl with big dreams. She wants to travel to Europe to pursue the arts. However, she has a huge problem – her family is dead set against it.
When she hears the man who drives her to school talk about human smuggling, her ears perk up. She knows what she’s going to do. Weeks later, in the dead of night, she leaves her home to embark on a journey that dramatically changes her life.
With little information from her transporters, Sarah travels the perilous off-road paths toward Sudan in the care of suspicious and increasingly cruel men. The battle for survival brings out the worst in some, and the incredibly good in others as a bond forms between some of the travelers.
Arriving in Sudan, Sarah finds work and saves money for what she believes is the most dangerous leg of the journey – the long trek through the Sahara Desert and into Libya. The passage, however, is a nightmare far worse than anything she could have imagined. Abandoned by the smugglers in the vast barrenness of Al Kufrah, the friends escape and hire a local Libyan smuggler to get them to Tripoli.
Instead, he takes them to the middle of the desert and into even more life-changing dangers. Will Sarah survive the journey to reach her dreams? Or will the circumstances beyond her control destroy her?
Ademe will appear in the short film Raine on the Run, which is slated to be released later this year and will continue to expand on her acting and writing skills for the future. “I’m Ethiopian so English is my second language and I have learned a lot to develop my writing skills, while also building a network through NYFA,” shared Ademe. “I discovered myself at NYFA and through me, I can do anything.”
As we look back through a challenging year that was 2020, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments the New York Film Academy (NYFA) community was able to achieve. In the below infographic, we have selected a handful of the many successes our alumni, students, faculty and staff were a part of.
For more NYFA community stories, you can read more on our blog and headline articles.
Lebogang Fisher or “Lebo” (pronounced Leh-boo), is a South African actress and director (M R Management, Stella Talent) and NYFA alum. Her name “Lebogang” means to be thankful, and she has been, time and time again, for the opportunities she has had, including most recently when she was one of ten selected to be part of the inaugural group of Warner Bros. TV’s (WBTV) “Actors in Training” program.
The WBTV Actors in Training program is designed to connect Warner Bros. Studio with emerging actors who may have had their final year of dramatic training curtailed or negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of 6,800 actors from 280 training programs worldwide who participated in the program, Warner Bros. selected Fisher as an actress to watch and to be introduced to the entertainment community at large.
NYFA Alum Lebogang “Lebo” Fisher
If not for the pandemic, Fisher would have been playing Ophelia in a South African production of Hamlet at The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town later this year. In the meantime though, you can watch her work as Cressida in The Show Must Go Online’s Troilus and Cressida.
Fisher attended NYFA’s 1-Year Acting for Film Conservatory program in New York City after her agent in South Africa suggested she audition for the program. “My family didn’t have the money, but you could audition for a talent-based scholarship,” shared Fisher. Recalling her audition for the scholarship, Fisher shared that she remembered messing up one of her monologues, but quickly pivoted and tried something else. “When I was done [with the second monologue], the scout said to me, Yeah…You need to lead with that one next time. He offered me a scholarship on the spot.”
Following graduation and after finding her footing in the artist community, Fisher discovered the Warner Brothers initiative from a friend on Facebook which prompted her to submit all her materials to the program in hopes of being selected. “At that point in time, I was quite disheartened. A lot of projects that I was auditioning for/preparing for were postponed due to the pandemic, and eventually, all were canceled. Even my survival job fell through,” she revealed. “When I saw the WBTV call, I felt a glimmer of hope. I knew I had to swing BIG.”
After going through the process and being selected as one of the ten finalists, Fisher acknowledged the honor of being selected. “Being able to meet with the casting team and the showrunners at WBTV is amazing,” said Fisher. “The ability to create a long-lasting relationship with other creatives around the world is something that this pandemic has enabled us all to do. It’s opened me up to people I may never have been able to meet.”
When all is said and done, Fisher shared that being an artist is “a lifetime commitment” and advises students and artists of the craft to remember that. She also reminded NYFA acting students to remember: “There will be many long days. It can be fun, exciting, the newness of the city and the students around you may feel like falling in love. It can also be challenging, strange, but pay attention. Time moves fast.”
New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Lebogang “Lebo” Fisher on her outstanding achievement and looks forward to seeing what is next from the actress in her career journey.
Not one, but two alumni are involved in Netflix’s first series to accommodate deaf and blind viewers for Arabic Netflix. NYFA Filmmaking alum Majid Al Ansari directs three episodes of the new series, with actress and NYFA alum Razanne Jammal starring as lead character Maggie Mckillop.
Film poster for ‘Paranormal’
Ma Waraa al-Tabea (in Arabic) or “Paranormal” in English, premiered on November 5, 2020, and marks Egypt’s first original series in addition to being the first Arabic Netflix series to accommodate deaf and blind viewers.
The series is based on Ahmed Khaled Tawfik’s thrilling book series about doctor Refaat Ismail, a cynical doctor whose lifelong scientific convictions are suddenly called into question. The Egyptian author’s critically acclaimed novels in Arabic have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.
NYFA alum Razanne Jammal in ‘Paranormal’
Razanne Jammal attended NYFA’s 4-Week Acting for Film program in 2009 and has since built up a successful acting career, starring alongside Liam Neeson in A Walk Among the Tombstones and starring in Robert Guédiguian’s Don’t Tell Me The Boy Was Mad, which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. She now plays Maggie Mckilop in Paranormal, Refaat’s university colleague who enters the paranormal world to protect those around her from danger.
Majid Al Ansari at a panel for Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX
Director Majid Al Ansari attended NYFA’s 2-Year Filmmaking Conservatory program and went on to have his debut feature film Zinzana (“Rattle The Cage”) have its world premiere at Fantastic Fest and its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival. Zinzana was subsequently picked up and eventually sold to Netflix as the first Arab film acquisition after the streaming giant branched out to the Middle East. He has director credits for three episodes of the Netflix thriller Paranormal.
Still from ‘Paranormal’
New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA Alumni Razanne Jammal and Majid Al Ansari for their involvement on Paranormal and encourages everyone to check out the new series if it is available in their country and looks forward to what’s next from the NYFA graduates.
It’s no secret that NYFA alum and India native Arif Minhaz knows how to take a stunning portrait. Don’t believe us? See his stunning work for yourself.
The Photography alum is also a decorated photographer, having won four WPE International awards for his fine art portraiture and fashion work, which also landed Minhaz on their list of Distinguished Photographers.
NYFA Photography alum Arif Minhaz
Minhaz has also won two WPPI awards, received honorable mentions at the Monochrome International Awards (2019), and has had his work exhibited at multiple galleries in New York, London and Paris. “This was only possible because I pushed myself out of my comfort zone,” shared Minhaz. “I urge every aspiring photographer to do the same.”
One of the four awards won by Minhaz was for one of my high key street fashion photographs shot on the streets of Soho, New York, with the other three awarded for Minhaz’s portrait series “Maanavatvam.”
Maanavatvam derives from the Indian language of Telugu and translates as ‘Humanity’,” shared Minhaz. “This body of work dives into the true essence of what Maanavatvam stands for: beings capable of inclusive emotional intelligence. It celebrates the diversity we encounter and our understanding and acceptance of the many differences in appearances, behaviors and traits that make all people human.”
Minhaz came to NYFA in 2019 to study in the 1-Year Conservatory Program. “It was a dream come true and I am forever grateful to my aunt, mom and grandma for gifting me this opportunity of learning from photographers I’ve idolized, at one of the top photography schools in the world,” shared Minhaz.
The acclaimed photographer credits NYFA as a key factor to helping him evolve as a photographer. “I would like to thank each and every instructor at NYFA for helping me push my boundaries, refine my photographic style, hone my skills both technically and artistically and put them all together to serve my vision.” The NYFA alum also has this to share with any incoming NYFA students: “Never stop investing time in yourself, be persistent and stay committed.”
The photo alum continues to be based out of New York City and has shared that he is inspired by “monochromatic dramatism” for his projects and incorporates contemporary elements of style.
Minhaz has also explored personal projects that address societal issues “that break stereotypes” by incorporating his personal style of “dramatic portraiture“ into his work to give the illusion of a contemporary painting.
“I am inspired by the people I surround myself with, their characteristics and everything else in between,” explained Minhaz. “I take a lot of inspiration from paintings, my country (India) and its culture, my past experiences, and things that I have come across in my life everyday.
BFA Producing alum Thandiwe Mlauli has announced an upcoming project called SOLA. It will be South Africa’s first independently produced and women-led afro-animation, with Mlauli acting as producer, director and showrunner through her animation company Studio Yezi.
The South African native, who had been told before that there was no audience for afro-anime, decided to take matters into her own hands. “I knew that [not having an audience] was not true. I had friends both Black and Brown, who were interested in seeing representation in animation,” she shared. “I decided to arm myself with the knowledge I would need to make this dream happen and Studio Yezi is the fruit of this decision.”
Founded in 2019 in Johannesburg, Studio Yezi (short for/inspired by “inkanyezi,” which means “star” in Zulu) aims to create economic opportunities for Black and Brown people in the animation industry, as well as creating accurate representation on screen.
Studio Yezi, founded by NYFA Producing alum Thandiwe Mlauli
Studio Yezi has recently launched the campaign #MakeSolaHappen, a crowdfunding initiative to develop SOLA, a story about a magical young girl who awakens in a world where magic is considered dangerous. Set in 22nd century South Africa, the film would also reimagine a world where the country would have been colonized by the Spanish instead of the British. The short film is based on the TV series that Studio Yezi is also developing.
Founder and CEO of Yezi Studios & NYFA producing alum Thandiwe Mlauli
“We’re crowdfunding to help us get to the finish line,” explained Mlauli. “We’ve gathered a team of really dope creatives who can definitely bring a product worth talking about. If anybody is interested in supporting us, or becoming a producer, please visit our crowdfunding campaign.”
The film, still in development, is a project that Mlauli hopes will “inspire other young artists to invest in their dreams and pursue them, despite whatever resistance they experience.” The studio CEO also noted how this is a project where more people can recognize Africa for its talents and the people. “We want to create a hub where people refer to us as much as they refer to other places in the world.”
For other creatives, Mlauli shares that it’s imperative to keep focus. “Remind yourself, as often as you can, why you chose the career path that you chose. When you focus on what you love, and give yourself a chance to dedicate yourself to your dreams, the world will open up for you. I’m an example of that.”
New York Film Academy would like to thank Producing alum Thandiwe Mlauli for sharing more about her upcoming film SOLA and the vision of her newly formed company, Yezi Studios. To learn more about Yezi Studios and the campaign to develop SOLA, click here.