The first four recipients of the inaugural year of the prestigious New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship have been announced. The grantees are Leeni Linna (MFA Filmmaking), Jose Miguel Perez-Alcazar (MFA Filmmaking), Nicholas Rosolino (MFA Acting), and Lucia Flores (MFA Documentary).
The scholarship is sponsored by Golden Globe-winning actor and filmmaker Matthew Modine, who is a member of the New York Film Academy’s Board of Directors and a master class instructor at NYFA. He is instantly recognizable to fans of the Netflix global mega hit Stranger Things, which won the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble, and as Private Joker from the iconic film Full Metal Jacket. Called “one of the best, most adaptable film actors of his generation” by legendary New York Times film critic Vincent Canby. Modine has worked with many of the film industry’s most acclaimed directors, including Christopher Nolan, Stanley Kubrick, and Spike Lee.
The scholarship provides financial assistance to outstanding candidates of the school’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in select disciplines. To qualify, recipients must demonstrate the values set forth by NYFA to further the art of visual storytelling. Candidates are nominated by faculty or staff, and the chosen grantees receive $5,000-$10,000 per year based on criteria including an audition or portfolio submission, academic performance, professional experience, and participation in the arts. Up to ten scholarships are personally awarded each year by award-winning actor Matthew Modine, who recently announced his candidacy for the presidency of SAG-AFTRA.
Two of this year’s Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship awardees, Jose Miguel Perez-Alcazar and Lucia Flores, are attending the New York Film Academy as Fulbright Program grantees. The Fulbright Program is an international scholarship program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It awards approximately 8,000 grants annually to students, teachers, and professionals from over 160 countries. NYFA is proud to have welcomed over 60 Fulbright students from more than 35 countries to date. In addition, NYFA is privileged to have Fulbright Program alumni as part of its faculty, including NYFA Director of Fulbright Initiatives Miguel Cruz. Professor Cruz, Fulbright alum ‘05, also serves as the Vice President for the Fulbright Association Chapter of Los Angeles.
Jose Miguel Perez-Alcazar is a journalist and filmmaker from Madrid. In addition to being a Fulbright grantee, Perez-Alcazar is also the recipient of a very competitive talent-based grant award from the Ministry of Art & Culture of the Spanish Government. Perez-Alcazar was recommended for the scholarship program by the Fulbright Commission in Spain. He speaks four languages, and has studied in Mexico, Argentina, and Holland as well as Spain.
Lucia Flores is a Peruvian documentarian and activist whose work gives voice to minorities. Her latest project follows an expectant mother from the Andes, and details the indigenous people’s rituals around childbirth. Her previous work covers the relationship between the indigenous people and their land, as well as how the people of the Andean-Amazonian region adapted to climate change using traditional knowledge. For her next film project at NYFA — while being supported by the Fulbright Program — she is teaming with fellow grantee Perez-Alcazar to tell the story of transgender women working on the Amazon River.
Nicolas Rosolino is a seasoned stage actor with more than 15 credits to his name. His background includes leads in such major musical productions as The Pirates of Penzance, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Beauty and the Beast. The trilingual actor has trained extensively in a variety of techniques, including Stanislavski, Laban, and Grotowski. “He is not afraid to take major creative risks in his acting work,” said Charles Richter, Director of Theatre at Muhlenberg College. “He is an extraordinary talent.”
Leeni Linna is an Estonian filmmaker currently studying at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, and holds both a BA and an MA in film directing from Baltic University. A recipient of the Baltic American Freedom Foundation grant, Linna has directed commercials, short films, and documentaries, and is currently working on developing her first feature film as part of her MFA experience. “I see her as being the next Kathryn Bigelow,” said NYFA Professor Miguel Cruz. “She is that talented.”
“Filmmaking is very important for our culture and its continued development,” said Modine. “Films help us to understand each other better, often exposing us to personal fears and unpleasant superstitions toward the ‘other.’ Through a skilled storyteller’s film lens, documentaries shed light into the darkness and help make the ‘monsters’ go away. Similarly, feature films can illustrate the possible, and can open our eyes to worlds and realities beyond our own. Congratulations to all our inaugural grantees–I eagerly await the projects you will create.”