Five out of nine films selected for the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival this year are either from NYFA students or from recent grads.
After the success of the Olympic Games in Rio, a new competition for Brazilian filmmakers is about to begin. It’s the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival (LABRFF), in which the New York Film Academy (NYFA) is already leading the pack. The official selections of the festival were announced earlier this month, and in the category that rewards short films made by Brazilians in the US, five out of nine films selected are either from NYFA students or from recent grads.
Winners will be announced on September 20th, but for now we present the selected NYFA filmmakers and their films, which will be screened to the entertainment industry in Los Angeles from the 16th.
on set of “The Dress”
Publicist Raphael Bittencourt competes with “The Dress,” which is his first year’s project for the NYFA MFA in Filmmaking in Los Angeles. The outfit in question serves as a pivot to introduce family issues between the father and his daughters.
Despite having solid experience in cinematography and advertising in Brazil, Bittencourt came to study at NYFA to network with high caliber professionals and discover technical differences between shooting in his country and in the US. “No school can compete with NYFA in terms of equipment usage,” said Bittencourt. “In our second class, we headed out with a camera in hand, learning by practicing. In Brazil, colleges end up developing film critics, because everything is more theoretical.”
Family drama also inspires “Under Water: Dive Deep” by MFA in Filmmaking student Lucas Paz. His film portrays the redemption journey of a mother when she returns to the beach where she lost her son in the sea. There, she meets fantastical characters that share unusual experiences, shedding light into her lament.
For Paz, the face-to-face contact with movie idols, visiting NYFA as guest speakers, is one of the greatest school highlights. He also points out the possibility of students filming their own projects on film (and not only in video) as another big advantage.
Paz produced another film selected by the festival as well: “Match,” starring Brazilian actor Domingos Antonio (“Blindness,” by Fernando Meirelles) and Puerto Rican actress Laura Alemán (Crackle’s series “Cleaners“). The film deals with the apathy and emptiness of the virtual relationships through smart phone dating apps.
“Food for Thoughts”
Director Luisa Novo is also a MFA in Filmmaking student at the Los Angeles campus. Her short “Food for Thoughts” was made after she completed the One-Year Filmmaking Conservatory at the school. “I wanted to shoot a film in between my programs and I proposed the idea to my former classmate Jordan Scott, who joined the project as Director of Photography,” she recalls.
The starting point of “Food for Thoughts” is a relationship breakup with a chef, which leads Hope — played by American actress Brittany Falardeau, who attended a 4-Week Acting Workshop at NYFA — to recall her past relationships and come to a realization that will lead to a major life change.
Brazilian actresses Paula Soveral and Valeria Guimarães also shot their film after graduation. Following the completion of their One-Year Acting Conservatory
, in October 2014, they decided to develop a project where they could showcase their talent in English and Portuguese. “We wanted to overcome the accent barrier, showing our full potential,” says Soveral. Thus arose the short “Red Souls,”
selected for LABRFF this year. The film shows the drama experienced by women recruited in Brazil under false promises of high financial gains that end up in the US as sex slaves.
To produce their short film, Soveral and Guimaraes had the support of the Industry Lab, the NYFA department that works as a production company, intermediating real client demands for audiovisual products, which are entirely delivered by students and recent graduates.
Soveral and Guimarães wrote the screenplay and produced it, also shining on the screen. To direct, they invited another NYFA grad, Indian Aditya Patwardhan, with whom Soveral had worked with previously. “This interaction with different cultures is one of the best things about NYFA,” says the director, who got his MA in Film & Media in 2014. Patwardhan enjoyed working with Brazilians so much that this year he directed “When Red is White,” starring well-known Brazilian actress Thaila Ayala and Al Danuzio, who is currently enrolled in NYFA’s BFA in Acting.