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  • NYFA Alum Boise Esquerra’s “Blackwater” Screens at 2021 Slamdance Film Festival

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    Known both as a festival “by filmmakers, for filmmakers” and for its Oscar-qualifying short film awards, the Slamdance Film Festival has long been a mecca for emerging independent directors. This year NYFA alum Boise Esquerra, a graduate of the Los Angeles campus’s MFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting programs, will be right in the middle of the action when his episodic film Blackwater screens in the virtual festival February 12 – 25, 2021. 

    In the days leading up to the festival Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals, caught up with Boise to talk about the personal experience that inspired his series and the importance of filmmakers from diverse backgrounds telling their own stories.

    NYFA alum Boise Esquerra

    Cricket Rumley (CR): Hi, Boise! Congratulations on getting into Slamdance! Tell us a little about yourself.

    Boise Esquerra (BE): I’d be happy to. I am a Native (Hopi) and Mexican American filmmaker enrolled in the Colorado River Indian Tribes in Parker, AZ. I am a recent graduate of the New York Film Academy (MFA Screenwriting) and hold a BA in Digital Filmmaking and Video Production and an additional MFA in Filmmaking from NYFA. I love storytelling, creating, and everything that entails filmmaking from start to finish. Currently, I reside here in lovely Burbank, CA, and am represented by Sandra Avila at Inclusion Management.

    CR: Tell us about your film. What is it about and where does it take place?   

    BE: Blackwater is an episodic pilot about Native American country music star Birdie Blackwater whose career is fizzling due to excessive drinking that began 10 years ago. Upon moving back to her home reservation, barely clinging onto what little dignity she has left, Birdie is arrested for a barrage of drunken charges and lashing out at tribal police officers during a late-night performance. The next day, tribal courts order Birdie to complete 180 days of wellness therapy and intense probation or face two years in prison. Birdie now finds herself contending each week with a group of offbeat individuals who each possess their own…“unique” mental limitations. The story takes place on a fictional Native American reservation call Red Rock. 

    CR: Sounds very powerful. Can you tell us about the inspiration for this story? 

    BE: The inspiration for Blackwater came about in September of 2018… a tough experience. I had started a new class (Transmedia) at the New York Film Academy in Burbank, CA. The ultimate goal of the class: develop, write, and shoot a web series pilot. During the first half of the six-month course, I was given the news that my older brother Brandon had developed cirrhosis of the liver to such a serious extent that he would need a liver transplant. My brother had gotten this condition from depression and extreme alcoholism after the death of our mother in 2015. The additional news I would receive from him is that he would be opting for hospice care and wanted to just go peacefully with family for the remainder of his time. That news, to say the least, was devastating. 

    Shortly after his funeral, I returned to my Transmedia class. The project I had been working on up to that point was scrapped. I wanted to write something I was familiar with. I had felt my brother in my heart moving me to lean into all that I had experienced with drug addiction and dependency. I also wanted to heal from losing him to alcoholism. Thus, I put forward a new proposal to my instructors, which was Blackwater

    CR: Boise, I’m so sorry for your loss and the pain your family must have experienced. It’s truly inspiring how you were able to transform your personal tragedy into a meaningful story, and so quickly. 

    What was it like to direct the film?

    BE: My favorite experience directing Blackwater was working with such a phenomenal cast and crew who brought their A-game to each and every scene both on and off-screen. I mean, this was a set from heaven, and pulling off a thirteen-page script in just one day with minimal time, a skeleton crew, and several different scenes went by like clockwork. Heck, we even had an hour to spare after the whole thing was over! Directing that day was one of the best experiences I ever had on set.

    Kyla Garcia as Birdie Blackwater (“Blackwater”)

    CR: You directed a thirteen-page script in one day? Wow! Dare I ask what was the most challenging thing about making the film? 

    BE: It’s crazy because you usually are anticipating challenges that may or may not arise on the day of production, and they did of course, but they were minor and quickly remedied. No. The challenges here were definitely in the final days leading up to production. You would think that getting a simple location (an empty room) for the group scene would be easy-peasy in LA, but when you’re working with a shoestring budget, a simple task all of a sudden becomes a near impossibility. And that was the case up until the last week of location scouting. We finally locked our location, which was an old American Legion post here in Burbank. It was great because they had everything we needed for each scene! 

    The other difficult part was not in pre-production or production, but actually editing. Here I am, dealing with footage of numerous great takes from each actor/actress and reviewing them over and over. Now, you have to realize, that when you’re dealing with high caliber talent as we had, each throwing you grade-A performances with each take, it is extremely hard to pick the right one! This was mainly the case with our main character, Birdie Blackwater, portrayed by Kyla Garcia. What she brought was gold, I tell ya…GOLD. So for her, sorting through the stuff she gave us and settling on certain clips was by itself a two-month process. Keep an eye on Kyla, SHE IS AMAZING!

    CR: It’s true – Kyla is downright riveting to watch. Besides the editing, what did you learn while making this film?  

    BE: To say I didn’t learn much would be a “shooting myself in the foot” moment and never being able to walk right again, hahaha. I learned a hell of a lot. But I’ll narrow it down to one thing above others, and that was giving my talent the freedom they needed to experiment with their characters and craft on set. There was a lot of ad-libbing, and the more I stepped back and let them have at it, the more they gave. Their performances were elevated, and aside from the few adjustments I gave every now and then, I just kept my mouth shut and steered the ship. I believe this is extremely important because, by the end of any script, these people are going to be the ones who embody this person you wrote, and ultimately bring them to life – and not only the talent, but the entire crew as well. 

    As a director, I realized that you can only hold onto the material for so long before giving it up. You must trust your talent and pass the baton you have and be the coach they need, guiding them from the sideline. Hopefully, if you put in the hard work needed in pre-production and cast the film right, the process will fully evolve on its own. You only need to sit back and enjoy the show at that point. 

    CR: Can you talk about the development process for this pilot and the class you developed it in? 

    BE: Given I had changed my proposal during the six-month Transmedia course, development for Blackwater was done in a three-month period, which is not much time. But…it came very easily to me. The vision for it was clear, so it was really a matter of honing in on what was already in my head. I knew I wanted to do something that was set in a Native American world, and I completely cast with Indigenous talent. This was something I have always wanted to do, I just felt I hadn’t honed in on my craft enough back then. But now it was different. I felt confident enough to give it a try. It was a matter of finding the right, tone, cast, and overall theme, which it turned out to have many. 

    CR: Do you have any special shout-outs to faculty or staff who really helped or inspired you?  

    BE: One of the coolest things about the Transmedia 1 & 2 courses at NYFA were instructors Jenni Powell and Chris Modoono. Not only were they extremely wise and easy to talk to, but their guidance was priceless as they were able to get me from concept to a finished pilot. I can’t stress enough about the creative freedom Jenni and Chris gave us in class. I really owe the experience and opportunity to them and to NYFA. 

    CR: That is so cool. You know every teacher’s dream is to inspire and elevate students at the level you just described. 

    Let’s talk about the amazing festival run you’re having with Blackwater.  

    BE: Blackwater has garnered twenty festival selections, five of those being the Austin Film Festival, Slamdance, Nashville Film Festival, Hollyshorts, and Cinequest Film and VR Festival. 

    CR: That is any filmmaker’s dream list! So what are you looking forward to with Slamdance? 

    BE: I hope to get as much positive attention as possible and of course find a potential buyer or investor for continued production. Native American content and storytelling are so important in this day and age — and extremely hard to find. Slamdance is one of those benchmark experiences you constantly take a step back and go “Wow, I did something really cool here” and realize you’re on the right path. I also hope to network virtually and meet many of the talented filmmakers at this year’s festival! 

    Poster for “Blackwater” pilot

    CR: You will definitely have some great opportunities there. Do you have any advice for recent graduates making their way into the professional world?  

    BE: I would say be consistent, persistent, and honest in your work and what it is exactly you want for your future. Filmmaking and its many crafts are a life long pursuit. Pursuing it should make you happy, grateful, and full of good spirit to have such a calling. If it doesn’t, maybe take a step back and re-evaluate. Focus on what you want, whether that is screenwriting, directing (or both), and constantly sharpen your craft and talents in that world every day in some shape or form. Look to each day as an opportunity to move towards that ultimate goal, and eventually one day…you’ll find yourself there. But don’t forget to have fun and relax along the way. Be happy. 

    CR: Those are very wise words. And speaking of wise words, let’s talk about these trying times we live in today. Do you want to share any thoughts about the importance of film in the lives of humans living right now? 

    BE: Well, if I do share anything, it’ll be about the importance of diverse inclusion in today’s film industry and breaking the current mold at hand. And I am speaking specifically to Native American inclusion. Native Americans are perhaps the most underrepresented culture in the film and television industry right now in terms of film and television content, screenwriters, directors, and leading talent. We as Native Americans have been fighting an extremely uphill battle in finding large, fair platforms or opportunities to tell “our own stories,” tell our own history, and voice our own point of view. Since the dawn of cinema, history has been flat-out brutal in our depiction, reducing us to “elk skin and feathers,” mascots, savages, and whatever else the multitude of history books will have you believe. We as a people, as a culture, need to be allowed to write and depict our own stories, our own views, and our own history. Blackwater is one such example out of the 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States. The time for diverse inclusion is now, and Hollywood needs to comply accordingly. 

    CR: The time is definitely now, and I’m so happy that you and your work are a solution to this lack of diversity in Hollywood.

    So how we can watch your film during Slamdance and see your Q&A? 

    BE: Slamdance is an online format this year, meaning anyone with a computer or smart TV can access it for only ten bucks. Yes… $10. We’re talking the crème of the crop here, people! Although the official schedule of events isn’t out yet, getting your pass now will ensure you do not miss a single screening. All films will be viewable throughout the festival from February 12th – 25th

    Blackwater will be screening in the “Episodes” block with many other awesome filmmakers and their films, and you will also be able to watch our Q&A as a bonus feature. Go to www.slamdance.com now for your ticket! 

    CR: Thanks for stopping by, Boise. Congratulations and best of luck!

    [NOTE: NYFA students can get their festival passes for $5 by using their NYFA email address].

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    February 11, 2021 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1765

  • NYFA Community Among Shortlist for 93rd Academy Awards

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    After teasing the annual announcement of shortlists for this year’s upcoming Oscar nominations, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally announced nine categories of shortlists on Tuesday afternoon. Included among the list in the Documentary Feature category was All In: The Fight For Democracy from NYFA alum and producer Lisa Cortés; Boys State from Documentary Cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke; and Dick Johnson is Dead from Cinematographer instructor John Foster. 

    The shortlists for the 93rd Academy Awards were announced for: Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, International Feature Film, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Music (Original Song), Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film and Visual Effects.

    NYFA alum Lisa Cortés

    Cortés co-directed and produced the documentary All In: The Fight For Democracy, released September 18, 2020, on Amazon Prime. The film follows Georgia’s Stacey Abrams and the struggle against voter suppression. As of February 10, 2021, the film holds an approval rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been met with widespread critical claim with Kevin Crust from the Los Angeles Times writing “All In manages the triple-E feat of being entertaining, educational, and enlightening.” 

    This past year, Cortés attended the NYFA’s Rock The Vote Rally rally in October, where she brought a special sneak preview of Janelle Monae’s end-credit song, “Turntable,” song written exclusively for the film. Cortés also spoke about how her NYFA Producing education proved to be valuable in pulling together a project like All In during such challenging times. 

    Lisa Cortes, Lee Daniels, and Mo’Nique (Photo Credit: WireImage.com)

    The producing alum has had an extensive career prior to her success with All In. Cortés co-produced NYFA guest speaker Nicole Kassell’s film The Woodsman, co-directed The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion, produced The Apollo, and executive produced Academy Award-winning film Precious from Lee Daniels. 

     Documentary Cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke was an additional cinematographer on the set of the shortlist contender Boys State from A24. The film follows an unusual annual experiment in Texas that joins together a thousand 17-year-old boys from across the state to build a representative government from the ground up. The film won the U.S Documentary Competition Grand Jury at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and is currently available to stream on Apple TV+.

    Shortlist contender Dick Johnson is Dead was worked on by Cinematographer instructor John Foster.  The documentary film directed by Kirsten Johnson focuses on Johnson’s father Richard, who suffers from dementia, portraying different ways—some of them violent “accidents”—in which he could ultimately die. The comedic and heartfelt film premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Award for Innovation in Non-fiction Storytelling. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates Lisa Cortés, Claudia Raschke, and John Foster for their films making the 2021 Oscars Shortlist for Best Documentary Feature and wishes all the projects that made this year’s Academy shortlist the best of luck when the full list of nominations are announced on March 15, 2021.

    The full shortlists for each announced category can be found below:

    DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

    “All In: The Fight for Democracy”
    “Boys State”
    “Collective”
    “Crip Camp”
    “Dick Johnson Is Dead”
    “Gunda”
    “MLK/FBI”
    “The Mole Agent”
    “My Octopus Teacher”
    “Notturno”
    “The Painter and the Thief”
    “76 Days”
    “Time”
    “The Truffle Hunters”
    “Welcome to Chechnya”

    DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

    “Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa”
    “Call Center Blues”
    “Colette”
    “A Concerto Is a Conversation”
    “Do Not Split”
    “Hunger Ward”
    “Hysterical Girl”
    “A Love Song for Latasha”
    “The Speed Cubers”
    “What Would Sophia Loren Do?”

    INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

    Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Quo Vadis, Aida?”
    Chile, “The Mole Agent”
    Czech Republic, “Charlatan”
    Denmark, “Another Round”
    France, “Two of Us”
    Guatemala, “La Llorona”
    Hong Kong, “Better Days”
    Iran, “Sun Children”
    Ivory Coast, “Night of the Kings”
    Mexico, “I’m No Longer Here”
    Norway, “Hope”
    Romania, “Collective”
    Russia, “Dear Comrades!”
    Taiwan, “A Sun”
    Tunisia, “The Man Who Sold His Skin”

    MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

    “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn”
    “Emma”
    “The Glorias”
    “Hillbilly Elegy”
    “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”
    “The Little Things”
    “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
    “Mank”
    “One Night in Miami…”
    “Pinocchio”

    MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

    “Ammonite”
    “Blizzard of Souls”
    “Da 5 Bloods”
    “The Invisible Man”
    “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”
    “The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)”
    “The Little Things”
    “Mank”
    “The Midnight Sky”
    “Minari”
    “Mulan”
    “News of the World”
    “Soul”
    “Tenet”
    “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

    MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

    “Turntables” from “All In: The Fight for Democracy”
    “See What You’ve Done” from “Belly of the Beast”
    “Wuhan Flu” from “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”
    “Husavik” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”
    “Never Break” from “Giving Voice”
    “Make It Work” from “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”
    “Fight For You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    “Io Sì (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)”
    “Rain Song” from “Minari”
    “Show Me Your Soul” from “Mr. Soul!”
    “Loyal Brave True” from “Mulan”
    “Free” from “The One and Only Ivan”
    “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami…”
    “Green” from “Sound of Metal”
    “Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

    ANIMATED SHORT FILM

    “Burrow”
    “Genius Loci”
    “If Anything Happens I Love You”
    “Kapaemahu”
    “Opera”
    “Out”
    “The Snail and the Whale”
    “To Gerard”
    “Traces”
    “Yes-People”

    LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

    “Bittu”
    “Da Yie”
    “Feeling Through”
    “The Human Voice”
    “The Kicksled Choir”
    “The Letter Room”
    “The Present”
    “Two Distant Strangers”
    “The Van”
    “White Eye”

    VISUAL EFFECTS

    “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn”
    “Bloodshot”
    “Love and Monsters”
    “Mank”
    “The Midnight Sky”
    “Mulan”
    “The One and Only Ivan”
    “Soul”
    “Tenet”
    “Welcome to Chechnya”

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    February 10, 2021 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1728

  • Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Claudia Raschke Lenses Upcoming “FAUCI” Doc For National Geographic

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    At New York Film Academy (NYFA), our instructors are not only teaching the next wave of filmmakers and creatives alike but are out focusing on their own work and setting up the shot for the next big film. In this case, veteran cinematographer Claudia Raschke is no different, having lensed yet another prominent documentary film, FAUCI from National Geographic Documentary Films. 

    The New York-based Documentary Filmmaking instructor is known for shooting the Oscar-nominated and Emmy award-winning documentary RBG, the Oscar-nominated film God is Bigger Than Elvis, the Peabody Award-winning film Black Magic, the Oscar short-listed Mad Hot Ballroom, The Freedom to Marry, and many more. 

    Behind the scenes of “FAUCI” (National Geographic Documentary Films)

    Her latest project will see Raschke as the DP on the highly anticipated documentary FAUCI, directed by John Hoffman and Janet Tobias. The film will follow epidemiologist and famed White House COVID-19 pandemic advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, offering a glimpse into his career and life as a public servant who has advised seven U.S presidents from the start of the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s through SARS, Ebola, and now COVID-19. 

    The film was announced on February 4, 2021, with special appearances listed like Bono, former President George W. Bush, Bill Gates, etc., and as of October 6, 2021, it is available to stream on Disney+.

    NYFA instructor Claudia Raschke on set

    Raschke’s year is just getting started, as her feature documentary work on My Name is Pauli Murray recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and the 2021 premiere of Julia (CNN /Imagine Entertainment) on the horizon. Raschke’s new spy documentary, Codebreaker, aired this past January and is currently streaming after airdate on PBS’ American Experience.

    “Capturing the big and the small moments of the amazing world we live in feeds my passion for the art of cinematography. Equally important is that I bear witness to and document the unique stories that unfold before my eyes in a way that dismantles barriers, opens doors, and reveals the truth. I believe that filming intuitively, honestly and without inhibition is a journey that requires a compassionate heart and the ability to see and hear what lies beneath the surface.” – Claudia Raschke, DP

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Filmmaking’s Documentary Division Cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke on all of her upcoming projects and looks forward to sharing more about the FAUCI documentary upon its release later in 2021. 

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  • The 2021 Golden Globes Winners

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    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has announced the nominees for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards. With an NBC semi-virtual ceremony set to take place on February 28, return hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey will no doubt bring the laughs at the expense of this year’s list of nominees; and with many heavyweight shows left out of this year’s nominations due to production delays, this year’s nominations brought many snubs, surprises, and inevitable recognition for many.

    Netflix dominated this year’s Golden Globes, receiving six nominations apiece for David Fincher’s Hollywood bygone era film Mank and binge-worthy drama series The Crown. Also leading nominations for Netflix was Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of The Chicago 7, featuring a stacked cast including Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Redmayne, Alex Sharp, and more.

    The film, produced by NYFA Screenwriting alum Shivani Rawat, is based on the infamous 1969 trial in which seven individuals faced multiple charges including conspiracy after counterculture protests took place at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

    Kelvin Harrison Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Mark Rylance (Netflix)

    The Trial of The Chicago 7 earned five nominations total including the coveted Best Motion Picture – Drama category for Rawat (alongside The Father, Mank, Nomadland, & Promising Young Woman). The film’s other nominations included a supporting actor nod for Sacha Baron Cohen, both best director and screenplay acknowledgments for Aaron Sorkin, and a nomination for best original song for “Hear My Voice” by Daniel Pemberton.

    Shivani Rawat at an event for The IMDb Studio at Acura Festival Village (2020)

    Rawat attended NYFA’s 1-Year Screenwriting program at the New York campus in 2007. She has since become a film producer with a special focus on independent films. Some of her credits include critically acclaimed films like Captain Fantastic, Danny Collins, Trumbo, and Brian Banks. In addition to The Trial of The Chicago 7, Rawat also produced the 2020 film Wander Darkley starring Diego Luna and Sienna Miller. Her next release, The Ice Road, starring Liam Neeson, is expected to be released later this year.

    Al Pacino in “Hunters” (Amazon Prime Video)

    Included in the nominations were NYFA guest speakers Al Pacino, who received a nod for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama (Hunters), alongside The Mandalorian’s Carl Weathers; Glenn Close for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture (Hillbilly Elegy); and Bryan Cranston for Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Your Honor).

    New York Film Academy congratulates all of this year’s nominees and wishes Shivani Rawat and the cast and crew of The Trial of The Chicago 7 all the best during the upcoming award ceremony. The winners will be announced on February 28, 2021.

    View the full list of 2021 Golden Globes nominations below:

    Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

    “Emily in Paris” (Netflix)

    “The Flight Attendant” (HBO Max)

    “The Great” (Hulu)

    “Schitt’s Creek” (CBC) – Winner

    “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

    Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)

    Josh O’Connor (“The Crown”) – Winner

    Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)

    Al Pacino (“Hunters”)

    Matthew Rhys (“Perry Mason”)

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    Cate Blanchett (“Mrs. America”)

    Daisy Edgar-Jones (“Normal People”)

    Shira Haas (“Unorthodox”)

    Nicole Kidman (“The Undoing”)

    Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”) – Winner

    Best Director – Motion Picture

    Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

    David Fincher, “Mank” (Netflix)

    Regina King, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)

    Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)

    Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – Winner

    Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy 

    Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)

    Kate Hudson (“Music”)

    Michelle Pfeiffer (“French Exit”)

    Rosamund Pike (“I Care a Lot”) – Winner

    Anya Taylor-Joy (“Emma”)

    Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

    Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”)

    Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) – Winner

    Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)

    Gary Oldman (“Mank”)

    Tahar Rahim (“The Mauritanian”)

    Best Television Series – Drama 

    “The Crown” (Netflix) – Winner

    “Lovecraft Country” (HBO Max)

    “The Mandalorian” (Disney Plus)

    “Ozark” (Netflix)

    “Ratched” (Netflix)

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama 

    Olivia Colman (“The Crown”)

    Jodie Comer (“Killing Eve”)

    Emma Corrin (“The Crown”) – Winner

    Laura Linney (“Ozark”)

    Sarah Paulson (“Ratched”)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    Bryan Cranston (“Your Honor”)

    Jeff Daniels (“The Comey Rule”)

    Hugh Grant (“The Undoing”)

    Ethan Hawke (“The Good Lord Bird”)

    Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”) – Winner

    Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy 

    Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”) – Winner

    James Corden (“The Prom”)

    Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”)

    Dev Patel (“The Personal History of David Copperfield”)

    Andy Samberg (“Palm Springs”)

    Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

    Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)

    Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”) – Winner

    Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)

    Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)

    Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)

    Best Motion Picture – Drama 

    “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)

    “Mank” (Netflix)

    “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – Winner

    “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

    “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)

    Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

    Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)

    Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) – Winner

    Jared Leto (“The Little Things”)

    Bill Murray (“On the Rocks”)

    Leslie Odom, Jr. (“One Night in Miami”)

    Best Original Score – Motion Picture 

    “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix) – Alexandre Desplat

    “Tenet” (Warner Bros.) – Ludwig Göransson

    “News of the World” (Universal Pictures) – James Newton Howard

    “Mank” (Netflix) – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

    “Soul” (Pixar) – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste – Winner

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy 

    Lily Collins (“Emily in Paris”)

    Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”)

    Elle Fanning (“The Great”)

    Jane Levy (“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”)

    Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”) – Winner

    Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    “Normal People” (Hulu/BBC)

    “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix) – Winner

    “Small Axe” (Amazon Studios/BBC)

    “The Undoing” (HBO)

    “Unorthodox” (Netflix)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    John Boyega (“Small Axe”) – Winner

    Brendan Gleeson (“The Comey Rule”)

    Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)

    Jim Parsons (“Hollywood”)

    Donald Sutherland (“The Undoing”)

    Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy 

    “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios) – Winner

    “Hamilton” (Walt Disney Pictures)

    “Palm Springs” (Neon)

    “Music” (Vertical Entertainment)

    “The Prom” (Netflix)

    Best Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture 

    Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)

    Olivia Colman (“The Father”)

    Jodie Foster (“The Mauritanian”) – Winner

    Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”)

    Helena Zengel (“News of the World”)

    Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language 

    “Another Round” (Samuel Goldwyn Films)

    “La Llorona” (Shudder)

    “The Life Ahead” (Netflix)

    “Minari” (A24) – Winner

    “Two of Us” (Magnolia Pictures)

    Best Screenplay – Motion Picture 

    Emerald Fennell – “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

    Jack Fincher – “Mank” (Netflix)

    Aaron Sorkin – “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Winner

    Florian Zeller, Christopher Hampton – “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)

    Chloe Zhao – “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy 

    Don Cheadle (“Black Monday”)

    Nicholas Hoult (“The Great”)

    Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)

    Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso”) – Winner

    Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”)

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    Gillian Anderson (“The Crown”) – Winner

    Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”)

    Julia Garner (“Ozark”)

    Annie Murphy (“Schitt’s Creek”)

    Cynthia Nixon (“Ratched”)

    Best Original Song – Motion Picture

    “Fight for You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.) – H.E.R., Dernst Emile II, Tiara Thomas

    “Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Daniel Pemberton, Celeste

    “Io Si (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead” (Netflix) – Diane Warren, Laura Pausini, Niccolò Agliardi – Winner

    “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios) – Leslie Odom Jr, Sam Ashworth

    “Tigress & Tweed” from “The United States vs. Billie Holliday” (Hulu) – Andra Day, Raphael Saadiq

    Best Motion Picture – Animated 

    “The Croods: A New Age” (Universal Pictures)

    “Onward” (Walt Disney Pictures)

    “Over the Moon” (Netflix)

    “Soul” (Walt Disney Pictures) – Winner

    “Wolfwalkers” (Cartoon Saloon)

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    February 3, 2021 • Entertainment News, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2504

  • NYFA Alumni Meshal Aljaser, Tushar Tyagi, and Dr. Ariel Orama López Qualify for 93rd Academy Awards

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    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 Chintu from 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. 

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  • It’s Been a Journey for Acting for Film Alum Elsabet Ademe, But She is Just Getting Started

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    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.”

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    January 14, 2021 • Acting, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2849