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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Announces Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship Recipients

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    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.

    Modine Scholarship

    From L to R: Matthew Modine, Lucia Flores]

    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.”

    Modine Scholarship

    From L to R: Nicholas Rosolino, Matthew Modine, Leeni Linna, Jose Miguel Perez-Alcaza

    “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.” 

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    May 20, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 221

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students Attend Tribeca Film Festival

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    Filmmaking and Documentary students from New York Film Academy (NYFA) recently had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) in New York City. With over 100 titles, including world premieres of films by Jared Leto, Christoph Waltz, and Margot Robbie, the annual film bash rolled out the red carpet from April 24 through May 5 at venues all across Manhattan. 

    This year’s edition of Tribeca Film Festival was programmed from more than 9000 submissions and included not only fiction and nonfiction features, but also guest speaker Q&As, games, and virtual reality experiences. 

    As part of TFF’s annual Tribeca Talks, this year’s Director Series featured a stellar line-up, with conversations between groundbreaking filmmakers, actors, and industry professionals, including Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese and Academy Award-winning actor and TFF co-founder Robert De Niro. The legendary duo came together at the Beacon Theatre for an in-depth discussion on inspiration, music, childhood memories and behind-the-scenes moments. The two artists’ engaging conversation offered attendees an inside look into their celebrated careers and iconic film collaborations, from Mean Streets and Raging Bull to Goodfellas and Casino, to the upcoming The Irishman.

    Another particularly standout Tribeca Talk was between Questlove and Boots Riley, two notable artists who posses a deep understanding of their craft and continue to take risks as storytellers, both within the world of music and beyond—whether through publishing, producing, or filmmaking. These two revolutionary hip-hop artists sat down for a deep, wide-ranging conversation that covered their inspirations and major career breakthroughs as they navigated their success while staying true to their art. 

    Tribeca 2019

    Students from the NYFA Filmmaking and Documentary departments were selected to attend a conversation with Alexander Skarsgård, Nat Wolff, and director Dan Krauss, directly following a screening of The Kill Team. The feature film tells the story of a young soldier during the invasion of Afghanistan who witnesses civilians murdered under the direction of a vicious sergeant, and who finds himself trapped in a violent and vengeful platoon.

    This Tribeca Talk encouraged NYFA Filmmaking student Jianyu Li to rethink his idea of working on a war film feature without having a big budget, something he had been considering for quite some time.

    Tribeca 2019

    Last but not least, the NYFA community was given the opportunity to attend a conversation with director Dee Rees and Queen Latifah as they discussed the Queen Collective, a new film initiative aimed at curating, mentoring, and uplifting female filmmakers. The first two documentary shorts of the Collective, Ballet After Dark and If There Is Light, premiered at this year’s TFF, and up-and-coming directors B. Monét and Haley Elizabeth Anderson joined the conversation as their shorts were spotlighted. 

    Queen Latifah offered all in attendance a lesson on how to nurture talent and creativity, remarking on the importance of having a consistent attitude to uplift. “At the end of the day, it’s about women feeling good about themselves from the inside out.”

    In reflecting on her experience attending this year’s Festival, NYFA Filmmaking student Christelle Chalupa said, “The Tribeca Film Festival experience gave me a lot more courage to fight for what I want and tell good stories.”

    Under the pledge of “Great Stories are Timeless,” the Tribeca Film Festival closed their doors until next year, leaving attendees and NYFA students with the dream of being on its stage someday with their own works.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Alumni Qualify for Academy Awards with Major Festival Wins

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    Three New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking alumni qualified for the 92nd Academy Awards last month by winning major film festivals for their documentary shorts.

    Where Chaos Reigns was directed by Braulio Jatar and Anaïs Michel. Jatar enrolled in both the 6-week Documentary Filmmaking Workshop as well as the 1-year Conservatory in 2016. A year earlier, Michel also studied in both the 6-week Workshop and 1-year Conservatory. Cricket Liu was directed by Julia Cheng, who graduated in 2018 from the 1-year Documentary Filmmaking Conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus.

    Where Chaos Reigns won the Golden Gate Award for Best Short Documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival. This continues the momentum of Jatar and Michel, who recently won Honorable Mention for the HBO Ibero-American Award at Miami Film Festival.

    The documentary showcases Venezuelan citizens as they protest their government in clashes that sometimes lead to violence, and focuses on a paramedic group called “Green Crosses” that treats protesters, and the young medical student who founded the group. 

    The San Francisco International Film Festival is the longest-running film festival in the Americas and a major cultural event in the Bay Area. According to their press release, Where Chaos Reigns was awarded the Golden Gate Award “for its audacity, its haunting images and its ability to bring us closer to the crisis in Venezuela than anything we’ve seen thus far in America … Their unflinching cameras capture singular moments of courage, fearlessness and violence that linger long after the film has ended.”

    Andrea Swift, Chair of the Documentary Filmmaking department at NYFA’s New York Campus can’t help but agree, telling NYFA, “Braulio and Anais both did great work as students … It’s not at all surprising that when they met and joined talents, they [crafted] a film as powerful and unique as Where Chaos Reigns. The combination of their talents is formidable.”

    Cheng’s film, Cricket Liu is an 18-minute short that profiles an aging cricket fighting master who uses his ancient art to earn money for a grandson he barely knows. At the American Documentary Film Festival, also known as AmDocs, the film won Best International Short Documentary. AmDocs was founded by Teddy Grouya in 2011 with a mission to promote and celebrate documentaries and, according to their own website, “independent filmmakers around the world who bring knowledge and awareness through their stories about real people and issues.”

    Cricket Liu was the thesis project for Cheng while studying at NYFA. “I was so lucky to work with the gurus in the industry,” Cheng says of her NYFA instructors. “Just to name a few here: my [Chair] Andrea Swift was my story consultant, Claudia Raschke (DP of RBG) was my cinematography teacher, and Bob Eisenhardt (editor of Free Solo) was my editing supervisor. Without them, my film wouldn’t have come this far! Before coming to NYFA, I had little idea about nonfiction storytelling and didn’t know how to shoot and edit a film at all! This 1-year intensive, hands-on study at NYFA Docs completely changed my life as a filmmaker!”

    Of Cheng’s accomplishment, Andrew Swift says, “It’s exciting to see a student create a thesis film that’s masterful enough to merit an Academy Award qualification. And Cricket Liu absolutely does. Julia is a great testament to how much a passionate student can accomplish in a 1-year Conservatory.”

    Both the Golden Gate Award for Jatar and Michel and Cheng’s win at AmDocs each qualify their films for next year’s Oscars. A shortlist of nominees will be named later this year, before the official list of final nominees for all categories is announced in early 2020. Last year, NYFA Documentary Filmmaking faculty members worked on two Oscar-nominated docs, Free Solo and RBG, with the former winning Best Documentary Feature. 

    The three NYFA alumni are now in production on feature documentaries. Jatar and Michel are currently in Colombia shooting a documentary about Venezuelan refugees, while Cheng is in the middle of production for two high-profile films in Beijing, China.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Documentary Filmmaking alumni Braulio Jatar, Anaïs Michel, and Julia Cheng on their Academy Award-qualifying festival wins and wish them continued success in their careers as well as next year’s awards season.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Co-Produces Upcoming “Star Trek” Documentary “What We Left Behind”

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) has co-produced What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, an upcoming documentary scheduled for release later this year. In addition, several students of NYFA’s Industry Lab worked on the film’s crew.

    Directed by Ira Steven Behr and David Zappone, the documentary is a deep look at the fourth installment in the Star Trek franchise. Deep Space Nine, which aired from 1993-1999, stands out from previous Star Trek films and shows due to its darker tone and pioneering serialized structure, with now-commonplace season- and series-long story arcs that were rare for most television dramas before the turn of the century. Additionally, its ensemble cast was much more diverse than typical shows at the time, led by African American actor Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko.

    Deep Space Nine, Star Trek

    NYFA provided production resources for the film on numerous occasions, including film equipment for interviews, location shoots, and a road trip to a Las Vegas Star Trek convention. Several students from the NYFA Industry Lab also worked on the film over the course of several shoot days. The crew included BFA Filmmaking students Star Li, Ferid Hasbun, and Rupert Sanchez as camera operators; MA Film & Media student Patrick Anenu as 1st AC; and Anvar Madraimov, and David Bu as Grip & Electric.

    The significant resources provided to the production led to NYFA being named in the credits for What We Left Behind—NYFA Principal and Owner Jean Sherlock and Dean of Students, Los Angeles and CSO Dan Mackler are listed as Co-Executive Producers (NYFA). This isn’t NYFA’s only connection to the Star Trek universe; Adam Nimoy, director of multiple Star Trek episodes and For the Love of Spock—a documentary about his father, Leonard Nimoy—has taught at the Academy.

    The film features interviews with nearly all of the show’s cast members, as well as several people who worked behind the scenes. Director Behr was both a writer and producer for the series, as well as its showrunner for several seasons.

    The New York Film Academy looks forward to the release of What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and encourages everyone to check out the film when it becomes available! 

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  • Congratulations New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Bob Eisenhardt – Editor of Academy Award Winner ‘Free Solo’

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    The 2019 awards season concluded last night with the 91st Academy Awards, where Oscars were presented to Green Book for Best Picture, and Free Solo for Best Documentary Feature, among many others.

    Free Solo is the critically-acclaimed and visually arresting National Geographic documentary following rock climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to scale El Capitan, arguably the most dangerous climb in the world–without a rope.

    The film was directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, and edited by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking instructor, Bob Eisenhardt.Also a three-time Emmy winner, Eisenhardt was previously nominated by the Academy for Best Short Documentary as Director and Editor of Spaces: The Architecture of Paul Rudolph. He has also edited another two Oscar-nominated films as well as three that were shortlisted.

    Free Solo’s Oscar win follows on the heels of the British Film and Television Academy Award (BAFTA) for Best Documentary. A week before that, the American Cinema Editors awarded Eisenhardt their coveted “Eddie” Award – the highest honor accorded a documentary editor.

    Bob Eisenhardt Oscar

    NYFA Instructor Bob Eisenhardt with wife, Bonnie Mackay holding the Academy Award

    The NYFA community celebrated other nominations as well—Documentary Department cinematography instructor, Director of Photography, Claudia Raschke, shot RBG, another excellent, high-profile contender in the Best Documentary category. Best Actress nominee Glenn Close and Best Supporting Actor nominee Adam Driver are both previous guest speakers for the Academy. NYFA alum Francesco Panzieri worked as a VFX artist on Avengers: Infinity War, which was nominated for Best Visual Effects. Broadcast Journalism alum Celina Liv Danielsen attended the ceremony, covering the red carpet for Danish network TV-2.

    New York Film Academy congratulates all the winners and nominees of the evening and applauds Documentary Filmmaking instructor Bob Eisenhardt for his exceptional work on Academy Award winner Free Solo!

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Alum Justin Kawika Young Premieres First Doc at Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF)

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailNew York Film Academy (NYFA) 6-Week Documentary alum Justin Kawika Young premiered his first documentary, My Hero’s Shadow, at the Hawaii International Film Festival. The work tells the story of Shane Stant, the man who famously attacked ice skater Nancy Kerrigan in 1994, through the eyes of his sister Maile, who had never known her brother to be anything other than kind. The documentary also screened at HIFF Hana Hou/ Waimea Film Festival in early 2019, with a mainland debut scheduled to be announced soon.


    “I think that it has the potential to bring some light into a dark story,” Young told Blasting News. “It’s easy to forget that these people are more than just this one event. I think it’s an interesting journey where Maile only knows Shane as a hero and is now learning about his past as a hitman, while the audience is traveling the other way. They only know him as this bad guy, and they’re seeing him as much more than that. So eventually Maile and the audience meet somewhere in the middle.”

    A native Hawaiian, Young is a successful musician and three-time Hawaiian Music Award winner, and is engaged to popular singer Colbie Caillat. His music has also appeared on a number of film and television soundtracks, including Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Parenthood, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Young attended NYFA’s 6-Week Documentary program in New York City in 2015, where his instructors noted both his technical skill and his ability to handle complex and challenging material.

    “Justin Young is an incredibly talented filmmaker,” said Kristen Nutile, Academy Award-nominated editor and documentary instructor at NYFA. “ His feature-length debut, My Hero’s Shadow, is a brave, unflinching and yet compassionate film that explores violence, family, identity and the ability to heal. I cannot wait to see more of his work.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Justin Kawika Young on his continued success, and looks forward to seeing his future projects!

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    February 24, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 335

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Instructor Bob Eisenhardt Wins Highest Editing Honor

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    The Eddie award is the highest honor American documentary editors can win. Last Friday night, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Department editing instructor Bob Eisenhardt, ACE, won it.

    If you’ve seen Free Solo, you’ll immediately know why. The 2018 film focuses on rock climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to climb El Capitan, the vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, without ropes, or “free solo.” El Capitan is so dangerous, no one has ever tried before, and Honnold is the only person to have ever accomplished the feat. The documentary has been praised for its unparalleled look at such an intense climbing experience.

    Free Solo

    His fellow editors in the American Cinema Editors (ACE) guild voted Eisenhardt’s work on Free Solo, National Geographic’s current Academy Award nominee, Outstanding Editing on a Documentary (Feature). Filmmaker Spike Lee presented him with the Eddie and his Free Solo directors, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, saw to it that he was properly feted.

    Eisenhardt’s NYFA Docs students acknowledge his Jedi master editing skills on pretty much a daily basis, but it’s nice to see the big guns officially shouting him out too.

    This is Eisenhardt’s second Eddie Award. He was previously acknowledged for his Outstanding Editing on HBO’s feature doc, Everything Is Copy. Since the Academy Awards does not present an award for documentary editing, the Eddie is documentary filmmaking’s uncontested top honor. Free Solo is the fourth film Eisenhardt has cut to be nominated for an Academy Award, which also just won the BAFTA. Additionally, Eisenhardt was previously nominated for an Oscar as a director, and has won three Emmys and been nominated for several more. Films he’s cut have been awarded multiple Emmys and nominated several more times. One even earned a Grammy nomination!

    The New York Film Academy congratulates instructor Bob Eisenhardt on his prestigious win at the Eddie Awards and wishes him and the crew of Free Solo the best of luck at this years Academy Awards!

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    February 19, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1085

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screens ‘RBG’ and Holds Q&A with Cinematographer / NYFA Instructor Claudia Raschke

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    On Thursday, February 7, New York Film Academy (NYFA) screened the critically-acclaimed, crowd-pleasing, box office documentary hit, RBG, with the film’s cinematographer and instructor for the NYFA Documentary Filmmaking program, Claudia Raschke participating in a Q&A with students afterwards.

    RBG tells the story of Supreme Court Justice and surprise millennial icon Ruth Bader Ginsberg (aka “The Notorious RBG”). The Flatbush, Brooklyn-born Justice was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1992, becoming only the second woman to serve at the highest federal court in the United States. Ginsberg still serves on the Court and is currently the second-most senior Justice.

    The film was directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen and has been nominated for and won multiple awards since its debut at Sundance. It is currently nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature; “I’ll Fight” by Diane Warren, from the soundtrack of RBG, is also up for an Oscar for Best Song.

    Director of photography Claudia Raschke has worked on four other films previously nominated for Academy Awards, as well as Peabody, DuPont, and National Board of Review Award winners. Her oeuvre includes acclaimed documentaries as varied as My Architect, about Louis Kahn, Mad Hot Ballroom, which focuses on a New York dance program, and Particle Fever, which tracks the experiments of the Large Hadron Collider that ultimately discovered the Higgs boson (aka the “God particle”).

    RBG

    Students were thrilled to pick Raschke’s brain at a Q&A following the RBG screening. Here’s what some NYFA Documentary Filmmaking students had to say after the event:

    Working with Claudia has been a dream come true in more than one way. Every step you take with the camera in your hand and every little movement you add with the camera while you are shooting should have a thinking behind it. That is the approach with which students like me have had the fortune to learn at New York Film Academy with Claudia. Making every second of the story powerful through visual storytelling is what Claudia is capable of making you learn. She is an inspiring teacher and an even more motivational person! 
    – Kuldeep Sah Gongola (‘18
    )

    There is so much attention to detail in Claudia’s teaching; she prepares you for any situation. When I went to see RBG, I bragged about how Claudia taught us to light interviews and how she kept the lights from reflecting off of the Justice’s glasses. It is easy to see why her work is so esteemed. She gives honest and practical feedback but her compassion for every student and their films is what makes her classes so great.
    – Ti Cersley (’17)

    Having the opportunity to work with renowned professionals in their field one-on-one is priceless! It’s what sets NYFA apart from other great programs around the world.
    – Mark Humphreys (’18)

    Being taught by Claudia is an amazing space to be in. She allows for creativity and ideas to grow in a playful way. Being taught by a female cinematographer who’s worked her way up in a male-dominated industry is very inspirational to watch and learn from.
    – Mollie Moore (’18)

    The New York Film Academy thanks Documentary Filmmaking cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke for speaking with students and congratulates her on all the success RBG has seen so far! 

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    February 18, 2019 • Cinematography, Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 812

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Jessica Wolfson Produces and Directs ‘The Columnists’ for WSJ. Magazine

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Jessica Wolfson produced and directed The Columnists for WSJ. Magazine, a video series of intimate conversations with renowned figures reflecting on various themes that have guided their careers.

    The project has its roots in On Point, a coffee table book from WSJ. Magazine, a glossy news and lifestyle monthly magazine by the publishers of The Wall Street Journal. The book, released September of last year, included interviews from the publication’s renowned column The Columnists. The new series has six parts and a 20-minute short film, directed and produced by Wolfson.

    Jessica Wolfson The Columnists

    This is the second project Wolfson has made for The Wall Street Journal. Her earlier project was Drawing the Future, a video tech series. Wolfson is a photographer and documentary filmmaker who has directed shorts including Night People, Iowa Mixtape, and Play a Round with Me, as well as films Radio Unnameable and Hot Grease. Additionally, she teaches for the Documentary Filmmaking department at New York Film Academy’s New York City campus.

    Episodes of The Columnists are based on a particular theme, including Luck, Risk, Mistakes, and Willpower. Notable subjects speaking on these topics include, author Fran Lebowitz, director Lee Daniels, Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington, television star Rainn Wilson, and the late Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld.

    “What I really loved most about making this series was having conversations with the subjects about emotional and philosophical topics such as willpower, advice, envy—rather than the typical career questions they are normally asked,” Wolfson tells NYFA. “This made for a very interesting dialogue.”

    Wolfson also worked with Associate Producer and graduate of NYFA’s Documentary Filmmaking program Nancy Dionne. Dionne researched crew and shooting locations in Canada, Paris, London, and New York for the series. “It was the kind of call where you hang up and jump up and down smiling saying, ‘Yes!’” Dionne tells NYFA. She was also more than happy to work with Wolfson, who she met at NYFA. 

    “I don’t think I had ever been so excited to see her in action,” Dionne says of Wolfson. “What struck me first was how calm Jessica and her crew were, not that they were not feeling stress, but how they handled it and how they communicated with me and each other—just so professional and smart with no effort wasted.”

    Jessica Wolfson The Columnists
    Photo Credit: WSJ Magazine

    Currently, The Columnists is a limited series, but Wolfson is eager to shoot additional seasons in the future.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Documentary Filmmaking instructor Jessica Wolfson and alum Nancy Dionne on The Columnists, and thanks them for taking the time to speak to NYFA about their experience!

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  • New Name, Same Great Series: New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Co-Presents ‘Pure Nonfiction,’ Previously Known as ‘Stranger Than Fiction’

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking department is happy to announce the winter season of Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center, featuring ten documentaries playing from February 5 to March 26. 

    Pure Nonfiction

    The season opens with UNITED SKATES (Feb 5), winner of the Tribeca Audience Award, about roller skating in black communities across the United States. Two films will appear as sneak previews fresh off their Sundance premieres: Alex Gibney’s THE INVENTOR: OUT FOR BLOOD IN SILICON VALLEY (Mar 14), and THE BRINK (Mar 26, closing night of the winter season) about the former Trump strategist Steve Bannon spreading his nationalist ideas in Europe. Each screening features the filmmakers or other special guests in person. New York Film Academy students receive a discount at the door. 

    Called “a vital outpost for award-winning documentaries” by The New York Times, the beloved docs series Stranger Than Fiction is being retitled to share a name with the popular podcast Pure Nonfiction, now in its fourth year. Both were created by Thom Powers, renowned Documentary Programmer of the Toronto International Film Festival and Artistic Director of DOC NYC, and Raphaela Neihausen, Academy Award-nominated producer and NYFA graduate. “Pure Nonfiction as a screening series at IFC Center shares the same mission as the podcast to illuminate the art of documentary making, so it makes sense for them to share the same name,” says Powers.

    Andrea Swift, Chair of NYFA’s Documentary Department, says, “It is an honor for the NYFA Documentary Department to continue our sponsorship of Pure Nonfiction in its new incarnation. The series has been a crucial pillar of the documentary community for fourteen years. It provides our students with the unique opportunity to see great films curated by a legend like Thom Powers, and to hear from their creators via the insightful discussions he always elicits. Going out after to rub elbows and continue the conversation, students also get a chance to begin to know their new community.”

    Pure Nonfiction‘s winter season also includes a sneak preview of the new series THE CASE AGAINST ADNAN SYED (Feb 26) based on the case made famous by the Serial podcast. Director Amy Berg will present its first episode prior to its debut on HBO. Other sneak previews include IT’S A HARD TRUTH, AIN’T IT (Feb 12) about prisoners learning to make films; and ONE NATION UNDER STRESS (Mar 19) with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, which looks to uncover why American life expectancy is falling.

    Classic revivals are a key part of the screening series. The season includes a double bill (Feb 19) with D.A. Pennebaker’s ORIGINAL CAST ALBUM: COMPANY (1970) about a studio recording of the Stephen Sondheim musical; joined with a new parody of the film from the series DOCUMENTARY NOW! titled ORIGINAL CAST ALBUM: CO-OP. (In a happy coincidence, DOCUMENTARY NOW! features NYFA grad, Bill Hader along with Fred Armisen.) Pennebaker will present the films with other colleagues who were part of the original. 

    Other classics include the 20th anniversary of Doug Block’s HOME PAGE (Feb 21) about the emergence of a confessional culture on the internet; THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI (Mar 5) that will memorialize director Bill Siegel who passed away last December; and THAT RHYTHM…THOSE BLUES (Mar 12) in a new restoration of the 1988 film that explored rhythm and blues music in the 1940s and 1950s.

    The Pure Nonfiction winter season takes place at the IFC Center every Tuesday night at 7:30 pm for eight weeks, plus special Thursday screenings on Feb 21 and Mar 14. Each event includes a discussion with the filmmakers, followed by a gathering at a nearby bar. Season passes are now on sale for $99 for ten films, though NYFA students are offered a discount. The full season schedule appears below. For more information, visit here.

    Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center: Winter 2019 Season                    
    7:30pm Tuesdays at IFC Center, Feb 5 – Mar 26

    Each show features a Q&A with the director or other special guests:

    Feb 5: Opening Night – UNITED SKATES (2018, Q&A w/ dir. Tina Brown & subject Reggie)

    Feb 12: IT’S A HARD TRUTH, AIN’T IT (2018, Q&A w/ dir. Madeleine Sackler)

    Feb 19: Double bill: ORIGINAL CAST ALBUM: COMPANY (1970, Q&A w/ dir. D.A. Pennebaker & others) and DOCUMENTARY NOW! presents ORIGINAL CAST ALBUM CO-OP (2019)

    Feb 21: Thursday special – HOME PAGE – 20th anniv. (1999, Q&A w/ dir. Doug Block & others)

    Feb 26: THE CASE AGAINST ADNAN SYED – episode one (2019, Q&A w/ dir. Amy Berg)

    Mar 5: THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI (2014, Q&A in memory of dir. Bill Siegel w/ his colleagues)

    Mar 12: THAT RHYTHM…THOSE BLUES – newly restored (1988, Q&A w/ dir. George T. Nierenberg)

    Mar 14: Thursday Special – THE INVENTOR: OUT FOR BLOOD IN SILICON VALLEY (2019, Q&A w/ dir. Alex Gibney)

    Mar 19: ONE NATION UNDER STRESS (2019, Q&A w/ dir. Marc Levin)

    Mar 26: Closing Night – THE BRINK (2019, Q&A w/ dir. Alison Klayman)

    Tickets for Pure Nonfiction screenings are $17 for the general public and $14 for IFC Center members and NYFA students. A Season Pass covers admission to all ten evenings and provides free popcorn at all screenings. It is available for $99 ($80 for IFC members and NYFA students).

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    February 1, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 646