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  • NYFA Accepting Applications for 2022 One-Year Conservatory, MFA & Short programs in Documentary Filmmaking

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is accepting applications for 2022 One-Year Conservatory, MFA and Short programs in Documentary Filmmaking.

    Apply now for a remaining spot in the 1-Year Conservatory in Documentary Filmmaking starting in Fall 2022.

    The 1-Year Conservatory in Documentary Filmmaking is the flagship program of NYFA’s Documentary Filmmaking Division.

    • Learn to make films by making films.
    • One-year intensive and extremely hands-on.
    • Award-winning filmmakers teach new filmmakers through workshops, lectures and real-time mentoring as students make their own films.
    • Make 6 short nonfiction films and digital media pieces and develop a TV series.
    • Faculty work has won and been nominated for multiple Academy Awards and Emmy Awards, among many top honors.
    • Alumni have won an Emmy Award and been nominated for Emmy and Academy Awards. They have been honored at major film festivals around the world including Sundance, Cannes, Berlin and Toronto Film Festivals.

    NYFA accepting applications for documentary filmmaking

    Perfect for:

    Graduates of a short term NYFA Documentary Workshop

    • NYFA Documentary Workshop tuition is deducted from Conservatory Tuition.
    • Films made in the workshop can be submitted as part of an application for a Talent Based Award.

     Professionals ready to pivot and finally pursue their documentary dreams

    Alumni include former teachers, journalists, military veterans, researchers, anthropologists, and motion picture professionals of various stripes. Others have had jobs in international development, technology, criminal justice, and higher education, among many others.

     Gap Year

    •  College aged students who aren’t ready to start college can spend a year making documentary films.

     Alternative to college

    • Some students choose the Conservatory over traditional academics.
    • Single intensive year vs multi-year investment.
    • Focus solely on the practice of non-fiction filmmaking.

     Activists

    •  Make a movie, change the world (a little bit).
    • Alumni have used documentaries and nonfiction content to create real change.

     World Travelers

    • Because the world is awesome and documentary filmmaking can be an exceptional passport.

    Filmmakers

    • Many fiction filmmakers got started by making documentaries.
    • Others move back and forth between the two.

     Graduates of a different discipline

    • Students have come with degrees in business, social sciences, journalism, psychology, international studies, the arts, health sciences, and information technology, just to name a few.
    • Some use documentaries to share their vocation with a broader audience.
    • Others want an additional area of expertise.

    MFA in Documentary Filmmaking

    • Apply to our 2-Year degree program offered on the Los Angeles campus.
    • Our intensive curriculum prepares candidates with advanced knowledge about independent documentary filmmaking.
    • Apply for credits from a New York City 1-year non-degree program for advanced standing in the MFA program.
    • Fall ’22 is the next start date for the second year.

    6-Week Documentary Filmmaking Workshops

    • Start dates slated for February, May, July and September.
    • Introduction to the basics of Documentary Filmmaking.
    • Created for students who can’t take a year off for the Conservatory.
    • Some try out a workshop and before the Conservatory.
    • Graduates of Online Workshops who want an intensive, live experience.

     Online Documentary Filmmaking Workshops

    4-Week Intensive Online Programs in Documentary Filmmaking/Social Media Micro Docs

    • Start dates slated for January 10th, March 7th, May 9th, June 6th, July 5th, August 1st, and September 6th.
    • Introduction to the basics of Documentary Filmmaking & Micro Docs.
    • Created for students who aren’t able to travel to NYC for an in-person program.
    • Learn how to use your smartphone to shoot 3 documentary films or micro docs.

    15-Week Part Time Online Programs in Documentary Filmmaking/Social Media Micro Docs

    • Start dates slated for January 10th, May 2nd and August 29th
    • Introduction to the basics of Documentary Filmmaking & Micro Docs
    • Created for students who aren’t able to travel to NYC for an in-person program
    • Learn how to use your smartphone to shoot 3 documentary films or micro docs

    To learn about all of NYFA’s Documentary Filmmaking programs, visit the Documentary School website. Ready to apply? Click here to submit your application.

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    November 29, 2021 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 1237

  • NYFA Chair Bill Einreinhofer’s Episode of ‘Century Masters’ Screening at 2021 Beijing Documentary Week

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    Mei Lanfang, the subject of an episode of Century Masters, will have his legacy showcased in a screening at the 2021 Beijing Documentary Week. The program, Century Masters is a 15-part cultural history TV program that focuses on a different historical subject each airing. This particular episode was written and hosted by NYFA’s very own Chair of Broadcast Journalism, Bill Einreinhofer. 

    The Beijing Documentary Week is a film festival that attracts leading documentary producers and production companies from across China. This year’s circuit was held between August 14th and August 21st, 2021. 

    Einreinhofer’s Century Masters episode featuring the subject Mei Lanfang follows the story of his upbringing, influence, and global recognition as a great master of Chinese Peking Opera. Mei Lanfang’s untraditional adaptation to historic stories reinvented them for new audiences and modern times. Fun fact, it would take you a calendar year to watch every Chinese Peking Opera if you watched one per day. That’s how many productions the theatre group created over its 100-year history. You can watch the full episode of Century Masters featuring Mei Lanfang, written and hosted by Bill Einreinhofer here

    Bill Einreinhofer with the camera team of Century Masters filming in ChinaMei Lanfang’s story begins as a young child, growing up in a tumultuous, war-torn China in the early 1900s. Born into a family of privilege and Opera talent, Mei Lanfang’s grandfather is one of the originators of Peking Opera theatre. His father and uncle, both top performers and musicians of the Opera, had high expectations for their son and nephew. Unfortunately for Mei Lanfang, his youth and happy personality were a deterrent for teachers of the art. 

    Considered lazy and untalented, Mei Lanfang’s family extinguished their hopes the child could continue their family trade. After experiencing financial hardship, Mei Lanfang received help and support from a family friend. Very grateful even until his last day, he paid this generosity forward by treating his family’s Opera troupe with dignity and flexibility during economic hardships. 

    Mei Lanfang became an apprentice to this family friend and his talent blossomed into the internationally recognized art we know him for today. 

    Peking Opera, now a popular subject for study in many Chinese theatre schools, has four subjects for which its young student population, between the ages of 11 and 12, must master. These subjects include singing, monologues, acting, and martial arts. For young students, training for Peking Opera is a six-year-long endeavor. 

    Bill Einreinhofer being filmed for the Mei Lanfang episode of Century Masters

    Mei Lanfang is most famous for his adaptation of the popular Opera, Spring of the Jade Hall, the story of a prostitute falsely accused and charged with murder. His performance on Broadway in 1930s New York won him acclaim across the United States. Now recognized on an international stage as a great writer and performer, Mei Lanfang earned an Honorary Doctorate in literature from the University of Southern California. 

    His success while in the United States was of great national pride for China and contributed to his long-lasting legacy. 

    This episode of Century Masters aired in China during the Lunar New Year celebration (also known as the Chinese New Year), where the country witnessed its highest TV viewings. 

    Bill Einreinhofer in the studio filming his episode of Century Masters

    The episode also aired throughout the Middle East. With time, influential figures like Mei Lanfang will have their legacies broadcasted around the globe. Their influence and impact continue to live on, thanks to filmmakers and documentary journalists like Bill Einreinhofer. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates Faculty Chair, Bill Einreinhofer for his well-deserved recognition. 

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    September 17, 2021 • China, Faculty Highlights • Views: 955

  • Broadcast Journalism Update – July 2021 Edition

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    There are some professional moments you never forget.

    Near the top of the list is getting your first Press Card. It is recognition that you are indeed a “journalist.”

    Earlier this year NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Hannah Palmhagen received her Press Card for the Swedish Parliament (Sveriges Riksdag). Hannah took a very non-traditional route to this moment. It was a journey of self-discovery as well as professional training.

    Former student, Meiraj Haq also took a unique route to success. He came to NYFA to sharpen his producing/reporting skills and used those skills to produce an acclaimed documentary about then-candidate and now Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. Amazingly, he became a top actor in Pakistani TV dramas! You can still see NYFA featured on Meiraj’s Facebook cover photo.

    Being nominated for an industry award is always a great honor. It is your peers going “on the record” in their praise of not just what you do, but how you do it. NYFA alum Kecia Gayle works in the challenging world of entertainment journalism. You can find her on Instagram and on Hollywood Unlocked’s own website.

    Of course, if you want to learn about fashion trends and popular culture, you just have to listen to NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Nicole Abebe on The Beat, 99.9 in Lagos. But if you want to double your knowledge, then check out (do people still say that?) the Abebe family on with the Abebes.

    Right now, we are in the middle of a typical New York City Summer. The days are hazy, hot and, humid. If you are a TV reporter, that means just one thing: visit places where people are cooling off. This is precisely what Broadcast Journalism alum Karen Hua did for News12 New York.

    Of course, even though it is Summer there are still important stories to cover (especially in the Southern Hemisphere, where it is Winter). One of the biggest stories continues to be COVID-19. Former NYFA student Fernanda Mueller has returned to Brazil, where she is working for NSC Comunicação, a Globo-affiliated company.

    “The company has a TV channel, radio station, digital and print media. I work as a multimedia reporter for digital and print. We recently made a video series about food prices. In this video, I talk about how prices of rice and beans have increased in Brazil and the state of Santa Catarina during the pandemic,” says Fernanda.

    Even the movies have a serious side, captured in all of its glory by NYFA graduate Federica Polidoro in a recent cover story in Vanity Fair Italia. Federica asked for comments from our own Broadcast Journalism Chair, Bill Einreinhofer.

    Evgenia Vlasova and Bill Einreinhofer are in the middle of producing a new Public TV documentary called Unsettled History: America, China and the Doolittle Tokyo Raid. In April 1942, the five American aviators pictured below, along with 59 of their comrades, were rescued from capture, torture, and certain death at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. The rescue mission was carried out by Chinese farmers, fishermen and militia members. These Americans either crash-landed or parachuted into rural China and survived thanks to the courageous actions of strangers in a foreign land.

    Producer Nancy Hanzhang Shen and Bill Einreinhofer shot the final interview last month, with Prof. Luo Shiping in Shangrao, Jiangxi province, China (centered in the picture below along with the local production team).

    The documentary will be distributed by American Public Television in April 2022, to mark the 80th anniversary of the Doolittle Tokyo Raid.

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

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    UPDATE: NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Claudia Raschke is Director of Photography (DP) for the new series Land of the Giants: Titans of Tech premiering on CNN+.

    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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  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Pavitra Chalam Co-Directs ‘Rooting for Roona’ – Now Streaming on Netflix

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    Now available to stream on Netflix: Filmmaking alum Pavitra Chalam co-directs the new, inspirational documentary Rooting For Roona about a child named Roona with an advanced form of hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid builds up in the brain resulting in an enlarged head and can also cause brain damage.

    Roona quickly becomes known all over the world after images of her go viral. Not long after, Roona is admitted to one of India’s premier private hospitals in the nation in New Delhi to undergo surgery for her condition. In the documentary, Chalam and co-director Akshay Shankar chart the incredible story of Roona and her family as the young child goes through a life-altering surgery to combat her birth defect.

    Documentary film poster for ‘Rooting For Roona’ (Netflix)

    Chalam and Shankar aim to create public awareness around the issue of congenital healthcare and bring birth defects to the forefront of the public conversation. Chalam has previously directed documentary shorts Anamika: Her Glorious Past, Indelible, and Maanasi – ‘of Sound Mind.’

    NYFA Alum Pavitra Chalam with Roona

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Filmmaking alum Pavitra Chalam on her latest directorial achievement and encourages everyone to check out the new documentary now streaming on Netflix.

    Watch the full trailer for the new documentary below or click here.

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    October 15, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1677

  • Assembly Line Entertainment Founder & NYFA Producing Alum Janek Ambros Shares Exciting Slate of Upcoming Projects and Collaborations with Fellow Producing Alum Robbie Leacock

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    After graduation, it’s straight to set for many alumni; but for others, it means a new era of innovation injected into the film industry by bringing in new, incredible stories to new audiences. MFA Producing alum Janek Ambros decided to do just that by starting up his own international production company, Assembly Line Entertainment, which has already had films appear in festivals all over the world including Sundance and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

    “When I first arrived in Los Angeles, I took a production company course at NYFA,” recalled Ambros. “It was in that class where I created the company logo, and the type of company I’d want (heavily inspired by American Zoetrope). Seven years later, we’re on a very similar path that was outlined in class – starting with shorts and moving on to high-end festivals like Sundance and TIFF, with more development focused on projects we make from the ground up. It’s testament to NYFA’s goal of learning by doing.”

    Janek Ambros (Right) at TIFF for Assembly Line Pictures’ ‘Human Capital’

    Assembly Line Entertainment already boasts an impressive filmography, including 10,000 Saints (Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld), Human Capital (Maya Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Liev Schreiber, Alex Wolff), and documentary Imminent Threat (Dir. Janek Ambros), among others. 

    “We’re excited to be working on a new large slate of movies going into 2021 that we’re producing with our new Head of Production, Kahlilah King,” shared Ambros. “From traditional narratives to social impact docu-series, we [Assembly Line Entertainment] have many projects that are adapting to the ever-changing landscape of distribution.”

    Alex Wolff (Left) and Maya Hawke (Right) in ‘Human Capital’ (Photo Courtesy of Assembly Line Entertainment)

    Some of those upcoming projects slated for release include Mondo Hollywoodland (Dir. Janek Ambros), animated political satire First New Nation, an untitled birthing docu-series (Written by Khaliah King), and Sixties, a digital campaign on social media that features 60-second films from countries all over the world to highlight new developing directors.

    Another upcoming project is feature film Hey, Johnny, directed by Ambros and produced by fellow NYFA Producing alum Robbie Leacock, who previously also produced Imminent Threat, serves as the executive producer the Sixties project, and is writing and producing upcoming mockumentary series The Flat Tyres for Assembly Line Entertainment. 

    Robbie Leacock (Left) on set of ‘The Flat Tyres’ (Photo Courtesy of Assembly Line Entertainment)

    After graduating from NYFA, Leacock started at Potboiler Productions as a producer’s assistant before moving up to assistant producer. He later served as an associate producer on Netflix’s The Red Sea Diving Resort before returning to the U.S. to join producing partner Janek Ambros at Assembly Line Entertainment. “We were always told that the relationships you build at film school are the ones that will last throughout your career, and this proved to be so true,” revealed Leacock. “We now have our first TV series in the works (The Flat Tyres), a satirical comedy about a gang of hijackers from the townships, for which we are currently shooting on location in Cape Town, South Africa.”

    With a slate of upcoming projects and new opportunities for Ambros’ production company, 2021 is set to be the biggest year yet for Assembly Line Entertainment and the NYFA alumni, who are working to create character-driven projects for audiences that reflect modern society.

    Assembly Line Pictures Founder Janek Ambros

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA Alumni Janek Ambros and Robbie Leacock on their upcoming projects with Assembly Line Entertainment and looks forward to hearing about new projects as they develop. 

    NYFA also encourages readers to check out Assembly Line Entertainment’s Instagram account, where their project Sixties will officially be launched. For a full list of the company’s productions, click here.

    Assembly Line Entertainment
    Founder: Janek Ambros
    Producer: Robbie Leacock

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Filmmaking Alum Drama del Rosario Awarded ‘Juried Prize’ in The 2020 PBS Short Film Festival

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    In late July, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Drama del Rosario received one of the two awarded prizes for the 2020 PBS Short Film Festival. The documentary filmmaking alum caught the eye of voters and the prestigious Jury for the competition and ultimately received this years ‘Juried Prize’ for his film In This Family

    Del Rosario was awarded the prestigious prize by eight jury members, who selected the NYFA alum’s film as their favorite out of all the festival selections. In addition to del Rosario’s film, all festival selections are available to the public to watch online.

    ‘In This Family’ film poster

    Del Rosario is a Filipinx documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He is the recipient of the 2019 BAFTA-GSA Commissioning Grant for his documentary film, I’m Okay (And Neither Are You), which touches on sexual assault trauma from a gay couple’s perspective. The NYFA alum is known for creating documentary films that challenge the Filipinx Catholic background and he has worked with many international names including BeBe Zahara Benet (Winner, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 1) and Sophie Sumner (Winner, America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 18). 

    His latest documentary, In This Family, is a twelve minute short film that chronicles what happens after del Rosario’s teach outs him as a gay man and includes recordings of his family’s reaction to the news.

    “Thank you so much to everyone who watched and voted for my documentary! Your support has been so overwhelming, and I am so moved by all the messages from queer youth, parents of queer children, and teachers of queer students,” shared del Rosario. “I hope this documentary moves us closer to helping the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and loved, especially within Asian families and schools.”

    Del Rosario also credits NYFA alum Naya Rivera, who tragically passed away in early July, as a source of inspiration for his short film. “In the documentary, I reference various queer programs, Glee especially. Naya Rivera’s character, Santana Lopez, was one of the crucial queer characters that helped me and my family get to where we are now. It is a testament to how much queer entertainment can change the life of a family on the other side of the world. Rest in Power, Naya Rivera.”

    The NYFA alum also shares that this documentary is an important release in his native country as it is produced by Cinematografo, which is under the Filipino production company ABS-CBN International. “It has been so humbling to have this documentary represent how important it is to keep Philippine media alive and growing! Our voices need to be heard!” His full statement can be found below.

    View this post on Instagram

    WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!!!!!!!! 🎉🔥✨💕😭🎊⭐️🏆 My documentary film “IN THIS FAMILY” is officially the JURY WINNER for this year’s PBS Short Film Festival! This is so huge coming from a very, very stacked jury! 😱 Thank you so much to everyone who watched and voted for my documentary! Your support has been so overwhelming, and I am so moved by all the messages from queer youth, parents of queer children, and teachers of queer students. I hope this documentary moves us closer to helping the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and loved, especially within Asian families and schools. ❤️ Furthermore, showcasing this documentary at this particular time has been special to me for two reasons… 1️⃣ First, this documentary is executive produced by Cinematografo, which is under ABS-CBN International. As a lot of people know, ABS-CBN and Philippine media in general are not in a good place right now because of Philippine politics. It has been so humbling to have this documentary represent how important it is to keep Philippine media alive and growing! Our voices need to be heard! 2️⃣ Second, I am extremely touched by all the messages from Glee fans regarding the recent death of Naya Rivera. In the documentary, I reference various queer programs, Glee especially. Naya Rivera’s character Santana Lopez was one of the crucial queer characters that helped me and my family get to where we are now. It is a testament to how much queer entertainment can change the life of a family on the other side of the world. Rest in Power, Naya Rivera. ❤️ I am incredibly honored to receive this award. Thank you so much to CAAM (@caamedia and their superstar team @czarinagee, @akolaurenlola, @livinproofsf, @gracehwanglynch, @krakauer, @sushboy34 ++) for believing in my film as your official entry and for always supporting my career as a documentary filmmaker. Thank you so much to PBS (@pbs) for putting together an amazing film festival with an amazing film line-up and jury. And most of all, thank you so much to my family for continuing to change and grow. I would not be where I am right now had you not powered through the discomfort of growth and change. ALL MY LOVE! 🏆💕

    A post shared by Drama Del Rosario (@dramadelrosario) on

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Drama del Rosario for his latest achievement and looks forward to what is next from the talented filmmaker. 

    To watch the full documentary, view below or click here

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  • New York Film Academy Welcomes Director Tânia Cypriano and NYFA Student Jude Washock for a Q&A on Groundbreaking Documentary ‘Born to Be’

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    On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a live video Q&A with the talented documentary filmmaker Tânia Cypriano to discuss her much admired and trailblazing documentary film Born to Be. Cypriano was also joined in conversation by NYFA Acting for Film Conservatory student, and consultant for the film, Jude Washock. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series, moderated the event.

    Director Tânia Cypriano has been working between her home country of Brazil and the United States for over thirty years. Her films and videos have won international awards including ‘Best Documentary’ at Joseph Papp’s Festival Latino in New York, the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, and Fespaco in Burkina Faso. Her work has been shown in the world’s most prestigious institutions including The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Hong Kong Arts Center, the Jerusalem Film Festival, the Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival, and the Berlin International Film Festival.

    (Clockwise) Tova Laiter, Tânia Cypriano, and Jude Washock for Q&A Series

    Her television credits include documentaries for PBS, the History Channel, NHK in Japan, GNT in Brazil and Channel 4 in England. Cypriano has co-organized a series of films with the MoMA, the Anthology Film Archives, Exit Art, the Museum of Image and Sound in São Paulo, and the Grazer Kunstverein in Austria. She has also previously worked on productions for Bill Moyers, Martin Scorsese, Kent Jones and Nelson Pereira dos Santos.

    Dr. Ting walks with one his patients in the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery wing of Mount Sinai Hospital (‘Born to Be’)

    Cypriano’s latest documentary, Born to Be, follows the work of Dr. Jess Ting at the groundbreaking Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City —where, for the first time ever, all transgender and non-binary people can have access to quality transition-related health and surgical care. The film received critical acclaim upon its original release in the 2019 festival circuit and was hailed by Variety as “a lively and moving documentary,” and “a film that distinguishes itself with a sensitive, human portrait” by Hollywood Reporter.

    A patient awaiting consultation from Dr. Ting (‘Born to Be’)

    Cypriano remembers wanting to make this documentary after hearing about the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York from her producer, noting it was “a historical moment for New York City, and also for healthcare.” After deciding she wanted to do this documentary, Cypriano recalls staying in the clinic and documenting the surgeries with the crew, noting how many of the characters in the film “understood the importance of that moment [of filming] because these surgeries were just made available, and the importance of them was so great to the [transgender] community.”

    Washock, a SAG-AFTRA member and NYFA student who served as a consultant for the film, explained that his role was “to ensure that the stories being told by the characters, who were receiving surgery, were portrayed in a humane way and were not damaging or exploitive.” Consultants like Washock are especially important for documentary filmmakers so they can ensure they do the subject matter, and story, justice.

    Dr. Ting posing with one of his patients (‘Born to Be’)

    One student asked Cypriano how she was able to compose herself during the documentary shoot. “It was a tough one,” she recalls, “I think that is why I chose to live outside of my family because it was emotionally draining, but nothing compares to what I imagine Dr. Ting goes through because he is over there listening to those stories everyday.”

    Film poster for ‘Born to Be’

    In addition to discussing the film, Cypriano also encouraged NYFA students to tell stories because they can. “You have to put yourself out there, work hard, be patient, and persevere. If you hang in there, you can do it.” Washock, who got involved in the project just by talking to Cypriano at an event added, “put yourself out there and have conversations with people and just talk, you would be surprised.”

    Washock also encouraged students in the New York City area to look into volunteering or becoming a member at IFP (Independent Filmmakers Project), where Washock praised his experience there networking and attending informative panels.

    Cypriano thanked Laiter and the NYFA students for joining the call and also extended gratitude to NYFA student Jude Washock for joining the conversation.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank the talented Tânia Cypriano for sharing her time and expertise with the students and NYFA Acting for Film student Jude Washock for sharing his experience as a consultant on Born to Be. NYFA also encourages everyone to keep an eye out for the forthcoming theatrical and streaming release of the film.

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  • Student Spotlight: Documentary Film Student Richard Brookshire Pens Article Featured in ‘New York Times Magazine’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Film student Richard Brookshire recently wrote an article for New York Times Magazine about his experience serving in the army as a Black, queer man, joining the Black Lives Matter movement, and what he has been doing to bring Black stories to life as a filmmaker and a storyteller.

    NYFA reached out to Brookshire to continue the conversation from his New York Times Magazine article and to discuss his experience as a Black documentary filmmaker, his upcoming short film Boukman’s Prayer 2.0, and the future of Black stories in the entertainment industry.

    Richard Brookshire, with his mother, Natacha, at his graduation from Army basic training in 2009 (Photo Courtesy of Richard Brookshire)

    Before pursuing filmmaking, Richard Brookshire served as a combat medic with the 170th Infantry Brigade in Germany, and later Afghanistan. At this time, Brookshire recalls his closeted sexuality due to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and also remembers being one of a few Black soldiers in his 40 person platoon. In his article for New York Times Magazine, Brookshire wrote:

    Through Brookshire’s personal encounters, the experiences of his loved ones, and witnessing modern events of racial inequality unfold (like the horrific shooting of Trayvon Martin), led Brookshire to join the New York chapter of Black Lives Matter and to co-found the Black Veterans Project, a racial equity and archive initiative created to shed light on systemic racial inequities within the U.S military (both historic and present).

    Brookshire’s interest in racial injustice led also opened up another area of interest; film. “I recognized how the medium of [documentary] film was the perfect space to merge my background and skill set to capture Black American life for future generations.”

    “Film is one of the most powerful forms of propaganda we have in retelling histories and cultivating a public imagination around how we see ourselves as a society and our shared humanity,” says Brookshire. “Just as it can do harm, it can also harness good. It can expand our collective understandings, give us a window into lives far different than our own, and equip stakeholders and activists with powerful narratives to drive necessary and provocative awakenings around injustices across societies.”

    Brookshire during an Army National Guard, Upstate New York in 2015 (Photo Courtesy of Richard Brookshire)

    After Brookshire’s four year old niece passed away last year, he says it was the motivation he needed to study the documentary filmmaking craft. “NYFA felt like the perfect place to gain expertise from leading filmmakers in an intimate intensive program geared toward teaching me the fundamentals,” says Brookshire. “I credit NYFA alum, Clyde Gunter for persuading me on what NYFA had to offer.”

    Brookshire notes that documentary filmmaking can change or broaden an individual’s perspective. “It only takes one mind to begin planting the seeds of change and revolution. We are in constant evolution as human beings, and we must not shy away from harnessing the power we have to inspire each other to do better, to be better and to create new systems that reflect a reality that is informed by the shared understanding of our common humanity.”

    As a filmmaker and activist, Brookshire turns to creators like Spike Lee and Henry Louis Gates for imagination, creativity, and unforgettable storytelling. “I always joke with my friends that if Spike Lee and Henry Louis Gates had a director baby, it’d be me.” He notes that Spike Lee has always taken incredible care and consideration “in capturing the splendor and hardship of Black American Life.” As for Henry Louis Gates, Brookshire claims Gates “has created unparalleled works that dive deep into the overlooked African American histories.”

    Brookshire being interviewed recently at a protest at the Manhattan Bridge (Photo Credit: Dexter Philips)

    For his next project, Brookshire tells NYFA that his short film Boukman’s Prayer 2.0 will explore “five Black artists surviving the COVID-19 crisis in the days leading up to the riots.” In his essay film, Brookshire describes it as an exploration of “Black folk who find freedom within and access planes in their creative imagination to allow a spiritual awakening and healing outside of an anti-Black society.”

    While the country continues to address various systemic racial prejudices and injustices, the entertainment industry has its own work to do too. “The archive is full of Black histories and Black life to tell. The diaspora is rife with untold and unexplored characters and circumstances,” says Brookshire. “If we are to bridge the long-standing racial divide, we must create spaces for Black stories to exist, and not just those that retell Black traumas (which has been a primary avenue for Black filmmakers write large).”

    He continues to note the importance of Black documentaries and their ability to show “the vastness of our humanity and experience,” and urges the conversation of ownership with Black storytelling; “who owns Black stories is just as important as who tells them.”

    In addition, Brookshire shares that mentorship cannot be overlooked either. “Sharing resources and knowledge creates pathways to opportunity,” he says. “The reason the canon of documentaries is lacking relative to Black stories is because, for far too long, film was an exclusive space and, in many ways, it still is quite a privilege to be able to do this sort of work.”

    New York FIlm Academy would like to thank Richard Brookshire for continuing to share his stories and insight as a Black filmmaker and encourages everyone to read his New York Times Magazine article and to be on the lookout for his upcoming short Boukman’s Prayer 2.0.

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    June 30, 2020 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2134

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum’s Documentary Film About Life Changing Meditation Technique Selected for the New York Lift Off Festival

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    In addition to having his film selected in the New York Lift Off Festival, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Naman Goyal is using his latest documentary as a means to educate others during the global Coronavirus pandemic about a unique meditation technique that could assist individuals with their mental health in such unprecedented times. 

    Naman Goyal, who hails from India, graduated from NYFA’s One Year Filmmaking Conservatory  in 2010 from the New York City campus. The Jaipur-based filmmaker is now gaining media attention surrounding his feature documentary The Magical Guru and His Secret Mantra (revealed), which portrays a unique meditation technique that is having a positive impact on hospital patients and others seeking healing. 

    NYFA Filmmaking Alum Naman Goyal

    The docu-film explores an alternative healing method, otherwise known as “’Energy Healing Meditation Technique” and its founder, Guru Ram Lal Siyag. This meditation technique is said to build up the body’s immune system and generate antibodies that could help fight off bacteria or even a virus. 

    Goyal completed filming the documentary in January 2020, a few months before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. “Initially, I only wanted to make a half an hour film on this topic, but as I started researching, the project just expanded into a feature film and one and a half years just flew by,” shares Goyal. The docu-film, includes interviews from doctors and patients who benefited from the Energy Healing Meditation Technique both physically and mentally. Some patients interviewed even included former cancer patients who experienced significantly reduced cancer recovery times. 

    When the global pandemic hit, Goyal knew his documentary would be an informative resource for Coronavirus patients seeking healing. “I started sending clips of my documentary to patients in Wuhan (China), Daegu (South Korea), Milan (Italy), and New York City through Facebook,” says Goyal. 

    At the time the pandemic reached Goyal’s own city of Jaipur, India, he showed the meditation technique to a Coronavirus patient, who recovered a week after beginning the meditation, along with their prescribed medication. Goyal then reached out to another patient in Jodhpur City, who also owed their recovery to the meditation technique. Goyal has since been interviewed by a number of news outlets including India’s CNN-News18 about the technique featured in his documentary (Video below with English subtitles).

    Goyal’s docu-film  has already attracted festival attention and has been selected to appear in the upcoming New York Lift Off Film Festival. Goyal reveals the film may have an official release in September 2020 and shares that he is in talks with the U.S. Department of Health (NCCIH and NIH), who are looking at the possibility of doing a clinical trial with the meditation technique. 

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Naman Goyal on his forthcoming documentary film The Magical Guru and His Secret Mantra and looks forward to upcoming projects from the Filmmaking alum.

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