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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: 227

  • 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 in their fight against the virus.

    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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  • NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Alum, Mollie Moore, on Her Journey as a Documentary Filmmaker and the Importance of Storytelling

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking alum Mollie Moore is a filmmaker and cinematographer from South London, who is currently based in London and New York City. She has worked for renowned production companies such as the BBC, PBS, ITVS, Human Love LTD and DNA Films on various projects. Her films have gone on to be screened at festivals all over the world, with her work taking her to multiple continents. With her background in cinematography, Moore’s work pushes the limits of visual poetry through non-fiction storytelling, while also weaving in important themes that highlight the LGBTQ community and forced migration.

    From a young age, Moore was always involved with the theatre world and, when it was time to go to college, she travelled instead to South East Asia, India, South America and many other places while working as a crew member on fictional film sets. “I realized the vast possibilities of storytelling and the importance of capturing the beauty of the world we live in and the stories within it,” shares Moore. “Documentary felt like a natural marriage with my background in theatre, storytelling and my passion for exploration and the people I met along the way.”

    This realization brought Moore to New York, where she studied in NYFA’s 1-Year Conservatory Program for Documentary Filmmaking. “It was a course that I could give all of my attention to, whilst getting maximum in-person time to learn in a creative and hands-on way,” she explains. 

    Film Poster for ‘A Word Away’ (Dir. Mollie Moore)

    Her thesis film, A Word Away, premiered at the Camden International Film Festival. A Word Away centers around a young man named Cosmo, who is from South Sudan and now resides in the U.S, who share his journey of migration through the medium of poetry. For Moore, it was important for her to find “a new way of telling a story of migration, through a more intimate and personal lens.” At the film’s premier, Moore recalls that having Cosmo and his family present was a very important moment for her as it was their stories being told and seen. “Documentary filmmaking should always be seen a collaborative process between the filmmaker and the people sharing their stories.”

    After graduating NYFA, Moore also worked on festival favorite Paper Thin, a documentary about a young transgender womxn starting a new life in New York City after having to flee the persecution of LGBTQ+ persons in Russia. Not long after, Moore worked as the cinematographer for the short film, Mama, a personal story between a mother and daughter (dir. NYFA alum Lucia Florez), who look into their past to try and reconcile their relationship after years of difficult conversations and opinions about sexuality.

    Mollie shooting in Peru on set of the film ‘Mama’ (Dir. Lucia Florez)

    These films, and others with similar themes, are ones that Moore says she holds “very close to my heart and with a lot of passion.” While Moore identifies with these topics on a personal level, as a filmmaker, she explains that these stories are crucial to share. “I think shedding light on topics and communities that have often been massively misconstrued and discriminated against through violent acts of oppression and injustice is of huge importance.” For those that have a platform to shed light on subjects and real world issues in an objective, honest way, it can be a privilege. Moore says, “we must share it [the stories of others] and give voices to those whose realities have often been silenced throughout history.”

    Moore is currently working as a filmmaker on the artist Marc Quinn’s public art project, Our Blood; a multi media public artwork that focuses on the refugee crisis all over the world. The art piece will premiere outside of the New York Public Library in 2021, but for now, Moore and others involved on the project are continuing their filming in London and New York City. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) would like to thank NYFA Documentary alum Mollie Moore for sharing more about her work as a documentary filmmaker and encourages everyone to check out her work and keep an eye out for the Our Blood project, once it has been unveiled in 2021.

    To keep up with Mollie Moore, check out her website here or follow her on Instagram.

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    June 17, 2020 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 402

  • NYFA Alum Wins ‘Best Feature Film’ at Visions du Réel Competition for Her Film ‘Puntasacra’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Francesca Mazzoleni’s documentary feature length film, Puntasacra wins the ‘Sesterce d’or la Mobilière’ (Best Feature Film) at the 2020 Visions du Réel competition, held virtually from April 17 to May 2.

    ‘Puntasacra’ (Directed by Francesca Mazzoleni, courtesy of True Colours)

    Mazzoleni atteneded the 4-Week Music Video Workshop at NYFA’s New York City campus in 2017. In addition to Puntasacra, Mazzoleni has directed feature film Succede and short films 1989, L’etoile de Mer, Lo so che mi senti, Nowhere, and Il Premio.

    Puntasacra, her latest feature, is a documentary that tells the story of the inhabitants of Idroscalo di Ostia, a coastal outer district of Rome and the last portion of habitable land at the mouth of the Tiber, Punta Sacra. With half of the community’s houses destroyed by a fire in 2010, the documentary navigates the daily lives of the coast village’s inhabitants and naturally portrays the conversations between neighbors surrounding communism, familial secrets, and community altercations.

    The film was one of 14 feature-length documentaries that were selected for main competition in the prestigious Swiss festival, Visions du Réel, in Nyon (this year online). After winning the Sesterce d’or la Mobilière with a cash prize of CHF 20,000 (£16,657), top Italian sales distributor, True Colours, acquired sales rights for the film.

    Mazzoleni, who could not be there in person to accept her award since the ceremony was held online, made her own award from the items in her home and thanked her ten-person team, with whom she “shared a very complicated and wonderful adventure”. She also thanked the community of Idroscalo di Ostia who gave her the confidence to make her film. She closed her Instagram acceptance speech by telling her followers, “our journey begins today, be patient, the cinemas will reopen.”

    Francesca Mazzoleni behind the scenes of her film ‘Succede’

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Francesca Mazzoleni on the success of her latest documentary film and her recent win at Visions du Réel, and encourages everyone to check out Puntasacra when it becomes available in theaters or online.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum John Saponara Starts Portrait Series While Working to Make PPE Equipment for Healthcare Workers

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    From businesses to hospitals to schools to families, COVID-19 has forced people into a season of great change and uncertainty, causing people to adapt to new circumstances in the age of social distancing. For many, this has been a cause for reflection and doing their part to stay alert and distance themselves in public. For others, like NYFA Documentary alum John Saponara, this has been a time of giving back to the community and utilizing creativity to bring awareness and hope to others. 

    John Saponara grew up in Yonkers, New York, a suburb just outside of New York City and recalls, “from as young as I can remember I wanted to be a photographer.” His photos have since appeared on book covers both nationally and internationally, including the New York Times bestseller Eat Pray Love. He also founded the crowd-sourced project, Picture Black Friday, and his commercial clients include: Sony, Intel, HP, Oprah, and New York Magazine, just to name a few.

    A volunteer packing face shields in Bednark Studio (Photo courtesy of John Saponara)

    Saponara has been working at Bednark Studio and volunteering his time with other organizations, while also documenting workers and volunteers who continue to make the community safer by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and additional supplies for individuals and families in the age of COVID-19. 

    Bednark Studio, a full service fabrication company in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, has been Saponara’s source of inspiration for documenting what is happening behind the scenes. “It’s there [Bednark Studio] that my portrait project formed,” he says. The portrait series follows the workers and volunteers who are working day and night to create PPE like face shields for medical workers or dividers for Uber/Lyft drivers.

    Portrait of a volunteer in Bednark Studio (Photo courtesy of John Saponara)

    “In the portraits, I’m there as a worker, so I do them when I can in my breaks or in a spare moment,” says Saponara. “In both cases, I don’t want to interfere; just be the proverbial fly on the wall.” The photographs are symbols of those who are working behind the scenes in NYC and all over the world, who are actively volunteering their time or working additional hours to provide PPE equipment or additional, essential supplies for others.

    Masks for Docs volunteer headed to deliver PPE (Photo courtesy of John Saponara)

    Another group Saponara has been volunteering with has been Masks for Docs, formed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “They connect PPE with doctors and medical staff that need it,”  he explains. “Motorcyclists help get where it [the supplies] needs to go.” The grassroots organization is composed of volunteers from the tech, business, arts, and members of non-profit communities, who have banded together to make a difference for healthcare workers not only in New York City, but all over the world.

    A volunteer for Brooklyn Mutual Aid buying supplies (Photo courtesy of John Saponara)

    Saponara also mentions Bushwick Ayuda Mutua, who help “get food on the table of the neediest families in Brooklyn.” In just one weekend alone, Saponara mentions that he and other volunteers were able to feed 200 people in need. “We collect donations of food and money and use those collections to buy groceries that we then deliver to families.”

    Saponara says the groups that he has been able to work with and document are “a combination of the private sectors innovation and the power of people and community to get things done to bring about change effectively and efficiently.”

    New York FIlm Academy thanks alum John Saponara for his service to the community and for sharing his portrait series, and encourages anyone who is interested in learning more about each organization to click the links above for more information on how to get involved.

    To view more images from Saponara’s portrait series and his other works, click here.

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    May 29, 2020 • Alumni Events, Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 911

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Alum Pedro Álvarez Gales Works on Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’

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    Netflix has become an essential service now more than ever while most of the world stays indoors, and seemingly everyone watching Netflix is watching its latest original docuseries, Tiger King, co-edited by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking alum Pedro Álvarez Gales.

    Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is a true crime docuseries that explores a convicted criminal and flamboyant zoo owner and the larger world of big cat owners and enthusiasts that he inhabits. Over the course of seven episodes, co-directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin tell the story of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka “Joe Exotic,” who plotted the murder of Carole Baskin of Florida’s Big Cat Rescue.

    The show has resonated with television viewers stuck at home due to self-isolation and quarantine, and in just its first three days of release Tiger King became one of the top 10 shows watched on the popular streaming service.

    Documentaries typically involve a great deal more editing than narrative productions when factoring in all the raw footage that needs to be culled into a cohesive story. New York Film Academy Documentary Filmmaking alum Pedro Álvarez Gales was a perfect choice by the production to serve as co-editor. The talented young editor and director has worked on productions including Black Market with Michael K. Williams, King of the Road, Weediquette, and last year’s buzzworthy documentary FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.

    Gales, who is originally from Caracas, Venezuela, first received his training at the NYFA Documentary Filmmaking school at our New York Campus in 2013. “Almost everything I do today I learned in NYFA,” Gales told us in an interview last year. “I had never touched any editing software until I went there. It was through NYFA I got my first job in New York too (Vice and Viceland) where I stayed for three years and went from being an assistant editor to junior editor.”

    tiger king pedro alvarez gales

    NYFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Pedro Álvarez Gales

    He adds, “The Documentary program can be a really intense one with long hours and days, but if you apply yourself and choose to absorb everything that’s coming your way you’ll leave that building a documentary filmmaker.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Pedro Álvarez Gales on the success of Tiger King and encourages everyone at home to check out the docuseries on Netflix!

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    March 25, 2020 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1798

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Alum Gary Bencheghib Joins Greta Thunberg at Davos World Economic Forum

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking alum Gary Bencheghib was invited to speak at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos in January to discuss his work and the impact of climate change.

    Bencheghib joined thousands of business leaders, economists, journalists, international political figures, and more from all over the globe to discuss key issues of global concern, including the devastating effects of climate change.

    Notable activist on the topic, Greta Thunberg, was selected to speak on the issue, along with Bencheghib, who addressed climate change head on and was able to point back to his upcoming documentary, Plastic River, as well as his entire body of work—past and present—as a case study to the destructive, man-made effects to the environment.

    Back in 2009, Bencheghib, along with his brother Sam, founded Make A Change World, an organization to raise awareness for environmental pollution and sustainable waste management. Since it was founded, the platform has distributed multiple micro-docs and other projects addressing climate issues, including Bencheghib’s miniseries and NYFA thesis film, The Reclamation.

     

    Gary Bencheghib

    NYFA Alum Gary Bencheghib Speaks at Davos World Economic Forum

    “NYFA completely changed my life in giving me the best formation imaginable on the entire filmmaking spectrum—from shooting to editing and producing,” Bencheghib said about his time at the Academy.

    Among the other notable projects the Bencheghib brothers have created since Gary graduated in 2014, includes documenting themselves paddle-boarding along two of New York City’s most polluted waterways and convincing Indonesia’s President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to clean up the country’s contaminated Citarum River.

    At Davos, Bencheghib also spoke about his latest initiative from him and his brother called Sungai Watch, a platform that maps out the details of rivers in real time, allowing people to test floating trash booms for rivers and smaller trash blocks for streams throughout Bali’s waterways. “Imagine watching the cleanup of the world’s most polluted river in real time,” says Gary. This new initiative, along with the additional conversations sparked by Bencheghib and others at Davos will, hopefully, allow attendees and others throughout the world to address the innovative and urgent solutions needed to combat man-made environmental damage.

    New York Film Academy is proud to see NYFA alumni like Gary Bencheghib bring their stories to political and business leaders around the world and is excited to see the important role documentary filmmaking is taking in global conversations about the vital issues of our time.

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    February 21, 2020 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 653

  • New York Film Academy Producing Alum Federico Guarascio Coproduces Festival Hit ‘The Fourth Kingdom’

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    The Fourth Kingdom, a documentary directed by Adán Aliaga and Alex Lora and coproduced by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing alum Federico Guarascio has been storming the festival circuit since its premiere earlier this year.

    The film documents a redemption center in Brooklyn founded by a Spanish ex-missionary where cans and plastic bottles are exchanged for cash—a “Fourth Kingdom” of plastics, and a hub for immigrants and underdogs who desperately believe in the American Dream.

    Federico Guarascio

    Since its premiere last February at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Short Film, The Fourth Kingdom has been selected in 20 film festivals—eight of them Oscars-qualifying—and has won two of them, including the Brooklyn Film Festival, which allows the short film to be considered for the Academy Awards. 

    It has additionally screened at the Rooftop Summer Series, the Americas Film Festivals, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, DOC NYC, and opened at the United Kingdom’s prestigious Sheffield Doc Fest.

    Federico Guarascio originally hails from Italy and first came to New York Film Academy through the Torno Subito program, a joint public/private sector work study initiative that supports new talent development in the Italian film and television industry and is based in Italy’s Lazio region. New York Film Academy provides the “study” element of the program, with students enrolling in short-term workshops across various NYFA disciplines. Once their program is completed, graduates return to pre-arranged film and television internships in Italy.

    Alex Lora & Federico Guarascio

    Alex Lora & Federico Guarascio

    Guarascio first attended the 4-Week Producing workshop at NYFA’s New York campus, and was so impressed that he subsequently returned to enroll in the 1-Year Conservatory in Producing. Upon graduation, Federico has remained in New York City to work on a variety of film projects, including The Fourth Kingdom.

    “[NYFA] proved to be essential during my journey with this doc,” says Guarascio, “and it would not have been possible for me to get this far without the skills I learned in your classes and, for that, I am immensely grateful.”

    Guarascio’s talent as a producer was evident early on. “As a student, Federico showed all the hallmarks of a fiercely independent producer,” recalls NYFA-NY Chair of Producing Neal Weisman. “He consistently demonstrated a great passion for the process and a curiosity which inevitably led to to interesting projects. It is no surprise that Federico has moved on to find success with films moving onto the festival circuit. We are very proud.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Producing alum Federico Guarascio on the success of The Fourth Kingdom and encourages everyone to check out the film’s trailer, available on Vimeo. 

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    December 16, 2019 • Film Festivals, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1738

  • DOC NYC Screens Exclusive Lineup of New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Department Shorts

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    DOC NYC, which runs from November 6 – 15, showcased the work of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking department in an exclusive lineup of NYFA short films on Thursday, November 7.

    DOC NYC is celebrating its tenth year, after bursting onto the scene in 2010 that the Village Voice called “selective but eclectic.” With a mission statement to guide audiences toward the work of various artists—filmmakers, photographers, and more—and to help documentarians make the most of emerging technologies and the networking opportunities one can only find in New York.

    DOC NYC 2019

    The festival spans ten days at theaters across Manhattan, with an impressive multitude of special guests. Past guests have included Hillary Clinton, Emma Watson, Jim Carrey, Thandie Newton, Susan Sarandon, Martin Scorsese, Itzhak Perlman, Michael Moore, Chris Rock, Michel Gondry, Errol Morris, Oliver Stone, Jonathan Franzen, and Al Sharpton, among others. DOC NYC is overseen by Executive Director Raphaela Neihausen and Artistic Director Thom Powers.

    NYFA has collaborated with DOC NYC in the past, with the fest screening the work of several distinguished students and alumni at the precipices of their careers. This year’s DOC NYC U: NYFA lineup was held on Thursday, November 7, at 1:00 p.m. at the IFC Center in Manhattan’s West Village, running for 68 minutes.

    Here is the 2019 DOC NYC U: NYFA lineup:

    Ghost Villages of the Himalayas | Director: Kuldeep Sah Gangola
    Despite encroaching leopards and relentless isolation, 89-year-old Ammaji refuses to leave her home.
    (USA, 16 MIN)

    My Dad Vernon | Director: Serena Smith
    Vernon teaches Serena creative life-hacks while she tries to understand why he lives in his car.
    (USA, 3 MIN, excerpt)

    Mamá | Director: Lucia Florez
    Chia joins her mother to research motherhood in the Andes, where they confront their own relationship.
    (USA, 6 MIN, excerpt)

    All I See Is the Future | Director: Nancy Dionne
    A former drug dealer becomes a successful optician—until a mistake threatens his dream.
    (USA, 14 MIN)

    A Word Away | Director: Mollie Moore
    For 18 years, selective mutism has kept Cosmo silent about escaping South Sudan—until now.
    (USA, 20 MIN)

    Get It | Director: Joe Cleary
    Reem hustles to parlay street-dancing fame into a rap career.
    (USA, 3 MIN, excerpt)

    B-city | Director: Carolina Gonzales
    Bhustak creates a makeshift hip-hop studio to help neighborhood kids escape violence in Bogotá.
    (USA, 3 MIN)

    Baladna | Director: Aya Hamdan
    A Syrian baker navigates economic instability and immigration status to bring his family to Bahrain.
    (USA, 3 MIN)

    Epiales | Director: Anna Panova
    Follow a photographer into the frightening universe of sleep paralysis.
    (USA, 3 MIN, excerpt)

    Unloved | Director: Nika Nikanava
    The story of three women coming to terms with having fathers who abandoned them.
    (USA, 11 MIN)

    The Rhythms | Director: Nika Nikanava
    In memoriam to a promising and well-loved filmmaker.
    (USA, 2 MIN)

    New York Film Academy congratulates the documentary filmmakers representing NYFA at this year’s DOC NYC and is elated to see their important work being appreciated!

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    November 7, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 943