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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Department Updates: A&E, HBO, PBS, VICE, IDA, MTV Award, BAFTA Nom, Premieres, Fests, Gigs & More!

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) takes a look at the latest achievements of the Documentary Filmmaking department’s alumni, faculty, and students:

    What to Watch

    Season 1 of The Employables, shot and produced by CJ Ferroni (NYC ’13) for A&E began airing last Wednesday. You can catch the first two episodes online, and watch the rest of the season Wednesdays on A&E at 10 p.m. EST or online via Hulu or A&E’s website.

    The feature documentary, Trials of Spring, shot by director of photography Muhammad Hamdy (NYC ‘08) aired on PBS as part of the Women, War and Peace series and can still be seen on their website.

    You can catch one of the many pieces Ilaria Polsonetti (NYC ’11) recently cut for HBO’s VICE New Tonight online as well.

    Hannah Currie‘s (NYC Workshop ’18) post-graduation short Lumo: Too Young to Die aired on BBC Scotland, and can still be seen on BBC iPlayer.

    The episode of The New York Times’ Secret History of Muslims, directed and produced by Maria Stanisheva (NYC ’12) is now also available on Vimeo’s list of Staff Picks.

    Human Rights Watch recently published Saudi Arabia: 10 Reasons Why Saudi Women Flee, based on three short animated films created by Maria Stanisheva and commissioned by fellow alum, Human Rights Watch producer Janna Kyllästinen (NYC ’12).

    The Bit Player, shot by NYC instructor and director of photography Claudia Racshke for director Mark Levin, is premiering at The World Science Fair in NYC. The feature documentary tells the story of the brilliant math genius Claude Shannon, father of the digital revolution.

    Drama del Rosario (’19) has two films in distribution on REVRY.TV 

    In This Family  — What is it like coming out as a gay teen in the Philippines? In a country imbued with traditional Catholic views, coming out is received with disapproval and anger, especially from one’s own family.

    The End of LifeWhat pushes a person to choose between living and dying? Science, religion, and law all converge at the end of life.

    Also, In This Family recently won the Loni Ding Award in Social Issue Documentary at CAAMFest 2019.

    Honors, Awards, Festivals, Grants

    NYFA Docsters have been racking up festivals, major grants, fellowships, and a variety of honors around the world.

    In April, Julia Cheng‘s (NYC ’18) thesis doc Cricket Liu won Best International Short Documentary at AmDocs (American Documentary Film Festival), and qualified for the Academy Award. Then, Anais Michel’s (NYC ’16) and Braulio Jatar‘s (NYC ’18) short Where Chaos Reigns won Best Short Documentary at San Francisco International Film Festival – and also qualified for the Oscar.

    We Are All Here, an earlier, shorter version of Hannah Currie‘s (NYC Workshop ’18) film Lumo: Too Young To Die, made the shortlist for the BAFTA for Best Student Documentary.

    Pedro Peira‘s (LA ’16) film Trabajadores won the K.R. Mohanan Memorial Documentary Award 2019.

    Director/Producer Maria Stanisheva (NYC ’12) and her company AnimaDocs were awarded a development grant from the French CNC – Centre National Du Cinéma Et De L’image Animée for her animated documentary series Finding Home.

    Paul Gallasch (NYC ‘11) was awarded a SA Writers Development Grant from the South Australian Film Corporation.

    Rodrigo Urriolagoitia (NYC ’12) was selected for “Film Accelerator” at La Selva. There, he will shoot a short fiction film under the supervision of director Lucrecia Martel, who’s taking over that role from Werner Herzog. Created to identify and cultivate the most promising filmmakers around the world, Film Accelerator has tapped Rodrigo as its first ever Bolivian director. Meanwhile, his first foray into short fiction, Our Price, has kicked off its festival run by winning its writer/director Rodrigo a Silver Award for Best Crime Short at the Independent Shorts Awards in Los Angeles. Additionally, Pseudo, a feature he produced in Bolivia, will premiere in September.

    Nancy Dionne‘s (NYC ’18) first semester film, All I Can See Is The Future, was picked up by KweliTV following a great launch as a nominee for Best Documentary at the 2019 Winter International Film Festival. It’s now also an Official Selection of Docs Without Borders, the Katra Sidebar series in Dumbo, Hollywood South Urban, and Bowery Social Justice Film Festival. Stay tuned for its drop date on KweliTV.

    Pretty Dead, produced by Wynona Barbera (NYC ‘16), premiered at HBO’s Women in Comedy Festival.

    Elaine Minionis‘s (NYC ’08) Uncanny: The Dolls of Mariana Monteagudo premiered at none other than Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF). It won the Audience Award at the “I’m Not Gonna Move to LA” film festival and also received the Award of Merit at the IndieFEST Film Awards. Uncanny is also an Official Selection of the Miami Independent Film Festival, Fort Myers Film Festival, Tallahassee Film Festival, and Hollywood Florida Film Festival.

    Love From Afar, from director Cristian Sanay (NYC ’14) and editor Nina Thomas (NYC ’15), has hit the festival circuit as an Official Selection of the Latino Film Festival, Corto Circuito Short Film Festival, and Latino & Iberian Film Festival at Yale. The latter included a special Q&A and talk with the filmmakers about immigration. The short has also been invited to be part of the curriculum at various universities, such as Fairfield University in Connecticut and CUNY. Next stop: Long Island International Film Festival on July 12.

    Krisztina Danka’s (NYC Workshop) doc The Stolen River continues its festival run with a new win; this time it was awarded Best Film On Nature at the L’Age D’Or International Arthouse Film Festival in Kolkata, India.

    Amy Wright (NYC ’15) returned to Tribeca Film Festival as Tech Liaison Manager, leading a team that included Anna Panova (NYC ’18), Kuldeep Gangola (NYC ’19), Maria Tamburro (NYC ’19), and Mollie Moore (NYC ’18). Once again, the team successfully screened well over 100 films and got to spend the time they weren’t on duty rubbing elbows and watching the hottest new films.

    After serving on Amy’s Tribeca Film Festival crew, Anna Panova (NYC ’18) stayed on to assist Sandy O’Hearen, CFO of Tribeca Enterprises and others, soaking up more film festival wisdom in preparation for her launch of the Shortie Film Festival in Williamsburg. It sounds pretty cool—they keep the entry fees low and even have a special award Best NYFA Documentary. Enter the fest here 

    Ida Myklebost (NYC ‘16) has jumped to the other side of the festival equation, too. Her freshman festival run with thesis film Unwelcome was quite successful. Last year, for example, she won Anchorage Film Festival. This year, she’s programming it. And their call for entries is open, so send your films!

    Ghost Villages of Himalayas, the thesis film of Kuldeep Gangola (NYC ’19), won the Collective Critics Award in Uttarakhand, India and a Jury Award from Variety International Film Festival, and has been getting love from the press all over India, including an article in The Times of India.

    Juliana Sakae (LA ’13) is Awards Competition Manager for International Documentary Association and is looking for amazing film students to be part of our pre-screening committee:

    “The students will be screening features, shorts, and podcasts in June and July to make sure we have the best in our competition. As a thank you, we offer a 1-year student membership in IDA as well as their name in our Awards Program. The feedback we get from the students is always very positive and they seem to really enjoy the experience.”

    Lucia Flores (LA ‘18) has been awarded a coveted Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship to support her thesis work at NYFA LA.

    This June, Yusaku Kanagawa (NYC ‘15), Chief Producer at Yahoo! JAPAN CREATORS Program in Tokyo, is sitting on the Jury for the 2019 Fresh Pitch competition in Shanghai, China, alongside executives from Discover and NHK. Created by Beijing-based documentary producer/director Julia Cheng (NYC ‘18), Fresh Pitch has quickly become a major hub for the Asian documentary community. Mariko Ide (NYC ‘16), JAPAN CREATORS Program Story Consultant, will be in attendance as well. And Shanghai-based producer Jenny Song (NYC ‘16) is rounding out the NYFA Docs contingent. Together, the four will also attend the Asian premiere of National Geographic’s Academy Award-winner Free Solo, edited by their NYFA mentor, Bob Eisenhardt.

    Great Gigs & Dream Jobs

    Lara Ann de Wet (NYC ’15) has temporarily relocated to Bali as editor of Gary Bencheghib‘s (NYC ’14) new short doc Plastic River, about his ongoing work on the Citarum river with the President of Indonesia.

    Kendall Ciesemier (NYC Workshop) has moved to The New York Times as a producer/reporter continuing the great documentary journalism she began at Mic.

    CJ Ferroni (NYC ’13) has landed in his dream job as a producer/cinematographer developing documentaries for TV at NBC Peacock Productions after years of successful freelancing in the documentary series world.

    Earlier this month, Annie Woods (NYC ‘07) checked in on her way out of the city as she walked away her “fancy” job as creative producer for Viacom to move to a tiny house in Ojai, minimize, and get back to her environmental and social issue documentary work. Or, as Variety would put it, “Woods ankles to go indie.”

    Fuma (Andrea) Fumagalli (NYC ‘07) is also shaking it up. He’s temporarily forsaken sports docs for journalism. After editing the documentary series First Team: Juventus for Netflix and coming in to do some additional editing on Paul George: My Journey for ESPN, Fuma’s moved his attention to reportage for Rai Italia, the channel of Italian Public TV that reaches millions of Italians that live abroad, all across the globe. He’s basically become their foreign correspondent from New York. Check out the page dedicated to his work on “Italy Run.” There will be four pieces and a short doc by the time the Run has run.

    Another foreign correspondent, Bianca Zanini (NYC ’11), continues to thrive at the international TV channel i24 and is developing a documentary series there so she can get straight-up docs back into her daily life.

    Less than two months after graduation, Mollie Moore (NYC ’18) got a gig traveling to Uganda as 2nd Camera/DIT for NYFA Docs instructor Eddie Rosenstein. She has since been sharpening her camera acumen freelancing and TAing in the Doc Department. This week, she returned from TAing the expedition to Belize, just in time to take off for Peru to shoot the MFA thesis of classmate Lucia Florez‘ (NYC ’18 / LA ’19).

    Eddie also hired Charlotte Madvig (NYC ’18) in the editing department on that same film. 

    Nika Nikanava (NYC ‘18) and Braulio Jatar (NYC ’18) got to work with NYC instructor and DP Claudia Raschke on a gig for Sesame Street. Claudia also twice booked Amy Wright (NYC ’14), Carolina Gonzales (NYC ‘15), Anisia Boronova (NYC ’15) and Braulio Jatar (NYC ’18) to shoot and record pieces for American Classical Orchestra.

    Serena Smith (NYC ’18), Kuldeep Gangola (NYC ’18), and Mollie Moore (NYC ‘18) served in various positions for NYC instructor Maxine Trump‘s new ITVS digital series Should We Kid or Not?, a spinoff on her documentary, To Kid or Not to Kid. Fellow NYC instructor Dorottya Mathe produced the series.

    Faculty News

    NYC instructor Tracie Holder won a National Endowment for the Arts grant for The Quiet Zone, a new feature doc she’s producing.

    Randy Dottin, NYFA Chair of Screenwriting, won a documentary grant from the Sundance Institute for his six-part documentary series called The House I Never Knew.

    RBG, DP’ed by NYC instructor Claudia Raschke, is up for four different MTV Movie Awards, including Best Fight (RBG vs Inequality). Free Solo, edited by fellow NYC instructor Bob Eisenhardt, is up for an MTV Movie Award as well.

    Claudia Racshke has also wrapped her celebrity-laden world tour shooting the new National Geographic series Activate, about local activism around the globe.

    NYC instructor Kristen Nutile and Master Class instructor JP Olsen made great use of their residency as MacDowell Fellows and re-emerged with their new doc, Stan, finished and ready to begin its life in the world.

    The Spirit of Discovery, story produced by NYC Documentary Chair Andrea Swift, premiered on KPBS. The feature doc was directed by once and future instructor Eliana Alvarez.

    Maxine Trump’s To Kid or Not to Kid, associate produced by Marie Vanderrusten (NYC ’15) continues to rack up festival appearances and press around the country. And from The New York Post to The Daily Mail, the film is getting love from the press on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Many thanks to distinguished alum Ilaria Polsonetti (NYC ’11), who generously returned this April to teach a Master Class with the current students in the Doc Department. As part of the Master Editors series, Ilaria’s master class was part of a line-up that also featured Academy Award nominee (with Spike Lee, 4 Little Girls) Sam Pollard, and NYFA instructor Bob Eisenhardt, editor of this year’s Oscar winner, Free Solo. Polsonetti was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Editing in News last year for a short documentary she edited for VICE on HBO. Currently a staff editor for VICE News Tonight, she has cut numerous short docs and served as editor on Raised in the System, a VICE on HBO feature documentary starring Michael K. Williams (The Wire), among others. The students got to watch some of the films she’s cut, and soak in her wisdom and insights on editing and working as an editor—especially for VICE—as well as learn about the path she’s taken to get from film school to her current position in the world.

    Personal and Community News

    Paul Gallasch (NYC ’11) checked in to let us know that he’s now a father. Welcome baby boy, Augustine! And while his new feature documentary Love in the Time of Antidepressants continues to make the festival rounds, he has moved to New Orleans to set up shop making docs with his wife and filmmaking partner—and Augustine’s mom—Madeline. If you know anybody in the business in or around New Orleans, Paul would love to meet them! (Andrea’s happy to connect you if you aren’t already.) 

    Turns out Francesca Pagani (NYC ’11) was listed as a producer and Points North Fellow at Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) alongside Paul Gallasch (NYC ’11), who got a nod in the last update. We’ll have to catch Francesca’s details in the next update as, last we heard, she was on a pirate ship in Panama shooting a new short doc.

    In other NYC ’11 reunion news, Bianca Zanini (NYC ’11) and Department Chair, Andrea Swift, got to grab a coffee in Tel Aviv, where Bianca is now based.

    It seems Marco Vitale (NYC ’11) had just spent a few days there too, en route from Iceland to Naples.

    Michael Jovic (NYC ’09) has become a father too. Welcome, Roman Jovic!

    And per Facebook, Fred Boll (NYC ’07) has one on the way!

    SEND YOUR NEWS!

    Your community wants to know what you’ve been up to! Just email or tag your Documentary Chair and we’ll take it from there!

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Instructor Ayelet Zurer Stars in Netflix Hit ‘Shtisel’

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    Award-winning actress and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Instructor Ayelet Zurer is currently starring in Netflix’s newest binge-worthy hit. Shtisel is a innovative Israeli drama that focuses on a family of ultra-Orthodox Jews in a Haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem. The actress stars as Elisheva, a widowed mother who captures the heart of Akiva, a shy young man struggling with his father’s matchmaking efforts.

    Zurer is a familiar face in films and television in both America and Israel. She has starred opposite Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons, Russell Crowe in Man of Steel, Ewan McGregor in Last Days in the Desert, and Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe in Adam Resurrected. Zurer also starred on multiple seasons of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix and In Therapy (adapted as HBO’s In Treatment). She received the Israeli Academy of Film (OFIR) Best Actress Award for Nina’s Tragedies, and is a two-time winner of the Israeli Academy of Television’s Best Actress Award.

    The Hebrew-language Shtisel is making headlines for its honest and touching portrayal of a traditionally insular community. The New Yorker calls the show “generous, lighthearted, and nostalgic,” and says the show’s success is “the result of several powerfully understated performances, most notably by Ayelet Zurer in the role of Elisheva.” The New York Times was similarly complimentary, calling the show “groundbreaking.”

    Though the show was originally screened in 2013-14, the show’s success on Netflix has been so impressive that its original creators are currently considering creating a third season. In addition, an American version of the show has already been sold Amazon by Marta Kauffman, one of the creators of classic 1990s sitcom Friends. The show, to be set in Brooklyn, will be titled Emmis.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Ayelet Zurer on her continued success and looks forward to seeing her future projects!

     

     

     

     

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    April 25, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights • Views: 452

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Faculty Matt Kohnen

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    For New York Film Academy (NYFA) Directing for Cinematographers instructor Matt Kohnen, falling in love with movies was a gradual process. He started in theatre in high school, but eventually turned to writing and directing. His latest feature film effort, The Funeral Guest, a dramedy about a lonely woman who crashes funerals, won Best Director and Best Actress at the LA Indie Film Festival. 

    Matt Kohnen The Funeral Guest

    Matt took some time to chat with NYFA about his career, his love of science fiction, and a love story that could have only happened at NYFA:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What kinds of stories did you start off wanting to tell?

    Matt Kohnen (MK): I like stories with a touch of the fantastic to them. I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi. Not because of the escapism, but because it allows us to take our own society and its current trajectory. Sort of what Black Mirror does and what the original Blade Runner or Forbidden Planet did back in the day. I still write that stuff, but the reality of independent filmmaking is that the price point of most sci-fi is big.

    NYFA: Your films Aaah! Zombies!! and The Funeral Guest center on death and how such an event can bring people together. What is it about the theme of life after death that inspires you? 

    MK: Funny, I’ve never heard my two features linked in that way. Not sure it’s the “death” issue that links them for me as much as it is the “outsider” parts. Both feature perspectives of people who are on the outside of something looking in. Aaah! Zombies!! began as a funny idea about classic horror, but became more about the characters who were dissatisfied with their current lives. In The Funeral Guest, it’s similar. She’s on the outside of life, looking in on others because she doesn’t have one of her own. 

    NYFA: Tell us about your latest project.

    MK: I’m currently writing a couple new scripts. One of them is very low-budget, the other is trying to swing a bit larger. I’m not in a place to talk about them now, but The Funeral Guest is available on Amazon Prime, soon to be all over. 

    Matt Kohnen The Funeral Guest

    NYFA: What is your favorite thing about teaching at NYFA? 

    MK: I love working with my students. I love seeing their eyes open and that “aha” moment that sometimes comes when they realize in class or during shooting what has been lacking in their work up to now, and they make that jump to the next level of the art. It’s extremely rewarding to be a part of that. 

    Secondarily, I love how international we are, seeing students from such vastly different worlds interacting in a space where they share that one thing they all love. One of my favorite outcomes of this was in an early Cinematography Practicum shoot, a kid from middle-of-nowhere Montana sat next to a young woman from India. Two people who would never have met in any other iteration of the world. They wound up married. 

    NYFA: What’s your favorite class to teach at NYFA?

    MK: Second Semester Cinematography in the MFA. It’s great, because the students have gotten a good base from semester one, and now we start introducing dolly, advanced lighting, and camera, and the ceiling of work we are able to hit raises a lot. I love seeing them rise to the challenge.

    NYFA: Is there a piece of advice you give your students as they head toward graduation? 

    MK: Keep your eyes focused on the horizon, and put one foot in front of the other, every day. Even if it’s only one step, have goals, and know that as hard as it may seem, good work will always be recognized. 

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    March 27, 2019 • Faculty Highlights • Views: 624

  • 2019 BAFTA Nominations Include Documentaries Worked On By New York Film Academy (NYFA) Faculty

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    UPDATE: The winners were announced last night, February 11. The list includes Free Solo, which won Best Documentary, and which was edited by New York Film Academy (NYFA) instructor Bob Eisenhardt.

    The full list of winners for this year’s BAFTA Film Awards are named below.

    –February 12, 2019

    Nominations for the 2019 BAFTA Film Awards were announced earlier today, as this year’s awards season continues towards its crescendo.

    The BAFTA Awards are given out by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and celebrates cinematic achievements by both British artists and those around the world. The Academy was formed from the combination of the Guild of Television Producers and Directors, founded in 1953, and the British Film Academy, started in 1947. The first BAFTA Award went to silent film star and filmmaking legend Charlie Chaplin.

    Many of this year’s BAFTA nominees should seem familiar, as they have already been recognized by various industry guilds as well as this year’s Golden Globes. Historical comedy The Favourite dominated the nominations with a total of 12 following star Olivia Colman’s win for Best Actress at the Globes.

    Spike Lee picked up his first BAFTA nom for directing Best Film nominee BlackKklansman. Bradley Cooper broke BAFTA records by earning five nominations from five different disciplines for his film A Star is Born, which received seven total, including Best Film. 

    Two previous guest speakers of New York Film Academy (NYFA) also received BAFTA nominations. Adam Driver, who spoke with NYFA students at our New York campus last year, received a nod for Best Supporting Actor for his work in BlackKklansman. Glenn Close, who also spoke with NYFA students, picked up a Best Actress nomination for her starring role in The Wife. Close won earlier this week at the Golden Globe Awards for the same performance.

    Three films that were worked on by New York Film Academy faculty and alumni also received BAFTA nominations. Avengers: Infinity War received a nod for Best Special Visual Effects. NYFA 3D Animation and VFX alum Francesco Panzieri worked on the visual effects team for the epic blockbuster. 

    Additionally, two of this year’s Best Documentary nominees feature work by faculty members of the NYFA Documentary school. RBG, the hit documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, was shot by director of photography and cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke. Free Solo, the critically-acclaimed film about Alex Honnold as he attempts to free climb El Capitan, was edited by instructor Bob Eisenhardt. 

    Both films are also shortlisted for the Academy Awards, whose nominations will be announced later this month. New York Film Academy wishes them the best of luck!

    Here is a full list of this year’s BAFTA nominees. The WINNERS are listed in bold.

    Best Film
    BlacKkKlansman
    The Favourite
    Green Book
    Roma
    A Star Is Born

    Outstanding British Film
    Beast
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    The Favourite
    McQueen
    Stan & Ollie
    You Were Never Really Here

    Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
    Apostasy — Daniel Kokotajlo
    Beast — Michael Pearce, Lauren Dark
    A Cambodian Spring — Chris Kelly
    Pili — Leanne Welham, Sophie Harman
    Ray & Liz — Richard Billingham, Jacqui Davies

    Film Not in the English Language
    Capernaum
    Cold War
    Dogman
    Roma
    Shoplifters

    Documentary
    Free Solo
    McQueen
    RBG
    They Shall Not Grow Old
    Three Identical Strangers

    Animated Film
    Incredibles 2
    Isle of Dogs
    Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse

    Director
    BlacKkKlansman — Spike Lee
    Cold War — Paweł Pawlikowski
    The Favourite — Yorgos Lanthimos
    Roma — Alfonso Cuarón
    A Star Is Born — Bradley Cooper

    Original Screenplay
    Cold War
    The Favourite
    Green Book
    Roma
    Vice

    Adapted Screenplay
    BlacKkKlansman

    Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    First Man
    If Beale Street Could Talk
    A Star Is Born

    Leading Actress
    Glenn Close — The Wife
    Lady Gaga — A Star Is Born
    Melissa McCarthy — Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    Olivia Colman — The Favourite
    Viola Davis — Widows

    Leading Actor
    Bradley Cooper — A Star Is Born
    Christian Bale — Vice
    Rami Malek — Bohemian Rhapsody
    Steve Coogan — Stan & Ollie
    Viggo Mortensen — Green Book

    Supporting Actress
    Amy Adams — Vice
    Claire Foy — First Man
    Emma Stone — The Favourite
    Margot Robbie — Mary Queen of Scots
    Rachel Weisz — The Favourite

    Supporting Actor
    Adam Driver — BlacKkKlansman
    Mahershala Ali — Green Book
    Richard E. Grant — Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    Sam Rockwell — Vice
    Timothée Chalamet — Beautiful Boy

    Original Music
    BlacKkKlansman
    If Beale Street Could Talk
    Isle of Dogs
    Mary Poppins Returns
    A Star Is Born

    Cinematography
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    Cold War
    The Favourite
    First Man
    Roma

    Editing
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    The Favourite
    First Man
    Roma
    Vice

    Production Design
    Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
    The Favourite
    First Man
    Mary Poppins Returns
    Roma

    Costume Design
    The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    The Favourite
    Mary Poppins Returns
    Mary Queen of Scots

    Makeup & Hair
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    The Favourite
    Mary Queen of Scots
    Stan & Ollie
    Vice

    Sound
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    First Man
    Mission: Impossible — Fallout
    A Quiet Place
    A Star Is Born

    Special Visual Effects
    Avengers: Infinity War
    Black Panther
    Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
    First Man
    Ready Player One

    British Short Animation
    I’m OK
    Marfa
    Roughhouse

    British Short Film
    73 Cows
    Bachelor, 38
    The Blue Door
    The Field
    Wale

    EE Rising Star Award
    Barry Keoghan
    Cynthia Erivo
    Jessie Buckley
    Lakeith Stanfield
    Letitia Wright

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    February 11, 2019 • 3D Animation, Documentary Filmmaking, Entertainment News, Film School • Views: 1557

  • The Latest New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Alumni & Faculty News

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) takes a quick look at some recent achievements of the NYFA Documentary Filmmaking alumni, faculty, and students:

    Alumni:

    Victoria Bergqvist (Fall 2017 1-Year) crewed as a production coordinator on the documentary Stieg Larsson: The Man Who Played With Fire, which is competing at Sundance this year (she did this just prior to coming to NYFA). Now based in Los Angeles after graduating from NYFA’s 1-Year Documentary program, she currently works for George Media creating branded content as a director. Here’s what she had to say about her experience at NYFA and how it serves her in the professional world: 

    “I can honestly say that the 1-year documentary program at NYFA in Los Angeles gave me very well-rounded skills. Although it was an intense program, I learned how to do literally pretty much everything myself. Meaning: writing, producing, directing, filming, editing, and sound mixing. And also how to make completed films during a short amount of time.

    “It turned out that this was exactly what George Media in Venice was looking for. The official job title of the position is ‘Young Director,’ but we are expected to do almost all the things mentioned above ourselves, except we get to work with a DP. The job entails making 12 short videos [in] six months, so having learned to make films under time pressure was incredibly helpful. Also, since the documentary program at NYFA is so hands-on and we make six films [in] one year, it gave me the confidence to keep doing what I had already done at school multiple times in the professional world.”

    Producer Julia Cheng (18) launched production of two feature documentaries in Beijing: The Invisible Shore, a feature doc directed by Qi Zhao, who produced both Last Train Home, The Chinese Mayor, and The City Dream, directed by Weijun Chen who previously directed Please Vote for Me.

    Guy Yang (Fall 2016 MFA) Right after graduating with his MFA in Documentary Filmmaking, Guy Yang was hired by Radio Free Asia, based in Washington D.C. as a broadcaster. The station has also asked him to develop three documentary series that focus on social issues in Eastern Asia. He will work with a team, researching and producing episodes and also filming, editing, mixing and, delivering packages to the station. Yang says, given his experience at NYFA of working on multiple projects quickly, he will continue to produce and direct his own documentary projects as well.

    Ashley Harris (Fall 2015 MFA) is served in the U.S. Navy as a Second Class Petty Officer. She came to NYFA in Fall 2015 and graduated with an MFA in Documentary in September 2017. In November of that same year, she interviewed with and was hired by Participant Media as Assistant to the Senior Vice President, Documentary Film and TV. She said that she loves the work and continues to grow with the company.

    Paul Gallasch’s (‘11) new feature documentary, Love in the Time of Antidepressant, produced with grants from both Screen Australia and the South Australian Film Corporation, premiered to great enthusiasm at the 2018 Adelaide Film Festival. Paul was also a 2018 Points West Fellow at the 2018 Camden Film Festival.

    Dikeos Foudeas (Spring 2015 1-Year) was hired for A/V production at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska for the University of Alaska Anchorage. Kay (as we affectionately refer to him) has said “I strongly believe my employment was influenced by the training I received at NYFA.” He also continues to work freelance as a videographer in Anchorage, Alaska.

    Dade Shields (Fall 2014 1-Year) is a native to Southern California and was always interested in outdoor cinematography. In 2018, Shields produced and shot several branded content mini documentaries for TravisMathew (a sportswear clothing line) as part of their Life on Tour series. Shields continues to shoot sports-themed documentary footage and recently partnered with professional skimboarder Blair Conklin to create YouTube channel Skid Kids, which quickly amassed over 2,000 subscribers.

    Rachael Pelzer (Fall 2014 1-Year) is originally from the Midwest and began working as a logger for Herzog & Co right out of graduating NYFA’s Documentary program. She’s been at Herzog for four years and is now their Post Production Coordinator. Her credits include: 1968: The Year that Changed America and The History of Comedy—both series aired on CNN. Rachael continues to credit NYFA for training her in production and this past year revived her 1-year film to develop it into a feature documentary with the help of fellow alum, William Nestlehutt. The two continue production on Rachael’s Hip Hop Ohana.

    Marie Vanderrusten (’16) signed on as editor of Ma Ville, Notre Idéal (My City, Our Ideal), airing daily on France 3. The series focuses on young people inventing new apps and industries to take on problems including climate change, overpopulation, poverty, overconsumption, and pollution.

    Executive producer Yusaku Kanagawa (’15) hired Mariko Ide (’16) as a story consultant on his Creators Program platform at Yahoo Japan.

    NYFA Alumni Yusaku Kanagawa & Mariko Ide
    NYFA Alumni Yusaku Kanagawa & Mariko Ide

    Peabody Award-winning production companyTransform Films staffed Nancy Dionne (‘18) as Associate Producer. Her semester one film, All I See Is the Future, will also premiere this month at Winter Film Awards International Film Festival, screening on Feb 19 and Feb 20.

    In a unique trifecta, NYFA Docs grads became chief filmmakers for three of the foremost arts institutions, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Alex Guns (‘10), Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater (JR Cronheim (’12), and New York City Ballet (Laura Snow ’11).

    Santiago Machado (’18) began a gig with the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) for the television section of the News and Content Branch, News and Media Division.

    Francesca Pagani (’11) shot, produced, and/or associate produced several new VICE pieces including: Fighting in Drag with LGBTQ Wrestlers,Inside the FBI’s Hunt for “Black Political Extremists, Fighting the Use of Electric Shocks on People with Disabilities, and Inside the Gambling Scandal That Rocked The NBA. Her photos were also featured on the front cover of Politiken as part of a profile of gun violence survivor Jaqueline and her family who arrived in Tijuana with 3,200 others from the migrant “caravan.”

    Colorist, Susi Dollnig (’12) has been invited to present a seminar at this year’s Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival).

    Many 6-week Workshop grads also made their way into the limelight in 2018:

    David Diaz won the Southern Exposure Film Fellowship, for If They Build It, What Will Come, which he premiered at Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival.

    Hannah Currie was awarded Best Director at Under Wire Film Festival, for We Are All Here which is now also an Official Selection for both DOCfeed 2019 Film Festival and Glasgow Short Film Festival.

    Krisztina Danka’s Final Film, Violet and the Wildman, will make its North American premiere February 16 at the Cinema Verde Environmental Film Festival after winning the Golden Fox Award for the Best Educational Film in Kolkata, India.  

    Edwige Pezzulli Stępniewska and Maria Giulia Mancuso Prizzitano‘s final film project for NYFA, Embodiment, is now an official selection of Corvallis Queer Film Festival, the Prisma Independent Film Awards and Ivelisecinefestival.

    Faculty:

    Academy Award nominations were recently announced for Free Solo, edited by Bob Eisenhardt and RBGwhosedirector of photography is instructor Claudia Raschke.

    Director/instructor, Maxine Trump, premiered her new film, To Kid or Not to Kid at DOC NYC, published The Documentary Filmmaker’s Roadmapfor Focal Press, delivered a pilot for an ITVS series, and started production on The Tongass Legacy in Alaska.

    Editor/instructor, João Queiroga, also Chair of Post-Production, directed Our Skin, which screened at IDFA, Hot Docs, BFI, and DocLisboa, and was nominated for the Iris Prize and received the Lili Award. He produced the feature film I Can Only Be Mary Lane premiering at Doc’n Roll Film Festival in the UK, and is in production on both Digging For Life and Behind the Sun

    Producer/instructor Tracie Holder’s film Grit, directed by Academy Award-winner Cynthia Wade, premiered at Hot Docs and will air on PBS/POV later this year. A film she is currently producing, The Quiet Zone, received Sundance, NYS Council for the Arts, and IFP/HBO funding, while A Place of Absence, the other film she’s producing, was awarded a prestigious grant Tribeca Gucci grant.

    Producer/instructor Dorottya Mathe finished post-production of Impossible Monsters a psychological thriller starring Santino Fontana that will be premiering at Cinequest on March 9, line produced the recreation segment of the documentary A Cops and Robbers Story that will be released in 2020, finished and produced The Independents, a modern folk ’n roll comedy that will soon be screened across the US after a successful festival run, and began production of The Tongass Legacy directed by fellow instructor, Maxine Trump.

    Chair of Documentary Filmmaking Andrea Swift taught a special workshop facilitating some of the kids from Newtown, CT in making micro-docs as well as a different micro-docs workshop for over 400 Fulbrightersat their annual conference.

    Students:

    And finally, Dunya’s Day, associate produced by NYFA Documentary student, Aya Hamdan, won Sundance Film Festival’s Short Film Jury Award for International Fiction this January.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Musical Theatre School Produces “Kristy’s Lament: Another Awful Day with the MTA”

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    You’d be hard pressed to find a New Yorker who doesn’t experience their fair share of frustration with the MTA, the corporation that runs the city’s sprawling and crowded transit system of trains and buses. Especially these days, as commuters deal with train construction, delays, and an impending apocalypse, while fares continue to increase (the MTA announced just this week their plan for yet another fare hike of 4%). 

    And every New Yorker deals with it in their own way. Some of us mutter under our breaths, while others aren’t afraid to scream and yell at the top of their lungs. Some of us weep silently when we finally get home, while others pray to themselves that they’ll actually get home.

    But what most of us haven’t done, is sing a song about it. With Kristy’s Lament: Another Awful Day with the MTA, a new musical number performed by Broadway actress Kristy Cates, that’s no longer the case. And now that it has an accompanying music video produced by the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy (PCMT at NYFA), the song is easily available for everyone to share, relate with, and sing along to.

    Kristy’s Lament is very much based on a true story. “I have the worst train luck,” Cates tells NYFA, continuing, “I’m always stuck underground with no explanation, waiting for a train that never shows up, or on the car with the person about to puke. And I often share these wild stories on social media.”

    After one particularly nasty commute for Cates, where one bizarre thing followed another as she tried to make her way home from her Broadway show, she recounted the entire nightmare on Facebook. Her story quickly gained traction and gained a lot of attention on social media. Typically, the story would end there, but not for Cates.

    MTA Laments

    After seeing her commute from hell, lyricist Chris Giordano was inspired to adapt the tale into song, writing lyrics for a number that step-by-step portrayed Cates’s disastrous trip. Soon, it was put to music by composer Ryan Edward Wise, and Kristy’s Lament was born. It wasn’t long after that that a music video was produced to accompany the track.

    The video features Cates playing multiple roles — not just the tragic commuter narrating the song, but also a rude passenger carrying numerous bags, a stoner, and a homeless man, among others. It is mostly a stage production, filmed at NYFA’s 1st Floor Theatre, with gorgeous lighting direction and a minimal subway set. The video was also partially shot in an actual subway station, where the video opens and closes.

    The video was produced by the PCMT at NYFA, where Kristy Cates also serves as Creative Director. The renowned musical theatre school prides itself on giving its students real world training that prepares them to achieve success in a competitive, empowering industry, creating an educational experience few other musical theatre schools can offer.

    Aspiring performers develop their skills as triple threat performers by studying with faculty — like Kristy Cates — who have appeared in numerous Broadway and touring productions, top-rate regional theatre, opera, hit movie musicals, and television shows. NYFA’s musical theater alumni include llda Mason (On Your Feet), Pierre Marais (Aladdin), Christopher Viljoen (Les Misérables), Kylan Ross (Straight Outta Oz), and Tony Award-winner Yael Silver (Once on this Island).  

    MTA Laments

    Additionally, the PCMT at NYFA is able to use all of the resources shared by NYFA’s film school, cinematography school, and other departments. Using the Academy’s resources and state-of-the-art filmmaking equipment, its stage and its location in the heart of the New York City, and some of the Academy’s highly-talented staff — including director Jonathan Whittaker, editor Sean Robinson, Broadway veteran and choreographer Deidre Goodwin, and costume designer David Withrow — Kristy’s Lament was able to take advantage of high production values to really sell the humorous lyrics and support Cates’s powerful yet hysterical performance.

    “One thing I love about working for NYFA,” Cates says, “is their willingness to explore new projects. As a result, our ability as a program to collaborate with up-and-coming composers and lyricists.” She adds, “It was wonderful to combine the expertise of our faculty, the passion of our alumni, the ingenuity of the composer and writer, and the generosity and support of the Film Academy.”

    MTA Laments

    Cates is no stranger to high production values and show-stopping numbers. She is a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA and has starred in Wicked (Broadway, First National Tour, Chicago) as Elphaba, as well as playing Miss Bassett in Finding Neverland (Broadway), Grandma Josephine in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Broadway), and has had roles in a handful of off-Broadway shows and many regional productions. Additionally, she performs as a professional voiceover artist.

    The Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy is proud to have Kristy Cates as an original and current member of its faculty, and was equally as proud to produce Kristy’s Lament: Another Awful Day with the MTA with her. Next time you’re stressed and stuck on the subway, check it out and let yourself laugh a little — if the wifi is working down there, of course.










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    December 20, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 250

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts Q&A with Cast & Crew of “Killer Under the Bed”

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailKiller Under the BedOn Friday, October 26, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a screening of Lifetime’s Killer Under the Bed (2018), followed by a Q&A with director and NYFA instructor, Jeff Hare; producer, Ken Sanders; director of photography, Brad Rushing; and stars, Brec Bassinger and Madison Lawlor. The event was moderated by NYFA instructor, David Newman.

    Hare is a writer, director, and filmmaking instructor at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus, and has been working as a director of thrillers for the Lifetime channel for the last few years (A Lover Betrayed, Psycho In-Law, Nanny Killer).

    Sanders is a prolific producer for the Lifetime channel who has accumulated over 60 movie credits in the last 30 years (Accused at 17, Double Daddy, Stalked by My Doctor).

    Rushing’s career as a director of photography began with some small features in the 1990s then expanded into the music industry with music videos for Eminem, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Blink-182 and more. Rushing then moved back to film and television, and ultimately made his way to the Lifetime channel where he now works as a DP on many of its thrillers.

    Bassinger is an actress known for her roles in ABC’s The Goldbergs and Nickelodeon’s Bella and the Bulldogs and School of Rock. Lawlor is an actress known for her roles on TNT’s Franklin and Bash, Netlfix’s Dear White People, and the film, Daddy Issues (2018). The film also stars Kristy Swanson, eponymous star of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Moderator David Newman opened up the Q&A by asking about the inspiration for the film. Producer Ken Sanders explained that he was approached by the film’s writer about producing a movie about a voodoo doll; Sanders knew that there would have to be more meat to the story to get executive producers interested, so he began thinking about the topic. 

    Sanders then remembered a TV movie from his childhood that “terrified a generation” called Trilogy of Terror; in this film, the protagonist struggles to escape from an evil doll she purchases at an antique shop. Sanders decided to combine the voodoo concept and the evil doll concept into one, and, in a sense, remake Trilogy of Terror for a modern audience. It was important to him, though, that this film appeal to “multiple markets” and not just a “hardcore horror audience.”

    Newman went on to ask the panel about how they handled their tight shooting schedule — the Killer Under the Bed production team only had 14 days to shoot a feature-length film, which is less than half the time that most features take to shoot. DP Brad Rushing advised, “Be prepared… Meticulously know what you’re doing… [Have] contingency plans… and good communication with the producer and the director.” Killer Under the Bed

    Rushing added that he and director Jeff Hare had worked together before, and were largely on the same page aesthetically when it came to the look of the film.

    Newman inquired about how the team made the voodoo doll come to life onscreen. “Most of the doll’s motion was actual[ly] mechanical,” said director Jeff Hare, “it’s trying to keep that aesthetic of that 70s stuff [that] scared us… we tried to keep as many effects as we could practical and we also stole the whole Jaws thing of trying to keep it hidden for as long as we possibly could.”

    “I think oftentimes what you don’t see is a lot more frightening,” added Brad Rushing, “because the audience fills it in with their own imagination and personalizes it as their own boogeyman.”

    The New York Film Academy thanks Jeff Hare, Ken Sanders, Brad Rushing, Brec Bassinger, and Madison Lawlor for sharing their insights about making an independent thriller on a tight budget and in a short timeframe!

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    November 14, 2018 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1284

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Congratulates Producer Dana Lustig on the Release of Feature Film “Look Away”

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe New York Film Academy (NYFA) encourages everyone to check out the new psychological thriller Look Away, which releases this October 12, 2018 on VOD and in theaters nationwide. In a Hollywood culture currently dominated by epic franchise films and sequels, Look Away is an independent film crafted by passionate filmmakers and actors looking to tell an exciting, new story without the luxury of a $200 million budget. The film was directed by Assaf Bernstein — known for the hit Netflix series Fauda — and produced by prolific filmmaker and celebrated New York Film Academy (NYFA) lecturer Dana Lustig.

    Look Away is a thriller-horror about an alienated teenager who switches places with her evil mirror image. It stars Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter, Star Trek: Discovery, The Death of Stalin), and India Eisley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager). Eisley is starring next in the television miniseries I Am the Night with Chris Pine (Star Trek, Wonder Woman), produced and directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster, Wonder Woman).

    Lustig was born in Israel and has directed five feature films and produced over twenty independent features, working with many high-profile actors, actresses, and filmmakers. Embodying the modern female filmmaker archetype that is finally getting the recognition it deserves in Hollywood, Lustig balances her career in the industry with her occasional lectures at New York Film Academy and other institutions, as well as with being a full-time mother.

    “Filmmaking is a 24-hours-a-day job, it never stops,” Lustig tells NYFA, continuing, “You might find your next story at the dinner table or dreaming at night. It is a lifestyle.”

    As for the types of narratives she pursues, Lustig says that she looks for stories that are “diverse, creative, and moving. Even if it’s a period film, it needs to be current and relevant to today.”Dana Lustig

    The true survival story Jungle, starring Harry Potter lead Daniel Radcliffe, was produced by Lustig and released earlier this year. The film shot both in Colombia and Australia’s Gold Coast, where NYFA has another location with access to the Village Roadshow backlot.

    Lustig directed the dark love story A Thousand Kisses Deep starring Dougary Scott (Mission: Impossible 2) and Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block, Broadchurch). Whittaker herself has been making headlines this week as she debuted as the Thirteenth Doctor — and first female Doctor — in the long-running smash British series Doctor Who. A Thousand Kisses Deep was nominated for a British Independent Film Award.

    In addition to A Thousand Kisses Deep, Lustig also directed the comedy Wild Cherry starring Rob Schneider, Kill Me Later starring Selma Blair, Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Wedding Bell Blues starring John Corbett. Additionally, Lustig was a partner at Berman Lustig Productions for ten years, along with producer Ram Bergman (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.) BLP produced the hit Rian Johnson indie Brick as well as Dancing at the Blue Iguana, directed by Oscar nominee Michael Radford.

    Dana LustigLustig tells NYFA that she feels the urge to always keep moving and looking forward to the next project, saying “We can never really be satisfied as storytellers.” She is currently executive producing Spider in the Web with Ben Kingsley and Monica Bellucci and has just wrapped filming the second season of Israeli hit series Very Important Man. She is scheduled next to direct the remake of the Israeli film The Man in the Wall.

    And still Lustig finds time in between projects to speak with film school students at NYFA. One piece of advice she gives to aspiring filmmakers that comes from her roles both as a director and as a producer is to “Find the next great story to tell — one that is financially viable in the current market, both commercially and artistically.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates producer, filmmaker, and lecturer Dana Lustig on her long list of successes and looks forward to the many still to come! Look Away releases nationwide this October 12.

    Dana Lustig Look AwayFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    October 11, 2018 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 1196

  • Oscar-Nominated Doc Edited by New York Film Academy Instructor Now Nominated for An Emmy

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailHeroin(e), a Netflix-produced documentary edited by New York Film Academy (NYFA) instructor Kristen Nutile, has been nominated for an Emmy. This adds to its rave reviews and other major award nominations, including for the Peabody and, earlier this year, for an Academy Award. Heroin(e)’s producers join NYFA alumni, guest speakers, and other NYFA community members with nominations for the Emmy this year, including Bill Hader and Issa Rae.

    One of Netflix’s acclaimed original documentaries, Heroin(e) is directed by Peabody Award-winning documentarian Elaine Mcmillion (Hollow, The Lower 9). The film offers an intimate and harrowing view of the nation’s opioid epidemic through the stories of three women in Huntington, West Virginia — a city now infamous for an overdose rate 10 times the national average.

    The nominations for the 39th Annual News and Documentary were announced on July 26 by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, who also annually distribute the Daytime Emmy Award and Heartland Emmy Award, among other accolades. The News & Documentary Emmy Awards will be presented on Monday, October 1st, 2018, at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Time Warner Complex at Columbus Circle in New York City. The ceremony will be attended by more than 1,000 television and news media industry executives, news and documentary producers, and journalists.

    Heroin(e) is nominated for Outstanding Short Documentary, and is one of 112 nominations for streaming juggernaut Netflix, who for the first time this year leads all networks in total noms, beating out HBO (108) and NBC (78). 

     

    Heroin(e) Netflix

    Heroin(e) was edited by Kristen Nutile, who teaches for the Documentary School at New York Film Academy’s New York campus, a program featured on The Independent Magazine’s list of Top 10 Academic Programs for Documentary Filmmakers. The school boasts both award-winning alumni and faculty.

    Nutile is a prolific filmmaker in her own right, having edited two dozen films in addition to directing six of her own. She founded Soft Spoken Films in 2001, and is a recipient of the Albert Maysles Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates documentary instructor Kristen Nutile and Heroin(e) on its incredible run of prestigious nominations and wishes them the best of luck at this year’s Emmy Awards!

    Interested in studying documentary filmmaking with the New York Film Academy? You can find more information here!Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    July 30, 2018 • Documentary Filmmaking, Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1226

  • New York Film Academy Alum & Associate Director of Recruitment Screens Powerful Documentary “I Heart Jenny”

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    "I Heart Jenny"

    “I Heart Jenny” at the New York Film Academy’s New York City Theatre

    “I Heart Jenny,” a heart-wrenching and beautiful documentary by producer and director Blake Babbitt, had a special screening this December at the New York Film Academy’s recently opened New York City Theatre. The film follows Babbitt’s close friend Jenny Rie Vanderlinden as she struggled with and eventually succumbed to a rare form of ovarian cancer. More importantly, the documentary focuses on the powerful positive spirit Jenny embodied, inspiring her friends, family, and eventually total strangers with her optimism and zestful love of life.

    In a piece written about Jenny, the Huffington Post wrote, “Jenny doesn’t seem terrified of this thing that is so far beyond us, this thing that none of us can now see… Instead, she’s investing her unconquerable energy in living the spectacular life she’s always lived—skiing, canyoneering, rafting, traveling and raising four amazing children—with a bit more urgency.”

    “I Heart Jenny” started documenting Jenny’s journey over a year after her diagnosis, and followed her right up until her untimely end, a death she refused to allow to shadow her life. Babbitt was inspired to make the documentary after seeing the “I Heart Jenny” stickers their mutual friends began posting frequently as badges of support.

    "I Heart Jenny"

    “I Heart Jenny”

    The initial idea of the documentary came to Babbitt during a pitch session that was part of his curriculum while attending the New York Film Academy’s Evening Producing workshop. From there, he started a years long journey, utilizing the skills, resources, and colleagues he met while at NYFA. “I had never made a film before,” said Babbitt, “but I was able to use the resources at NYFA to get my feet underneath me. At NYFA I was surrounded by people who really knew what they were doing. I felt supported by NYFA the entire way.”

    Shooting the film took two years, and was in post-production for another three—a long, laborious process that is not uncommon for documentaries, especially works of passion and as personal as “I Heart Jenny.” During this time, Babbitt not only applied the skills he learned at NYFA, but also used the connections made there to help his film see the light of day. In addition to being a distinguished alumnus, Babbitt is also currently the school’s Associate Director of Recruitment. With this notable position, he is able to guide incoming students as they look to grow as artists and filmmakers in their own right.

    Blake Babbitt

    Producer & Director Blake Babbitt

    As a result of the relationships formed at the New York Film Academy, Babbitt was able to recruit a strong, talented crew for “I Heart Jenny”—many alumni and staff from the school—including:

    Kathleen Harris – DP/Producer
    Brad Gallant – Lead Editor/Producer
    Zena Wood – Associate Producer
    Mike Diaz – Editor/Story Producer
    Chris Hayes – Editor
    Mike Walls – Camera Operator
    Shani Patel – Sound recordist/2nd Camera Operator
    Lexi Phillips – Colorist

    It was only fitting then that “I Heart Jenny” had its initial preview at the New York Film Academy. Babbitt continued, “It was an honor to be able to host my first screening in our stunning new screening room.”

    Andrea Swift, New York Film Academy’s Chair of Documentary Filmmaking, was in attendance, and was very impressed with Babbitt’s debut film. “It takes extraordinary passion, commitment, and talent to make a film like this.” She added, “This film can do real good in the world.”

    The specific cancer that took Jenny’s life was related to the BRCA gene, a sequence of DNA that has become more and more noted in recent years for its ominous relationship to many types of cancer. While making “I Heart Jenny,” Babbitt linked up with Jonathan and Mindy Gray, founders of the Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine. The Basser Center is the first of its kind to focus specifically on BRCA-related cancers, and Babbitt has tied his film to their worthy cause, helping to raise donations for further research (click here if you’d like to support the Basser Center as well.)

    While it’s been a long, winding road for Babbitt and “I Heart Jenny,” their journey is far from over. Babbitt’s goal is to get the documentary into the Telluride Film Festival, based in Colorado where Babbitt is from and where he first met Jenny. According to Babbitt, “If it gets in, she wants me to bring a cardboard cutout of her—LOL!”

    In addition to submitting the film to as many festivals as possible, Babbitt is also hoping to get distribution, hoping the more people who see the film, the more they will take home its poignant message and look to support the fight against BRCA-related cancers. Babbitt continued, “We’ve had so many supporters along the way, and anytime I felt dejected or lost in the process, I would just think about our supporters and Jenny. I knew I couldn’t let her or them down.”

    Supporters of the film can follow updates on Facebook as well as on Twitter. You can also follow Babbitt’s filmmaking exploits on Instagram.

    The New York Film Academy is proud of Blake Babbitt and “I Heart Jenny,” and wishes him the best of luck as he continues the legacy of Jenny Rie Vanderlinden and her powerful story.

    I Heart Jenny Promo- Extended Version from Blake Babbitt on Vimeo.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail