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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Bill Einreinhofer in the studio filming his episode of Century Masters

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

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

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    September 17, 2021 • China, Faculty Highlights • Views: 181

  • Filmmaking Instructor at NYFA Tackles Queerness in Shakespeare Adaptation ‘HAMLET/HORATIO’

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    Paul Warner, Director and Filmmaking Instructor with NYFA, released feature-length film, HAMLET/HORATIO, available on Amazon Prime. A collaborative effort with writer David Vando, the film is a contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic “Hamlet.” 

    HAMLET/HORATIO centers around the grieving producer and main character, Hamlet (played by NYFA Alum Andrew Burdette), who is now head of a film production company following the death of his father. His right-hand man and director, Horatio (played by NYFA Alum Themo Melikidze) captures his close friend’s pain in an enduring promise to tell Hamlet’s story through the production of a film. 

    While the work includes all major themes from the original play, Warner takes a unique approach in explaining the relationship between the close companions. An exploration of their relationship with undertones of gender-fluidity and sexuality, HAMLET/HORATIO captures the essence of the characters’ closeness as a series of dream-like scenes with soft-focused camera work and a series of fourth-wall breaks. 

    Quoted in an article by Washington Blade which touches on the theme of sexuality in the adaptation, “There’s a tremendous amount of exploration of gender fluidity in his work,” says Warner, “There’s never a label on it, but it permeates Shakespeare. There are a lot of characters who fall in love with the soul of the person, rather than the gender.”

    The film captures Hamlet’s search for fulfillment in front of a backdrop of fascism, with characters and visuals resembling a previous White House Administration. Whilst battling the corruption of his surroundings, Hamlet sacrifices his own life in the arms of his companion, Horatio, who then pledges to capture his story. 

    According to a Signal Horizon Magazine review, “The two light up near each other literally and figuratively. Beautiful lighting and soft-focused camera work highlight the friend’s interactions.”

    HAMLET/HORATIO won a Film Jury Award for Best Feature at the 2020 edition Film Festivals To Go (FFTG). The film will be available for viewing on all platforms next month. 

    Amazon Prime Film Reviews: 

    “This film has already won many awards in the film festival circuits and for obvious reasons! All of the acting performances are great and this is such a unique, modern take of a Shakespearian classic. Definitely one of the best Indie films I’ve seen. If you are a fan of classics with a twist or artistic and unique indie films, then this is definitely for you! I would love to see them make a version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream like this as well. Bravo!”

    “I love this film! The best thing is you do not have to have a Shakespeare background to understand the story. The movie is beautiful to look at with an outstanding score. I can not believe how great the production value is for this type of indy film. Do yourself a favor and rent this film!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA instructor Paul Warner as well as alumni Andrew Burdette and Themo Melikidze for the success of HAMLET/HORATIO, now available on Amazon Prime.

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    September 15, 2021 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 182

  • NYFA South Beach Instructor Daniel Abrusci Wins Gold Promax Award

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    New York Film Academy is excited to share that Filmmaking instructor Daniel Abrusci has won a Gold Promax Award for outstanding achievement in sound design and mixing on the Cbeebies segment Christmas Lights for BBC Latin America. 

    The Promax Awards are the world’s premier celebration of outstanding achievement in entertainment marketing and design, honoring teams of creatives harnessing passionate fandom to drive audiences, create value, and build the biggest brands in entertainment.

    The one-minute animation Abrusci worked on in his home studio was extremely heavy in sound design. “When working with animation, sound design plays a huge role because there’s no audio to start with,” he explained. “I edited three different pieces of music into a one-minute spot in order for the music to be dynamic and help boost holiday emotions.”

    The South Beach instructor had to recreate the ambiance needed for the TV spot to feel a bit more realistic, adding in stylistic sound elements to elevate the story visually. “There’s plenty of creativity involved due to the fact that a lot of these actions might sound different in real life,” shared Abrusci. “Once we have all the different sound design, voiceover, and music elements, mixing is all about making things stand out and giving everything character and space in the frequency spectrum.” Essentially, sound mixing in itself plays an important role in fully forming a character, space, or idea.

    NYFA instructor Daniel Abrusci

    Abrusci urges anyone who is looking to hone their craft to “keep practicing” as it’s practice, trial, and error that allow you to master your skills. “The more time you put into something, the better you’ll become at it. Stay passionate and make it happen!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Daniel Abrusci on his outstanding achievement and looks forward to what’s next from the talented South Beach faculty member. 

    To view the Christmas Lights spot, view the video below. 

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    February 25, 2021 • Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, South Beach • Views: 1318

  • Film “Make America Safe” by NYFA Acting Instructor Blanche Baker Enjoys Festival Run

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    Our NYFA Acting faculty aren’t only professionals in front of the camera but are working professionals in the industry constantly experimenting and making their own work while simultaneously teaching NYFA students the fundamentals of their craft.

    Blanche Baker teaches in both the Acting and Musical Theatre departments at NYFA’s New York campus. With an extensive background on the stage and on screen, Baker made her television debut in the miniseries Holocaust, for which she won an Emmy Award. Her feature films include Sixteen Candles, The Handmaid’s Tale with Robert Duvall, Raw Deal with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Kevin Bacon HBO film Taking Chance. She was part of the Yale Repertory Theatre and Anna Sokolow’s dance troupe and her theatre roles include Steel Magnolias and Edward Albee’s Lolita with Donald Sutherland. 

    Film poster for “Make America Safe”

    In addition to writing and directing the award-winning short film Streetwrite, Baker wrote and directed her latest film Make America Safe, with award-winning cinematography Piero Basso, serving as the director of photography. The film has been garnering accolades and making its rounds on the festival circuit, recently appearing in the Global Impact Festival in Washington, D.C.

    Make America Safe is a musical short film about the 2nd Amendment and asks the question, “what if in the next few years citizens were required to carry weapons in order to ensure the safety of the public?” Using the premise of a news commentary show, the film takes a sardonic look at this possible future and examines the kind of scenarios that could arise in this world. With music composed by Andy Peterson, it sheds light on the rationales that could lead to such a future. 

    The film features a talented cast of Musical Theatre students working alongside NYFA’s professional faculty of artists as part of their Musical Theatre curriculum, which requires students to perform in original movie musicals, combining both musical theatre for the stage and for film.

    Official Selection: 
    Global Nonviolent Film Festival
    South Film and Arts Festival
    Film for Peace
    New York Short Film Festival
    Sanctuary International Film Festival

    Accolades:
    A Show For Change – Creativity Award
    Awareness Festival – Merit Award for Awareness
    X World Short Film Festival – Best International Short and Best Original Music
    Cinefest – Best Musical
    Blow Up Arthouse – Finalist

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    November 17, 2020 • Faculty Highlights, Film Festivals, Musical Theatre • Views: 863

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing and Filmmaking Instructor Denise Carlson Produces ITS A DOG’S LIFE on Disney+

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    Not all heroes wear capes, but they do have fur. It’s a Dog’s Life, an upcoming Disney+ docu series explores the incredible role that many dogs play to make the lives of others better. New York Film Academy (NYFA) producing and filmmaking instructor Denise Carlson is one of the producers on the series that will be available on the Disney streaming platform May 15, 2020. 

    It’s a Dog’s Life is hosted by voiceover legend Bill Farmer, known for his iconic role as Disney’s Goofy, as he crosses the country to meet different dogs doing incredible jobs or extraordinary activities and explores the special bond between dogs and humans. 

    Title card for ‘It’s A Dog’s Life’

    Carlson, who had previous experience with Disney while working at Disney Channel, was a clear fit for this project given her past production experience and her enthusiasm for animal foster care and animal rescue. “Seriously, there is nothing about working with the dogs that I did not love,” Carlson tells NYFA. “But my favorite part of this project is actually the people involved. We have an amazing group of people who came together to put this show together.”

    Each episode of It’s a Dog’s Life explores a new dog that goes well beyond just fetching the stick in the backyard; dogs like Monte, the latest celebrity dog who starred in the recent live action adaptation of Lady and the Tramp. “It [the show] fits right into the Disney brand, in general, especially since there have been so many dogs in Disney shows and movies,” says Carlson. “It also crosses cultural boundaries- I mean, who doesn’t like dogs?”

    Carlson with Monte, dog turned actor featured in ‘Lady in the Tramp’

    With so many different stories featured on the show, Carlson says the one that sticks out the most is the episode dedicated to SuperCorgi Jojo, the surfing corgi. “It is incredibly touching. Jojo started surfing as therapy after a bad injury,” she says. “Jojo is the happiest little dog and you can tell he loves what he does.”

    Carlson with SuperCorgi Jojo, the surfing corgi

    New York Film Academy congratulates filmmaking and producing instructor Denise Carlson on her new series It’s A Dog’s Life and encourages everyone to celebrate man’s best friend and all the wonderful things dogs do for us by watching It’s A Dog’s Life when it comes out on May 15, 2020 on Disney+.

    Watch the trailer for It’s A Dog’s Life below:

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    May 13, 2020 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1806

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Faculty Spotlight on Jen Prince

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    Like many residents of Los Angeles, Jen Prince moved to the city from somewhere else. Hailing from Texas, she ventured to Los Angeles to attend film school and has been carving out a niche in the LA indie film scene ever since. 

    As an award-winning producer, director, and editor, Jen’s love of music, movies, and theatre shine throughout her various projects. Currently, she is in post-production on her feature film directorial debut, Miles Underwater, which was the recipient of the Duplass Brothers Seed & Spark Production Grant. In addition, Jen is a vocal advocate for women in film, and teaches a wide array of courses for NYFA’s Producing Department, is the mother of four, and brings her love of guacamole with her from South Texas.    

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Hailing from Texas, you say that your love of music, theater, and film began there. Could you discuss some of your earliest influences? 

    Jen Prince (JP): There was always music in my home. My parents both play instruments and encouraged me to play from a young age. I played in the city’s youth orchestra and participated in my high school theatre program, which was top notch and a pretty singular experience. It was through that study that I became passionate about working with actors and directing, and decided to pursue it in college. With very few examples of female directors I could find in the video store, I definitely took notice and was inspired early on by Jodie Foster, particularly because of her attention to the actor’s process. As I started to explore older films, I was also taken with Mike Nichols and have continued to find inspiration from his films and approach to directing. Sandra Cisneros isn’t a filmmaker, but I learned a lot about creating a sense of place and point of view from her writing. 

    NYFA: Your experience in film is extensive, as a writer, producer, director, and post- production supervisor. How did you find yourself wearing so many different hats in the entertainment industry? If you could pick just one, which would it be? 

    JP: While I was in school I tried my hand at everything because I felt that to be the best director and producer I could be I needed facility with the language and needs of each department. After a few years of post-production gigs in reality television, I found myself itching to make films again and was inspired by my colleague’s scripts. That led to my first feature as a producer and we successfully pulled off a micro-budget road movie. 

    I have continued to follow a low-budget model to create work that I want to see made and I love working as a creative producer in the indie world. I have always felt most at home as a director and am currently in post on my directorial feature debut Miles Underwater. All my different jobs have allowed me to make more work in less time than if I had waited for someone’s permission (and financing) to grant me the job. My willingness to wear all the hats has helped me greenlight my projects. 

    NYFA: As a vocal advocate for women and mothers in film, could you discuss some of the challenges they face in this business and what can be done to overcome these obstacles? Jen Prince

    JP: The statistics are real. Women, and particularly women of color, face well-established implicit and explicit bias when it comes to hiring women in film and, of course, in terms of equal pay. 

    The solution is to hire more women in EVERY position. Seek them out on your projects at every level. Look at your crew list and mandate diverse hires. If you are in the position to be a key in a department, request a new list of potential hires if what you are handed is all men or only has one person of color. The question is specifically about women in film, but of course we need better representation and intersectionality across all marginalized groups. Even on a student film—you are a gatekeeper to opportunity. I have produced four features and they have all had female DPs. Be the change you want to see. 

    I did not understand the challenge I faced when I graduated from film school. I was completely naive to the fact that just because I had passed the gatekeeper of acceptance to a top film school that in no way challenged the statistical almost certainty that I would not be given opportunities. We have to find our voice and press onward by demanding our successes be celebrated—by celebrating each other, by being patrons of each other’s work, by calling out bias, by HIRING OTHER WOMEN EVERY CHANCE WE GET. Stop waiting in line—this line is not for us. 

    NYFA: Any projects you would like to highlight? 

    JP: My two most recent completed indie features are available to stream online and rely almost entirely on word of mouth to be shared, so I’d love everyone to click on them. Quality Problems is a comedy I’m very proud to have made and it is the perfect antidote to cynicism. It’s a lovely film about a family (a real family) dealing with a health crisis while keeping their sense of humor and relationships intact. It was a joyful production and that shows up on screen. And Then There Was Eve is a drama featuring some incredible performances, cinematography, and music, a good example of what you can do with a little if you maximize resources in the right way. 

    NYFA: What are your favorite classes to teach at NYFA and why? 

    JP: One of my favorite classes is Directing for Producers. This subject teaches directing fundamentals through the lens of the producer—how do we support our directors, how do we ask the right questions to get their best work, how do we identify the biggest challenges and assets on each project? Most of these students have no experience working with actors and are fearful of that aspect of directing when we do our casting session, but by the end of the class they feel empowered to give direction and have a new respect for their process. I absolutely love the moment in class where they discover techniques for working with actors effectively and see it work in their films. 

    NYFA: What advice do you have for students looking to get into the entertainment industry? 

    JP: Figure out what is unique about your own worldview and find your confidence in your own voice, tastes, and personal mandates for your work. Take a look at the industry and look for the people doing work that aligns with you and these values. Try to keep getting closer to these circles. Network constantly. That means talk to people, but mostly LISTEN to people and ask thoughtful questions. Follow up on everything. Mean what you say. Support your peers work. Give more than you take. Show up as your authentic, kind self, every day everywhere (and work on being kind, we can all be kinder). Position yourself as close to the job you want to be doing as you can. Don’t stop writing, directing, producing, shooting, even if you have a day job. Don’t let anyone tell you what is impossible for you. 

    NYFA: Any advice on how to make killer guacamole? 

    JP: Yes. Diced tomatoes are key. Also, it always tastes better sharing with friends!

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    October 25, 2019 • Faculty Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 1849

  • 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: 3075

  • 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: 1955

  • 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: 3033