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  • Harper’s Bazaar Profiles New York Film Academy Alum Khadijah Kudsi

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    Khadijah Kudsi

    Copyright © Harper’s Bazaar Arabia 2017

    With the 14th Annual Dubai International Film Festival coming to a close this December, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia profiled six pioneering female filmmakers from the Middle East, including New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Khadijah Kudsi. The in-depth piece about the six directors not only celebrates their hard work and achievements, but highlights the cultural shift taking place in the 21st Century Middle East, and subsequent progress women have made in playing a larger role in society—including the arts.

    NYFA alum Khadijah Kudsi grew up in Saudi Arabia and was always artistic and interested in storytelling. She told Harper’s Bazaar, “I went to New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi in 2014. I only meant to go for four weeks, but that turned into eight, which led into a year and then into a whole career. I did a diploma in filmmaking and then I started working on short films and writing.”

    After graduating from the Academy, Kudsi quickly found work for a Chinese television channel. As her career has progressed, Kudsi likes to focus on stories from Abu Dhabi and the Middle East, including one film that’s premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and another currently in production focusing on Dana Al Ali—the first Emirati woman to climb Mt. Everest.

    Kudsi continued, “I think it’s important to have ties to this region and highlight positive stories coming out of it. But it’s not always easy—the funding is hard. As is finding the right producer and managing your time being a mother and a working woman.”

    Festivals in the Middle East have grown in importance as more and more voices from the region are making themselves heard. The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) first launched in 2004 with 76 films and 13,000 attendees. During its initial six-day run, acting legend Omar Sharif was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The festival has steadily grown since then, with over 60,000 admissions to its 2016 event. This year marked the 14th Annual Dubai International Film Festival and presented Lifetime Achievement Awards to Irrfan Khan and Sir Patrick Stewart.

    As the region modernizes and women are being given more and more freedom, their roles in society are becoming more prominent as well. For Middle Eastern women working in the arts, that uphill struggle feels all the more real, considering the industry has been historically unequal not just in the region but around the world. Kudsi told Harper’s Bazaar, “I have four children, whereas most of the crew you work with on set are single or have no kids. They don’t understand when you say you need to wrap by a certain time because I need to go see my kids.”

    The New York Film Academy strives to give filmmakers and artists of all kinds a voice, and prides itself on its diverse student body. By learning and working hands-on together, students find their differences are a strength—learning and sharing experiences not just from the school but from one another. If you’re interested in filmmaking or the visual arts, you can find more information about NYFA’s programs here.

    NYFA has committed itself to giving aspiring storytellers in the Middle East an education they can build their careers on. The New York Film Academy is thrilled to see Khadijah Kudsi recognized for her inspiring work and career, and looks forward to the stories she will tell in the years to come. “I love the rawness in the stories here,” professed Kudsi, “and we have so much to talk about.”

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  • Patricia Arquette Demands Equality for Women

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    Patricia Arquette

    In addition to the prestige and recognition that the Academy Awards provides for actors, filmmakers and artists, it’s also served as a platform for political and social outcry. Last night’s 87th Annual Academy Awards were no different than its predecessors, with Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette calling attention to the lack of equal pay amongst females not only in Hollywood, but throughout the job market.

    Her call for wage equality for women was received with a large ovation at the awards ceremony, particularly by 19-time Academy Award nominated actress, Meryl Streep.

    “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” said Arquette. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

    Arquette’s profound words come at a time when actors’ wages have become more transparent, especially after the unfortunate Sony Pictures hack revealed Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams earned substantially less than their male co-stars for the film American Hustle.

    In 2013, the New York Film Academy tackled this issue with an in-depth infographic, highlighting gender inequality in film. One of the many issues that has stood out, was the fact that Angelina Jolie was the highest paid female actor with $33 million — almost the same amount earned by the two lowest ranked men in 2013.

    female inequality

     

    Our hope at the time was to shed light on this issue in the hopes of pushing the conversation further. With a speech at the Oscars, we think we’re on the right track.

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    February 23, 2015 • Community Highlights, Entertainment News • Views: 5015

  • NYFA Grad Becomes First Female Native to Direct in Amazon

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    Film still_1

    Women have made leaps and bounds as filmmakers in recent years. In 2010, Katheryn Bigelow became the first female to win Best Director at the Academy Awards for her acclaimed film, Hurt Locker. Recently, New York Film Academy graduate, Darcyana Moreno Izel became the first female born in the Amazon to direct a film in the Amazon. Izel was born in Manaus, the capital of the Amazon state of Brazil. Her monumental achievement gained recognition and financial support from the Brazilian government. The film, Dark Amazon, will be premiering at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival on Tuesday, September 10th at 9:00pm.

    Shot in the some of the deepest parts of the Amazon, the story surrounds a research team searching for natural cures for cancer, who wind up encountering the legendary Anhangá. The supernatural creature, Anhangá is the name locals gave the spirits that roamed the earth after death, tormenting the living. The creature could take any form, but the most well known was of a deer with eyes of fire and a cross on its forehead. Darcyana gathers actual first hand documentary style interviews with some of the locals who claim to have seen the creature, giving the film a real authentic feel. She and her crew even had unexplained phenomena occur during the shoot. “The whistle that you will hear in the movie is not a sound effect but an actual whistle that we all kept hearing during the shoot, which is part of the legend of Anhangá,” says Darcyana. “The legend says that when the creature is around, you can hear this eerie whistle.”

    Darcyana hopes her filmmaker career will allow her the opportunity to show another side of Brazil to the world. In general, the Brazilian people have tremendous hope. “I’ve seen families in complete poverty that were so grateful for being together while having so little, because they always believe tomorrow things will be better.” It is that same hope that has given Darcyana the ability to see out her life-long dream of becoming a director – despite all odds.

    If you live in Brazil and share the same passion as Darcyana, The New York Film Academy wants to see you in Brazil from September 16th – October 1st! NYFA will be conducting auditions, open houses, and workshops. Please contact Jonathan Juarbe at jjuarbe@nyfa.edu for more details.

    Film still_2

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