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  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Jameelah Rose Lineses & Season 3 of The Khatak Film Society at the 11th IFFM Autumn 2021

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) 1-Year Filmmaking alum Jameelah Rose Lineses recently produced Khatak Film Society season 3 at the 11th International Film Festival Manhattan (IFFM) Autumn 2021 in October at the Producers Club Theater in New York City. Lineses served as a member of the jury for this year’s IFFM which marks her second time serving as a jury member for the organization. 

    Khatak Film Society Season 3 Programming is a collaboration project, just like the previous seasons, between the International Film Festival Manhattan and Lineses’ film organization The Khatak Film Society, a New York-based organization founded in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic – an organization dedicated to showcasing the works of new wave Tibetan filmmakers as well as other regions of the Himalayas to a global audience.

    NYFA Filmmaking Alum Jameelah Rose Lineses & Season 3 of The Khatak Film Society at the 11th IFFM Autumn 2021

    Khatak Film Society Season 3 programming included a total of ten films this year, most of which were Bhutanese. Screenings showcased an international array of artists and directors including Bhuchung, Tenzin Phuljung, Yeshey Namgyal, Sonam Gyatso, Norbu Tsering, Yeshi Lhendup, Sherabba, and Ugyen Tashi. 

    NYFA Filmmaking Alum Jameelah Rose Lineses & Season 3 of The Khatak Film Society at the 11th IFFM Autumn 2021

    Watch a short clip of the Khatak Film Society Season 3 film screening night at the 11th International Film Festival Manhattan Autumn 2021 with introductions by Jameelah Rose Lineses and the IFFM’s festival founder and organizer, Luis Pedron.

    The film screenings were followed by a Q&A with GDS Entertainment’s artist and founder, Karma Wangyel about his latest music video, Hollow directed by Sonam Gyatso, two of the festival participants. 

    NYFA Filmmaking Alum Jameelah Rose Lineses & Season 3 of The Khatak Film Society at the 11th IFFM Autumn 2021

    The Q&A featured director Yeshey Namgyal, one of the film festival participants who was present via video call, spoke about his award-winning short film My Paralympic Dream, which tells the story of the everyday struggle of a young man with a physical disability to overcome his physical obstacles and demonstrate his own artistic ability and achieve success. 

    NYFA Filmmaking Alum Jameelah Rose Lineses & Season 3 of The Khatak Film Society at the 11th IFFM Autumn 2021

    NYFA alum Jameelah Rose Lineses (left) accepting an award on behalf of Yann Moszynski and John Parl Luces for the film Exploring the Blue Depth with IFFM founder Luis Pedron (right)

    During the IFFM awards ceremony on October 14th, Lineses accepted an award on behalf of Yann Moszynski and John Parl Luces for their film Exploring the Blue Depth, a film that represented Saudi Arabia at the film festival. Included in the Autumn 2021 honorable mentions was GDS Entertainment’s founder and artist, Karma Wangyel for his music video Hollow.

    NYFA Filmmaking Alum Jameelah Rose Lineses & Season 3 of The Khatak Film Society at the 11th IFFM Autumn 2021

    NYFA alum Jameelah Rose Lineses (Left) together with her brother NYFA alum Joseph Lineses (Right) alongside City Council District 25 candidate Fatima Baryab (center)

    Catch video coverage of the event on October 17th, 2021:

    New York Film Academy congratulates Jameelah for the Khatak Film Society’s third season programming at the 11th International Film Festival Manhattan Autumn 2021. See some of the conversations, films, and more on the Khatak Film Society’s YouTube channel. For a recap of the festival’s season 2 programming, read here.

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    January 20, 2022 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 618

  • ‘Don Filipo’ by Tim Muñoz Finds Success on Festival Circuit

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    NYFA Acting For Film alum Tim Muñoz directs and writes a recent favorite among the festival circuit. His most recent work, Don Filipo (2021), is a feature-length homoerotic, horror film starring Beverly Benny, Dindeth Ditablan, Rap Robes, Megan Sharpe, and newcomers Adrian Arias and Luis Padilla

    don filipo movie poster

    Don Filipo (2021) Directed and Written by Tim Muñoz

    The story takes place in a remote village gripped with fear after its residents go missing one by one. A young nurse visits the town to look after an ailing town resident, Don Filipo, as terrifying events start to unfold.

    The film premiered at the Philippine Cinemalaya film festival in 2021, and has been showcased across numerous festivals globally. Don Filipo was screened and won ‘Best LGBTQ Film’ at the Stockholm City Film and Luleå International Film Festivals in Sweden, and the Mabig Film Festival in Germany. The film was also named ‘Best International Feature Film’ at the Uruvatti International Film Festival in India. Per a statement from the director about the film, “…I hope it also opens awareness about its message of inclusivity.”

    Tim Muñoz

    Director and Screenwriter Tim Muñoz (above)

    The Phillippines-born director is an alum of the NYFA 1-Week Acting for Film Workshop. His directorial credits include Lodi (2018),  Hombre (2017), and Estranghero (2016). Muñoz maintains a love for independent filmmaking, classic films, and the French New Wave genre. Following fifteen years of work as a director and screenwriter for ABS-CBN and TV5, he transitioned to directing independent films. With close ties to his home country, Muñoz often travels back to the Philippines to create films. He takes inspiration from directors and filmmakers including James Wan, (Annabelle, The Conjuring), and Filipino horror film classics like Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara and Feng Shui

    Don Filipo is a success among critics as well as movie-goers:

    Top Review of Don Filipo on IMDB | May 2021 

    “I have come across a few American-made gay-themed horror movies and I am always left disappointed by the amateurish acting and banal script. Don Filipo, on the other hand, has won me over on so many levels. I find the story quite riveting in its presentation. It is not about originality, but the proper use of directing. The actors did a fantastic job capturing the scenes that even though the movie did not have the benefits of Hollywood special effects, the pacing, lighting, background music and the actors presence make each scene authentic and interesting. Kudos to the writer and director because this was a gay-themed horror done tremendously well.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Tim Muñoz for the success of Don Filipo and the project’s and his deserved awards across the festival circuit.

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    October 28, 2021 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1172

  • NYFA Alum Elizabeth Grimaldo Stars in ‘Algo Azul’ an AFI Latin American Film Festival Official Selection

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    NYFA alum Elizabeth Grimaldo stars in Algo Azul (2021), a selection for this year’s 32nd AFI Latin American Film Festival hosted by American Film Institute. Grimaldo is a 2015 graduate of the Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) Acting for Film program in Los Angeles. The Panama-born actress is recognized for her roles in Dream Killer (2019), Al Otro Lado del Luro (2018), Acepto (2021), Little Star (2016), and Sueños de Verano (2011). 

    Grimaldo’s most recent work, Algo Azul is a romantic comedy that follows the story of a high-end wedding planner, Ana (played by Grimaldo) as she organizes the wedding of a famous actress and influencer, along with her own. When a strange turn of events results in Ana accidentally stealing her clients’ $20,000 wedding dress, Ana resolves to make the most of fate before she’s caught. As Ana and her pursuers engage in a mad dash across Panama City, she reflects on the meaning of true love and learns about herself along the way. 

    Directed by Mariel García Spooner, Algo Azul was filmed in Panama City’s lushly historic Casco Antiguo and was named an official selection for the 2021 Los Angeles Latino and Cine Las Americas film festivals. The film also stars Andrea Pérez Meana, Andres Lutrell, and Pablo Brunstein. 

    The 32nd annual AFI Latin American Film Festival is one of North America’s largest and longest-running showcases of Latin American cinema. Screened films include work from Spain and Portugal as the festival celebrates Ibero-American cultural connections during National Hispanic Heritage Month. 

    The festival is one of Washington’s top events and features international festival favorites, award winners, local box office hits, and debut works by promising new talents. The New York Film Academy congratulates Elizabeth Grimaldo on Algo Azul’s selection at the 32nd AFI Latin American Film Festival and her continued success. 

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    October 28, 2021 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 971

  • Filmmaking Alum Jameelah Rose Lineses Discusses The Khatak Film Society

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    Jameelah Rose Lineses, a New York Film Academy (NYFA)  1-Year Filmmaking alum spoke with us about her recent work founding the film organization Khatak Film Society

    Khatak Film Society

    Founded in 2020 and based in New York City, the Khatak Film Society aims to shine a spotlight on emerging filmmakers from eastern Asia. The Society showcases films from filmmakers located in other regions of the Himalayas and Tibet and recently finished Season 2 programming at the International Film Festival Manhattan (IFFM) in May 2021. Rose Lineses is also member of the jury for the IFFM 2021 in Manhattan. This will be her second time as a jury member in the October Autumn 2021 Edition.

    Since completing her education at NYFA, Jameelah has won several awards for her various film projects, including Best Cinematography Award at the 8th Annual IFFM for her music video, Atareek in 2018. 

    Jameelah is a Saudi Arabian-born director and a member of the New York Women in Film and Television Organization. Inspired by the Tibetan people she met on social media, she founded the Khatak Film Society as a platform to “discover and nurture Tibetan/Himalayan up-and-coming filmmakers.”

    Jameelah Rose Lineses

    Jameelah Rose Lineses (right)

    Since 2020, the Society has screened two seasons worth of special programming for the IFFM. In their first season, the Society awarded ‘Best Music Video’ to Bhuchung and Karma Yeshi Namdak for their video, Tsedung. In the Spring of this year, the Khatak Film Society showcased Tibetan films as well as Ladakhi, Nepali, and Bhutanese films at their screenings. They awarded ‘Best Upcoming Filmmaker’ to Ngawang Dhargyal.

    The Khatak Film Society is currently gearing up for Season 3 of its programming for the IFFM, which will take place between October 14th and October 17th, 2021. The programming includes both in-person and virtual events including:

    October 14, 2021
    Opening Night and Awards Ceremony
    Location: Kalayaan Hall, Philippine Center

    October 16 & 17, 2021
    Virtual Film Screenings with select live screenings
    Location: Producers Club

    New York Film Academy congratulates Jameelah for the success of the Khatak Film Society and their third programming. You can see some of the conversations, films, and more on the Khatak Film Society YouTube channel.

     

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    October 7, 2021 • Alumni Events, Film Festivals • Views: 1242

  • NYFA Student Israa Al-Kamali Produces 2nd Annual Independent Iraqi Film Festival

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    NYFA Filmmaking student Israa Al-Kamali is co-founder of the Independent Iraqi Film Festival (IIFF) which is now celebrating its second year with a series of screenings of Iraqi-based films. The second annual IIFF takes place from October 1st until October 7th, 2021. The festival will screen four feature-length films, followed by Q&A-style discussions with the filmmakers, and ten short films which will be showcased live and virtually. All showings are free of charge and will include English subtitles for non-Arabic speakers. 

    The feature-length films to be screened include Tonight, Next Week directed by Khalid Alzhraou, Iraqi Women: Voices From Exile directed by Maysoon Pachachiwhich, Balanja directed by Ali Raheem, and Leaving Baghdad directed by Koutaiba al Janabi. 

    The Iraqi Film Festival poster

    The Iraqi Film Festival (IIFF) begins on October 1, 2021

    The festival’s first circuit was held virtually in the Summer of 2020, showcasing 13 Iraqi short and feature-length films from emerging and established Iraqi filmmakers, and saw a turnout of over 5000 online viewers.

    The IIFF is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting films from and about Iraq through online screenings, real-life festivals, educational programs, images, sound projects, and various industry initiatives. The IIFF’s mission is to empower directors, actors, screenwriters, producers, designers, sound artists, and other creatives to tell the story of Iraq, the resilience of its people, and the breadth of its culture to a global audience.

    Al-Kamali describes the origins of the festival, “The Independent Iraqi Film Festival was born out of my love for films and Iraq as well as the urgent need to create such a platform and space for Iraqi stories and storytellers. Our experiences are so complex whether back in Iraq or in the various Iraqi communities in the diaspora. Iraq is rich in culture, history, and diversity, and it is time for our stories to be highlighted and brought to global audiences. We created this first-of-its-kind festival to uplift filmmakers, inspire audiences, and engage the film industry in the country. Iraqi films are not given the spotlight they deserve and it is not because there aren’t any films by Iraqis.”

    Israa Al-Kamali headshot

    Iraqi Film Festival (IIFF) Founder & Filmmaker, Israa Al-Kamali

    The founder also describes the challenges of maintaining the Iraqi voice without a global stage to present uniquely Iraqi stories, “Iraqis have watched their experiences and stories being told by others usually through films that are filled with racism and stereotypes; War and destruction is the only point of reference and it often ignores the nuances of the Iraqi experience whether in Iraq or outside the homeland. Our festival created a space for Iraqi creatives from all communities to come together to tell our stories. This festival is for Iraqis in Iraq and in the diaspora, for every resilient Iraqi who is fighting the everyday battle to preserve our history, culture, and experiences. It is for the creatives and storytellers. It is definitely for non-Iraqis too to come and watch our stories on screen, celebrate people’s resilience, learn more about our rich and complex experiences in the homeland and beyond.”

    Al-Kamali is a student of NYFA’s MFA Filmmaking program, and writer/director of the short Open Sesame (2022), which follows the story of a woman dressed as a man and answers misogynistic riddles by predatory-animal-headed individuals to ensure her safe return home. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Al-Kamali for her success and founding of the Iraqi Film Festival (IIFF). We also congratulate all those who worked on the films chosen as official selections for this year’s IIFF screening. You can follow news and events about the festival on Instagram or by visiting their website.

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    September 30, 2021 • Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1658

  • New York Film Academy Partners with the 2021 FOLCS – International Short Film Competition

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is excited to announce another year of partnership with the Forum on Life, Culture and Society (FOLCS) International Short Film Competition in a five-day virtual event, culminating in an Awards Night on April 8, 2021.

    FOLCS is a non-profit organization that houses culturally relevant conversation topics, providing a unique and enriching experience for audience goers that speaks to the moment with captivating conversations from special guests across multiple industries. NYFA has been a co-host on the FOLCS series of events for the last three years. 

    The annual FOLCS – International Short Film Competition (F-ISFC) is a special event that showcases short films that explore themes of justice, human rights, and the law by emerging filmmakers from all over the world. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the very first time, FOLCS, in partnership with NYFA, will be virtually hosting its annual short film competition, allowing viewers to screen all of the finalist entries over the course of five days starting April 5, 2021.  

    Finalist films for the FOLCS – International Short Film Competition

    This year’s official film selections include titles from Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Malaysia, and the United States, giving entrants the opportunity to have their films shown to a wide audience and films viewed by distinguished professionals including renowned filmmakers, actors, writers, and journalists. Previous F-ISFC judges from NYFA include Cinematography Chair Piero Basso, Screenwriting Chair Randall Dottin, Filmmaking Chair Andrea Swift, and Filmmaking instructor Jonathan Whittaker.

    Actor William Fichtner

    All ISFC attendees will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite short, which will be counted towards the Audience Favorite Award which will be announced during Awards Night on April 8, 2021. The awards night is open to all F-ISFC ticketholders and will feature a discussion with the finalist filmmakers, NYFA’s own President Michael Young, and actor William Fichtner (Black Hawk Down, Prison Break, The Perfect Storm, The Dark Knight), who will present the award for The Best Short.

    HOW TO WATCH THE FILMS & VIRTUALLY ATTEND:

    The first 200 people to register for this year’s F-ISFC will receive tickets for the virtual film screenings free of charge, while all other registrants will be charged a $2 fee to unlock the official film selections. To view the F-ISFC slate of films selected for this year’s competition, click here. 

    New York Film Academy is a proud partner of this year’s FOLCS – International Short Film Competition and looks forward to being part of this special event celebrating aspiring independent filmmakers from around the globe. 

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  • NYFA Alum Boise Esquerra’s “Blackwater” Screens at 2021 Slamdance Film Festival

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    Known both as a festival “by filmmakers, for filmmakers” and for its Oscar-qualifying short film awards, the Slamdance Film Festival has long been a mecca for emerging independent directors. This year NYFA alum Boise Esquerra, a graduate of the Los Angeles campus’s MFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting programs, will be right in the middle of the action when his episodic film Blackwater screens in the virtual festival February 12 – 25, 2021. 

    In the days leading up to the festival Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals, caught up with Boise to talk about the personal experience that inspired his series and the importance of filmmakers from diverse backgrounds telling their own stories.

    NYFA alum Boise Esquerra

    Cricket Rumley (CR): Hi, Boise! Congratulations on getting into Slamdance! Tell us a little about yourself.

    Boise Esquerra (BE): I’d be happy to. I am a Native (Hopi) and Mexican American filmmaker enrolled in the Colorado River Indian Tribes in Parker, AZ. I am a recent graduate of the New York Film Academy (MFA Screenwriting) and hold a BA in Digital Filmmaking and Video Production and an additional MFA in Filmmaking from NYFA. I love storytelling, creating, and everything that entails filmmaking from start to finish. Currently, I reside here in lovely Burbank, CA, and am represented by Sandra Avila at Inclusion Management.

    CR: Tell us about your film. What is it about and where does it take place?   

    BE: Blackwater is an episodic pilot about Native American country music star Birdie Blackwater whose career is fizzling due to excessive drinking that began 10 years ago. Upon moving back to her home reservation, barely clinging onto what little dignity she has left, Birdie is arrested for a barrage of drunken charges and lashing out at tribal police officers during a late-night performance. The next day, tribal courts order Birdie to complete 180 days of wellness therapy and intense probation or face two years in prison. Birdie now finds herself contending each week with a group of offbeat individuals who each possess their own…“unique” mental limitations. The story takes place on a fictional Native American reservation call Red Rock. 

    CR: Sounds very powerful. Can you tell us about the inspiration for this story? 

    BE: The inspiration for Blackwater came about in September of 2018… a tough experience. I had started a new class (Transmedia) at the New York Film Academy in Burbank, CA. The ultimate goal of the class: develop, write, and shoot a web series pilot. During the first half of the six-month course, I was given the news that my older brother Brandon had developed cirrhosis of the liver to such a serious extent that he would need a liver transplant. My brother had gotten this condition from depression and extreme alcoholism after the death of our mother in 2015. The additional news I would receive from him is that he would be opting for hospice care and wanted to just go peacefully with family for the remainder of his time. That news, to say the least, was devastating. 

    Shortly after his funeral, I returned to my Transmedia class. The project I had been working on up to that point was scrapped. I wanted to write something I was familiar with. I had felt my brother in my heart moving me to lean into all that I had experienced with drug addiction and dependency. I also wanted to heal from losing him to alcoholism. Thus, I put forward a new proposal to my instructors, which was Blackwater

    CR: Boise, I’m so sorry for your loss and the pain your family must have experienced. It’s truly inspiring how you were able to transform your personal tragedy into a meaningful story, and so quickly. 

    What was it like to direct the film?

    BE: My favorite experience directing Blackwater was working with such a phenomenal cast and crew who brought their A-game to each and every scene both on and off-screen. I mean, this was a set from heaven, and pulling off a thirteen-page script in just one day with minimal time, a skeleton crew, and several different scenes went by like clockwork. Heck, we even had an hour to spare after the whole thing was over! Directing that day was one of the best experiences I ever had on set.

    Kyla Garcia as Birdie Blackwater (“Blackwater”)

    CR: You directed a thirteen-page script in one day? Wow! Dare I ask what was the most challenging thing about making the film? 

    BE: It’s crazy because you usually are anticipating challenges that may or may not arise on the day of production, and they did of course, but they were minor and quickly remedied. No. The challenges here were definitely in the final days leading up to production. You would think that getting a simple location (an empty room) for the group scene would be easy-peasy in LA, but when you’re working with a shoestring budget, a simple task all of a sudden becomes a near impossibility. And that was the case up until the last week of location scouting. We finally locked our location, which was an old American Legion post here in Burbank. It was great because they had everything we needed for each scene! 

    The other difficult part was not in pre-production or production, but actually editing. Here I am, dealing with footage of numerous great takes from each actor/actress and reviewing them over and over. Now, you have to realize, that when you’re dealing with high caliber talent as we had, each throwing you grade-A performances with each take, it is extremely hard to pick the right one! This was mainly the case with our main character, Birdie Blackwater, portrayed by Kyla Garcia. What she brought was gold, I tell ya…GOLD. So for her, sorting through the stuff she gave us and settling on certain clips was by itself a two-month process. Keep an eye on Kyla, SHE IS AMAZING!

    CR: It’s true – Kyla is downright riveting to watch. Besides the editing, what did you learn while making this film?  

    BE: To say I didn’t learn much would be a “shooting myself in the foot” moment and never being able to walk right again, hahaha. I learned a hell of a lot. But I’ll narrow it down to one thing above others, and that was giving my talent the freedom they needed to experiment with their characters and craft on set. There was a lot of ad-libbing, and the more I stepped back and let them have at it, the more they gave. Their performances were elevated, and aside from the few adjustments I gave every now and then, I just kept my mouth shut and steered the ship. I believe this is extremely important because, by the end of any script, these people are going to be the ones who embody this person you wrote, and ultimately bring them to life – and not only the talent, but the entire crew as well. 

    As a director, I realized that you can only hold onto the material for so long before giving it up. You must trust your talent and pass the baton you have and be the coach they need, guiding them from the sideline. Hopefully, if you put in the hard work needed in pre-production and cast the film right, the process will fully evolve on its own. You only need to sit back and enjoy the show at that point. 

    CR: Can you talk about the development process for this pilot and the class you developed it in? 

    BE: Given I had changed my proposal during the six-month Transmedia course, development for Blackwater was done in a three-month period, which is not much time. But…it came very easily to me. The vision for it was clear, so it was really a matter of honing in on what was already in my head. I knew I wanted to do something that was set in a Native American world, and I completely cast with Indigenous talent. This was something I have always wanted to do, I just felt I hadn’t honed in on my craft enough back then. But now it was different. I felt confident enough to give it a try. It was a matter of finding the right, tone, cast, and overall theme, which it turned out to have many. 

    CR: Do you have any special shout-outs to faculty or staff who really helped or inspired you?  

    BE: One of the coolest things about the Transmedia 1 & 2 courses at NYFA were instructors Jenni Powell and Chris Modoono. Not only were they extremely wise and easy to talk to, but their guidance was priceless as they were able to get me from concept to a finished pilot. I can’t stress enough about the creative freedom Jenni and Chris gave us in class. I really owe the experience and opportunity to them and to NYFA. 

    CR: That is so cool. You know every teacher’s dream is to inspire and elevate students at the level you just described. 

    Let’s talk about the amazing festival run you’re having with Blackwater.  

    BE: Blackwater has garnered twenty festival selections, five of those being the Austin Film Festival, Slamdance, Nashville Film Festival, Hollyshorts, and Cinequest Film and VR Festival. 

    CR: That is any filmmaker’s dream list! So what are you looking forward to with Slamdance? 

    BE: I hope to get as much positive attention as possible and of course find a potential buyer or investor for continued production. Native American content and storytelling are so important in this day and age — and extremely hard to find. Slamdance is one of those benchmark experiences you constantly take a step back and go “Wow, I did something really cool here” and realize you’re on the right path. I also hope to network virtually and meet many of the talented filmmakers at this year’s festival! 

    Poster for “Blackwater” pilot

    CR: You will definitely have some great opportunities there. Do you have any advice for recent graduates making their way into the professional world?  

    BE: I would say be consistent, persistent, and honest in your work and what it is exactly you want for your future. Filmmaking and its many crafts are a life long pursuit. Pursuing it should make you happy, grateful, and full of good spirit to have such a calling. If it doesn’t, maybe take a step back and re-evaluate. Focus on what you want, whether that is screenwriting, directing (or both), and constantly sharpen your craft and talents in that world every day in some shape or form. Look to each day as an opportunity to move towards that ultimate goal, and eventually one day…you’ll find yourself there. But don’t forget to have fun and relax along the way. Be happy. 

    CR: Those are very wise words. And speaking of wise words, let’s talk about these trying times we live in today. Do you want to share any thoughts about the importance of film in the lives of humans living right now? 

    BE: Well, if I do share anything, it’ll be about the importance of diverse inclusion in today’s film industry and breaking the current mold at hand. And I am speaking specifically to Native American inclusion. Native Americans are perhaps the most underrepresented culture in the film and television industry right now in terms of film and television content, screenwriters, directors, and leading talent. We as Native Americans have been fighting an extremely uphill battle in finding large, fair platforms or opportunities to tell “our own stories,” tell our own history, and voice our own point of view. Since the dawn of cinema, history has been flat-out brutal in our depiction, reducing us to “elk skin and feathers,” mascots, savages, and whatever else the multitude of history books will have you believe. We as a people, as a culture, need to be allowed to write and depict our own stories, our own views, and our own history. Blackwater is one such example out of the 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States. The time for diverse inclusion is now, and Hollywood needs to comply accordingly. 

    CR: The time is definitely now, and I’m so happy that you and your work are a solution to this lack of diversity in Hollywood.

    So how we can watch your film during Slamdance and see your Q&A? 

    BE: Slamdance is an online format this year, meaning anyone with a computer or smart TV can access it for only ten bucks. Yes… $10. We’re talking the crème of the crop here, people! Although the official schedule of events isn’t out yet, getting your pass now will ensure you do not miss a single screening. All films will be viewable throughout the festival from February 12th – 25th

    Blackwater will be screening in the “Episodes” block with many other awesome filmmakers and their films, and you will also be able to watch our Q&A as a bonus feature. Go to www.slamdance.com now for your ticket! 

    CR: Thanks for stopping by, Boise. Congratulations and best of luck!

    [NOTE: NYFA students can get their festival passes for $5 by using their NYFA email address].

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    February 11, 2021 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2007

  • NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Alum Eleonora Privitera Wins Silver Award at San Diego Italian Film Festival

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    Documentary Filmmaking alum Eleonora Privitera graduated from her 1-Year program in 2019 and has been continuing to prove she is a filmmaker that seeks to make the unknown stories of real people heard.

    Before attending NYFA, the Italian native had an extensive background in social anthropology and was involved in ethnographic research fieldwork focused on urban violence and humanitarian projects in South America and East Africa. In 2019, she released a subversive short about an LGBTQIA+ movement using art and political performances to fight homophobia in Queenz of The Night. Now the alum is back with her new documentary short, Rebirth, and this time it’s closer to home.

    Still from “Rebirth,” directed by Eleonora Privitera

    The emotionally-driven film, which follows Privitera’s own parent’s as her mother (Grazia) and father (Vincenzo) grapple with Vincenzo’s cancer. On one hand, the film portrays Vincenzo grappling with mortality, while Grazia strives to cope with the burden of caring for her husband while accepting the reality of the disease that is taking over someone she has loved for over 40 years. 

    “My response was to start to intimately film how his and my mother’s lives have changed while dealing with the disease,” shared Privitera. “Being far away from home, I knew that he and my mother didn’t really want me to know the burden that was currently happening in their lives, but I wanted to be part of the struggle and I couldn’t pretend there wasn’t one.”

    “Therefore, in this difficult time, on the hard road they were both on, all I could do was film them with empathy and love in order to artistically explore their interior worlds, fears, and hopes.” 

    The film screened at the San Diego Italian Film Festival and was the recipient of the Silver Award, acknowledging Privitera’s breathtaking film, which captures the tough reality of two people very close to the filmmaker.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Documentary Filmmaking alum, Eleonora Privitera, on her well-deserved Silver Award win at the San Diego Italian Film Festival and looks forward to future documentary projects from the alum.

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    December 17, 2020 • Documentary Filmmaking, Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1742

  • 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: 1253

  • 2020 Nordic International Film Festival Founded by NYFA Alumni Has Covid Safe Drive-In

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    Now in its 6th year, the Nordic International Film Festival (NIFF) founded by New York Film Academy alumni Linnea Larsdotter and Johan Matton required some creative problem solving to pull of this year’s festival amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. The solution came in the form of a hybrid in-person and online experience where festival goers could attend drive-in screenings at The Brooklyn Army Terminal in New York City as well as view films online.

    NIFF has always fostered lofty goals, aiming to nurture a mutual connection between the Nordic region and the international film community while also placing gender-equality and environmental sustainability at the center of their mission. The 2020 festival donated 50% of all online ticket sales to organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

    The 2020 edition of the Nordic International Film Festival was held at the The Brooklyn Army Terminal Drive-In in NYC.

    Linnea Larsdotter and Johan Matton spoke about the unique challenges of this year’s festival. “We are extremely pleased to be able to pull off a safe event this year both online and with a drive-in cinema, thanks to the help from A24 and Rooftop Films. It’s been a challenging year for many and we are so impressed that so many incredible filmmakers have submitted and showcased that art and films are more important now than ever.”

    New York Film Academy renewed its partenrship with NIFF for the second year in a row awarding a four week scholarship to one of NYFA’s online programs to this year’s Aurora Borealis winner. NYFA President Michael Young expressed his congratulations to NYFA alumni Johan Matton and Linnea Larsdotter. “I’d like to congratulate our alumni Johan and Linnea on putting together another wonderful festival and working so hard to make it safe and accessible to everyone,”

    “Index” by Nicolas Kolovos garnered the director the Aurora Borealis award at this year’s festival.NIFF’s Aurora Borealis category is dedicated to up-and-coming filmmakers and Nicolas Kolovos who wrote and directed Index was selected as this yer’s winner. The short film is filmed in a single shot and tells of a family preparing to flee to Europe by boat when their young son’s finger gets stuck in the trailer of the truck transporting them. As time for the boat’s departure nears, the family has a terrifying decision to make.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA alumni Johan Matton and Linnea Larsdotter on this year’s successful edition of NIFF as well as Aurora Borealis winner Nicolas Kolovos.

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    October 30, 2020 • Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1171