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  • Marko Nabersnik’s Path to Success

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    Director Marko Nabersnik attended an 8-week Film Workshop at New York Film Academy in 1996. His first film, Rooster’s Breakfast, won numerous national awards and became the biggest box office hit of the year in his native Slovenia. The film won the CBS Critics Award at the Southeast European Film Festival in Los Angeles and was also the official entry from Slovenia for the Academy Awards. He recently completed his second feature film, Shanghai Gypsy, which premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Market.

    “My childhood dream was to be a filmmaker,” says Marko. “I read an article about NYFA in Cinema, the German film magazine. Two months later I flew to New York. This was [before] the internet, so the best way to get real information on the NYFA was to board a plane, cross the Atlantic, and go there to learn first-hand. After my first day, I knew already that NYFA was something special.”

    “Surrounded by the inspiration and atmosphere of New York City,” he continues, “You pick up direct knowledge of filmmaking from prominent professors and guests within the film industry. The study process was intense. There were students all over the world. In my class alone, I interacted with future filmmakers from Italy, Spain, Japan, Germany, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We helped each other, explored the beauty of storytelling, and shared experiences about the unpredictability of shooting on original locations.”

    “When I came back to Slovenia from New York, I was determined that filmmaking would be my destiny. Whenever I found myself in the dilemma of choosing the next step for my filmmaking, I would remember a quote from Adam Stoner, our directing class professor: ‘Filmmaking is constant exploring and learning. Don’t forget the fun and passion which is hidden in that process and don’t get lost only because you have more questions than answers!’ Today I am a professional filmmaker and a professor. I teach at our national film academy, the Academy for Theater, Radio, Film and Television (AGRFT) in Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. I still recall the time I spent at NYFA and the endless inspiration the Academy gave me. NYFA gives you knowledge and builds your self-confidence.”

    Marko at New York Film Academy in 1996

    Marko in 2012

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    June 13, 2012 • Filmmaking, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5040

  • Deciphering Stanley Kubrick at the New York Film Academy

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    Director and NYFA Editing Instructor Rodney Ascher recently returned from the Cannes Film Festival where his first feature film, Room 237, was one of only two American films in the Directors’ Fortnight. His documentary explores numerous theories about Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film, The Shining, and its hidden meanings. The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and received glowing reviews from the major press. Here’s a roundup.

    • New York Times examined the documentary and called it an “intriguing” look at a growing subculture of Kubrick fans which has developed over the years.
    • “One of the great movies about movies…”  – Variety.
    • The Hollywood Reporter said, “Nutty, arcane and jaw-dropping in equal measure.”
    • On his blog, New York Magazine film critic Bilge Ebiri chose Room 237 as his Sundance pick. “The film expresses, better than any movie I can think of right now, the feeling of being lost inside the world of a film, and by extension being lost inside the world of film.”
    • “A brilliant work of alternative film criticism – and critique of criticism.” – LA Weekly.

    “Kubrick was my first favorite filmmaker,” says Ascher, “and one whose work has stuck with me throughout my life – The Shining in particular. The first time I saw it, I managed to sit through about 10 minutes. The music in particular filled me with an overwhelming sense of dread and doom that was more than I could take. It soon became one of my favorites.”

    Ascher says the idea for the film came after a chance Facebook posting. “My friend, Tim Kirk, who went on to become a producer of the film, posted an analysis of [The Shining] on my Facebook page. I became interested in the phenomenon — lots of people bringing up radical ideas. I thought we could make a pretty comprehensive field guide to what was in the film. It soon became clear that we could only get the tip of the iceberg.” Room 237 shares theories about The Shining from five people, told through voice over, film clips, animations, and dramatic reenactments. Ascher describes it as “not just a demonstration about how it has captured people’s imaginations, but also how people react to movies, and literature, and the arts in general.”

    The film was chosen to screen as part of the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes alongside Michel Gondry’s The We and the I. Room 237 is being distributed by IFC in North America and Wild Bunch in France. Watch for a theatrical release later this year. “It’s very exciting,” says Ascher, “I’d been used to being sort of an outcast with short films, screening to more … select groups. It was great. The screenings were packed, we were in a gigantic theater, got great press … I’m sure anyone would be excited.”

    See yourself premiering your movie at Sundance, screening it at Cannes, and getting fawned over by critics? Then look into our school and decide if it’s the right path for you.

    Rodney Ascher at Cannes Film Festival.

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    June 7, 2012 • Community Highlights, Digital Editing • Views: 4957

  • The Psychology of Learning Film

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    David Egozi was a college student visiting New York from his hometown of Miami, Florida. One weekend, he saw a magazine advertisement about a certain film school. As the son of a news broadcaster, David grew up surrounded by cameras and lighting. A chip off the block, as they say, since he visited the school and quickly transferred to the New York Film Academy. David’s transition from liberal arts to the technical training provided at NYFA seems to be a seamless one. The most important lesson he has learned here, however, is something beyond skill. “[Department Chair] Claude really pushes us. It’s persistence that matters. It’s commitment. Always giving 110% percent.”

    A remarkably thoughtful young man, David admitted to having difficulty structuring his thoughts. “My head’s always been cluttered. Filmmaking allows me to organize my ideas and my feelings and turn them into something tangible.” He pursued filmmaking after working on creating videos for bars and clubs who were trying to promote their parties. After beginning his studies, however, he understood that the making of art had more to do than marketing it to an audience. Studying narrative helped him to appreciate the internal process of thought and emotion.

    “We shot in Super 35mm. Not digital.” – Nicola Raggi

    Speaking to Nicola Raggi also reveals a filmmaking student who recounts a growing experience. Originally from Sienna University in Italy, Nicola felt his education wasn’t teaching him anything. After winning a Bernardo Bertolucci scholarship for the Cinematography program, he decided to take the plunge into New York City. “I learned more in one year [at NYFA] than I did in five years at Sienna,” he said. Learning both digital and film, Nicola feels his skillset is finally complete. Because of the hands-on nature of our curriculum, Nicola quickly realized “the harsh reality of filmmaking”. The hours of long and brutal. Tensions can run high. As he said, “You learn how to behave on set. Working with the cast and crew can be difficult without sleep or much food.”

    Nicola and David both learned to solve specific types of problems. They learned to adapt and improvise in response to unexpected situations. The ability to think creatively is highly desirable in today’s rapidly changing world. However, can we safely say that many of America’s classrooms focus on helping students develop as creative thinkers? Arts education teaches young people today to create and control. There is a fundamental difference between being consumers of the mainstream media and being producers able to share their creations in order to influence minds and shape how a society behaves. If the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement is any indication, today’s students are growing up in a socially connected world which is very different from previous generations. Modern times have increasingly deemed the exchange of information as pivotal to everyday life, however, educators now are recognizing that information is only useful when it is transformed into knowledge.

    What David learned from the technical knowledge and creative execution was the ability to develop his own ideas, test them, discover boundaries, experiment, receive input, and generate newer ideas based on the feedback he received. Students like Nicola learned to work under stress, collaboratively and creatively, for long periods of time. This is socio-emotional learning. There is evidence that social and emotional capacities are just as brain-based as mathematical and linguistic competencies. Education should have both pedagogic and systemic dimensions. It is statistically proven that the skill-set which socio-emotional education such as the arts can lead to higher standardized test scores. Schools should promote socio-emotional competencies because it is a holistic approach to comprehensively educating our young people. It provides the skill-set necessary to creatively address today’s problems. If anything, a creative curriculum empowers students to believe they’re equipped to do anything they truly believe in.

    After graduation, Nicola continued work as a cinematographer with his production company The Loading Lab. He is the Director of Photography for the commercial being produced by CenterLight Health System, which currently ranks among the nation’s leading resources for long term residential and community-based healthcare. This commercial, which is also directed by NYFA alumnus Dmytro Maliuga, will air in four different languages on local television stations. David is currently finishing up his studies and expressed confidence in his newfound ability. “My dad hired a film crew for his business recently. For casting, directing, editing… I was like, ‘Why?’ I can do it. All of it. I learned everything.”

    To learn more about our filmmaking programs, click here.

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    May 29, 2012 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 12982

  • New York Film Academy Welcomes “Rocky” Director John G. Avildsen

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    Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen joined students at New York Film Academy for a Q&A following a screening of his film, Rocky. The excited students filled the theater to capacity, and cheered when the opening credits started rolling.

    john avildsenDuring his on-stage interview, Avildsen spoke about the film, saying, “When I first heard about it, I said, ‘Boxing is really dumb.’ But it’s a beautiful love story – a great character study. He’s a very engaging guy. The boxing is the background. It’s about a guy and a girl, and it’s a delightful story…. You have to have a great story.”

    He talked to students about his long career, and his films that helped launch the careers of Sylvester Stallone, Peter Boyle, and Susan Sarandon. He also gushed about working with Jack Lemmon on 1973’s Save the Tiger, for which Lemmon won the Academy Award.

    The energetic director offered up advice to his gathering of young filmmakers, saying, “The audience is very smart and they have nothing else to do but sit there an judge [your film]. Make sure you have your bases covered and make sure they believe it. When you do, they get their money’s worth.”

    When asked why he chose to become a filmmaker, Avildsen responded, “It’s not work. I’ve worked. I’ve been behind a desk and punched clocks. It’s make believe with all of these creative people. They hang lights up, and try to find strange little props. They’ll find you a great jacket, better than anything you could have thought of. People laugh, they cry, and respond to things, and it’s amazing.”

    Avildsen was extremely generous with his time, and stuck around after the event to sign autographs, pose for pictures, and give advice to eager students.

     

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    April 9, 2012 • Cinematography, Filmmaking • Views: 4199

  • One Graduate’s Journey to the Cannes Film Festival

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    Faraz WaqarNew York Film Academy Abu Dhabi grad Faraz Waqar’s graduation thesis film 9:11 AM was selected for its world premiere at the Festival de Cannes 2012 Short Films Corner. The Short Films Corner hands you an annual tailor-made program of industry meets, workshops and conferences that deal with strategic issues. Faraz will benefit from all the advantages of being an accredited attendee of the festival. He can access the Marché du Film exhibitors or those in the Village International. Faraz will also be able to network with all the biggest industry players, whether they are institutions, financiers and the most important international reps in the film business. Talk about opening some doors. What more can a film graduate ask for?

    Tell us where your passion started?

    Studying film and working in film was always my dream. Reviving the film industry in my own country through films has always been my goal. However, the pressure for financial success and lack of support from my family forced me to study Business Management instead of filmmaking. I spent 12 years working in the corporate world as a banker in the Middle East but never let my dream of becoming a filmmaker die. After achieving a fair degree of success in my business career and achieving financial independence, I was in a position to finally pursue my dream and passion.

    What drives you as an artist?

    The Middle East has played a very important role in the of human civilization. In recent years, however, this region has been in the media for all the wrong reasons. Cinema is the most powerful tool to make or break the image of a person, culture or country. Becoming a film director puts you in a position of immense power. You can influence the hearts and minds of people of the world. This is the best way to contribute something which will benefit your own culture. You also enjoy the immense opportunity to be creative. You’re having fun too.

    How was your NYFA experience?

    I joined the 1-year Filmmaking program in Abu Dhabi last February. The institution brought to my doorstep the facilities and instruction that has trained so many prominent filmmakers in the United States. I graduated from NYFA two months ago. It was perhaps the most memorable year of my life. I truly lived my dream. The best part about studying at NYFA was learning from professors who had a wealth of experiences working as directors and cinematographers on world renowned film projects both in Hollywood and in the Middle East. The student body in Abu Dhabi is extremely diverse. We have classmates from Australia, India, Africa, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Eastern Europe, Pakistan, Lebenon, Switzerland, Iraq, UAE, Nigeria and Denmark. It was superb because you got to make some wonderful friends from different cultures and benefit from their vastly different perspectives. I formed some very close friendships and enjoyed working with this diverse international group. Film school always ends up attracting the most creative and passionate people. The network I’ve established will benefit me in any project I pursue.

    NYFA’s program is intensive and comprehensive. Film projects start from idea conception to script finalization, and ranges from casting, editing, production and post-production. I wrote, directed and edited 8 complete films during my one year at the school. In addition I was also involved in the production of 39 films in various capacities as part of the crew (short films, documentaries and music videos) for other directors. I got full freedom to experiment, shoot and work on different ideas and scripts for my projects.

    We had access to some of the best film cameras in the world. We shot from digital to 16mm, 35mm and even on the Red Epic. It was amazing.

    What is your perspective on screening at film festivals? Advice on the process?

    Recognition at quality film festivals do add a lot of credibility to a new filmmaker’s profile. It gives one confidence as a professional to people. Recognition at a major festival immediately bring you into the spotlight, especially in a market where filmmaking is still in a nascent stage and the people in the industry all know each other. It helps bring your name into notice amongst all in the film making circle. Never make your film with the intention of getting into any particular festival. That is not the way I would do it. Be selective about the festivals you apply to once your film is complete. I believe that whatever comes naturally from your heart will represent you and what you are most passionate about. It will turn out to be your best work. It is also very important to present their films professionally. Films submitted should be properly branded. DVDs must be labelled, craft themed posters meticulously, and make sure to select originally composed or royalty-free music. This improves the chances of selection too. Every small detail helps.

    What kind of advice would you give to the aspiring filmmaker and NYFA student dreaming to succeed?

    Be yourself. Let your work be original. Let it be your best creative effort on a subject you are passionate about. It will naturally bring out the best in you. Believe in your work but never shy away from feedback and criticism from a trusted source. The audience is your consumer, and you must communicate a certain point of view. Being too abstract for the sake of being artistic may cause the message of your film to be lost. Be intelligent. Do not focus on controversial topics for the sake of controversy. Base your film on a controversial topic if you truly believe in it. Your script is everything. Make sure it’s perfect. Make sure it’s engaging and interesting.

    Actors matter the most. Their performance can make or break your film. Select them wisely, prepare them well and value their time and effort. You cannot make a film alone. It’s a team effort. Your crew is contributing in a major way to give shape to your vision. Value them and treat them with respect. Build your team with the next project in mind. Don’t use and discard others. Selfishness and a bad attitude will take you nowhere in a very team-dependent industry.

    To learn more about NYFA in Abu Dhabi please click here.

    9:11AM

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    April 3, 2012 • Acting • Views: 4337

  • New York Film Academy’s Student Spotlight: Paris Bauldwin on Cannes and Eric Roberts

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    Paris Bauldwin and Eric Roberts

    MFA Film student Paris Bauldwin recently finished her thesis film, Chrysalis. The film centers on Abigail Hunter, a struggling waitress with little direction in her life, aside from drugs. Her aimless drift is disrupted when a young runaway shows up, claiming to be her daughter. The girl’s search for family and affection interrupts Abigail’s free fall, and the two decide to define family on their own terms. It features veteran actor Eric Roberts.

    “He’d had issues with addiction in the past and was really honest about it. I wrote a letter and sent it to his team. He and his wife made [the process] really easy. They invited me to their home. He is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met.”

    On a recent visit to New York Film Academy at Universal Studios, Roberts spoke glowingly about working with Bauldwin, saying “Paris is a real director, guys. Really.” He joked, “She is also very… kind in her manipulation.”

    Paris recently published her first book, Fragments of Addiction, co-written with her father. “It’s always been something I’ve been passionate about — helping people with addiction” she says. “I grew up around addiction. I knew all the characters really well. They were my sisters and brothers.”

    Paris also recently completed a short film called Looking for Liana that was accepted to the Cannes Short Film Corner. She is excited to visit Europe first time, and participate in her first major festival. She credits New York Film Academy for giving her the education she needs for her film to succeed, saying, “To have support from people who have already done it was really amazing. Ultimately, I don’t think I would be able to complete this project anywhere else.”

    Paris has plans to take Chrysalis on the film festival circuit, as well as fundraising for the next feature film she is producing. Of her hectic schedule, Paris says, “Sleep is secondary. I’m on the right track.”

    Eric Roberts at NYFA

    Paris Bauldwin at NYFA

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    April 3, 2012 • #WomenOfNYFA, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4950

  • Life After NYFA: Documentary Alum Frederik Boll

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    We’re glad to see NYFA 1-Year Documentary Filmmaking alum Frederik Boll keeps popping up on our radar! You may remember Frederik from his work documenting adventures in grassroots politics on the BamaBus in 2008. He and fellow Documentary Filmmaking alumnus Annie Woods took a road trip across the country generating support for the future President of the United States and filming the American experience during election season.

    Well, we got wind that Fred’s been up to some other fantastic projects. After getting in touch, Fred was kind enough to give us a little summary of his adventures since NYFA and how he ended up at the New York Film Academy in the first place.

    My Life changed after my experience as a NATO soldier in Kosovo for the Danish Royal Guard. It was a very peaceful mission where we mostly did humanitarian work. Kosovo is the poorest country in Europe, and it made a huge impression on me. I quickly found that I felt a tremendous sense of satisfaction from helping others.

    When I returned to Denmark, my good friend who works as a videographer offered me a room, which I gratefully accepted.  I started tagging along on a couple of the productions he was working on and found out that I really enjoyed it. I started contacting various production companies and found work as a production assistant. I had found my calling. I wanted to make pro social documentary films, a media where I can challenge people’s view of the world by telling a story on a creative and entertaining way.

    I knew that I would need to learn my craft. I applied to several Danish schools, but I needed one with a film department. I had a better idea: I was going to move to America. I was accepted into NYFA’s Documentary Conservatory Program and moved to New York less than a month after I had turned down school in Denmark.

    It is one of the greatest learning experience I’ve ever had. It culminated with my thesis film where I followed a group of Latino immigrants’ struggle against NYC to keep their artisan food stands in Brooklyn.

    Straight after school, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. It was election year, and the US was brimming with excitement. A couple of my friends had decided to buy an old VW bus, stencil it with Obama’s picture and drive it through all the battleground states in hopes of engaging young people in the political debate. I was invited along to film the entire trip. We paid for the trip by selling spray painted political t-shirts that Obama supporters painted themselves. It meant a lot to me that I got to experience that election.

    When I finally returned to New york, it didn’t take long before I was called up by one of the guys I traveled with, asking me to become involved with a start-up company where he’d just begun working. The company has the same sense of social responsibility that I strive to live my life by – it’s a place where I feel I can make a difference.

    Along with his work on the BamaBus, Frederik Boll has worked with Volunteers of America, an organization that goes out to the most violent urban areas in America to help the homeless into shelters. In Camden, New Jersey, he accompanied VoA’s Hal Miller helping people out of tent cities and into save houses. Boll also filmed a video for the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, the COP15 summit in Copenhagen and, most recently, the China Digital Media Summit, amongst other projects.

    We can’t wait to hear more about your work Fred!

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    July 16, 2010 • Acting • Views: 4101

  • The History of 16 MM Film and the Arriflex 16 S Camera

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    The New York Film Academy offers students an excellent opportunity to work with 16mm Film and the Arriflex S & SR 16 mm cameras.  Shooting on film has many inherent advantages, including the organic look, its unparalleled exposure latitude, natural color reproduction, and long term archivability.  Arriflex cameras are among the best in the world, and NYFA gives its students the instruction they need to join the ranks of legendary filmmakers who have made landmark films by looking through the Arri viewfinder!

    The Arri company was founded in Munich in 1917 by August Arnold and Robert Richter, who began their career working as cameramen on over 100 films.  Arri introduced the Arriflex ST in 1952, it was the first professional 16mm movie camera with a reflex viewing system; the camera was a hit, selling over 20,000 units! The Arriflex SR was introduced in 1982 and was the first professional 16 mm camera to feature symmetrical construction and a swing-over viewfinder, enabling incredibly flexible operation.  In 1982, the Arnold and Richter were presented with an Oscar in recognition of their life’s work.

    The silent 16 mm film format was initially aimed at the home filmmaker, but by the 1930s it had begun to be popular for professional use in the educational market. The addition of optical sound tracks and, most notably, Kodachrome in 1935, significantly boosted the 16 mm market. The format was widely used during WW2, and consequently there was a massive increase of 16 mm professional filmmaking in the post-war years. Films for government, business, medical and industrial clients created a large network of 16 mm professional filmmakers and related service industries in the 1950s and 1960s.

    The advent of television also enhanced the use of 16 mm film, initially due to its lower cost and greater portability compared to 35 mm. At first used as a news-gathering format, the 16 mm format was also used to create programming shot outside the confines of the more rigid television production sets.

    Even though Super 16 is used for all kinds of projects, its most common use today is for television productions and independent features. The three most common types of productions are detailed below.

    1. Shoot Super 16, Post Video, Broadcast HD Broadcasters today are demanding content to be delivered in HD, and shooting Super 16 is the best way to create high quality HD programming.

    The production is shot on Super 16 film, and then transferred to standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD) video on a telecine. Modern telecines can extract most of the image information from Super 16 film, and are one reason for the continued popularity of this format. Post production commences on SD or HD equipment in the traditional fashion, as does broadcast on SD or HD. This workflow maintains all the advantages of film and the creative options of film cameras and lenses. Once the program is aired, the film-originated material can be re-transferred to any foreign or future television standard.

    2. Shoot Super 16, Post DI (Data), Theatrical Release The Achilles heel of shooting Super 16 for a theatrical release has always been the optical blow-up required to get from the Super 16 camera negative to a 35 mm release print. This optical blow-up is now being replaced by the Digital Intermediate (DI) process, which is quickly becoming a mainstream production tool.

    The production is shot on Super 16 film, and then scanned on a pin-registered film scanner. Modern film scanners can record all the image information present on Super 16 film. The resulting image data is used for editing, special effects and color correction. Once in the digital realm, there is almost no limit to the image manipulations, effects or looks that can be created. The finished image data is then recorded onto 35 mm film with a modern film recorder to create 35 mm release prints. Since the DI process is completely transparent, there is no image quality loss incurred by going from a Super 16 camera negative to a 35 mm release print.

    3. Shoot Super 16, Post DI (HD Video), Theatrical Release A hybrid option combining the other two workflows is also possible when a theatrical release is required from a Super 16 negative at rock bottom costs. The film is transferred by a telecine to HD video instead of scanned to image data. Post production is done in HD video, and the feature is output to 35 mm film on a film scanner. The result has slightly less image quality than a true data DI post production, but is substantially faster and less expensive.
    Richard Crudo, President of the American Society of Cinematographers, said: “You’re going to see a huge resurgence in 16 as DI becomes more manageable and cheaper. People are going to say, ‘My God, look at the quality you can get out of this.’”

    Studying at New York Film Academy is a great way to gain experience using a wide variety of top-of-the line equipment.  NYFA is proud to be able to offer its students the opportunity to use cutting-edge technology, such as the RED HD camera.  However, learning to master traditional filmmaking tools such as the Arriflex S cameras is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of a NYFA education!

    Written by Brian Koplow, New York Film Academy Student Adviser

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    April 10, 2009 • Acting • Views: 11982