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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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  • NYFA Alum’s Latest Is Official Selection at the LICFF 2017

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    “Lasting Silence,” a new short film by New York Film Academy alumnus Farhan Abbas, is an Official Selection at the 9th Annual Lahore International Children’s Film Festival. Abbas graduated from NYFA’s Evening Digital Filmmaking Workshop in September 2011 while in Abu Dhabi.

    Lasting Silence #LICFF

    Lasting Silence

    The LICFF was founded in 2008 and has continued annually, presenting the best of local and international films by, for, and about the children of Pakistan. It is the largest children’s film festival in Pakistan, and showcases its selections across the country from October throughout December.

    Additionally, the LICFF promotes children as filmmakers, training them in the art of filmmaking and giving them an outlet to exhibit their work. According to their threefold mission statement, this furthers their goal to nurture and inspire local filmmakers to produce more content specifically for children in Pakistan.

    “Lasting Silence,” a nine-minute short directed by Abbas, who also worked on its screenplay with writer Mubashir Ali Zaidi, will screen across Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city, starting October 30.

    New York Film Academy extends our warmest congratulations to Farhan and to the great work being done by the LICFF!

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  • NYFA Grad’s Award-Winning Thesis to Screen at SAG Short Film Showcase

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    kellen crewThe Moment I Was Alone, directed by New York Film Academy graduate Kellen Gibbs, has been nominated for 20 awards at seven different festivals, winning Best Screenplay at Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, Judges Choice at Monarch International Film Festival, Best Independent Film Score at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, Award of Merit at the United International Film Festival, and Best College Student Film at Sanford International Film Festival. It premiered at the Carmel International Film Festival, also screened at Take Two Film Festival and will now be screening at the SAG Short Film Showcase on August 30th.

    The film’s soundtrack was composed by Canadian-born and Toronto-based film composer Isaias Garcia, who is 3-time SOCAN & 2-time Hollywood Music in Media Awards winner. He and his team at MASTR Studios (Media Arts Symphony of Toronto) produced and mixed the original score at their Toronto studio in collaboration with the Ostrich Studio Orchestra in Argentina who recorded the soundtrack with a live orchestra.

    With all of the awards racking up for Gibbs, we thought we’d find out more about his film and his young career as an award-winning filmmaker.

    Can you tell us a little bit about THE MOMENT I WAS ALONE? 

    “The Moment I Was Alone” is a short I did as my thesis film at NYFA. It follows Quinn, an adolescent child who, while searching for her mother in an over populated street, witnesses time completely stop around her. To me it’s a coming of age story; watching this young girl grow and experience life from an almost third person perspective of it while dealing with the issues that she herself faces. What am I? Who am I? Can I love? Why do we love? Why did this happen? In some way or another these are questions that everyone asks themselves. I guess you can say that was the big idea for the film; make people think. Create something that’s thought provoking and can drop you into a new world and take you on an emotional journey.

    kelln gibbs

    How did this film come about? 

    The idea has been sitting with me for a long time. It came first as an idea just revolving around a story where time stopped. I’ve seen the idea a lot in superhero movies, cartoons, TV shows; I wanted to take it on a different route then I’ve seen it taken before. I loved the idea that a person can be completely surrounded by people but be so isolated and lonely at the same time. Over time and while at NYFA, the story turned into what it is now and needless to say I am very proud of what it became.

    How would you describe your experience at NYFA?

    I loved my time at the New York Film Academy. I have had some very influential teachers who have really helped and guided me throughout. Not only that but I think one of the factors about NYFA that really helped me was how hands-on and accessible everything was. It requires hard work because it’s not just theory we’re being taught; at NYFA you go out and make movies. And the outcome can be so gratifying. You don’t just look at movies and say, “I wish I could make that.” You get to say “I MADE that.”

    Would you say NYFA’s training was useful in terms of being prepared to write/direct this film?

    Absolutely. I never could have made this movie two years ago. NYFA has made me look at movies differently — deeper. And in extension, I now look at my movies the same way. This is all thanks to my teachers at NYFA.

    What do you hope will come about from the SAG Showcase?

    The film has already done so many things that I wasn’t expecting. It’s brought together different countries by its musical score, showcased the ability of many NYFA students along with rising newcomers in the industry. And after winning all the awards that we have, traveling around to different film festivals and being nominated for many more, I am just beyond honored to have been chosen to screen at the SAG Showcase. Of course I hope that the screening can help as I continue propelling my career forward but I am just incredibly excited to have had the opportunity to screen and show my film at so many places. That’s by far one of the best experiences; I’ve seen my movie so many times now but when you get in front of a new crowd and you get to hear the reactions of people viewing it for the first time, it rejuvenates you and makes it as if I am watching it for the first time again. You never really know what can come from these experiences but it’s always a blast and this one is just such an honor.

    Are you currently working on any other projects?

    Yes, sir! After graduating NYFA I was approached by an author by the name of George Lippert. He has asked me to adapt his novel “The Freezing Season” into a feature film and we are heavily into the process now with the goal of filming in February of next year. Many of the same people who worked on “The Moment I Was Alone” will be returning to work on this with us. These connections last. Things are definitely in the works and that will absolutely be an experience I can’t wait for.

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    August 15, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6477

  • Filmmakers Meet Composers Through “Speed Dates”

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    composer

    What happens when thirty composers meet thirty filmmakers and have five minutes to introduce themselves and then move on? It may sound like an exercise in speed dating but the object of the Meet a Composer event held recently at New York Film Academy Los Angeles was not new relationships but new collaborations.

    NYFA documentary and narrative filmmakers met with composers and song writers from the Sundance Composers Lab, the Los Angeles College of Music, UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, and the Academy of Scoring Arts.

    nyfa students

    “I loved the experience,” said Documentary MFA student Jake Garcia. “The speed dating format took the pressure off of mingling and I made lots of contacts.”

    Several collaborations were forged between filmmakers and composers and we’ll see the results soon. Multiple NYFA films featuring scores written by attendees will be ready for screening by the end of the year.

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    May 10, 2016 • Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking • Views: 4388

  • Grad’s Thesis “The Nutcracker Princess” Rakes in Festival Awards

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    Students graduating from New York Film Academy’s Filmmaking Department typically leave the course with the experience and finished product, a thesis film, which is often used as their calling card into the world of entertainment. Former student, Lorenzo Lanzillotti, says his NYFA experience was immediately helpful from day one, as it gave him more of an understanding of the production process involved in the making of a film. Upon graduating, Lanzillotti took his film on the road and received numerous awards and festival screenings for his thesis film, The Nutcracker Princess (not to be mistaken for The Nutcracker Prince). To put things into perspective we’ve listed his festival accomplishments below:
    • nutcracker princessBest short competition – Award of recognition for best short
    • MOFF Film festival – Best international short selection
    • Ferrara film festival – Best international short selection
    • United international film festival – Best director nominee
    • Miami independent film festival – Best short selection
    • Cordoba International film festival – Best short selection
    • Roma cinema doc – Best international short selection
    • International independent film awards – Silver award for best short – Silver award for best director
    • Hollywood international moving pictures film festival – Award of recognition for best short
    The award-winning film, The Nutcracker Princess, tells the story of a popular actress in the process of developing a character for her upcoming film—based on the last days of the life of a Broadway star—who embraces an introspective experience that is able to affect the perception of her own life.
    the nutcracker princess

    “I wrote the script with a clear idea of showing the two different faces of the same world,” said Lanzillotti. “In this case, the acting one. This short film is a psychological war between the youngest, most popular Hollywood actress, and Broadway’s most notable rising star. I wanted to see how the concept of the acting experience is interpreted in two completely different ways between these two worlds, so similar, but at the same time only divided by a thin line that defines the real expression of acting and the way that the audience experiences it.”

    Lanzillotti recommends submitting thesis films to festivals, recognizing how rewarding the experience is both literally and from a general standpoint for him, his cast and the crew. Though, the festival run is still far from over for him, as he anticipates screening at several other festivals this year.

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    May 2, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4496

  • Korean Filmmaker Shines with ‘Milkshake’

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    Milkshake

    The New York Film Academy is proud of its close ties with Korea and many of its student filmmakers who have come to either our New York or Los Angeles campuses to study their craft. One of our more recent Korean students, SangJin Ko’s short film Milkshake has been getting a lot of attention since its introduction at last year’s Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner. The film, which was shot in New York City, is a family drama in which an adopted teenage boy struggles against a harsh reality to live with his adoptive younger sister. Milkshake is a culturally rich story. At one point, the main character even teaches his sister The Sun and the Moon, which a traditional Korean fairy tale surround a widow and her two children. The essence of the story is to teach young children that if you want something badly enough, you will be able to find a way to receive it, as long as your intentions are good, kind and pure.

    Ko’s film will be screening at the NewFilmmakers New York 2014 on October 2nd, 2014 at the Deren Theater of Anthology Film Archives located at 32 Second Ave. in New York City.

    From there, Ko will take his film to Spain, where it will screen at the Marbella International Film Festival on October 5th.

    We wish SangJin Ko the best of luck on his festival tour and expect a bright future for this fine, young film director!

    If you’re interested in studying filmmaking at the New York Film Academy, please CLICK HERE for more information.

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    October 2, 2014 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4187

  • Haiti Optimiste Benefit with Arcade Fire and Donna Karan

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    Haiti Event NYFA

    New York Film Academy students, faculty and alumni are invited to a phenomenal star-studded event called Haiti Optimiste this Thursday, February 20th at the Florence Gould Hall on 55 East 59th Street, NYC. Haiti Optimiste is an annual benefit organized by Ciné Institute and L’Alliance Francaise, celebrating new Haitian cinema with the purpose of raising funds for the film and media education of young Haitians.

    Ciné Institute provides desperately needed free college education and employment opportunities to underprivileged Haitian youth. It is the only college of its kind in Haiti, where just 1% of high school graduates can afford to attend university.

    The evening will include a screening of films from the Institute, followed by the announcement of the new Brioni film fund and a Q&A with Ciné Institute supporters, fashion designer Donna Karan, Arcade Fire video director Vincent Morisset, and actors Michael Kenneth Williams (HBO’s Boardwalk Empire) and Jamie Hector (HBO’s The Wire). Members of the Grammy Award-winning rock band Arcade Fire will also be present for the evening.

    This is for a great cause and could be a great networking opportunity for young filmmakers in the New York City area. If you’re interested in $25 discounted tickets (down from $60-$300), send an email RSVP to Ihuoma Mambo at ihuoma@cineinstitute.com.

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    February 18, 2014 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 4639

  • And the Oscar Nominees are…

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    86th oscars

    We all dream of someday having our own Oscar nominations, but for now let’s see which talented artists and films were nominated for this year’s 86th Annual Academy Awards…

    Best Motion Picture of the Year
    Nominees:

    • American Hustle (2013)
    • Captain Phillips (2013)
    • Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
    • Gravity (2013)
    • Her (2013)
    • Nebraska (2013)
    • Philomena (2013)
    • 12 Years a Slave (2013)
    • The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
    Nominees:

    • Christian Bale for American Hustle (2013)
    • Bruce Dern for Nebraska (2013)
    • Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
    • Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave (2013)
    • Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

    Continue Reading

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    January 16, 2014 • Academic Programs • Views: 4807

  • Brooklyn Girl Film Festival

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    brooklyn girl film festival

    Here is something for the female filmmakers at the New York Film Academy. The 3rd Annual Brooklyn Girl Film Festival, which runs from March 27-29, 2014, is now open for submissions. Brooklyn Girl Film Festival’s mission is to showcase the work of women filmmakers from around the world, and bring these artists together for networking in a fun, informative and supportive environment. In a seemingly male dominated industry, the BGFF Films are sought in which a woman plays a key role as a director, writer, or lead animator. Features, documentaries, shorts, music videos, experimental and animated works are all considered. All genres are welcome as well.

    For efficiency, all submissions are accepted through Withoutabox here: http://tinyurl.com/685g46d

    Official Selections will be in competition for an Audience Choice Award in two different categories, feature film and short film.

    Deadlines For All Submissions:

    • Regular Deadline: December 7, 2013 
    • Late Deadline: January 4, 2014 
    • Extended Deadline: January 11, 2014

    A three-day annual event that takes place in March, BGFF features screenings that include filmmaker Q&A, workshops, an opening night reception, special events and an awards ceremony. BGFF attendees include local filmmakers as well as those from around the country and the world. Programs and events are designed not only for filmmakers, but anyone interested in the moving image.

    What Filmmakers Are Saying About the Brooklyn Girl Film Festival:

    “Brooklyn Girl Film Festival is a fantastic festival. They communicate with and care about the filmmakers and provide a warm place to showcase work by women filmmakers. We had a wonderful time at the Festival!” – Amanda Melby – director of “Kerry and Angie

    “I was really blown away by the films that screened at Brooklyn Girl Film Festival. These are film Makers that have big careers ahead of them, many very established already and really very cool people doing very important work. April, The festival director and the festival team made the whole experience enjoyable as a filmmaker and an audience member. The talent here was pretty amazing! The Brooklyn Girl festival has the pulse of upcoming film makers from all over the world!!!” – Megan Corry, Director “The Smell of Sand

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    November 5, 2013 • Film Festivals • Views: 805

  • Bollywood’s Sex and the City

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    Shailja Gupta frames a shot on set

    Photo from The Hindu

    Kalkata native, Shailja Gupta set her dreams early on in life with the goal of making her own films. After attending the New York Film Academy‘s film school in 2009, Shailja set out to do just that. Initially, she became involved in the international marketing of films such as Chokher Bali and Ra.One. As good as that sounds, Shailja still wasn’t creating her own films. That’s why she switched gears to work on her feature debut, Walkaway, a light-comedy drama that mocks the clutches of social obligations on young Indian professionals settled in New York City.

    Like many first time filmmakers, Shailja had trouble finding the right distributors to pick up her film. So, she took matters into her own hands. “I had hoped to release it theatrically but after chasing the distributors for a year, I got tired and gave up. I was hoping to show it on television but with such competition it’s difficult to get people to watch the film. I hope through word-of-mouth something good comes out of it.”

    “It’s exciting. Sure, I do feel overwhelmed when I take on more work sometimes and have to run against time to deliver. But once I complete the work the feeling of achievement is quite satisfactory.”

    Indeed, Shailja should feel excited and proud of her accomplishment. Her film, Walkaway, has received some rather kind words from the press:

    • “More earnest and insightful than Sex and the City.” – NY Magazine
    • “A little Bollywood, a lot American Indie.” – NY Times
    • “Filmmaker Shailja Gupta has a sure hand and eye.” – Newsweek
    Shailja is currently working on scripts for two more comedies, which she hopes will see their way to mainstream Bollywood.
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