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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking & Photography Alum Paquita Hughes Works on Hulu’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’

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    Paquita Hughes, Navy veteran and alum of New York Film Academy’s Filmmaking and Photography schools, has added Little Fires Everywhere to her growing list of Hollywood credits. 

    Little Fires Everywhere, which debuted on Hulu on March 18, stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, who both also served as executive producers on the dramatic miniseries. The show is adapted from the 2017 novel of the same name by Celeste Ng and tells the story of two mothers from diametric socioeconomic backgrounds in Shaker Heights, Ohio during the 1990s.

    little fires everywhere
    Hughes is a
    veteran of the United States Navy and first attended NYFA’s 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory in July 2011 at our Burbank-based campus in Los Angeles. After completing the program, she then enrolled in the 1-Year Photography conservatory. Her thesis project was a pilot for the dramedy web series Sugar, which dealt with the sex industry and included strongly written, complicated female protagonists.

    Since filming Sugar and graduating, Hughes has been very busy working in Hollywood working in various positions, including as location manager on hit productions like Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Marvel’s Runaways. Additionally, Hughes is working as location manager on the new period-set reboot of Perry Mason, starring NYFA Guest Speaker Matthew Rhys.

    “I had an epiphany when I was in the Navy,” Hughes says in a NYFA video spotlighting her success as an alumni, “and I thought to myself if I could succeed at serving my country during a time of war, I could succeed at following my dreams attending film school, so I decided to get out and study film.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Filmmaking and Photography alum Paquita Hughes on her prolific work on Hollywood productions and encourages everyone to watch Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu!

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Acting for Film Alum Michael Johnson Receives Inaugural Elan Vega Award

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    Before he unexpectedly passed away last summer, New York Film Academy (NYFA) 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory and BFA Acting for Film alum Elan Vega lit up the lives of everyone around him, especially his NYFA classmates. His positivity, hard work, and commitment to the arts now lives on through NYFA’s Elan Vega Award, and it was no surprise that the award’s first recipient was NYFA 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory student and BFA Acting for Film grad Michael Johnson.

    Both Johnson and Vega graduated from the BFA Acting for Film program at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. Both alumni also sought to expand their artistic talents into other avenues; in Spring 2019, Johnson enrolled in NYFA-LA’s 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory while Vega began studying in the 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory. Vega was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who had a huge heart and who personified service, perseverance, and passion. Johnson is also a military veteran, having served in the US Army, and shares these same virtues, making him the perfect choice to receive the inaugural Elan Vega Award.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    NYFA alum and Elan Vega Award recipient Michael Johnson

    The award will be distributed each semester by New York Film Academy in Vega’s honor to students that embody Vega’s kindness, selflessness, and thoughtfulness, students who have demonstrated the desire to help their fellow artists whenever and wherever needed, as Vega had done so many times. Vega loved the process of storytelling, our community, and the friends he made at NYFA, and elevated both his classmates and his program with his enduring attitude.

    To that end, the Elan Vega Award includes both a beautifully-crafted plaque and a financial grant to help recipients further their studies and artistic pursuits. Johnson received the award in February in a ceremony attended by, among other NYFA senior faculty, actor and NYFA Master Class instructor Matthew Modine.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    Michael Johnson receiving the Elan Vega Award with senior NYFA faculty

    Like Vega, Johnson is beloved by his peers in the NYFA community, as well as his instructors and other faculty and administration. While the tragic passing of Vega will never be forgotten, his spirit living on through his friends and through future graduates of NYFA who embody that spirit is something to celebrate. Friends and classmates of both Vega and Johnson were glad to see Vega’s memory honored by Johnson, who gave a heartfelt acceptance speech at the award ceremony.

    New York Film Academy congratulates 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory and BFA Acting for Film grad Michael Johnson on receiving the inaugural Elan Vega Award and honoring the spirit of NYFA alum Elan Vega.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    NYFA alum and Elan Vega Award recipient Michael Johnson

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  • Netflix Streams Two Short Films by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni

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    In the interest of promoting social issues and international diversity, Netflix has curated a series of six films from Saudi Arabia, including two shorts by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni, Mohamed al Salman and Meshal Al Jaser. The series of six Saudi films is entitled Six Windows in the Desert and was made available last month in 190 countries.

    six windows in the desert
    The release is part of an extended effort by Saudi Arabia to expand its cinema culture. Last year, a feature film by NYFA alumni
    made history by becoming the first Saudi film to screen in a professional theater in Jeddah since the nation lifted its 35-year-long ban on cinemas in 2018. With Six Windows, Netflix aims to  “shine a light on thought-provoking subjects with a focus on social themes.”

    One of the films in Six Windows in the Desert is the 2019 short 27th of Shaban, written and directed by Mohamed al Salman. The film follows two characters–Mohammed and Nouf–who go on a date, an act prohibited in Saudi Arabia. “It’s a simple love story in a very unique and complex culture,” says al Salman of his film. al Salman first attended NYFA’s 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory last fall. 

    six windows in the desert

    Cinema is just starting in Saudi Arabia,” he adds, “and I thought we have too many stories in the 2000s that were never told, which I remember vividly. I thought it’s interesting to tell and watch ourselves in the past, especially in a time where the Saudi society is changing considerably.”

    Is Sumiyati Going to Hell? is another of the six films in the series, directed and co-written by BFA Screenwriting alum Meshal Al Jaser. The film tells the story of a maid named Sumiyati through the perspective of a family’s youngest child; Sumiyati previously won Best of the Month at the 2017 Gold Movie Awards. Al Jaser, who studied at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus, was recently nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film at the Sundance Film Festival for his film Arabian Alien.

    Six WIndows isn’t just a major spotlight for Saudi films, but for short films as well. Arab News quoted NYFA MFA Filmmaking alum Abdulelah Al-Qurashi, who described the new series as a great opportunity for short films, “because we usually don’t see them. Short films are usually displayed at festivals.”

    six windows in the desert

    New York Film Academy Filmmaking alum Sultan Al-Salami, who worked on Is Sumiyati Going to Hell?, is thrilled to see Netflix recognize Saudi cinema. “Saudi has a massive amount of talent,” he tells NYFA, before rattling off a list of Saudi directors, producers, and writers, including Sara Alnawasra, Mississippi Ibrahim, Bader Alhomoud, Mahmoud Sabbagh, Haifaa al-Mansour, Malik Nejer, Ali Kalthami, Abdulaziz Alshlahei, Khaled Fahad, Hana Alomair, Dina Naji, Nawaf Alshubaili, and, of course, Sumiyati writer and director Meshal Al Jaser.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA alumni Mohamed al Salman and Meshal Al Jaser on their success and encourages everyone to check out their films as part of Six Windows in the Desert, currently available on Netflix.

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    March 17, 2020 • Film School, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 361

  • Award-Winning Director & Cinematographer Liz Hinlein Joins New York Film Academy (NYFA) As Creative Director of Filmmaking & Cinematography

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is delighted to announce the addition of award-winning director and cinematographer Liz Hinlein to our faculty as the new Creative Director of Filmmaking & Cinematography. Over the course of her career, Hinlein has made a name for herself in a traditionally male-dominated industry as a passionate, talented filmmaker and director of photography whose work has spanned the fields of feature film, advertising, music video and VR/AR/XR.

    Born in Philadelphia and educated in the Quaker school system, Hinlein earned her MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute and her BFA in Film & Television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Hinlein’s debut feature film, Other People’s Children, earned several awards on the film festival circuit—including Best of the Fest at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival and Best Director at the NYLA International Film Festival—and is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime and iTunes.

    Liz Hinlein

    NYFA Filmmaking & Cinematography Creative Director Liz Hinlein

    Hinlein’s wealth of experience and passion for innovation makes her a perfect fit for New York Film Academy, which boasts a diverse and international student body from over 120 countries. With the film industry hungrier than ever for filmmakers and visual artists from every background, Hinlein will be an invaluable asset to NYFA Filmmaking and Cinematography students looking to express the world their stories in their own ways.

    “Stepping in to my new role as Creative Director of the Film and Cinematography departments at New York Film Academy is an exciting new challenge,” says Hinlein. “My vision is to elevate the departments and expand their reach as a dynamic creative hub for creators, filmmakers, and visionary thinkers in New York. We’re building a meeting ground where students and the creative community can nurture ideas, collaborate, and learn from one another. NYFA’s Film and Cinematography departments are a refreshing win-win for students and the industry alike.”

    Hinlein has been at the forefront of a rapidly-evolving visual medium. Recently, her VR film for Byton Auto was nominated for Best Branded Entertainment/Commercial at the 2019 CES VR Fest. In 2018 she directed Accenture’s VR film, Behind the Style, winning that same award. Most recently, Hinlein spent time China writing and directing The Dream Factory, a series of seven epic branding films for the prestigious Sichuan Film and Television University, using Google Translate to navigate her way through the country. Currently Liz is in pre-production on OSAGE ’85, a groundbreaking immersive documentary experience. 

    In television, Hinlein was selected for the DGA DDI TV Directing Program, the Sony Diversity Program and the Viacom Diversity Program. Her visual expertise comes from a background of directing commercials and music videos for top brands, including Dove, Lifetime, Revlon, Gillette, Maybelline, A&E, and MAC Cosmetics. Additionally, Hinlein has created films for superstar musicians such as Mary J. Blige and Britney Spears, and has been commissioned to photograph Quincy Jones, Incubus, and Fishbone. 

    Hinlein’s success in multiple fields also reflects NYFA’s commitment to combating gender inequality in the entertainment/media industry by educating and training more women to fill important roles on film and television sets. With a student body that is nearly 50% women, one of Hinlein’s first initiatives as Creative Director will be to form a NYFA Film Femme Club, where students can come together to inspire genuine conversation, encourage self-confidence, collaborate to create healthy media, and establish platforms that empower women to generate a positive impact on the entertainment industry.

    New York Film Academy looks forward to the exciting energy and ideas filmmaker Liz Hinlein will share with our Filmmaking and Cinematography students!

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  • New York Film Academy Cinematography Alum Shoots Awkwafina’s Award-Winning Film ‘The Farewell’

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    The Farewell Qianying Zhou & Anna Franquesa-Solano

    NYFA Alumni Qianying Zhou & Anna Franquesa-Solano

    The Farewell, the multiple award-winning drama-comedy film starring Awkwafina, was shot by director of photography and New York Film Academy Cinematography alum Anna Franquesa-Solano, with BFA Filmmaking alum Qianying Zhou working as 1st Assistant Camera.

    Both Solano and Zhou started their journeys from outside the United States. Solano originally hails from Spain and attended the 1-Year Cinematography conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus in 2010. Zhou, who enrolled in the 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus in 2010 before continuing her studies in the BFA Filmmaking program at NYFA-Los Angeles, is from China.

    I believe in order to grow, you have to step out of your comfort zone,” Franquesa-Solano tells NYFA. “My first big leap was moving to New York without even speaking English in order to study cinematography. A few years later I challenged myself again by shooting The Farewell, a demanding project that came with a lot of responsibility. These two have been so far some of the most important decisions of my career.”

    The Farewell Anna Franquesa-Solano

    NYFA Cinematography Alum Anna Franquesa-Solano

    These decisions have paid off, both for Franquesa-Solano and for the beautifully-shot film. The Farewell was a Grand Jury Prize nominee at Sundance before earning numerous nominations and awards, including nominations for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards and, most recently, winning top prize at the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Feature.

    The Farewell tells the story of a Chinese family who decide not to tell their grandmother she is dying, scheduling a wedding to bring the family together before she dies. The film was written and directed by Lulu Wang and stars Awkwafina, the Queens-born rapper, comedian, producer, writer, and actress who has steadily risen in fame since appearing in films like Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians. Her dramatic talent in the film earned her numerous nominations and awards as well, including a Golden Globe win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

    New York Film Academy congratulates 1-Year Cinematography alum Anna Franquesa-Solano and BFA Filmmaking alum Qianying Zhou on the success of The Farewell and looks forward to following their blossoming careers!

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  • Feature Film By NYFA BFA Filmmaking Alumni ‘Easy Living’ Screens at Santa Barbara International Film Festival

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    Easy Living, the debut feature film by New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Filmmaking alum Orso Miyakawa and his brother Peter—and shot by NYFA BFA Filmmaking alum Andrey Nuzhnyy, is screening at this month’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival as an Official Selection.

    The film is self-described as a melancholic, coming-of-age comedy about a fourteen-year-old boy, his older sister, and a bizarre American tennis teacher who come up with an absurd plan to help a migrant sneak across the border. It recently had its premiere at the Torino Film Festival in Turin, Italy.

    Orso Miyakawa and Andrey Nuzhnyy met during their first year together at NYFA’s New York campus. Together, Miyakawa and Nuzhnyy moved to Los Angeles a year later to complete their BFA in Filmmaking studies at NYFA’s Burbank-based location.

    easy living torso miyakawa

    NYFA BFA Filmmaking alum Orso Miyakawa

    “We always worked on each other’s projects,” says Miyakawa of his time with Nuzhnyy at NYFA, “we watched hundreds and hundreds of movies together, and most importantly, we developed a similar sense of humor—which I believe is the key to understanding why we collaborate so well with each other.”

    After graduating and working on various film sets around the world, Miyakawa and his brother Peter, who also collaborated on several NYFA projects, returned to their home country of Italy where they started a production company with their friends, family, and Nuzhnyy. Their company, Wise Pictures began producing short films and music videos before moving onto international feature films and collaborating with artists like Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name, Suspiria)

    Their film Easy Living kicked off its festival run with its premiere at Torino, one of the largest fests in Italy. The film, written and directed by the Miyakawa brothers, was inspired by their childhood home, a small seaside town on the border between France and Italy.

    easy living Andrey Nuzhnyy

    NYFA BFA Filmmaking alum Andrey Nuzhnyy

    Despite its specific, personal roots, the Miyakawa brothers have always aimed for the film to reach a universal audience. “The movie takes place around the Italian border with France,” Miyakawa tells NYFA, “but it could easily be transported to the US border with Mexico and work perfectly fine.”

    Easy Living will screen at Santa Barbara International Film Festival, one of California’s most prestigious cinema fests, on Monday, January 20 at 4:30 p.m. local time. The film will screen two more times at Santa Barbara, on Tuesday, January 21 at 2:40 p.m. and Wednesday, January 22 at 8:20 a.m.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Peter Miyakawa and New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Filmmaking alumni Orso Miyakawa and Andrey Nuzhnyy on Easy Living and encourage everyone in the Santa Barbara area to check out the film!

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    January 28, 2020 • Film Festivals, Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 403

  • Acclaimed Director, Writer, and Producer Phillip Noyce Joins New York Film Academy (NYFA) Faculty as Master Class Instructor

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    Phillip Noyce, the acclaimed and award-winning director, screenwriter, and producer of film and television, has joined the New York Film Academy (NYFA) faculty and this week taught his first master class to MFA Filmmaking students at our Los Angeles campus.

    Throughout his prolific career, Noyce has worked with such celebrated luminaries performers as Harrison Ford, Nicole Kidman, Denzel Washington, Michael Caine, Meryl Streep, Val Kilmer, James Earl Jones, Rutger Hauer, Kenneth Branagh, Angelina Jolie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Bridges, Willem Dafoe, Liev Schreiber, and Renée Zellweger.

    Phillip Noyce

    Noyce began his first NYFA master class by showing behind-the-scenes footage from his award-winning film, Rabbit-Proof Fence, before going into the early beginnings of his filmmaking career. Noyce was born in New South Wales, Australia, and moved to Sydney at a young age. Before he was twenty years old, he started running the Filmmaker’s Cinema along with Jan Chapman, where for three years he screened the short films of directors who would go on to develop the Australian New Wave, such as Gillian Armstrong, Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford, Paul Cox, and George Miller.

    After working in television and directing a few feature productions, Noyce made his breakout film, Dead Calm, which launched the career of Nicole Kidman. Soon after that, he was living in Los Angeles directing major Hollywood studio films, including the Jack Ryan films Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, starring Harrison Ford. 

    Since then Noyce has written, directed, and produced numerous commercially and critically successful films like The Saint, The Bone Collector, Salt, The Giver, The Quiet American, and Rabbit-Proof Fence, as well as various TV pilots, episodes, and miniseries like Vietnam, Tru Calling, Luck, Roots (2016), and the recent Netflix original What/If.

    Noyce has been recognized for his outstanding contributions as a filmmaker, earning multiple nominations and awards for his work. These include a National Board of Review award for Best Director, a London Critics Circle Film Award for Director of the Year, several awards from film festivals like the Edinburgh International Film Festival and Bangkok International Film Festival, and numerous awards from Australian institutions including Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards for Best Film, Best Director, and a special Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Phillip Noyce

    In his new role on New York Film Academy’s faculty, Noyce instructed MFA Filmmaking students on several aspects of the craft, using scenes from his films Dead Calm and Rabbit-Proof Fence to illustrate many of his talking points, using his decades of experience as a director, writer, and producer. He described how “having a hard back and soft front” was vital for directors–a strong vision and determination that cohabitates with a willingness to listen and accept new ideas.

    On directing the right screenplays, Noyce expressed that the most important thing for a good script is that you have to love it–to have an emotional connection to it and be passionate about the story. He proved his own point by relating to the class how he passed on a huge offer to direct the next Jack Ryan movie so that he could focus on the indie film Rabbit-Proof Fence.

    Additionally, Noyce covered everything from artistic voice and vision to the practicalities of directing stunts and action scenes, such as the famous truck sequence from the Angelina Jolie vehicle, Salt. The master class even included a trust exercise where students took turns guiding other students whose eyes were shut around the room without using dialogue, forcing them to connect and place trust in one another. 

    After covering several aspects of filmmaking in detail, the master class concluded with a lecture on television, including a video of a TV series pitch that a writer had recorded for Noyce. He contrasted it with a written pitch that he distributed to the class, who then discussed which pitches they preferred and why. Phillip finished the night by taking suggestions from students for other subjects they’d next like to learn more about, promising to focus on these and more in upcoming master classes he’ll be teaching at the Academy.

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    January 22, 2020 • Faculty Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 509

  • New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Alum Jaco Dukes Premieres ‘El Guardia’ at Cannes Film Festival’s Marché du Film

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    New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Alum Jaco Dukes saw all of his hard work come to fruition last May when he premiered his film El Guardia at the Cannes Film Festival’s Marché du Film.

    Dukes originally hails from Chile and first attended NYFA in September 2011, enrolling in the MFA in Filmmaking program at our Los Angeles campus. “My first year at NYFA was one of the best years of my life,” says Dukes. “For the first time, I was able to think about filmmaking all day, every day of the week. It was paradise. My thesis film that I shot at NYFA opened the door for me to every project and work opportunity that came after. So I think that, if you have all the guidance, support and resources that NYFA can offer (like the amazing instructors; James, Ryan, Nick, Tim, Andrew, and many others), plus an obsession for film and filmmaking, then probably great things will come.”

    El Guardia Jaco Dukes

    The English-language poster for ‘El Guardia’

    Since graduating NYFA, he has written and directed the short films Silent and Mikey, as well worked several others as an editor and cinematographer. Dukes directed, wrote, and co-produced El Guardia, his first feature film. The script is based on the true story of the highly acclaimed businessman, life coach, and best-selling author Juan Rosado from Puerto Rico, and was inspired by Rosado’s empowering book Rags to Riches (El Guardia Que Compró Su Sueño).

    The story focuses on a frustrated security guard that starts a network marketing business as a second job with his mentor and veterinarian friend, which leads them into a life-changing journey that will affect the lives of everyone around them.

    The film made its grand debut at the Marché du Film in Cannes, France in May 2019. The distribution of the film is being managed by Adler & Associates Entertainment, who are submitting the film to festivals around the world as well as planning a theatrical premiere and distribution in cinemas in Puerto Rico, Miami, New York, and Los Angeles sometime in 2020.

    El Guardia Jaco Dukes

    NYFA MFA Filmmaking alum Jaco Dukes

    Dukes is currently working on his next screenplay, an indie film that he’s always wanted to make—he’s devoting all of his energy to producing it in 2020. Says Dukes, “[El Guardia] was the most challenging learning experience of my life as a film director, and thanks to all the obstacles, failures, and successes I had making this film, now I am a little more confident about directing my passion project, my own script, and kick ass with it.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Filmmaking alum Jaco Dukes on the Cannes Film Festival Marché du Film premiere of El Guardia and looks forward to seeing what he makes next! 

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    January 10, 2020 • Film Festivals, Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 736

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Li Cheng’s ‘José’ Gets National Release After Winning Queer Lion Award at Venice Film Festival

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    It’s becoming more and more common for New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni to win major festival prizes, so it wasn’t any surprise when news broke out that Filmmaking grad Li Cheng won the 2018 Queer Lion Award at the 75th Venice Film Festival, one of the world’s most prominent cinema competitions; his film José is now the first Central American film to do so. Following the prestigious award as well as premieres in 50 countries and 100 festival cities worldwide, José now has a national USA theatre release, starting in a dozen major markets, with Cheng personally be presenting the film and speaking with audiences during each of the first three days for both the New York and Los Angeles screenings.

    Li Cheng Jose

    NYFA alum LI Cheng on set of Jośe, Courtesy of YQstudio LLC

    In 2008, Cheng attended the 4-Week Filmmaking workshop at our New York campus. “My NYFA experience was wonderful,” Cheng tells NYFA, “and key to getting started right: hands-on, quickly, low-cost/high-value, with passionate film professionals, and meeting and working together with creative, energetic, inspiring faculty, staff, and student-cohorts from day one. I couldn’t have asked for more, or a better kickstart to my career in film.”

    Cheng used that kickstart to his full advantage. His feature film José is a nuanced look at the challenges and joys of gay life in Central America. The Spanish-language, English-subtitled film follows star José (Enrique Salanic), who lives at home with his mother (Ana Cecilia Mota), who makes ends meet by selling sandwiches at bus stops and who is not ready to let go of her youngest child. But when he meets Luis (Manolo Herrera), José is pushed to break down his own boundaries and take a leap of faith with this new relationship. 

    José was written and produced by Cheng, along with George F. Roberson, and was shot in Guatemala with a non-industry artist and academic crew, making it the first major LGBTQIA+ film to come from the nation. Outsider Pictures is the film’s North American distributor and world sales, while international festival sales are handled by Rediance (of Paris and Beijing).

    Li Cheng Jose

    The powerful film has resonated with audiences. Winning the Queer Lion is an incredible achievement; the Queer Lion Award is the trophy awarded, starting in 2007, to the “Best Movie with LGBT Themes & Queer Culture” among those presented during the Venice International Film Festival. Previous winners include Tom Ford’s A Single Man and Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl. José has also won Best Film at the Boston LGBT Film Festival and was cited for its “confident visual sense…a sensitive portrait [with a] depth of feeling” by The Hollywood Reporter.

    The film will screen at the Quad Cinema in New York City from Friday, January 31 – Sunday, February 2. Tickets are available here. Other screenings for José, including at the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles on February 7, can be found here. Q&A sessions between the audiences and Cheng will follow screenings each of the first three days for both the New York and Los Angeles releases.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Li Cheng on winning the Venice Film Festival’s Queer Lion award and looks forward to following his career as a filmmaker!

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  • Noted Film Critic Peter Rainer Discusses ‘Straight Time’ with New York Film Academy (NYFA)

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    On Thursday, December 5, New York Film Academy hosted a screening and discussion with noted film critic Peter Rainer on Straight Time, directed by Ulu Grosbard. Made in 1978, the American crime drama centers around a career criminal, Max Dembo (Dustin Hoffman), who is determined to go straight after his latest stint in prison. He takes a mindless job in a cannery, patiently endures the abuse of Earl, his pompous parole officer, and begins a romance with a sympathetic girl from the employment office. But when Earl erroneously busts Jack for drug abuse, the ex-con cracks, setting off a reckless crime spree.

    Peter Rainer Straight Time
    Peter Rainer has 30 years of professional experience as a film critic and is currently the film critic for the Christian Science Monitor and can be heard regularly on NPR’s Film Week on KPCC-FM. He was one of three finalists in 1998 for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism and is a three-time winner of the Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award for best online film critic. He has also written and co-produced two A&E biographies—on Sidney Poitier and John Huston—as well as co-authoring the film Joyride (1977). He has served on the main juries for the Venice and Montreal film festivals.

    Rainer opened up the discussion by asking students in attendance what they thought about Straight Time in relation to Hoffman’s more popular work in more well-known hits such as The Graduate and Tootsie. One student expressed, “From what I know of Dustin Hoffman, I expected the film to be a redemption story for the protagonist trying to assimilate back into society after prison, but the film quickly took a left turn that I was not anticipating and it was a role I’ve never seen him play before.” 

    straight time peter rainer
    Rainer touched upon the fact that Straight Time was not a film that gained a lot of traction, and felt that was partly due to the fact that the role of Max Dembo was such a deviation from Hoffman’s usual beloved underdog characters. Instead, Rainer shared, the film got more attention for the events that occurred behind the scenes; citing the litigation battle between Hoffman and First Artists Production Company over the creative rights to the film after the shooting had gone 23 days over schedule and $1 million over budget.  

    Sharing his film critic expertise, Rainer advised, “A good way to look at a scene is to think about all the different ways it could have been shot, and then decipher why it is the director chose to portray it in that specific way,” specifically referring to scenes in Straight Time that contributed to the depiction of Hoffman’s character as a hardened criminal versus an individual in unfortunate circumstances. 

    Additionally, Rainer commended the film’s use of film noir techniques while also effectively humanizing the characters and removing the glitz of Los Angeles to portray a more realistic story. In turn, students in attendance were able to compare and contrast the film’s strategic use and deviation from classic film noir.       

    Peter Rainer Straight Time
    New York Film Academy thanks Peter Rainer for taking the time to share his knowledge and critical expertise with students.

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    December 12, 2019 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 587