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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking Alum Kevin Nwankwor Films ‘Muna’

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    After finishing the film Tempting Fate, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum Kevin Nwankwor didn’t take a break—he immediately got to work on his next film, Muna. Earlier this month, the trailer for Muna was released.

    Muna is an action-drama directed by Nwankwor and written by Nwankwor, Joe Leone, and Liam Parry based on a story by award-winning author Unoma Nwankwor. The film was executive produced by Emmanuel Ojeah and Unoma Nwankwor. 

    Shot in both the US and Nigeria, Muna tells the story of an assassin who falls in love while getting tangled in the global sex trafficking crisis. The cast includes Adam Huss, Robert Miano, Massi Furlan, Mayling Ng, and stars Adesua Etomi-Wellington, wife of musician and NYFA alum Banky Wellington. 

    “Human trafficking has become a great menace in our world today—the most troublesome part is the impact it has on the victims, turning them into something they would never have dreamt of becoming,” says Nwankwor. “Listening to the stories of these victims and knowing about those who go missing is heartbreaking. This is what motivated me to make Muna.” 

    After earning his MFA in Filmmaking from Burbank-based NYFA-Los Angeles, Nwankwor became CEO of family-owned production company KevStel, based in Atlanta, Georgia with an office in Abuja, Nigeria. KevStel produced both Tempting Fate and the upcoming Muna.

    “I came into NYFA with a goal and a desire to succeed,” adds Nwankwor. “I hear people say there’s no need for film school, but after the drilling and hands-on training while acquiring my Master’s degree in Filmmaking from New York Film Academy, I was able to make my first feature, Tempting Fate, which received some nominations and awards even while I was still a NYFA student. And now in the new feature film Muna, you will see the traces of a Master’s touch.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Filmmaking alum Kevin Nwankwor on his latest film Muna and looks forward to its release! 

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    June 13, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 494

  • South African New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Meet Up at Inaugural Events

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    This May, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted inaugural South African NYFA alumni events in Johannesburg and Cape Town. This was a fantastic opportunity for NYFA’s South African alumni to connect and expand their network. South Africa Alumni Event

    Blake Babbitt, NYFA Associate Director of Outreach, has been traveling to South Africa for that past 7 years on behalf of the school, and was very delighted to see a true community of New York Film Academy artists coming together in their home country. 

    “There is a growing entertainment industry here in South Africa,” says Babbitt. “Ultimately we want our graduates to use the techniques and knowledge gained at NYFA to influence the industry not only in America, but in their home countries as well.”

    Babbitt continues, “The power of community is essential to the entertainment industry and to artistic success. I am very pleased to see a community of New York Film Academy artists forming here in South Africa, and I’m excited to see how this budding community will expand and impact the way South African stories are told. The sky is the limit for this group!” 

    During the event, NYFA alumni exchanged contact information, formed WhatsApp groups, and tagged each other in social media posts and stories. There was even discussion to form an official alumni chapter in South Africa. 

    Additionally, many alumni expressed their gratitude for the training they received at New York Film Academy, and for NYFA’s concern for them after they graduated. “Once you join us at New York Film Academy, you become a part of our family for life,” Babbitt told the alumni. “We don’t forget about you the second you graduate. Seeing you succeed is incredibly important to us.”

    “Blake and Maria were the most gracious hosts,” says BFA Filmmaking alum Zack Schofield-Nel. “The people that I was blessed to have networked with were incredible; I have built connections that will last for a long time to come. This could have only have happened because I was fortunate enough to attend the New York Film Academy.”

    He adds, “It is the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious that I could have ever imagined!”

    Attendees included the following NYFA alumni:

    • Lunathi Mampofu (2-year Acting for Film): Trailblazing South African actress. Working on multiple TV shows in South Africa.

    • Eden Classens (2-year Musical Theatre): Runner-up, Dancing with the Stars South Africa; Lead on Afrikaans series Suidooster; recently cast in Netflix’s Kissing Booth 2.

    • Rethabile Ramaphakela (8-week Screenwriting): South African production company co-owner and voiceover artist best known as the voice of the Vuzu shows V-Entertainment and 10 Over 10. Co-owner of the production company Burnt Onion Productions with her brothers Tshepo and Katleho, who created and produced the SABC1 sitcom My Perfect Family and the Vuzu mockumentary Check-Coast. Produced and created a show that is currently available on Amazon Prime. Directing her first feature film in June.

    • Zandi Zim (MFA Acting for Film): Formed her own production company. South African actress that has performed at The Grahamstown National Arts Festival and Cape Town Fringe Festival. Stage actor since the age of eight and has studied Meisner and Alexander Technique. Zandi also sings, plays jazz piano and marimbas, and speaks English and conversational Sesotho.

    • Jacqueline Rainers Setai (8-week Screenwriting, continuing into 1-year Screenwriting): Head of Mojalove Channel on DSTV; well-known and established South African writer, producer, documentarian, broadcaster.

    • Petrone van der Merwe (8-week Acting for Film): Currently in two stage productions for the ADK (Academy of Dramatic Arts)’s 80th birthday celebrations that will premiere at the UJ Artscape Theater in Johannesburg and will also be performed in Stellenbosch at the Drostdy Theater. Signed with the talent agency, Gaenor Artiste Management.

    • Audrey Mokono (1-year Acting for Film, continuing into BFA Acting for Film): Recent graduate of NYFA’s 1-year Acting for Film program and will continue her studies in NYFA’s BFA Acting for Film program.

    • Anlezia Venter (BFA Acting for Film): Opened her own fitness studio in Cape Town.

    • Zackary Nel (BFA Filmmaking): Currently finishing his BFA thesis film in Cape Town, and has hired his own local crew.

    • Paul Fulton (8-week Screenwriting): Copywriter for ad agency. Has two feature-length scripts he is working on getting sold.

    • Keyuri Naidoo (6-week Acting for Film): From Johannesburg; known for her role as Karishma in Droomdag (2017) directed by Willie Esterhuizen. During her time at NYFA-Los Angeles, Keyuri directed and acted in numerous student short films.

    • Thuto Marrengula (1-year Acting for Film): Thuto Marrengula is an actor, known for Non American Dreamers (2018) and Ask Questions Later (2016); currently developing an hour-long stand up routine.

    • Nyeleti Khoza (AFA Acting for Film):  South African actor known for The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead (2016), Black Tea (2017), and Remember Me (2017). Recently cast in Giyani – Land of Blood, a new highly-viewed telenovela on SABC2

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Cristian Prieto Takes His Talents to Australia

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Cristian Prieto and his wife have moved to Byron Bay, a coastal town in Australia that is a hot spot home and vacation spot for many of Hollywood’s biggest names. This includes Chris Hemsworth and his wife—actress, model, and Fast and the Furious star Elsa Pataky. Pataky is the sister of Cristian Prieto, so the move to Byron Bay is bringing the Spanish-born siblings closer than ever. 

    In June 2010, Prieto graduated the 1-year Filmmaking program at NYFA-Los Angeles, where he received over a thousand hours of hands-on instruction and actual production experience in a curriculum that integrates intensive study in cinematography, directing, screenwriting, producing, and editing.Cristian Prieto

    Prieto’s thesis film was titled Bye By Baby and starred Pataky. Prieto wore multiple hats on the film—writing, directing, and producing the short. A year later, he worked on the film Prodigal, starring Kenneth Branagh.

    Shortly after that, Prieto worked on 2012’s The Avengers, which co-starred his brother-in-law as the hammer-wielding superhero Thor. It wouldn’t be the last time Hemsworth and Prieto worked together—Prieto also served on the production crew for 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok; the film was shot in Queensland partially at Village Roadshow Studios, where NYFA Gold Coast students also have the opportunity to shoot their films.

    Prieto has also acted, including a role in Giallo, starring Adrien Brody and Elsa Pataky, and also works as a photographer. He recently shot an editorial for fashion brand Spell Byron Bay, featuring his sister.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Cristian Prieto and his wife on their new home and looks forward to his future projects, whether they involve filmmaking, photography, acting, or whatever passion he chooses to follow next!

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    May 24, 2019 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 376

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts First Annual John Burroughs High School Film Festival

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was proud to host the first annual John Burroughs High School Film Festival earlier this month on May 5. The festival featured four films made by the young students. Students used their own equipment—smartphones, high-quality cameras, and sound equipment—to film their movies, which ranged in length from two to 10 minutes.

    John Burroughs has a film club filled with students that have a great passion for film. The president of the film club approached NYFA in the fall of 2018 with interest in visiting the campus and starting a film festival. NYFA was very excited to help them achieve this goal. 

    John Burroughs HS Film Festival 2019
    A 1-week workshop scholarship was awarded to one of the filmmakers, chosen by the audience.   The winning film was the four minute short, Time Machine.

    The festival garnered the attention of the LA Times, where journalist Andrew J. Campa wrote about the event and interviewed John Burroughs High School Film Club President Orion Spatafora and NYFA Senior Outreach Specialist Jody Burns.

    “It was so much fun to see the students’ hard work pay off,” Burns told the LA Times. “It was so exciting for us at New York Film Academy to see the hard work they put into their films. The students also loved getting to see their work on the big screen in a theater setting.”

    John Burroughs HS Film Festival 2019

    The festival was small this year, but both NYFA and Spatafore expect more students of John Burroughs to participate in the second annual event. “We’re already planning next year’s film festival now,” Spatafora told the LA Times. “We want more students involved, and we want to get this out to the community.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates the filmmaking students on jobs well done and looks forward to next year’s John Burroughs High School Film Festival! 

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    May 23, 2019 • Film Festivals, Film School, Outreach • Views: 454

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Wraps Another Successful Outreach Filmmaking Workshop with BAFTA-LA

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is passionate and dedicated to share the love for storytelling with everyone. In our dedicated efforts to give back to the community, New York Film Academy-Los Angeles has been running a filmmaking workshop in partnership with the British Academy of Film and Television Los Angeles (BAFTA-LA) for youth in need since 2012.

    During a 9-week intensive film program focused on telling stories, students from Washington Prep High School learned the foundations of filmmaking and how to make their own short films, from A to Z. They got a chance to shoot their films on professional Hollywood sets at the Universal Studios backlot. 

    Outreach BAFTA HS 2019
    The program culminated with a graduation ceremony on May 11 at the NYFA Theater, attended by students, friends and family, BAFTA-LA members, and NYFA faculty. 

    Sharyn Ross, Head of BAFTA Outreach Program, told NYFA after the ceremony:

    “Our Saturday graduation event was a huge success. The theater was filled with student filmmakers, and their families and guests. The films were terrific and were received with enthusiasm and lots of applause and laughter. The genres ranged from comedies to heartbreak romance, from campy horror to philosophical life lessons. After the screening, each filmmaker stepped up to the mic and shared their thoughts about their experience and how important this program is to them and the kids in their community. It was heartwarming and emotional.

    “Each of you played an intricate part in making this year successful. As each filmmaker acknowledged, it was hard work and when the semester began, they didn’t know if it was possible. With each Saturday building on the last, and with the support and patience of all of you standing by them, they learned a huge life lesson—no matter how hard something is, keep putting one foot in front of the other, don’t give up, trust your gut and those you are collaborating with, and you can depend on the grownups in the room that they won’t let go—and most importantly, that their stories and lives matter.”

    Outreach BAFTA HS 2019

    Students who attended the program also spoke about their experience over the past several weeks:

    “The BAFTA/NYFA program was a great experience that helped me harness and share what I love.”
    – Alony Shell

    “Working in the BAFTA/NYFA program was fun because I went to Universal Studios and was able to direct my own movie!”
    – Makyiaha Daniel

    “The Outreach program was a wonderful opportunity that helped me experience the wonders of filmmaking.”
    – Jermaine Plum

    “The BAFTA program has had such a positive impact on me. I’ve learned so much from writing and directing to camera and editing—it’s a great program and I hope to do it again!”
    – Dovely King

    “This program benefitted me in so many ways.”
    – Emag M.

    “I’m very grateful to be a part of this program which helped me learn new skills.”
    – David O.

    New York Film Academy expresses its gratitude for the opportunity to work with so many young talented inspiring filmmakers and thanks Washington Prep High School Film teacher Darryl McCrane, Head of BAFTA Outreach Program Sharyn Ross, and to all the other dedicated BAFTA and NYFA staff members who made this program successful. Their hard work and dedication helped the participants to not only develop their craft as young storytellers through making their own films, but also supported students’ confidence and creativity. 

    NYFA looks forward to many more years of outreach partnership with the British Academy of Film and Television!

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    May 21, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Outreach • Views: 344

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Announces Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship Recipients

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    The first four recipients of the inaugural year of the prestigious New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship have been announced. The grantees are Leeni Linna (MFA Filmmaking), Jose Miguel Perez-Alcazar (MFA Filmmaking), Nicholas Rosolino (MFA Acting), and Lucia Flores (MFA Documentary).

    The scholarship is sponsored by Golden Globe-winning actor and filmmaker Matthew Modine, who is a member of the New York Film Academy’s Board of Directors and a master class instructor at NYFA. He is instantly recognizable to fans of the Netflix global mega hit Stranger Things, which won the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble, and as Private Joker from the iconic film Full Metal Jacket. Called “one of the best, most adaptable film actors of his generation” by legendary New York Times film critic Vincent Canby. Modine has worked with many of the film industry’s most acclaimed directors, including Christopher Nolan, Stanley Kubrick, and Spike Lee.

    The scholarship provides financial assistance to outstanding candidates of the school’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in select disciplines. To qualify, recipients must demonstrate the values set forth by NYFA to further the art of visual storytelling. Candidates are nominated by faculty or staff, and the chosen grantees receive $5,000-$10,000 per year based on criteria including an audition or portfolio submission, academic performance, professional experience, and participation in the arts. Up to ten scholarships are personally awarded each year by award-winning actor Matthew Modine, who recently announced his candidacy for the presidency of SAG-AFTRA. 

    Two of this year’s Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship awardees, Jose Miguel Perez-Alcazar and Lucia Flores, are attending the New York Film Academy as Fulbright Program grantees. The Fulbright Program is an international scholarship program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It awards approximately 8,000 grants annually to students, teachers, and professionals from over 160 countries. NYFA is proud to have welcomed over 60 Fulbright students from more than 35 countries to date. In addition, NYFA is privileged to have Fulbright Program alumni as part of its faculty, including NYFA Director of Fulbright Initiatives Miguel Cruz. Professor Cruz, Fulbright alum ‘05, also serves as the Vice President for the Fulbright Association Chapter of Los Angeles.

    Modine Scholarship

    From L to R: Matthew Modine, Lucia Flores]

    Jose Miguel Perez-Alcazar is a journalist and filmmaker from Madrid. In addition to being a Fulbright grantee, Perez-Alcazar is also the recipient of a very competitive talent-based grant award from the Ministry of Art & Culture of the Spanish Government. Perez-Alcazar was recommended for the scholarship program by the Fulbright Commission in Spain. He speaks four languages, and has studied in Mexico, Argentina, and Holland as well as Spain. 

    Lucia Flores is a Peruvian documentarian and activist whose work gives voice to minorities. Her latest project follows an expectant mother from the Andes, and details the indigenous people’s rituals around childbirth. Her previous work covers the relationship between the indigenous people and their land, as well as how the people of the Andean-Amazonian region adapted to climate change using traditional knowledge. For her next film project at NYFA —  while being supported by the Fulbright Program — she is teaming with fellow grantee Perez-Alcazar to tell the story of transgender women working on the Amazon River.

    Nicolas Rosolino is a seasoned stage actor with more than 15 credits to his name. His background includes leads in such major musical productions as The Pirates of Penzance, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Beauty and the Beast. The trilingual actor has trained extensively in a variety of techniques, including Stanislavski, Laban, and Grotowski. “He is not afraid to take major creative risks in his acting work,” said Charles Richter, Director of Theatre at Muhlenberg College. “He is an extraordinary talent.” 

    Leeni Linna is an Estonian filmmaker currently studying at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, and holds both a BA and an MA in film directing from Baltic University. A recipient of the Baltic American Freedom Foundation grant, Linna has directed commercials, short films, and documentaries, and is currently working on developing her first feature film as part of her MFA experience. “I see her as being the next Kathryn Bigelow,” said NYFA Professor Miguel Cruz. “She is that talented.”

    Modine Scholarship

    From L to R: Nicholas Rosolino, Matthew Modine, Leeni Linna, Jose Miguel Perez-Alcaza

    “Filmmaking is very important for our culture and its continued development,” said Modine. “Films help us to understand each other better, often exposing us to personal fears and unpleasant superstitions toward the ‘other.’ Through a skilled storyteller’s film lens, documentaries shed light into the darkness and help make the ‘monsters’ go away. Similarly, feature films can illustrate the possible, and can open our eyes to worlds and realities beyond our own. Congratulations to all our inaugural grantees–I eagerly await the projects you will create.” 

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    May 20, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 129

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts Fulbright Association LA Chapter’s Annual Fulbright Film Festival

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    On May 4, 2019, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted the Fulbright Association LA Film Festival. Created by the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Fulbright Association, the unique and exciting event showcased the best recent films that were directed, produced, acted, shot, or scored by current Fulbright grantees and Fulbright alumni of the prestigious Fulbright Program—the US government’s flagship international exchange program. The Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State supported the activity.

    The 2019 Film Showcase included evocative documentary films and breathtaking narrative films from extremely talented filmmakers hailing from United States, Estonia, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Peru, Ukraine, Spain, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Armenia, Costa Rica, and Denmark.

    Fulbright Film Festival 2019
    The daylong event was held at
    NYFA’s Los Angeles campus and included film screenings as well as a panel of industry experts–Hollywood for Fulbrighters–featuring accomplished Fulbright Alums in very relevant positions in the industry.

    The President of the Fulbright Association-LA Chapter, Dr. Jose Siles, and NYFA’s Dean of Students, Dr. Susan Ashe, opened the event. In her remarks welcoming the audience, Dr. Ashe thanked the many volunteers that worked for months to put the event together, including the Festival’s panel of judges.

    Dr. Ashe gave special recognition to NYFA’s own Professor Miguel Cruz, a film and television director, Fulbright alum ’05, NYFA Director of Fulbright Initiatives, and the Vice President of the Fulbright Association-LA chapter, for his invaluable contribution to the Festival.

    “It was exciting to see so many talented storytellers,” says Dr. Ashe. “To know that NYFA is affiliated with Fulbright, and gives a platform for bright students to share their voice and vision, is truly inspiring.”

    Fulbright Film Festival 2019
    The “Hollywood for Fulbrighters” industry panel, moderated by Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Film Festivals Advisor and faculty in the College’s Screenwriting department, offered the audience insightful information about how the inherent diversity that is associated with the Fulbright Program can be an advantage in the current Hollywood landscape. The ensuing discussion included accomplished Fulbright alums and key players in the industry: Santiago Pozo, considered one of the foremost authorities in the advertising world for marketing entertainment and film to U.S. Latino audiences; Arturo Diaz, Netflix Manager for International Originals; Mikko Alannen, showrunner for the National Geographic Channel and screenwriter of feature film
    The 33, starring Antonio Banderas; and Miguel Cruz, film and TV director and NYFA’s Professor and Director of Fulbright Initiatives.

    The lively event ended with a reception that allowed participants—including current Fulbright scholars and students, Fulbright alumni, and NYFA students—to network with representatives of foreign consulates (including Manuel Valle, Spanish Trade Commissioner) and representatives of the Fulbright community (including Ann Kerr, California’s Fulbright Enrichment Program Coordinator), as well as share their own experiences in the Fulbright program and the film industry.

    “It was extremely inspiring and touching to see how the vision of Senator Fulbright of promoting mutual understanding among people from different countries, cultures, and social backgrounds was so well-reflected and empowered by the work of our Fulbright filmmakers,” says Dr. Jose Siles, President of the Fulbright Association-LA Chapter.

    Fulbright Film Festival 2019
    Dr. Siles adds, “Organized by the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Fulbright Association, hosted by the New York Film Academy, and sponsored by the The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Association LA Film Festival was a total success and set the basis for a yearly event that will continue sending out loud to the world the Fulbright message through the big screen.”  

    The U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. New York Film Academy is proud to have hosted more than 60 Fulbright students from over 35 countries to date.

    The Los Angeles Chapter of the Fulbright Association and NYFA congratulate the following talented filmmakers that were selected for the 2019 Fulbright Film Festival & Showcase:

    Selected Documentary Films Category
    Lucía Florez (Peru)
    Adrineh Gregorian (Armenia)
    Pedro Peira (Spain)
    Kelly Richardson (USA)

    Selected Narrative Films Category
    Laura Ávila (Costa Rica)
    Abdallah ElDaly (Egypt)
    Lasse Elkjær (Denmark)
    Ishani Jayamaha (Sri Lanka)
    Vlad Klimchunk (Ukraine)
    Madi Lääne (Estonia)
    Nataliya O’Lea (Ukraine)
    Alejandro Márquez Vela (Mexico)
    Catherine Taylor (United Kingdom)

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    May 20, 2019 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 261

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students Attend Tribeca Film Festival

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    Filmmaking and Documentary students from New York Film Academy (NYFA) recently had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) in New York City. With over 100 titles, including world premieres of films by Jared Leto, Christoph Waltz, and Margot Robbie, the annual film bash rolled out the red carpet from April 24 through May 5 at venues all across Manhattan. 

    This year’s edition of Tribeca Film Festival was programmed from more than 9000 submissions and included not only fiction and nonfiction features, but also guest speaker Q&As, games, and virtual reality experiences. 

    As part of TFF’s annual Tribeca Talks, this year’s Director Series featured a stellar line-up, with conversations between groundbreaking filmmakers, actors, and industry professionals, including Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese and Academy Award-winning actor and TFF co-founder Robert De Niro. The legendary duo came together at the Beacon Theatre for an in-depth discussion on inspiration, music, childhood memories and behind-the-scenes moments. The two artists’ engaging conversation offered attendees an inside look into their celebrated careers and iconic film collaborations, from Mean Streets and Raging Bull to Goodfellas and Casino, to the upcoming The Irishman.

    Another particularly standout Tribeca Talk was between Questlove and Boots Riley, two notable artists who posses a deep understanding of their craft and continue to take risks as storytellers, both within the world of music and beyond—whether through publishing, producing, or filmmaking. These two revolutionary hip-hop artists sat down for a deep, wide-ranging conversation that covered their inspirations and major career breakthroughs as they navigated their success while staying true to their art. 

    Tribeca 2019

    Students from the NYFA Filmmaking and Documentary departments were selected to attend a conversation with Alexander Skarsgård, Nat Wolff, and director Dan Krauss, directly following a screening of The Kill Team. The feature film tells the story of a young soldier during the invasion of Afghanistan who witnesses civilians murdered under the direction of a vicious sergeant, and who finds himself trapped in a violent and vengeful platoon.

    This Tribeca Talk encouraged NYFA Filmmaking student Jianyu Li to rethink his idea of working on a war film feature without having a big budget, something he had been considering for quite some time.

    Tribeca 2019

    Last but not least, the NYFA community was given the opportunity to attend a conversation with director Dee Rees and Queen Latifah as they discussed the Queen Collective, a new film initiative aimed at curating, mentoring, and uplifting female filmmakers. The first two documentary shorts of the Collective, Ballet After Dark and If There Is Light, premiered at this year’s TFF, and up-and-coming directors B. Monét and Haley Elizabeth Anderson joined the conversation as their shorts were spotlighted. 

    Queen Latifah offered all in attendance a lesson on how to nurture talent and creativity, remarking on the importance of having a consistent attitude to uplift. “At the end of the day, it’s about women feeling good about themselves from the inside out.”

    In reflecting on her experience attending this year’s Festival, NYFA Filmmaking student Christelle Chalupa said, “The Tribeca Film Festival experience gave me a lot more courage to fight for what I want and tell good stories.”

    Under the pledge of “Great Stories are Timeless,” the Tribeca Film Festival closed their doors until next year, leaving attendees and NYFA students with the dream of being on its stage someday with their own works.

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  • Q&A with Film Critic Peter Rainer

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    On Thursday, April 25, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a Q&A with prolific Christian Science Monitor film critic, Bloomberg News columnist, and reviewer for National Public Radio’s FilmWeek, Peter Rainer.

    Peter Rainer

    Rainer started off the Q&A by sharing how he came to love movies; he shared that he grew up in the suburbs of New York in the 1950s and 60s and enjoyed trips to the movie theater from a very young age. Rainer explained that, as a teenager, he could not fully relate to some of the classic films he was watching because he had not yet experienced the deeper emotions explored in them, “…of course, when you see a lot of these films when you’re not even out of high school, it’s hard to look at a[n] ‘adult’ movie like L’Avventura or some of these great European classics … and really, you know, you can say they’re great but what kind of a life have you lived to appreciate a film like that? So even though I’m not a huge fan of seeing films over and over again, I do think that, for great movies, it certainly make sense—just like with great literature—to … see them as you mature because you just get more out of them—that’s the definition of a great film.”

    A member of the audience later asked Rainer what he believes to be the purpose of film criticism. “It’s not the value judgement, per se, that you look for in a critic,” said Rainer. He added, “If somebody says to me, ‘I really love your reviews; I agree with everything you say,’ it’s nice to hear but it’s kind of like saying, ‘Thank you for validating my good taste,’” joked Rainer. Rainer said that he likes critics who challenge his views and force him to look at things in a different way.

    Peter Rainer

    Another audience member shared that they believe film to be a type of art and Rainer agreed, saying, “Because it’s such an accessible medium, because we go there and we eat popcorn and we see films and, you know, talk about [them] with our friends … that somehow, you know, you might think that that’s devalued it as an art form, but it [hasn’t].” Rainer spoke of his belief that a film’s artistic relevance transcends the film’s popularity and is truly about how well the story and the characters’ emotions are conveyed.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Peter Rainer for sharing his critic’s perspective on film and its place in society.

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    May 9, 2019 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 584

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Rozette Rago Photographs Steven Spielberg and the Cast of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’

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    Freelance photographer and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Workshop alum Rozette Rago was recently profiled by ABS-CBN news. Rago has photographed several high-profile subjects, including Steven Spielberg, U2, and the cast of Crazy Rich Asians, and often shoots for The New York Times.

    Rago hails from Marilao in the Philippines and is currently based in Los Angeles. In 2011, Rago completed New York Film Academy’s 8-week Filmmaking Workshop. Her first big break came after shooting legendary rock group U2. Since then, she has worked for  national publications including FADER, Buzzfeed News, Bloomberg, TIME, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Smithsonian Books, VICE, and HBO. Additionally, she has shot on the set of famed sitcom Will & Grace, and has worked as a photo editor for Time Out Los Angeles.

    Rozette Rago

    Rago is also a freelance photographer for The New York Times, and has worked with the publication to shoot subjects including musician Shirley Manson, actor Riz Ahmed, racing driver Robert Shwartzman, the cast of Crazy Rich Asians, and filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

    When asked about shooting such high-profile subjects, Rago told ABS-CBN, “The biggest challenge with these shoots is maintaining composure. I have very limited time with them so I always have to stay focused on the images I need. I allow myself to freak out later when I’m driving home.”

    The interview and profile also focuses on Rago’s position as a woman of color in an industry that has been traditionally male-dominated, but that has been undergoing a seismic—yet, gradual—shift in the past few years.

    Rago currently works as photo editor at Wirecutter, a product review website owned by The New York Times. She also continues to shoot freelance.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Rozette Rago on her continued success as a photographer!

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    #Repost @nytimes ・・・ “I wanted this to be the ‘Avengers’ of Asian actors.” @crazyrichasians isn't a Marvel superhero film, but the movie does have epic ambitions of its own: with an all-Asian cast (featuring @constancewu, @henrygolding, @awkwafina, @kenjeong and others), #CrazyRichAsians hopes to pave the way for Asian-led films in Hollywood. "If we make a decent showing on that first weekend, there are like 6 Asian-American lead movies set up at different studios," said the director @jonmchu. But for @crazyrichasians, the casting process was anything but simple. The search began in 2013, when producers acquired the right to the book from @kevinkwanbooks. Then, to assemble the movie's cast, @jonmchu and the producers embarked on an extensive talent search process, including an open casting call for Asian and Asian-American performers. “We just didn’t want to miss anybody,” he said. As a result, the film features an international cast, with actors from Singapore, China, Britain, Australia, Malaysia and more. When it hits theaters next week, it comes not just as a #romcom but also as the first major Hollywood film set in the present day to showcase a majority Asian cast in 25 years. @hellorozette took this portrait of members of the cast. Visit the link in our profile to read about what being in @crazyrichasians means to the movie’s stars. (And if you’re in NYC, join a few of them for a @timestalks screening and talk on August 14. You can find the details at the link in our profile.)

    A post shared by Rozette Rago (@hellorozette) on

     

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    April 29, 2019 • Filmmaking, Photography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 643