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  • 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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  • NYFA Faculty Jaime Permuth Leads “Artistic Identity and Transcendence” Workshop in Guatemala

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    Guatemalan photographer Jaime Permuth returned home for an immensely popular photography workshop entitled “Artistic Identity and Transcendence.” It was a homecoming for Permuth who hails from Guatemala City. He has been a member of the faculty at New York Film Academy since 2011, having taught the majority of the courses offered in the Photography program at one point or another.

    Permuth Guatemala

    Over a series of three intensive sessions, participants explored the intersection of who they are as artists and how to find the right context for their practice in the photographic marketplace. For attendees, there were two avenues of exploration. The first looked at personal and artistic identity and featured writing and visual literacy exercises along with group dynamics. The second segment was more practically focused about how to place artwork within the context of the marketplace.

    Prior to the workshop, Permuth was invited by La Fototeca – the sole photography school in Central America – to present an Artist Talk. La Fototeca was founded in 2009 and is known, in large part, to their prestigious triennial called GuatePhoto, which draws talented photographers worldwide. Jaime’s event saw over 350 people reserve seats in advance. Due to the overwhelming interest, organizers had to switch venues and hold it in the building’s parking garage instead. Clearly in popular worldwide demand, in December, the New York via Guatemala photographer will lead a workshop in Cuba for Camera Voyages. His work can currently be seen at Harlem’s El Museo del Barrio in the exhibition “nasty women / bad hombres.”

    “New York City taught me to work professionally at the highest level. But Guatemala is where I learned to see and feel the world and the life around me.  My native country is never far from my mind,” Permuth says proudly. “As a Guatemalan who has lived abroad more than half of his life – I worry that people back home have ceased to think about me. Or worse even, that I have ceased to be relevant to the cultural life of the country.  And yet, coming back to a standing-room only-crowd at my talk and a sold-out workshop reassures me that perhaps this is not the case.”

    We can confidently say it most certainly is not the case.

    Jaime Permuth Photo 2
    Over the course of his career, Permuth’s work has also been featured on NPR, TimeOut, ArtNet, FeatureShoot, and many other publications. His photography has been displayed all across New York City in the Museum of Modern Art, Queens Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, The Bronx Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, and many other museums. Along with being NYFA faculty, he teaches at the School of Visual Arts in their Digital Photography program. To learn more about Jaime and his work, check out his website.

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    August 9, 2017 • Photography • Views: 2755