The Fourth Kingdom, a documentary directed by Adán Aliaga and Alex Lora and coproduced by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing alum Federico Guarascio has been storming the festival circuit since its premiere earlier this year.
The film documents a redemption center in Brooklyn founded by a Spanish ex-missionary where cans and plastic bottles are exchanged for cash—a “Fourth Kingdom” of plastics, and a hub for immigrants and underdogs who desperately believe in the American Dream.
Since its premiere last February at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Short Film, The Fourth Kingdom has been selected in 20 film festivals—eight of them Oscars-qualifying—and has won two of them, including the Brooklyn Film Festival, which allows the short film to be considered for the Academy Awards.
It has additionally screened at the Rooftop Summer Series, the Americas Film Festivals, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, DOC NYC, and opened at the United Kingdom’s prestigious Sheffield Doc Fest.
Federico Guarascio originally hails from Italy and first came to New York Film Academy through the Torno Subito program, a joint public/private sector work study initiative that supports new talent development in the Italian film and television industry and is based in Italy’s Lazio region. New York Film Academy provides the “study” element of the program, with students enrolling in short-term workshops across various NYFA disciplines. Once their program is completed, graduates return to pre-arranged film and television internships in Italy.
Alex Lora & Federico Guarascio
Guarascio first attended the 4-Week Producing workshop at NYFA’s New York campus, and was so impressed that he subsequently returned to enroll in the 1-Year Conservatory in Producing. Upon graduation, Federico has remained in New York City to work on a variety of film projects, including The Fourth Kingdom.
“[NYFA] proved to be essential during my journey with this doc,” says Guarascio, “and it would not have been possible for me to get this far without the skills I learned in your classes and, for that, I am immensely grateful.”
Guarascio’s talent as a producer was evident early on. “As a student, Federico showed all the hallmarks of a fiercely independent producer,” recalls NYFA-NY Chair of Producing Neal Weisman. “He consistently demonstrated a great passion for the process and a curiosity which inevitably led to to interesting projects. It is no surprise that Federico has moved on to find success with films moving onto the festival circuit. We are very proud.”
New York Film Academy congratulates Producing alum Federico Guarascio on the success of The Fourth Kingdom and encourages everyone to check out the film’s trailer, available on Vimeo.
For New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Alfonso Perugini, 2019 is shaping up to be a banner year.
Since graduating the 2-Year Filmmaking conservatory in 2015, Perugini has worked on several Italian film productions, including some with well known Italian actors like Giacomo Rizzo, Pietro De Silva, Yuliya Mayarchuck, and singer Cheryl Porter, among many others.
Perugini also acted in the webseries Garganta, directed by Modestino Di Nenna; the first episodes are now online. Thanks to a respected cast well known from the Italian theatre and television scenes, including Francesco Paolantoni and Antonio Fiorillo, the comedy already has a dedicated following. The immediate success of Garganta has convinced producers Danilo Battista and Rossella De Falco to set up a second season.
Perugini has also recently released the pilot episode of Hotblade, filmed earlier this year and produced by 16NONI Produzioni Visive and directed by Luigi Borriello. Hotblade is a highly innovative and experimental product for Italy, combining the crime genre with action, humor, erotic, and Asian genre cinema. Perugini is also an associate producer of this ambitious project, and stars in the series alongside model Anna Montella, who plays the role of the heroine Hotblade. Perugini plans to release an English translation of the series as well, anticipating an American audience.
Uno zio tutto mio, a comedy and Perugini’s fourth feature film as a director, was also announced in a press conference in the Town Hall of Grassano, in the province of Matera, in southern Italy. The film is produced by Pio Volpe for PFOX Produzioni, executive produced by Nancy Mastia, and written by Brando Improta. The film recently shot sequences in Naples, Sorrento, and Matera.
New York Film Academy (NYFA) congratulates Filmmaking alum Alfonso Perugini on a banner year filled with exciting projects and looks forward to the completion and release of Uno zio tutto mio!
New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA in Filmmaking student Alice Nicolini received some great news recently when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded her an Academy Gold Internship in Production Design.
Nicolini hails from Italy and is an alum of several NYFA camps, having attended the 4-week Screenwriting camp for teens, the 6-week Filmmaking camp for teens, and the 4-week Advanced Filmmaking camp for teens between 2014 and 2016. She is currently studying for her BFA in Filmmaking at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus. In the fall of 2017, Nicolini served as one of NYFA’s red carpet representatives at the Cinema Italian Style opening night gala.
Her two-minute short, Alice’s Wonderland, helped her earn the prestigious Academy Gold Internship in Production Design. The Academy Gold Program is a multi-tiered educational and experiential initiative and internship enhancement program from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the famous Hollywood organization that annually awards the Oscars.
“I hope this experience will give more direction and structure to my efforts,” Nicolini tells NYFA, “and, as a result, make me more confident in my craft.”
Nicolini is currently focusing on her BFA studies and prepping hard for the internship. The industrious student has found the time and energy however to design a domestic clothing and accessories line in collaboration with a sustainability-focused company from Italy.
“I am very proud of this kid and of NYFA for supporting talented and young artists!” exclaims Diana Santi, Director of NYFA Florence.
New York Film Academy congratulates BFA student Alice Nicolini on earning the illustrious Academy Gold Internship in Production Design and looks forward to following her filmmaking endeavors.
New York Film Academy (NYFA) Florence Alum Claudia Stecher is putting her acting chops to work on the hit Italian television series, Il silenzio dell’acqua.
Stecher first attended NYFA Florence as a teenager, enrolling in the 4-week Acting for Film camp for teens. Three years later, the Italian-born actress also attended the 2-day Screenwriting workshop at the same location.
Since her hands-on instruction at NYFA Florence, where she learned the basic skills needed for a career in Acting for Film, Stecher has accumulated several credits in films and television series, including Una pallottola nel cuore, Diabolik sono io, and La natura degli angeli.
Her latest role, as Eva, is one of her most high-profile to date. Il silenzio dell’acqua (The Silence of Water) is an acclaimed drama that is similar to the British crime hit Broadchurch. The show follows an investigation into the disappearance of a 16-year-old girl from a small village near Trieste, Italy. The cast includes Ambra Angiolini, Valentina D’agostino, and NYFA alum Giorgio Pasotti.
New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Florence alum Claudia Stecher on her latest television role and wishes her continued success as her acting career continues to grow in Italy and beyond!
It’s been a busy year for cinematographer Piero Basso, AIC—in addition to becoming the new Chair of Cinematography at New York Film Academy New York (NYFA-NY), Basso has recently seen the premieres of two feature films he worked on as director of photography and will soon be seeing the debut of a television series he shot.
Basso, who originally hails from Italy and was an instructor at NYFA for years before becoming Cinematography Chair, served as director of photography for the feature film Working Man. The film received a strong welcome at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, with Basso’s cinematography especially highlighted in a positive review from The Hollywood Reporter.
With a solid cast and great looking photography, the film is expected to have a strong run on the festival circuit and will hopefully reach a larger and larger audience.
Dafne, a feature film Basso shot in Italy last summer, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in the Panorama section and went on to win the prestigious FIPRESCI award for Best Feature Film of Panorama.
The film has an upcoming release in Italy and has been already sold in several countries around the world (France, Spain, and Japan, to name a few), and will also most likely have a very strong festival presence. The film has been very well received by critics, including a positive review covering the film’s award-winning premiere at Berlin.
In addition to the two features, Basso also shot a high-profile television series for one of Italy’s major networks, RAI. The series was shot over a year ago but its upcoming premiere will coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Aquila Earthquake, which is the fictional drama’s subject. Basso served as cinematographer for all 12 episodes of the high-quality series, which will be premiering later this Spring.
These projects haven’t distracted Basso from his new duties as Cinematography Chair, however. “Since I became the Chair of the Cinematography department last fall I have been crazy busy figuring out how to run the program and make sure the student experience is at its best as it was with my predecessor,” Basso tells NYFA. “But now it’s starting to feel like the time to work on expanding and promoting the program to make sure it will find even better and more students in the future.”
New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA-NY Chair of Cinematography Piero Basso on the premieres of his work and looks forward to seeing his further success in both cinema and with our students right here at NYFA!
Recently, on a rainy afternoon in Florence, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with students at New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) Florence location, located in a charming state-of-the-art facility on Via Torta, near the Basilica di Santa Croce.
The students had just returned — soaked and exhausted — from a long day filming the last scenes of their final projects. The “crews,” each comprised of four or five students, all used the city of Florence as the “film set” for their visual stories. They were in the homestretch, although they still had a few demanding days ahead, editing their films before presenting their work at the graduation screening and celebration of the conclusion of their semester abroad programs in Filmmaking and Acting for Film. These students came from 12 countries — the United States, Hungary, Ukraine, Iran, Netherlands, Romania, UK, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, and Mexico.
After unloading their camera gear, we sat down and spoke about the impressions of their time in Florence, and at NYFA, during the past 12 weeks. “Life-changing” was the most echoed description; all heads also nodded “yes” when one student said, “this study abroad opportunity has by far been the best experience of my life so far; during these months I have grown so much as a person and as a filmmaker. ”
One student fervently told me that, while he had had a passion for acting from a young age, before NYFA he had doubts about whether it was something he wanted to pursue instead of an economics degree; but now he wants nothing more than to be an actor.
All of the students’ reactions warmed me with joyfulness and “NYFA pride.” There was more under the surface because all of the sentiments were very familiar to me — each word and narrative brought back vivid and distinct memories…
It was 1976 when my feet stepped off a plane at the Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport in Rome and a new phase of my life began. Much of it stays with me to this very day, and now, encircled by this wonderful group of young “creatives,” more and more remembrances came rushing back to me.
I arrived at 18, never having previously left US soil, with just $300 dollars in my pocket and a full scholarship to study art in Florence that was graciously provided by publishing icon, Anna K. Meredith. At a later point I learned that Ms. Meredith, who at the time headed the family’s The Meredith Corporation — a massive publishing empire that produces dozens of the most popular magazines (including Sports Illustrated, Fortune and PEOPLE) — personally chose me as the first recipient of her generous study abroad grant.
My route to this study abroad experience was an extraordinary one; I was a freshman at the University of Denver and in the Spring of that year my favorite art instructor approached me — quite out of the blue — and handed me a formal document. “Read it!” she ardently and rather exuberantly stated. It was an acceptance letter from a US-accredited Art School in Florence. I was offered an acceptance and didn’t even know that I had applied! My professor, seeing my dismay, explained, “Jim, I applied on your behalf because I knew if you had this opportunity, it would change your art and your life in so many amazing ways.”
Now, I knew that in a week this delightful group of talented young people would be saying goodbye to the city of Florence, to the New York Film Academy staff and faculty, to their classmates and their friends, and that they would walk forward — as I did 40 years ago — into lives that will be forever changed for the better.
My teacher was certainly more accurate than she could ever have imagined. It is both the magic of Florence and the impact of the experience of studying abroad that simply cannot be explained well in words, because they reside in a spirit deep within the city — and at the same time — in one’s own heart.
Claudio Casale is a busy filmmaker, but recently he found the time to speak with New York Film Academy (NYFA). It was here that he attended our 8-week Filmmaking workshop in April 2017, where he quickly added an arsenal of skills to his already impressive filmmaking prowess.
“Claudio was one of those students a teacher is so happy to have in the class,” tells his NYFA directing instructor, Thomas Barnes, continuing, “brilliant, passionate, original, and supportive of his colleagues.”
Claudio has been incredibly productive since finishing the Filmmaking workshop, working on all sorts of different projects—short films, feature films, narratives, documentaries. In the summer of 2018, he achieved a career highlight when his documentary My Tyson won the MigArti Best Documentary Award at the Venice International Film Festival.
Claudio spoke with NYFA about that film and win, as well as filmmaking in general, working in documentary, and what lies ahead for him:
New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy?
Claudio Casale (CC): I was born and raised in Rome, Italy. I graduated in Business Management, and at 22 I took two years abroad, mainly in India and Southeast Asia, where I started filmmaking constantly. Many shorts later, NYFA was the first proper education I received on filmmaking. I was mostly self-taught and I joined the 8-week program to gain experience on set dynamics and directing actors.
NYFA: Can you tell us about your film My Tyson?
CC:My Tyson is a 15-minute short doc on Alaoma Tyson, an Italian teenager born in Italy from Nigerian parents. Today, at 18 years old, Tyson is the Italian boxing champion in the youth heavyweight category. Patience, his mother, sews traditional clothes for the Nigerian community in the Roman suburb they live in.
As Tyson trains for his next match, Patience tells him the story of their family, revealing ancient rituals, financial struggles, and a severe migration experience.
CC: Migration is an issue worldwide, from the US all the way to Australia. In Europe, Italy is the first port of arrival for the majority of migrants and asylum seekers from Africa and Maghreb. As many filmmakers of my generation, I felt the need to take a stand on this issue, by offering to the audience a perspective that might get lost in the news cycle. Observation and research was key, as I had to find the story – and therefore my inspiration – on the field: I spent five months with Alaoma Tyson and his family before shooting a single frame.
NYFA: How did you get your film involved with MigrArti?
CC: MigrArti is a yearly call made by the Minister of Culture in Italy (MiBAC). The production working with me on My Tyson had to submit a detailed dossier for our project. MigrArti can be very competitive, and I was honoured that our project was among the selected ones. Watching our short doc premiere during the 75th Venice International Film Festival was really emotional, and I feel grateful that the Jury awarded My Tyson as MigrArti Best Documentary.
NYFA: What are your plans for My Tyson after Venice?
CC: We are sending out My Tyson to festivals, as that’s a great way to receive professional feedback and connect with fellow filmmakers. I would be delighted to personally attend international festivals as well, so to see by myself how different audiences relate to the story.
On the other hand, in Italy we are planning screenings solely for migrants, thanks to the cooperation of NGOs such as ARCI Solidarietà Onlus. Bringing cinema to places where it usually hasn’t belonged, like migration centres and public schools, is a duty as well as a chance to test the impact our little film may have on people we can’t reach with a traditional theatrical run.
Then, at the end of the festival distribution, at least in Italy we are working to have a selected theatrical distribution, likely paired with a feature documentary.
NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on?
CC: In September, I was in Sicily to direct a narrative short film in 35mm, Inshallah, about to enter post-production. Also, I have a feature documentary in creative and financial development, in which I will invest most of my time this year. It’s a project I am very attached to and I can’t wait to get myself on set to shoot it.
NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work on My Tyson, or your work in general?
CC: Among the lessons I received at NYFA, two came particularly handy in this project. First, as director you have got to leave the camera to the operator! As many native-digital filmmakers, I also grew very attached to the camera body (I was my own operator on my first shorts). It wasn’t necessarily easy to delegate that, as it is an act of trust toward the operator, especially on a documentary where things happen out of script and must be captured instinctively.
But at NYFA, I learned to do just that: trusting the crew I work with and delegating everything that may distract me from the scene. In some projects I would still be my own operator of course, but thanks to NYFA I could recognize that My Tyson wasn’t one of those cases.
Second: directing actors! I find the method taught at NYFA to be extremely effective. Honestly, that module alone was worth the whole course for me. With time, I changed it a little to adapt it to documentaries, where you don’t direct actors but subjects, so the relationship is more subtle and the non-actors’ spontaneity is the first priority and must always be protected. I believe that directing actors and non-actors is what ultimately makes a director great, and that’s something hard to learn without seeing some experts at work, either by joining a school or by being on set as 1st or 2nd AD.
NYFA: Do you prefer working in narrative or documentary filmmaking?
CC: When I started shooting, I had only narrative filmmaking in mind, and frankly I still look forward to direct a feature narrative one day. Documentary happened by chance, yet for the moment I found my little niche here.
As for today, I certainly prefer working on documentary filmmaking for a variety of reasons: first, it’s cheaper, so development and pre-production are generally quicker compared with narrative. Second, you can easily practice rhythm and pace with a running time of 52 minutes or longer, a key area of learning for any aspiring director. Last but not least, documentary today is wide open to visual experimentation, an ideal condition for me.
NYFA: What differences or similarities do you find between narrative and documentary filmmaking?
CC: Comparing short films only, in my opinion the key advantage of documentary filmmaking is the level of experimentation it allows. I honestly find narrative short films too rigid sometime, as nowadays the pressure to deliver the highest possible production value risks to overpass the focus aspiring directors should be putting into the storytelling.
After all, short films are the only tool we have to discover who we really are as visual storytellers. The similarities between narrative and documentary filmmaking are more than one could tend to believe: year after year, more documentaries are shot with a real cinematic language in mind. And I believe that’s one of the reason behind today’s boom of documentaries: many narrative storytellers are getting into documentary, shaping it with their own tools.
On the other hand, generally speaking, narrative filmmaking may allow for a wider freedom of expression, especially if you get to write and direct your own script. In conclusion, I would suggest students to be open to both forms, as for different reasons they are equally important in the early stage of a filmmaker’s career.
NYFA: What other advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?
CC: If you are a total newbie on filmmaking, be ready to run and absorb everything you’re told. Raise your hand and ask your classmates for help, as at the end of the day, it’s all about the teamwork.
While If you have some filmmaking experience already, as I did, be ready to put everything you know aside. Don’t let your previous knowledge block you from learning further. Be open and receptive, and you will take something new and essential with you every day.
NYFA: Anything we missed you’d like to speak on?
CC: No questions about the Deli down in Battery Park? I must admit, sometimes I miss that sushi! 🙂
The New York Film Academy thanks Claudio Casale for his time and thoughtful answers, and looks forward to seeing what inspiring films he comes out with next. We sincerely hope he comes back to New York for a visit sometime and has some sushi from the Deli downstairs!
Photography in Florence is magical; the light is soft and billowy, almost tangible. The 2,000 year-old Florentine streets are paved with cobblestones and the buildings display history in layers as you walk by, one fresco emerging behind another. Since everything is new to the eye in unfamiliar surroundings, all kinds of details and expressions jump out and call to be photographed.
Florence is covered in art from Renaissance paintings by Botticelli and Da Vinci, to the Duomo and other architectural gems. Nearly every church has fine art paintings and sculptures inside, frescoes by Giotto and Masaccio, and you can get so close you can smell them!
Photo: Matthew Angel Acevedo bo2m2_photography
Over spring break, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Chair of Photography David Mager and Associate Chair of Photography Naomi White traveled with 18 NYFA students and alumni for an incredible week of photography in the historic city of Florence, Italy. Students came from several different departments (Acting for Film, Filmmaking, and Photography), creating a diverse group of talented and creative people.
Classes were held in the mornings at the beautiful NYFA Florence campus in Piazza San Lorenzo, and were geared towards both beginning and advanced students. In the afternoons, we alternated between walking tours of the city and commercial shoots at local businesses. We also toured Tuscany together, visiting the hill towns of Siena and San Gimignano, both built for pedestrians with large city squares and ornate romanesque-gothic churches.
Walking tours focused on elements of exposure and how aperture affects communication, as well as embracing decisive moments through street photography and documentary portraits. We toured the church of San Lorenzo, with it’s collection of Renaissance paintings, including the recently restored Annunciation by Filippo Lippi (c. 1450); the Boboli gardens with their magnificent sculptures and shady dells; and wound our way along the Arno, crossing over several bridges including the famous Ponte Vecchio with it’s shiny jewelry shops and magnificent views of the river.
There were also 3 commercially-focused shoots, where advanced students worked with the ProFoto B1 lights to create elegant imagery for various businesses. The first was in a 600-year-old apothecary in Santa Maria Novella. Gothic vaulted ceilings and pink and white striped stone pillars define this enchanting space, which is now used as a fully working perfumery selling upscale bottles of expensive perfume.
The second business was an all-women-run ceramic shop. The owner, now in her 80s, still goes to work every day to paint beautiful ceramic pottery alongside her daughters.
The third business was a leather school where students are trained in creating leather goods typical of Florence such as bags, purses, belts and shoes.
We had a wonderful group of students who not only took great pictures, but who bonded and enjoyed each other’s company.
The NYFA Photography excursion to Florence offered a great week away from the familiar daily life and gave the students new skills and new perspectives. If you ever have the opportunity to go to Florence with NYFA, you should take it!
Not many aspiring actors get to spend childhood performing alongside Russell Crowe and Roberto Benigni in international megahits like The Gladiator and Life is Beautiful, but New York Film Academy alum Giorgio Cantarini did.
You may recognize Cantarini as the spontaneous, cherubic child actor who not only held his own but represented the emotional heart of each of those acclaimed films, but Cantarini has grown quite a bit since then — including in his acting technique. Wrapping up his studies at the NYFA New York Acting Conservatory, Cantarini sat down to share some of his insights with the NYFA Blog. Check out his incredible story.*
*This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
NYFA: You’ve been acting since you were 5 years old in Life is Beautiful, can just tell us a little bit about how you came to that film?
GC: There was an article in the newspaper with casting description of the kids that they were looking for, and my uncle saw the description and was like, “Giorgio it’s the same as you, you have to go to the audition,” and so we went.
… At the auditions I never acted. Roberto Benigni just wanted to talk with me and see how I reacted. And then of course on the set they explained to me the scene, what was happening.
NYFA: From the time that you were working on Life is Beautiful through school, did you do any kind of school work involving acting?
GC: After Life is Beautiful, after The Gladiator, growing up I didn’t want to be an actor because my role in Life is Beautiful was really attached to me … but then after high school everyone told me how talented I was, so I said to myself, okay, let’s see if really I have this talent. I went to Rome to enter a very selective school. Every year like 700 people try to get in and they choose 12: six girls and six guys. So when I was admitted I was really happy.
I started acting because someone choose it for me, but now it was my choice, and this was a very big step for me to continue, and to discover that I’m good, and now I could study to be a professional, complete actor.
NYFA: How was your time studying with the New York Film Academy?
GC: I had a really great month at NYFA, one of the best experience in my life — for the city, for everything, for New York, for the people.
The standard is very different than the teaching approach in Italy. It is very different. It’s smart to direct small groups, and just do it, don’t think about it — do it, just do it!
I really like NYFA a lot because of the action, and the professors too. The energy! I think that they have a lot of students every month, every year, a lot of different students — but every day they come in the class with the with a great energy, to work with you and do the best for you every single day. Seeing teachers every time have good energy, positive energy, and smiling, was inspiring.
NYFA: When you’re looking back at your experience at NYFA, is there anything you learned that you feel you’re going to take with you in your future career?
GC: The technique from NYFA instructors Blanche Baker, Peter Allen Stone, and Victor Verhaeghe, and the scene analysis — truly, the class most important for me was Alison Hodge’s technique.
NYFA: What inspires your work? Is there a specific film or actor that you always go to?
GC: For me, Dustin Hoffman. Dustin Hoffman is ideal. When I watched The Graduate, I thought, “What a movie! What an actor.” I was impressed with Dustin Hoffman, he is my idol now and before. He’s a special actor…
NYFA: Can you tell me a little bit about your film Il Dottore del Pesci (The Fish Doctor)?
GC: The story is about a guy that has a fish shop, but he doesn’t sell the fish; he takes care of the fish. If someone goes out of town, the people can leave the fish with him and he’ll take care of them. His life is with the fishes. One day an American person from a TV network meets him and thinks he is perfect for a show about the the weirdest jobs in the world, like a freak show. My character’s English isn’t great, so he confuses the question and says yes without realizing what he’s signing up for.
Life changes for him. He used to talk to a lot of people in a really, really small city, with a lot of old people. He has no family. And suddenly he’s in the U.S. and he’s really emotional. And I can’t tell you the finale but it’s so lovely.
NYFA: Overall is there any advice that you would give to people that are interested in going into acting?
GC: If you want to be an actor, you have to study a lot. Especially now, because with Netflix and YouTube and the web, a lot of people want to be an actor. Anyone can put his work on on the web, but that’s not a real actor. You bring the art with you.
It takes a lot of study to understand and know who you are. To be a great actor, you have to know who you are. That’s the main reason that I am here in New York — I want to see when I leave home, and speak in another language with other people, who am I?
It really was different here. I was different. I don’t know why, but this city or this situation with the school and the feeling with the classmates really gave me a new energy. New perspective, you know? New experiences. To be open and always beautiful. I love it.
NYFA: What’s next for you?
GC: I’m returning to Italy to start the second part of my scholarship, a theatre production that works with the people that were in prison, to be an actor and assistant director.
Then, my next project will be to move to New York after the summer. I’m starting the process. I want to come here now because, while I have an agent in France and Switzerland, I’d like to start a new journey in New York.
On Thursday, November 16, 2017, two students from the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus, Alice Nicolini and Nicolo Azzaro, were invited to attend the opening night of the 13th Annual Cinema Italian Style at the Egyptian Theater. Italy’s oldest film studio, Luce Cinecittà, and the American Cinematheque presented the night, which featured a screening of “A Ciambra,” Italy’s selection for Best Foreign Language Film at next year’s Academy Awards.
The night also served as a celebration of the 80th anniversary of Luce Cinecittà under the auspices of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, in collaboration with the Consulate General of Italy in Los Angeles, the Italian Trade Agency and the Italian Cultural Institute. Needless to say, this was quite an extravagant affair.
NYFA Students Alice Nicolini and Nicolo Azzaro attend 13th Annual Cinema Italian Style
The director of the film, Jonas Carpignano, has a youthful and unconventional approach to his filmmaking style, which can best be described as a scripted docudrama. All of the characters in the film are real people and their real names are the same as the characters they play. Likewise, their actual home is the set, and the script is inspired by the lives they lead.
The level of intimacy the director has built with his cast is immediately tangible. From the opening to the closing shot, the camera is an active component of the film, whipping around at an incredible pace. (Some audience members found it dizzying, but anyone familiar with music videos would recognize the cinematic language.) Carpignano’s fresh take on Gypsy culture in Southern Italy was warmly received.
One of the attending NYFA students, Nicolo Azzaro, had this to say about the film: “‘A Ciambra’ is a fantastic movie that perfectly showcases the strengths of Italian cinema at its finest. It digs deep into a current reality in Southern Italy, blending the almost documentary approach with a deep and emotional coming of age story.”
Alice Nicolini, the other New York Film Academy student invited to the event, added, “My favorite part of the evening was hands down the red carpet. It was all new to me. Walking down the carpet was kind of surreal. I mean, we also got our pictures taken and an Italian television station even interviewed us. That is definitely not an everyday thing.”
After the screening, the students were invited to a gala dinner at Mr. C’s in Beverly Hills. Celebrity attendees included Billy Zane, Ron Pearlman, and “Alias Grace” star Sarah Gadon, who was honored with the inaugural Cinecittà Key the day prior to the event. Students mingled with the stars and creators as they overlooked the Los Angeles skyline and enjoyed a meal curated by Michelin Star Chef Leandro Luppi.
When asked what he’d learned from the experience, Azzaro responded, “Cinema is a universal art, and no matter what language is spoken in a film, it is capable of connecting people from all around the world. Diversity is truly one of the greatest aspects of the entertainment industry.”
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Luce Cinecittà and the American Cinematheque for extending an invitation to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.