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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary MFA Alum Sasha-Gay Lewis Screens At Filmwochenende Würzburg

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary MFA Alum Sasha-Gay Lewis was honored when her MFA Thesis film was included on the program of the International Film Weekend, held annually in Würzburg, Germany.

    Filmwochenende Würzburg was started in 1974 with just 12 films and 1,000 visitors. This year, the 45th edition of the International Film Weekend – Würzburg was the most visited with more than 10,000 film fans visiting the traditional festival. Held from January 24 – January 27, 2019, the festival screened 82 films over four venues.

    Sasha-Gay Lewis The Incursion

    The aim of the festival is to showcase international films that have not yet found their way to distributors. Added to this is the opportunity for cinephiles to meet the makers behind the productions and to discuss their films with them. 

    Lewis is a Jamaican documentary filmmaker, producer, editor and writer, as well as a trained journalist and award-winning writer/producer for radio. She has written, produced, and directed several short narratives and docs in Jamaica, California, and Belize. She enrolled in New York Film Academy’s MFA Documentary Filmmaking program in Fall 2014.

    The Incursion, her documentary short, follows the residents of Tivoli Gardens, Jamaica as they seek justice after a government raid in 2010 that resulted in the death of over 150 residents.

    Sasha-Gay Lewis The Incursion

    In addition to Filmwochenende Würzburg, the film was named Honorable Mention at the 2017 DOC LA Film Festival, was an Official Selection at the 2017 Pembroke Taparelli Arts & Film Festival, won an Award of Recognition at the Impact DOCS Awards, and won Best Documentary Short at the LA Film and Script Film Festival.

    In its 45-year history, this year is the first year Filmwochenende Würzburg have screened a film from Jamaica. Additionally, Lewis is the second black director to be invited to the festival; the first was filmmaker Spike Lee.  The Incursion had a full house for both days of its screening. packed cinema on both days.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Documentary alum Sasha-Gay Lewis on the success of The Incursion and looks forward to following her career and future accomplishments! 


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    January 30, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 877

  • NYFA MFA Documentary Student’s “The Incursion” Featured on KTLA TV

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailWith over ten years of experience in both the communications and production industry in Jamaica, Sasha Gay Lewis set out to pursue documentary filmmaking by enrolling in the MFA Documentary program at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles. Lewis has directed, produced, filmed, edited and written a number of documentaries and commercials in Jamaica, Belize, and California.

    sasha on ktla

    Her most recent documentary, which was highlighted on KTLA TV in Los Angeles, is called “The Incursion.” The documentary is an immersive experience that chronicles the events of that deadly day, the emotional drama and personal trauma the residents’ endured and its lingering effects on their lives today.

    On May 24, 2010, a joint police/military operation called “Operation Garden Parish” and famously known as “The Incursion” was launched in Tivoli Gardens — a Jamaican inner-city community described as the ‘mother’ of all ghettoes — to capture the notorious and untouchable drug lord, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. This search climaxed in a deadly clash between the security forces, residents and supporters of Coke, resulting in over 150 civilian deaths. For many of these residents, Coke was a protector and provider. He gave them jobs, created social programs for the children, and took care of the elderly.

    “I was in Jamaica working as a journalist and a producer and at the time the facts about the raid didn’t add up for me,” Lewis. “The journalist in me prompted me to investigate further and the more I researched, the more I wanted to know. It is said that as a documentarian you pursue the things that makes you upset and / or curious about and this was it for me.”
    the incursion

    Still from the documentary “The Incursion.” The Incursion examines the 2010 government raid on an inner-city community in Jamaica that resulted in the death of 150 people.

    Additionally, the victims were being told that their experience was false and that they deserved what they got. Nobody deserves to experience such acts of injustice and violence. The fact that it was carried out by those whose job it is to serve and protect is asinine and a dereliction of duty.

    In 2016, an inquest into the operations of the security forces revealed that the events of May 2010 left enduring physical, psychological and emotional scars on the residents of Tivoli Gardens and that although the operation of the security forces was justified, the manner of its execution by the security forces was “disproportionate, unjustified and unjustifiable.”

    sasha gay lewis

    Director and Producer of the documentary film “The Incursion,” Sasha-Gay Lewis on location in Tivoli Gardens, Jamaica with subjects of her film.

    “I would not have been able to create this documentary without coming to NYFA,” said Lewis. “I was always a storyteller, but through courses such as directing and writing the documentary, I was able to strengthen my storytelling, directing, and producing skills. This was a documentary seven years in the making and being able to workshop it for an entire year made all the difference.”

    “We are living in a story driven world where stories connect and in many cases provide release and healing,” she added. “I am happy that through all the support afforded to me by the Documentary Department of NYFA, I am able to make my contribution even as I pursue my passion and what I believe to be my purpose. I could spend the rest of my life doing this.”

    “The Incursion” is in the final stages of post and will be complete by the end of March 2017. The trailer will be out the first week in April 2017, and it will start its festival run shortly after.

    UPDATE: “The Incursion” won Best Documentary Short at the Los Angeles Film and Script Festival.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    March 16, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3949

  • Jamaican Novelist Roger Williams Sets Sights on Film

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailroger williamsAlready with a successful novel under his belt, American-based Jamaican novelist, Roger Williams, came to the New York Film Academy to expand his creative writing abilities in the field of screenwriting. Williams’ book, Turn Back Blow, made him the first Jamaican author to advocate animal rights and bring awareness to animal cruelty. The novel was inspired by a real-life event where a dog was being used as bait to lure a crocodile in a Jamaican community. Since releasing the book, its become a part of the catalogue at Yale, Princeton and England’s Oxford University.

    Now, with his sights set on the film world, Williams is working on two screenplays that he began developing at NYFA. His first full-length screenplay is an action/drama called Murder For Sale, which he intends to shop to Jamaican producers. Williams has also adapted his screenplay into a novel of the same name, Murder for Sale, now available on Amazon.

    “The experience with NYFA was great,” said Williams. “I learned so much — things that I wouldn’t have learned from a book about screenplays. The knowledge from NYFA will be very valuable when it’s time for me to adapt my book into a screenplay.”

    In addition to his writing, Williams took an acting course at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. While there he wrote and acted in a short film called Redemption Irony. From there, he took his hand at directing while at a course at NYFA New York. His short was entitled Shutdown, and was well received, especially by women.

    “I never dreamed of working behind the camera, and working on Shutdown was a tremendous experience. The short has been receiving great feedback from women on Facebook and YouTube, because they can all relate to what is taking place in the scene.”

    On the whole, Williams hopes to not only entertain his audience with his work, but to educate them in the same way he did with his novel, Turn Back Blow. We look forward to seeing his adaptation, as well as his original material in the near future.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    June 11, 2015 • Acting, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 7265