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  • NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Alum, Mollie Moore, on Her Journey as a Documentary Filmmaker and the Importance of Storytelling

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking alum Mollie Moore is a filmmaker and cinematographer from South London, who is currently based in London and New York City. She has worked for renowned production companies such as the BBC, PBS, ITVS, Human Love LTD and DNA Films on various projects. Her films have gone on to be screened at festivals all over the world, with her work taking her to multiple continents. With her background in cinematography, Moore’s work pushes the limits of visual poetry through non-fiction storytelling, while also weaving in important themes that highlight the LGBTQ community and forced migration.

    From a young age, Moore was always involved with the theatre world and, when it was time to go to college, she travelled instead to South East Asia, India, South America and many other places while working as a crew member on fictional film sets. “I realized the vast possibilities of storytelling and the importance of capturing the beauty of the world we live in and the stories within it,” shares Moore. “Documentary felt like a natural marriage with my background in theatre, storytelling and my passion for exploration and the people I met along the way.”

    This realization brought Moore to New York, where she studied in NYFA’s 1-Year Conservatory Program for Documentary Filmmaking. “It was a course that I could give all of my attention to, whilst getting maximum in-person time to learn in a creative and hands-on way,” she explains. 

    Film Poster for ‘A Word Away’ (Dir. Mollie Moore)

    Her thesis film, A Word Away, premiered at the Camden International Film Festival. A Word Away centers around a young man named Cosmo, who is from South Sudan and now resides in the U.S, who share his journey of migration through the medium of poetry. For Moore, it was important for her to find “a new way of telling a story of migration, through a more intimate and personal lens.” At the film’s premier, Moore recalls that having Cosmo and his family present was a very important moment for her as it was their stories being told and seen. “Documentary filmmaking should always be seen a collaborative process between the filmmaker and the people sharing their stories.”

    After graduating NYFA, Moore also worked on festival favorite Paper Thin, a documentary about a young transgender womxn starting a new life in New York City after having to flee the persecution of LGBTQ+ persons in Russia. Not long after, Moore worked as the cinematographer for the short film, Mama, a personal story between a mother and daughter (dir. NYFA alum Lucia Florez), who look into their past to try and reconcile their relationship after years of difficult conversations and opinions about sexuality.

    Mollie shooting in Peru on set of the film ‘Mama’ (Dir. Lucia Florez)

    These films, and others with similar themes, are ones that Moore says she holds “very close to my heart and with a lot of passion.” While Moore identifies with these topics on a personal level, as a filmmaker, she explains that these stories are crucial to share. “I think shedding light on topics and communities that have often been massively misconstrued and discriminated against through violent acts of oppression and injustice is of huge importance.” For those that have a platform to shed light on subjects and real world issues in an objective, honest way, it can be a privilege. Moore says, “we must share it [the stories of others] and give voices to those whose realities have often been silenced throughout history.”

    Moore is currently working as a filmmaker on the artist Marc Quinn’s public art project, Our Blood; a multi media public artwork that focuses on the refugee crisis all over the world. The art piece will premiere outside of the New York Public Library in 2021, but for now, Moore and others involved on the project are continuing their filming in London and New York City. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) would like to thank NYFA Documentary alum Mollie Moore for sharing more about her work as a documentary filmmaker and encourages everyone to check out her work and keep an eye out for the Our Blood project, once it has been unveiled in 2021.

    To keep up with Mollie Moore, check out her website here or follow her on Instagram.

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    June 17, 2020 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 588

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Student Eleonora Privitera Films ‘Queenz of the Night’

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    Queenz of the Night is a subversive short film by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Student Eleonora Privitera.

    Privitera hails from Italy and has a background in social anthropology. She has been involved in ethnographic research fieldworks concerning urban violence and humanitarian projects in South America and East Africa. 

    Privitera is now continuing her studies in the 1-year Documentary Filmmaking conservatory at NYFA’s New York City campus. Here, she is gaining hands-on instruction from professional and award-winning instructors in the documentary and filmmaking industry, learning the tools and skills she’ll need to use documentary filmmaking as another way to channel her efforts in combating social ills. By documenting the lives and stories of people she has come across in her work and studies, Privitera hopes the medium of nonfiction filmmaking can help her denounce social injustice, economic inequality, and environmental conflicts. 

    Queenz of the Night, one of her recent films, is a subversive short about an LGBTQIA+ movement that uses art and political performances to fight homophobia and the gun industry’s chain of death violence in New York City. The film shows all aspects of the movement, capturing both its strengths and weaknesses of their methods, while also supporting the actions of those who take the risk of making a stand and fighting publicly for equal rights and dignity of LGBTQIA+ Americans. Against a contemporary social backdrop where hate crimes are on the rise, Privitera’s film is more relative than ever.Eleonora Privitera Queens of the Night

    New York Film Academy congratulates Documentary Filmmaking student Eleonora Privitera on the important work of her film Queenz of the Night and looks forward to future projects based on her passion for social justice.

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    June 14, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1436

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Cinematography Students Shoot LGBTQIA+ Themed Alexa Workshop

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Cinematography Students recently shot a workshop with the Alexa camera rig that was—appropriately for Pride Month, LGBTQIA+ themed.

    The Arri Alexa is a high-end camera that was introduced in 2010 and was camera manufacturer Arri’s first major digital cinematography apparatus. The Alexa is the camera of choice by many professional Hollywood filmmakers, and is used in high-budget feature films, television shows, and commercials throughout the industry.

    NYFA’s Cinematography students are taught with these major rigs, including the Alexa, the RED, and 35mm film. For their most recent Alexa workshop, the students filmed a short with an LGBTQIA+ theme. 

    The film told the story of a young woman named Allison, coming from her father’s funeral with what seems to be her boyfriend. It is soon revealed that he is not actually her boyfriend, but a platonic male friend Allison is using to hide her lesbian relationship with another woman—Rachel—from her family.

    LGBTQIA+ Alexa Workshop
    Allison and Rachel have a confrontation, with Allison storming out of the house to avoid a fight. They eventually reunite on a pier by the harbor, where Rachel tells a story about how she sought revenge toward an aunt that made her life impossible after her coming out, but then decided it was not worth it and that it was her aunt living the miserable life, not her. The film ends with Allison revealing she came out to her sister and, somewhat unexpectedly, her reaction was that she wanted to meet Rachel. 

    The two actresses playing the leads are both NYFA alumni. “They delivered quite a strong performance, and the cinematography work is quite interesting,” says NYFA Chair of Cinematography Piero Basso.

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    June 11, 2019 • Cinematography • Views: 799

  • Cannes International Film Festival Emerging Filmmakers to Screen Life in Color Starring New York Film Academy Alum Ioanna Meli

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    Life in Color is an official selection in the 2018 Cannes International Film Festival Emerging LGBTQ Filmmakers category, starring New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Ioanna Meli. The film shares a touching portrait of an aging, closeted gay man with Alzheimer’s who struggles against his strong-willed daughter to hold on to the memory of the long-lost love of his life. The film is directed by Bishal Dutta, who also wrote it together with Matt McClelland. Along with the prestigious honor of screening at Cannes, the film has shown as part of the Silicon Beach Film Festival in LA.

     

    In the midst of all the excitement, Meli took the time to sit down with the NYFA Blog to talk about the film, screening at Cannes, and what’s next.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your film at Cannes and your role?

    IM: Life in Color was created by a collective of young artists and it tells the story of an aging, closeted gay man with Alzheimer’s who struggles against his strong-willed daughter to hold on to the memory of the long lost love of his life. Working with the team and developing the role of Beth, the daughter, was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as an actor so far. Beth’s torment in trying to understand her father and the childhood she was deprived of, while fighting her own beliefs was a challenging journey to go on to. And to be honest, I always feel a little extra lucky getting to work with directors as generous as Bishal Dutta; his direction was insightful and clear, yet allowed for the building of the characters and the relationships between them to develop organically.

    NYFA: How did you come to this project? What inspired you about it?

    IM: I submitted myself through the breakdowns and was called in to read for Beth. The sides I read at the audition and callback were an excerpt from the script at the time; even though it was an early draft, it was clear that both the scenes and the characters were constructed in-depth. The final script is also characterized by minimal dialogue, and that’s definitely one of the most inspiring parts for me — the storytelling that happens without the need for too many words. I got a sense of Beth’s character from the beginning, and her struggle in finding the right way to help her father intrigued me. Most importantly, the story touches upon sensitive issues that are most relevant in our world today and is told in such a way that really draws the audience into the characters’ conflicting realities. I’m truly grateful to have been a part of telling this story.

    LIFE IN COLOR – Trailer from Bishal Dutta on Vimeo.

    NYFA: Are you attending Cannes? Or, can you speak to what this experience means to you?

    IM: It’s still barely sinking in but yes, I will be attending Cannes! I’m not sure how to express how much this means to me. I am excited beyond words, but it’s also a little unreal. I realized that every time I imagined participating in such an event, I pictured myself older. I guess I thought that the chances of getting there would be higher later on in my career. But here we are now, and all of a sudden I get to attend Cannes for the first time with a short film I am so proud to be a part of. I’m looking forward to screening our work in such a unique environment as part of the Emerging Filmmakers LGBTW Showcase; to experiencing this magnificent festival to the fullest in the company of a great group of young artists; to exploring all it has to offer and meeting fellow professionals from around the world. Preparing for this trip to be able to make the most of this opportunity is what I’m focused on right now. But also looking forward to the french croissants, if I’m honest.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    IM: I was born and raised in Athens, Greece, where I would perform on stage at school as well as with the school choir around Europe. I got to experience the world of performance through that, but also because we grew up always playing music all together and going to the theatre with my family. Studying theatre arts was something that came naturally to me; I went on to get my undergraduate degree in drama and theatre arts from Goldsmiths College University of London, and that helped me build a strong base as a performer and creator. Before graduating, I was cast as the lead in the Greek feature film Elvis’ Last Song, which had a very successful festival run, and it was what introduced me to the world of acting on camera. I knew right then that it was what I wanted to train in further; I looked for a graduate program in Acting for Film and that led me to NYFA. Soon after, I moved to Los Angeles, completed my MFA at NYFA, and I was later in the first ever group to graduate from UCLA’s Professional Program in Acting for Camera. Today, I am truly grateful to say that I have seen my work be recognized at Festivals around the world and to have worked with masters such as Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It’s a business where you definitely take one step at a time, and I still have a million of those I want to take. But now, it’s time for Cannes!

    NYFA: What’s next for you after Cannes?

    IM: We just held a private screening of a pilot for our TV series Dirty Laundry. It’s a dramedy about a dysfunctional family of sorts, comprised of people from different walks of life who form a support group at a local laundromat. In that, I play a cheerful kindergarten teacher, Annie, who is trying to help her older sister survive the sudden death of her husband. The concept is unique and the screening was received enthusiastically by the audience; the production team will begin pitching the show later this month. Other than that, I’m currently completing my own script for a pilot of a comedic series that I want to shoot in Greece and in Los Angeles. I’ll have more information to share about that soon! I’m trying to keep my website updated with everything that’s going on, so go to www.ioannameli.com to stay posted!

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    April 30, 2018 • Acting • Views: 1980

  • The Art of Impact with James Lecesne

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    James Lecesne is an Academy award winning filmmaker, teacher, and philanthropist. It’s been an exciting time for James with a Tony nomination for The Best Man and soon after that receiving the role of Dick Jensen opposite James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury. However, we especially commend James on the release of his book The Letter Q, a passion project conceived to inspire the youth of America and to raise proceeds for The Trevor Project which he had founded in 1998. We had a chance to speak with James about his inspiration for the book and his teaching at the New York Film Academy. He also shared key insights into the craft of storytelling and how the industry landscape has changed for LGBTQ artists. Don’t forget to get connected with Mr. Lecesne on Twitter and learn about his impact in the arts.

    What was the inspiration for The Letter Q? You’ve already contributed so much to LGBTQ youth, and this book seems to be a continuation of your work with the Trevor Project. 

    Two years ago Dan Savage launched the phenomenally successful It Gets Better Project as a way of spreading the word to young LGBT and Questioning young people that the Trevor Project is there for them 24/7. As the only nationwide suicide prevention and crisis intervention helpline for LGBTQ youth, our organization receives over 30,000 calls a year. Not all of them are rescue calls, but each call establishes a life-to-life connection with a young person who is asking important questions. We provide an ear to listen and the encouragement to be who you are. The idea for the The Letter Q came from Sarah Moon, my co-editor. When she was a teenager, she was lucky enough to be surrounded by adults who shared their stories and their wisdom with her – sometimes in the form of letters, and as she says, “It didn’t seem quite fair to me that I should have been the only teenager to get wonderful letters to carry around.” Soon after coming up with the idea, Sarah approached me about not only writing a letter to my younger self, but also donating a portion of the royalties from the sale of the book to the Trevor Project. Together we compiled a wish-list of authors and began to write to them, ask them, stalk them. The book seemed to fit so perfectly with my own desire around that time to provide young people with tools to help them get through their difficult years. We had been exploring ways to help young people “make it better” right now. And the minute Sarah proposed the idea for the book, I knew we were on our way.

    Has your teaching at NYFA helped inspire your work in some way? Reading the bio on your website, teaching plays a strong role in your career. What are the most important lessons you impart to your students who aspire to make it in film and theatre industries? Have students ever surprised you with their insights in the art and craft of telling stories?

    Teaching is a way to not only give back some of what I’ve learned, but also a way for me to continue learning about story. Storytelling, in any form, is hard work; it requires honesty, courage, craft and above all determination. But it can also be a mysterious and mystical experience, a means to enlarge and enlighten not only the storyteller, but the audience as well. For each of us, it happens differently, the idea comes in the form of a hunch, a worry, an inkling a fear, or sometimes as a fully formed brainstorm; but however it happens it always arises out of something that we happen to believe. We might not be able to articulate what it is exactly, but something in us knows, something in us feels for a truth that we need to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    James as featured in the New Yorker.

    Stories are the blueprints of our passions told in code, the urge of something within our selves that is itching for resolve, the reliable and readable map of our beliefs. Leif Finkel, a professor of bioengineering at UPenn, once wrote: “Our cortex makes up stories about the world and softly hums them to us to keep us from getting scared at night.” I’m no professor of bioengineering, but I heartily agree. Of course, a good story does more than that. Stories hum not only for ourselves, but for our audience as well; their song transforms the muddled and often conflicted experiences of living in this troubled world into something valuable and enduring for us all; they are the means by which we can pass our wisdom along to future generations. The results are always surprising, or at least they should be.

    What are your thoughts on representation in the media regarding the struggles that independent filmmakers face as sexual minorities? How do you see the industry landscape for LGBTQ artists? Has it changed at all since you started as a young artist compared to the present day?

    When I was a teenager, the world was a very different place. I grew up without ever hearing the word homosexual spoken, I didn’t know a single gay person, there were no role models to whom I could look for encouragement or guidance. One of the great accomplishments of the LGBTQ community is this idea that we are not just here for ourselves. We have a responsibility to pass along our history and our pride to the next generation. Young people who are struggling and coming up in the world should not have to figure this out by themselves. Of course, there is still a ways to go in terms of achieving equality. Look to places like Uganda, South Africa, Russia, and Iran. Or right here at home to see what happens to certain people when they express themselves fully. But as Kate Millet, the revolutionary feminist recently pointed out —- gays and lesbians have achieved so much in a matter of mere decades, while women have been struggling for centuries to change things. To hear the President of the United States declare that the love of gays and lesbians is equal to that of their fellow (heterosexual) citizens, is certainly proof to me that the world is changing. More change is possible — and needed.  And I believe that by encouraging people to tell their stories, teaching them how to do it in the most exciting and engaging way, it will make for a better world.

    James with Daniel Radcliffe for The Trevor Project.

    To learn more about the Documentary Filmmaking program at the New York Film Academy, click here.

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    June 11, 2012 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 4787