oaxaca film festival
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  • NYFA Grad Wins Best Director for ‘The Duck Diaries’

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    Duck DiariesDigital Filmmaking Graduate, Matt Twomey, recently won the Best Director award at the NYC Independent Film Festival for his feature documentary, The Duck Diaries: A Cold War Quest for Friendship Across the Americas. The Duck Diaries is a true-life intercontinental adventure about the importance of intercultural outreach in a troubled world, and the astonishing power of a never-say-die spirit. The story is about a group of young American guys who, in 1961 at the height of the Cold War, took it upon themselves to spread Yankee goodwill in Central and South America. For the 27,000-mile journey, they acquired a surplus Army amphibian “Duck.” But the vehicle wasn’t quite up to the seafaring they intended to get them from Panama to Colombia, and they ended up marooned. Fortunately, President John F. Kennedy took an interest in their mission. “In making it, there were numerous times when I met dead ends, blind alleys, and technical catastrophes,” said Twomey. “I needed to take inspiration from the very story I was telling.”

    Matt grew up in West Virginia and set out for Tokyo, Japan after graduating college. After he came up with the idea for the documentary, Matt left Tokyo to come study at the New York Film Academy in Union Square, New York City. He wanted to be in New York, and NYFA offered an intensive workshop in digital filmmaking that he could squeeze in before his production. “Having had no background in film, my NYFA course was a good, hands-on primer in the basics of camera, lighting, sound and editing. Somehow my fellow students and I each managed to make three shorts, which is the best kind of learning.”

    Matt continues to showcase his film at a variety of film festivals. “It’s been extraordinarily gratifying to witness the crowd response to my film. I had an incredible turnout for the screening at the NYC Independent Film Festival, and I was floored to win Best Director — there was such great competition among both narrative and documentary films. In Mexico, at the Oaxaca Film Festival, I met so many great filmmakers.”

    Matt is now developing documentary shorts, one specifically focuses on the fossil fuel divestment movement that is growing across the country. He is also interested in partnering with other filmmakers in a collaboration or in a collective. “The best documentaries are truly more compelling than fiction, and watching them can change a person’s perspective or even spur him into action. I hope to keep discovering and telling such stories.”

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    December 13, 2013 • Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4455

  • Showing The World Your Truth

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    Fito Pardo graduated from New York Film Academy in the late 90’s. Since then, he has gone on to direct short films and music videos, has worked as cinematographer on over 30 projects, and has found success as a photographer for publications worldwide, including Marie Claire, Vogue Japan, and National Geographic.

    Though he had loved films since his youth, Fito got little support when he expressed an interest in learning filmmaking. At his father’s insistence, he postponed his dreams of studying filmmaking. “I studied Administration for probably 6 months in one of the best universities in Mexico, and after the first 2 months I just knew it wasn’t for me,” he says. Eventually Fito started writing to film schools for information. After winning a partial scholarship to New York Film Academy, Fito was on his way to Manhattan. “I studied in NYFA between 1995 and 1997,” he says.

    “My experience was amazing. I had no idea how to use a film camera, so the workshops helped me understand what I was getting myself into…. At NYFA I learned how to write a script, how to be a cinematographer, how to be a producer, and how to understand all aspects of film. After NYFA, I worked with some Mexican production companies, opened my own production company called La Alcachofa Films, and started directing some interesting videos in Mexico. I directed some music videos… and did a couple of commercials for BBDO, Lowe & Partners, and some other agencies.”

    Fito shot his first feature film, El Fuego Inolvidable, last year. The controversial project explores the complicated state of politics in Mexico. The film has played at festivals and college campuses, with great responses from audiences. They are currently working on a distribution deal.

    “I am still in pursuit of more goals,” says Fito. “When I was working for National Geographic, I knew I accomplished one of my goals, but knew that it wasn’t it. My first feature film got the award of Best Mexican Film at the 2011 Oaxaca Film Festival, but I want more. Since I was kid, I always wanted to move people…. I have a condition. I am a stutterer, and I have been watching the world with different eyes…. All my life I have been limited in expressing my mind. Sometimes people don’t get it and just can’t wait for me to talk, so they go away. I think I show the way I see the world through my eyes, without my mouth. I believe this is what moves me: To show the world what my mind sees.”

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