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  • Q&A with Oscar-winning ‘First Man’ editor Tom Cross

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    On Friday, March 1, the New York Film Academy hosted a screening of First Man (2018) followed by a Q&A with Academy Award-winning editor Tom Cross, moderated by NYFA Filmmaking instructor, Paul Yates.

    Cross began his editing career in 1997 as an assistant editor, contributing to a number of projects including We Own the Night (2007), Crazy Heart (2009), The Switch (2010) and the Emmy Award-winning drama series, Deadwood. He came to worldwide prominence in 2015 when he won the Independent Spirit Award, BAFTA Award, and Academy Award for Best Editing for his work on the critically acclaimed film, Whiplash (2014). Cross was also nominated for an Academy Award in 2016 for the film, La La Land.

    Tom Cross

    Yates opened up the Q&A by asking Cross about how he started. Cross shared that, when he was a kid, his father took him to the public library to see a screening of the 1953 French film, Le salaire de la peur (Wages of Fear); the film fascinated Cross; he noted that he was able to follow the story and the character arcs despite not knowing the language. Cross said that, from that point on, he “loved going to the movie theater and escaping.” Once he was in high school, he was able to go to video stores and rent movies that were no longer in theaters and got the chance to expand his cinematic repertoire. “That’s kind of what led me to want to try to make my own movies,” said Cross.

    Yates steered the conversation to Cross’ editing process; he asked Cross what he does if he disagrees with a director’s editing idea. Cross shared that, in that instance, he waits for the director to see that an editing idea they suggested isn’t working rather than arguing against it in the moment, “I try to trust the process,” he said.

    One of the students in the audience asked how Cross approached editing First Man, a film about the first moon landing in 1969, because the audience knows going in that the protagonist is going to successfully land on the moon. Cross shared that he and the director, Damien Chazelle, wanted to focus on what most people didn’t know so that it would still be a story with drama and character development; “It was about making it more personal and intimate,” said Cross.

    Another student asked Cross how he approaches editing different types of stories; Cross said that what’s most important is the characters because the audience connects with them and follows their journeys. Cross said that, in Whiplash, he sought to highlight the relationship between the protagonist and his music teacher by finding the right close-ups of each actor to create a sense of tension.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Academy Award-winner Tom Cross for sharing his industry experience and editing techniques with our students!

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    April 15, 2019 • Digital Editing, Guest Speakers • Views: 756

  • Q&A With Academy Award-winner and “Arrival” Editor Joe Walker

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    On November 20th, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) had planned a Q&A with Academy Award winner, editor Joe Walker, following a screening of Arrival. Unfortunately, Joe was unable to make it to Burbank, so Tova Laiter, NYFA Director of the Q&A Series, moderated a Q&A conversation with Joe and the students over speakerphone. 

    As mea culpa, Walker invited the students for a screening and Q&A to his new movie Widows, in theaters now!

    Directed by Steve McQueen, Widows, starring Viola Davis and Liam Neeson, has recently opened for Oscar run.

    Joe Walker

    Since Walker has won so many awards and nominations (Arrival, 12 Years a Slave), Laiter asked Walker about the process of voting on the Academy’s end. Walker said that the initial list of Best Film Editing nominees is compiled by the editing branch and then voted on by the Academy. “If you’re nominated… that’s the endorsement by your peers. And then if you win… that’s the endorsement of the entire Academy.”

    Asked about his background and how he “made a name for himself,” Walker said that the most important thing was that he “worked harder, and did more.” Walker had started as a sound editor at the BBC, and moved up through the ranks — now he collaborates with Steve McQueen on films like Hunger, 12 Years a Slave, and Widows, and with Denis Villeneuve on films such as Arrival and Blade Runner 2049.

    One student said that he admired the use of tension in many of Walker’s films, and asked how one might go around building that tension. “Tension is a really complicated thing to achieve… a lot of it is to do with story… you aren’t going to create suspense if there’s nothing to feel suspenseful about… you hope that the reveal is delivered with a little bit of a punch.”

    One thing Walker likes to impart on students is, “If you interfere with a performance by cutting on every line — if every line of dialogue has a reaction, and then you come back for another line… it doesn’t allow the audience to look into the eyes and the soul of the character… Let that stuff play, don’t get in the way.”

    The New York Film Academy looks forward to welcoming Joe Walker back to discuss his new film Widows and to learn more from him!

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    December 12, 2018 • Digital Editing, Guest Speakers • Views: 680

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students Respond to AMPAS Careers in Film Summit

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), home of the Oscars, hosted a delegation of New York Film Academy (NYFA) students on Saturday, October 6, 2018, when they attended the 4th Annual Careers in Film Summit. With panelists such as the producer of Crazy Rich Asians, the music editor of A Quiet Place, and the production manager of Black-ish, students got insight into the wide range of careers available to them in the film industry. NYFA caught up with several members of the delegation and asked what they thought of the event: 

    Career Summit Blog

    “This was my first time going to the Oscars’ headquarters, and it was an amazing experience. The panels were very inspiring and all the professionals who spoke shared their experiences about how they got to be where they are today, which was very motivational for me as a person looking to build my name and career in the film industry. Also, it was great to see Brazil being represented by Renato dos Anjos, who is the Head of Animation at Disney Animation.”
    –Gabriela Ono, Fall 17 MFA Producing

    “It was an inspirational experience, not only because we learned from very different departments, but also because these are people that have years of experience in the film industry and have noticed the change in the industry. The person that inspired me the most was Rachel Morrison, not only because she was on stage with her newborn baby, but also because she’s always that woman that is always leading a crew of men, which talks about equality, opportunities and, of course, female power.”
    –Inés de los Santos, Fall 2017 MFA Screenwriting

    Rachel Morrison - Career Summit Blog

    Oscar-nominated Rachel Morrison (Black Panther, Mudbound)

    “I thoroughly enjoyed the Careers in Film Summit! Each panel shared some of their work and experience, which is always inspiring. I learned that there are countless paths to go down in this industry, which is encouraging! I think the point of the summit is: there’s something for everyone to do in filmmaking, and it is ultimately a collaborative effort!”
    –Harrison Misfeldt, Spring 2016 BFA Film 1B

    “I’m so happy and honored to have been part of NYFA’s Academic Delegation. I loved hearing the panelists’ insights, and I so very much enjoyed being amongst my peers.”
    –Nestor Sierra, Fall 2017 BFA Acting for Film

    “Being at an Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences event, hearing from the speakers — each with years of experience in the movie business — really got my blood pumping to be in this industry. Getting to hear how these professionals worked their way to their positions was both informative and inspirational. Can’t wait for the next one.”
    –Miskar Chomse, Summer 17 MFA Acting

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    November 9, 2018 • Community Highlights, Student Life • Views: 920

  • New York Film Academy Students Attend Cinema Italian Style

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailOn 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.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    November 30, 2017 • Community Highlights, Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 1428

  • NYFA Abu Dhabi Student’s Script Accepted to Oscar Library

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailPink

    The New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi is pleased to announce that one of its 8-Week Filmmaking students, Arkus, has had his script Pink accepted into the Oscar Library, and the short Arabic film he created from the script has already screened at more than 10 international short film festivals around the globe.

    Pink is a story of Khadijah, a middle aged Arabic woman suffering from depression and low self-esteem after her divorce. The divorce has scarred her and led her to believe that she is no more attractive. Therefore, she begins a quest to look beautiful once again.

    Arkus

    Arkus

    “I am honored that Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences popularly known as the Oscar library has accepted the screenplay of Pink,” said Arkus. “It gives me a great sense of joy to know that my screenplay will share a room with some of the best screenplays in the world.”

    Arkus describes the New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi as his second home.

    “I had amazing teachers and staff who took the pain to guide me even after the lectures at pretty odd hours, and my batch mates who made extra efforts to ensure that the film is what it is today. Specifically for the screenplay — maximum credit goes to my two teachers, Norman B. Schwartz and Scott Hartmann, who poured their heart out. I just feel that if I would have listened to them more, the screenplay would have been better.”

    Arkus continues to screen his film at festivals around the world. After making Pink, Arkus teamed up with a few close friends to create a paper-cut stop motion animated short film Dubai LoveScape, which screened at Dubai International Film Festival, 2014.

    He is also working on a feature film script, which he hopes to find the right sponsors who can someday make it a reality.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    March 31, 2015 • Abu Dhabi, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5490

  • Iconic Actor Al Pacino Speaks at New York Film Academy

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailAl Pacino New York Film Academy

    New York Film Academy students received the rare opportunity to participate in an intimate Q&A with one of the greatest actors in film history Al Pacino this past Thursday, December 4th at the Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles, CA. The discussion took place after a special advanced screening of Pacino’s new film The Humbling. In this, funny, observant, erotic comedy, Pacino plays an aging actor who feels he is losing his craft and after a breakdown becomes involved with a much younger woman but soon finds that it’s difficult to keep pace with her and makes the ultimate performance. The film was highly received by the students for its content and Mr. Pacino’s amazing performance in it. Producer Tova Laiter moderated the Q&A.

    Oscar, Emmy, and Tony winning Al Pacino took the stage to an uproar of applause and a standing ovation from students. The legendary actor, who’s entertained and inspired us with iconic performances in The Godfather, Scarface, Dog Day Afternoon, Scent of a Woman, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Heat, to name just a few, was tremendously gracious for the warm reception. Pacino was all smiles and full of life, emanating that vivacious energy we’ve come to love him for.

    In a profound statement about the actor’s process, and artistic process in general, Pacino stated, “I love the line that Michelangelo said in a poem when he was doing the Sistine Chapel, he said, ‘Lord, free me of myself that I may please you.’ Meaning, get to that place in us where we’re not censoring ourselves or trying to do it good or right but rather connect with whatever it is we’re trying to say in our work. Become. Become it, absorb it and let it come out and let the unconscious free. And I strive for that. And I rarely, rarely get it. If I do it’s for a moment or two… Sometimes I’m given a role… Then I have to look at the empty canvas and I say, ‘Wow, I don’t know anything about acting. I don’t know anything about anything. What am I gonna do?’ And you start. And the hope is that instead of figuring it out, you find it.”

    But it wasn’t all serious talk. Pacino revealed the origins of his “Hoo-ah!” line in Scent of a Woman in an amusing story: “That came because I was learning to assemble and disassemble a .45 in forty-five seconds. And that ain’t easy. And I worked literally weeks on that, months, just with this Lieutenant Col. who would say to me every once in a while when I did it well, he would just say to me (pointing) ‘Hoo-ha!’ And I finally said to him, ‘What is that?’ And he said, ‘Well, you see that’s the way I talk to the troops. If they get in line and their suits are straight and their metals are straight, I just go up and I say ‘Hoo-ha!’ And that got into the movie. That wasn’t written.”

    In closing, to the question of what the most important thing acting has taught him, Pacino answered, “It taught me to love people more. I feel more a part of the world. And that we’re all actors. Only some of us can really do it. Some of us have the ability to do it…and the desire to do it. And it taught me that desire can sometimes trump talent. Think about that. So that you may not have as much talent as you think you have, but if you have the desire, your talent will find you.”

    When the Q&A ended, Al Pacino thanked and waved goodbye to students as they all stood and cheered once again. It was a wildly entertaining and inspiring night that was a special gift to NYFA. In a cosmic coincidence, Pacino’s daughter Julie Pacino, an alumna of NYFA, showed her movie to NYFA students at our Union Square square campus the same day!

    We thank Al Pacino for sharing his time with us and look forward to the success of The Humbling (which Mr. Pacino also produced), directed by Barry Levinson. The film opens in theaters in limited release for a week on December 5th and wide release January 23rd, 2015.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 8, 2014 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 12129

  • An Evening with Steve Tisch: Winner of the Oscar and Super Bowl

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    Steve Tisch

    Recently, lyricist Robert Lopez became the 12th member of the exclusive E.G.O.T. Club – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Yet there is an even more exclusive club, one that I am officially labeling the O.S.B : Oscar, Super Bowl ring. The difference is this club only has one member –Steve Tisch. Tisch won an Oscar as producer of Forrest Gump and two Super Bowl rings as chairman of the New York Giants. After a screening of his heart-wrenching drama, American History X, Mr. Tisch spoke to our students at the New York Film Academy.

    Steve Tisch got his start as an assistant to legendary producer Peter Guber, an experience he described as both his graduate school and PhD in the entertainment business. After a few years, Mr. Tisch started his own production company. His first major hit was 1984’s Risky Business, the movie that made Tom Cruise a star. During the 1980’s, Steve Tisch also produced several popular TV movies, including Burning Bed with Farah Fawcett. With only three major networks and limited competition from cable, TV Movies could draw an audience larger than most features. During some weeks, there’d be six new TV movies premiering, most of which would cover social topics that feature films wouldn’t touch.

    Mr. Tisch talked about how he’s managed to keep producing successful material over the years. For him, the keys are the material and the relationship. In the case of Forrest Gump, he spent nine years getting the movie made. The largest issue was no writer seemed to be able to crack the book until Eric Roth stepped in. He was the one who understood that it needed more relationships, more love stories. The audience cares about Forrest Gump, largely because of his “love stories” with Jenny, his mother, Lieutenant Dan and the shrimp-loving Bubba. Six Academy Awards and several hundred million dollars later, it’s safe to say they figured it out.

    forrest gumpOne of the students asked how the entertainment industry and sports industry were alike. Mr. Tisch explained that it’s all about getting an audience, and giving the audience some real entertainment for their dollar. He also admitted that if he had to give either his S.B. Rings or Oscar back, he’d keep the Rings! In three plus hours, the Super Bowl had drama, tension, heart, excitement, heroes, villains, and (in the end) the thrill of victory. All without a screenplay.

    Another student asked Steve Tisch, “What is your greatest mistake–the one you learned the most from?” Smiling and shaking his head, Mr. Tisch said to never give a movie star (who’s also directing) final cut. He knew the movie wasn’t working in post, but couldn’t do a thing to fix it. Lesson learned.

    On American History X, Mr. Tisch faced a bit of a battle, but with much better results. Using his clout from the ultimate feel good movie (Gump), he was able to get funding for what he called the ultimate “feel bad movie.” When Edward Norton signed on as the reformed neo-Nazi, the movie got its green light. And that’s when the trouble began.

    The director – Tony Kaye, who had a terrific career in commercials – clashed constantly (and very publicly) with Edward Norton. Tony Kaye put out an ad in Variety demanding that his directing credit get changed to “Mickey Mouse, etc.” In the end, the movie is 90% Tony Kaye’s cut, 10% Mr. Norton’s and holds up as a beautifully shot, devastating drama that netted Edward Norton a well deserved Oscar nomination.

    Steve Tisch’s big advice to the student body was to keep working on their material and finding the people who they want to work with… as well as the ones who will help them steer their way through Hollywood.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    March 12, 2014 • Guest Speakers • Views: 10021

  • NYFA Grad’s Documentary ‘The Square’ Nominated for an Oscar

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    A scene from THE SQUARE, a feature documentary by Jehane Noujaim. Ahmed Hassan in Tahrir Square.

    A scene from THE SQUARE, a feature documentary by Jehane Noujaim.
    Ahmed Hassan in Tahrir Square.

    Today, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released their nominations for Best Documentary Feature. We were thrilled to find the documentary film The Square, shot by New York Film Academy graduate Muhammad Hamdy, has been announced as one of the 5 nominees at the 86th Oscars.

    Congratulations to Muhammad as well as Director Jehane Noujaim and Producer Karim Amer!Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    January 16, 2014 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 4061

  • NYFA Welcomes World War Z Director Marc Forster

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    Marc Forster with Tova Laiter

    Wednesday night, the New York Film Academy hosted a full house at Warner Bros for the screening of World War Z with Director Marc Forster brought to us by Producer Tova Laiter. His work includes smart character-driven films (Monster’s Ball, Stranger Than Fiction) as well as stylish studio blockbusters (Quantum of Solace, World War Z) and he has been nominated for an Oscar several times. His film Finding Neverland is beloved by many and received 7 Oscar nods. He also made The Kite Runner, Machine Gun Preacher and several other films. His actors also do well under his guidance. For example, his third film, Monster’s Ball, earned Halle Berry an Oscar.

    Marc grew up in Davos, a winter resort in Eastern Switzerland. He decided at the age of 14 or 15 that he wanted to become a filmmaker, though his doctor father and family thought he would “come to his senses” and go into academics eventually. Good thing for Marc, he never did come to his senses.

    forsternyfaNYFA student, Krishna, asked Marc what was the most important part of the filmmaking process. He said it all mattered, but that pre-production is very vital. He added that, “there are different challenges for different projects, it depends on who the key people are involved. I make films in a very Swiss manner, very prepared…and pre-production is the most important.”

    Marc never puts the meticulous work involved in directing a film to rest. He admits that he has a vision, which caters to every detail including color, wardrobe, haircuts and lighting. “You are only as good as your last film,” says Forster. Though, he added, “I’m not a guy who just goes out and shoots.”

    He also told the audience to try and have thick skin as, “not everyone is going to love your work, you just have to get used to it.”

    Another student, Pablo, asked Marc about the degree of collaboration he gets into with actors. Marc said, “I love actors and it’s all about collaboration. You have to start at the beginning and really discuss the character.” Actors work differently. He has been lucky and has great relationships with many successful actors. He added that sometimes you simply have to, “do takes until you are both happy.”

    Asked by a filmmaking student what’s the best way to get started in today´s filmmaking world, Marc suggested one of the following:

    • 1. Make a commercial reel
    • 2. Make documentaries
    • 3. Try to make a small feature and get it into Sundance or Cannes

    And for all of them: Know what is personal and important for you. Do something original and interesting.

    Marc noted the importance of maintaining his cool on set. “Once on set, there is nothing you can do except stay focused.” He told a story of getting a bad toothache while shooting on an aircraft carrier, only to be driven to a barn after wrap for a procedure, then to get up at 4 am and resume shooting. Stay focused.

    On staying true to yourself and your vision, Marc said, “I don’t like branding myself…I do what I am passionate about. I try to continually challenge myself and I like making films that are dealing with the human condition.”

    Truly, an inspiring filmmaker.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    November 8, 2013 • Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 6413

  • Actress Nia Vardalos Visits New York Film Academy

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    tovaselect

    Nia Vardalos visited New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus last week for a private screening of her hit film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, followed by a Q&A with students. After training at Chicago’s famed Second City, Vardalos was struggling to find work as an actress. She says she was told she “wasn’t pretty enough to be a leading lady, and not fat enough to be a character actress.” Determined to forge her own path, she wrote her own one-woman show in Los Angeles, based largely on her own upbringing in a Greek family. Rita Wilson came to see it, and returned again with husband Tom Hanks. The couple would soon give her the opportunity of a lifetime: to write and star in her first feature film.

    My Big Fat Greek Wedding became a sleeper sensation, becoming the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time, and earning Vardalos an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. She followed up by writing, producing, and starring in Connie and Carla, and co-starred with Richard Dreyfuss in My Life In Ruins. She made her directorial debut with 2009’s I Hate Valentine’s Day, and co-wrote the box-office hit Larry Crowne.

    Vardalos shared stories about her rise to fame with New York Film Academy students, and even brought prizes that she gave away throughout the night. “It was amazing how she was so humble and down to earth,” said MFA Filmmaking student Edrei Hutson. “She was willing to share her experiences and gave great advice on writing and filmmaking in general.”

    Vardalos answered dozens of questions from excited students, and said, “Learn the rules, so you know what you’re breaking. Be true to yourself and find people who support what you want to do.”

    She is currently working on a project at Paramount, which she describes as an anti-romantic comedy for single people. Vardalos also recently released her first book, Instant Mom, in which she opens up about the heartaches, headaches, and humor of becoming an adoptive parent.

    H56A1675

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    May 2, 2013 • Guest Speakers • Views: 6460