Earlier this month the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) invited 842 new members to join its rankings, including Oscar-nominated New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking & Cinematography alum Jean de Meuron.
de Meuron was previously nominated in 2017 for an Academy Award for the short film he executive-produced, La femme et leTGV. de Meuron hails from Switzerland and first enrolled at New York Film Academy in 2009, taking several workshops, including in Filmmaking. He followed his short-term studies with NYFA’s 1-year Conservatory in Cinematography. His latest project, sci-fi epic Megan (co-produced with Giuseppe Mercadante and Olcun Tan and directed by Greg Strasz), recently won a Telly Award for its proof-of-concept short. It’s no surprise the highly talented filmmaker has been tapped to join AMPAS.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the body of producers, directors, screenwriters, actors, and other filmmaking industry leaders. Every year, AMPAS members vote on the Academy Awards embodied by the iconic golden statuette, Oscar.
Over the past few years, due to a demand from the public to catch up to to the current cultural landscape, AMPAS has been inviting more women and people of color to diversify its body, which has been historically dominated by white men. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this year’s 842 invitees include members from 59 countries, half of whom are female and 29 percent of whom are people of color.
Invitees often include previous Oscar winners and nominees, as well as up-and-coming Hollywood stars. The 2019 list of invitees includes directors Jonathan M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), and performers Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Sterling K. Brown, Gemma Chan, Tom Holland, Claire Foy, Will Poulter, Lady Gaga, and Adele. “I am incredibly humbled and grateful to have been invited to join the Academy as a member of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch,” de Meuron tells NYFA. “It is such an honor and privilege to be a part of this organization of which many filmmakers, creatives, and executives belong to that have influenced as well as inspired me—and continue to do so.”
New York Film Academy is incredibly excited for Filmmaking & Cinematography alum Jean de Meuron and congratulates him on his invitation to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Three New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking alumni qualified for the 92nd Academy Awards last month by winning major film festivals for their documentary shorts.
Where Chaos Reigns was directed by Braulio Jatar and Anaïs Michel. Jatar enrolled in both the 6-week Documentary Filmmaking Workshop as well as the 1-year Conservatory in 2016. A year earlier, Michel also studied in both the 6-week Workshop and 1-year Conservatory. Cricket Liu was directed byJulia Cheng, who graduated in 2018 from the 1-year Documentary Filmmaking Conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus.
The documentary showcases Venezuelan citizens as they protest their government in clashes that sometimes lead to violence, and focuses on a paramedic group called “Green Crosses” that treats protesters, and the young medical student who founded the group.
The San Francisco International Film Festival is the longest-running film festival in the Americas and a major cultural event in the Bay Area. According to their press release, Where Chaos Reigns was awarded the Golden Gate Award “for its audacity, its haunting images and its ability to bring us closer to the crisis in Venezuela than anything we’ve seen thus far in America … Their unflinching cameras capture singular moments of courage, fearlessness and violence that linger long after the film has ended.”
Andrea Swift, Chair of the Documentary Filmmaking department at NYFA’s New York Campus can’t help but agree, telling NYFA, “Braulio and Anais both did great work as students … It’s not at all surprising that when they met and joined talents, they [crafted] a film as powerful and unique as Where Chaos Reigns. The combination of their talents is formidable.”
Cheng’s film, Cricket Liu is an 18-minute short that profiles an aging cricket fighting master who uses his ancient art to earn money for a grandson he barely knows. At the American Documentary Film Festival, also known as AmDocs, the film won Best International Short Documentary. AmDocs was founded by Teddy Grouya in 2011 with a mission to promote and celebrate documentaries and, according to their own website, “independent filmmakers around the world who bring knowledge and awareness through their stories about real people and issues.”
Cricket Liu was the thesis project for Cheng while studying at NYFA. “I was so lucky to work with the gurus in the industry,” Cheng says of her NYFA instructors. “Just to name a few here: my [Chair] Andrea Swift was my story consultant, Claudia Raschke (DP of RBG) was my cinematography teacher, and Bob Eisenhardt (editor of Free Solo) was my editing supervisor. Without them, my film wouldn’t have come this far! Before coming to NYFA, I had little idea about nonfiction storytelling and didn’t know how to shoot and edit a film at all! This 1-year intensive, hands-on study at NYFA Docs completely changed my life as a filmmaker!”
Of Cheng’s accomplishment, Andrew Swift says, “It’s exciting to see a student create a thesis film that’s masterful enough to merit an Academy Award qualification. And Cricket Liu absolutely does. Julia is a great testament to how much a passionate student can accomplish in a 1-year Conservatory.”
Both the Golden Gate Award for Jatar and Michel and Cheng’s win at AmDocs each qualify their films for next year’s Oscars. A shortlist of nominees will be named later this year, before the official list of final nominees for all categories is announced in early 2020. Last year, NYFA Documentary Filmmaking faculty members worked on two Oscar-nominated docs, Free Solo and RBG, with the former winning Best Documentary Feature.
The three NYFA alumni are now in production on feature documentaries. Jatar and Michel are currently in Colombia shooting a documentary about Venezuelan refugees, while Cheng is in the middle of production for two high-profile films in Beijing, China.
The New York Film Academy congratulates Documentary Filmmaking alumni Braulio Jatar, Anaïs Michel, and Julia Cheng on their Academy Award-qualifying festival wins and wish them continued success in their careers as well as next year’s awards season.
Danielsen was at the Oscars representing Danish network TV2. “One of the more fun Sundays,” she said in an epic understatement. NYFA helped teach her digital production skills. Her fashion sense, however, she likely learned somewhere else.
Danielsen recently covered the tragic wildfires in California late last year, as well as covering the United Nations for TV2. In September 2018, Danielsen also reported live from the memorial service for the late Senator John McCain.
Meanwhile, down in Brazil—where it is summer—NYFA grad Daniella Gemignani did the first of two weeks of coverage leading up to the Catholic feast of Ash Wednesday. It’s better known as CARNIVAL. Daniella reports for Globo TV in São Paulo.
Meanwhile, NYFA alum Paula Menezes is reporting on Brazilian sports. (You know, things like “futbal.”) A grad of one of our 8-week Broadcast Journalism workshops, she says she is having the time of her life. She even sent along some visual evidence…
So, we started with the Oscars and that’s how we’ll end. I’d like to thank the Academy… the Beijing Film Academy… for lending me their Academy Award when I visited last September. Giving a lecture at this prestigious school was in itself an honor. But to have the opportunity to hold a genuine Oscar is priceless. Of course, I do have an independent feature film coming out later this year…
The 2019 awards season concluded last night with the 91st Academy Awards, where Oscars were presented to Green Book for Best Picture, and Free Solo for Best Documentary Feature, among many others.
Free Solo is the critically-acclaimed and visually arresting National Geographic documentary following rock climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to scale El Capitan, arguably the most dangerous climb in the world–without a rope.
The film was directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, and edited by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking instructor, Bob Eisenhardt.Also a three-time Emmy winner, Eisenhardt was previously nominated by the Academy for Best Short Documentary as Director and Editor of Spaces: The Architecture of Paul Rudolph. He has also edited another two Oscar-nominated films as well as three that were shortlisted.
Free Solo’s Oscar win follows on the heels of the British Film and Television Academy Award (BAFTA) for Best Documentary. A week before that, the American Cinema Editors awarded Eisenhardt their coveted “Eddie” Award – the highest honor accorded a documentary editor.
NYFA Instructor Bob Eisenhardt with wife, Bonnie Mackay holding the Academy Award
The NYFA community celebrated other nominations as well—Documentary Department cinematography instructor, Director of Photography, Claudia Raschke, shot RBG, another excellent, high-profile contender in the Best Documentary category. Best Actress nominee Glenn Close and Best Supporting Actor nominee Adam Driver are both previous guest speakers for the Academy. NYFA alum Francesco Panzieri worked as a VFX artist on Avengers: Infinity War, which was nominated for Best Visual Effects. Broadcast Journalism alum Celina Liv Danielsen attended the ceremony, covering the red carpet for Danish network TV-2.
New York Film Academy congratulates all the winners and nominees of the evening and applauds Documentary Filmmaking instructor Bob Eisenhardt for his exceptional work on Academy Award winner Free Solo!
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.
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!
The 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:
“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
“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
“Newton,” a feature-length film by NYFA alumnus Amit V Masurkar, is now in the running for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film — just one in a long line of successes the Indian dark comedy-drama and its writer & director have already seen.
Co-written and directed by Amit, “Newton” stars Rajkummar Rao as Newton Kumar, a rookie government clerk who seeks to uphold democracy and conduct fair elections in Chhattisgarh’s conflict-ridden jungles. The film has received positive reviews, including from India’s Huffington Post, which called it “a touching, personal and very human film.”
Amit first premiered “Newton” at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the CICAE Art Cinema Award. Since then, Amit has presented his film at nearly 50 festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival in April, where it screened in the International Narrative Competition, and the Hong Kong International Film Festival, where it won the coveted Jury Prize.
An Academy Award would be the crowning achievement to go with these accolades, and the journey to attaining one is a long and tough road. Films that are produced outside of the United States and are delivered in a predominantly non-English language are eligible for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Unlike other Oscars, the Foreign Language Film Award is unique in that the golden statue is presented not to the filmmakers, but to the nation that produced it—adding an air of patriotic pride to the category.
Each country must then select just one film per year to represent it at the Academy Awards, creating a lot of competition between movies of all genres, especially in a nation as populated and cinema-oriented as India. “Newton” was selected from a shortlist of 26 films to represent India at this year’s Oscars, and the final nominations from five different countries will be announced along with the other Academy Award noms early next year. The 90th Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on March 4, 2018.
Amit V Masurkar honed his screenwriting skills at New York Film Academy’s New York campus, taking the 8-Week Screenwriting workshop in 2009. After writing for numerous sketch and comedy shows, Amit’s directorial feature-length debut “Sulemani Keeda” became a surprise indie hit. “Newton” is only his second feature film, and Amit has proven to be one of India’s most exciting voices in filmmaking.
The New York Film Academy congratulates Amit V Masurkar on such a fantastic achievement, and looks forward to seeing what further accomplishments he and “Newton” will achieve!
The New York Film Academy followed the 89th Academy Awards ever so closely last night on social media, even through the confusion. Heading into the evening, NYFA was firmly rooting for two of its alumni, Jean de Meuron and Raphaela Neihausen, both having been involved with nominated short films. Neihausen’s short documentary film, “Joe’s Violin,” which she produced, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Alumnus Jean de Meuron was executive producer on “La femme et le TGV,” which was up for Best Live Action Short. While the former students didn’t end up winning for their respective categories, their monumental achievement speaks for itself.
Of course the most talked about moment from last night’s awards event, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, was the “Steve Harvey-like” gaffe during the Best Picture announcement. After accidentally awarding Best Picture to the movie musical, “La La Land,” the actual winner was revealed to be “Moonlight,” which iconic actor and director, Warren Beatty, clearly rectified by pointing out the winning card that was supposed to have been read.
So while that was not exactly a shining moment for the gracious team behind “La La Land,” the film still notched a record-tying 14 nominations. “Moonlight” and “Arrival” followed with a very respectable eight wins each. It should also be worth nothing that two of our teacher’s assistants from New York Film Academy South Beach, Robert Colom and Danniel Rodriguez, had the privilege of working on set of “Moonlight” as Production Assistants.
One of the more controversial topics of last year’s awards was the fact that there were no people of color nominated for an Oscar. However, this year offered the most diverse list of nominees, with a total of seven actors of color nominated — six black and one Indian. Some of the winners included Best Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali from “Moonlight,” and Best Supporting Actress Viola Davis from “Fences.”
NYFA also recognized a few of its former guest speakers like Kenneth Lonergan, who won Best Original Screenplay for his work on “Manchester by the Sea,” and Linus Sandgren, who won Best Cinematography for his capturing of “La La Land.”
Additionally, in the world of animation, “Zootopia” won Best Animated Feature Film. Last year, before the film’s release, 3D Animation students at NYFA had an inside look from “Zootopia” animator, Darrin Butters, who broke down scenes and the development process that went into the Disney film.
Finally, on a humorous note, NYFA guest speaker Seth Rogen brought us back to the future after emerging from a DeLorean with Michael J. Fox. Mr. Rogen was at NYFA Los Angeles last year to screen his R-rated animated comedy, “Sausage Party,” which was an absolute blast for those students and alumni fortunate enough to attend.
While the snafu at the end of the evening will be talked about for days to follow, the winners will always remember when they received Hollywood’s most coveted prize.
Below is a complete list of the 89th Academy Award nominees — winners are in bold:
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“Manchester by the Sea”
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea” (WINNER)
Andrew Garfield in “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling in “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen in “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington in “Fences”
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Jeff Bridges in “Hell or High Water”
Mahershala Ali in “Moonlight” (WINNER)
Lucas Hedges in “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel in “Lion”
Michael Shannon in “Nocturnal Animals”
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Isabelle Huppert in “Elle”
Ruth Negga in “Loving”
Natalie Portman in “Jackie”
Emma Stone in “La La Land” (WINNER)
Meryl Streep in “Florence Foster Jenkins”
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Nicole Kidman in “Lion”
Viola Davis in “Fences”
Naomie Harris in “Moonlight”
Octavia Spencer in “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams in “Manchester by the Sea”
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“The Red Turtle”
“La La Land” (WINNER)
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (WINNER)
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“La La Land”
“Arrival” – Denis Villeneuve
“Hacksaw Ridge” – Mel Gibson
“La La Land” – Damien Chazelle (WINNER)
“Manchester by the Sea” – Kenneth Lonergan
“Moonlight” – Barry Jenkins
“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“O.J.: Made in America” (WINNER)
DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)
“Watani: My Homeland”
“The White Helmets” (WINNER)
“Hacksaw Ridge” (WINNER)
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Land of Mine”
“A Man Called Ove”
“The Salesman” (WINNER)
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
“A Man Called Ove”
“Star Trek Beyond”
“Suicide Squad” (WINNER)
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
“La La Land” (WINNER)
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from “La La Land”
“Can’t Stop The Feeling” from “Trolls”
“City Of Stars” from “La La Land” (WINNER)
“The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story”
Geof Bartz, New York Film Academy Documentary Master Class instructor and curriculum adviser (and Supervising Editor of HBO’s Documentary Department), is up for yet another Oscar this year! You may remember that Veterans Dial 1, the film Geof edited last year, won. This time he’s nominated for his editing work on Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s A GIRL IN THE RIVER: The Price of Forgivenes (Documentary Short category).
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s A GIRL IN THE RIVER: The Price of Forgiveness chronicles the story of a 19-year-old Pakistani woman, Saba Qaiser, who was shot in the face and thrown in a river by her father and uncle for marrying against their wishes. But Saba survived, only to face another challenge: how to bring justice to her attackers in a legal system that allows “honor killers” to be “forgiven” and set free.
More than 5,000 women are the victims of such honor killings worldwide each year. Sharmeen’s movie has already begun to draw the attention of critics in the US, including Nicholas Kristof’s piece in the NY Times last month.
A GIRL IN THE RIVER:The Price of Forgiveness will premiere on HBO and be available on HBO GO in early March. Meanwhile, you can check out the Oscars this weekend and see how it fares against four other terrific short documentaries!
Mary Pickford is finally getting the Hollywood treatment from the Hollywood she helped to create. Pickford, the curly-haired ingénue considered cinema’s first “America’s Sweetheart” was a huge star in the silent era and early days of Hollywood.
Pickford wasn’t just one of the first starlets of the silver screen—she was also a powerful force behind the camera. During her career, she co-founded two significant institutions. The first, with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and her husband Douglas Fairbanks, was United Artists, a studio controlled by actors and filmmakers in an attempt to wrest power from the major studios. UA continues as a major producer to this day as part of MGM.
Pickford’s other contribution was even greater—she was one of the original 36 co-founders of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the organizations of cinema’s professionals in all fields and provider of the annual Oscars. Pickford won two Academy Awards herself, a Best Actress Oscar for 1929’s Coquette and an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar in 1976.
It’s no surprise then that her fascinating life is being made into a film, adapted from Eileen Whitfield’s biography Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood. The movie is being scripted by Josh Fagin and directed by Jennifer DeLia. DeLia is producing the film with Julie Pacino, a New York Film Academy graduate who co-founded Poverty Row Entertainment with DeLia. The two also collaborated on Billy Bates, the haunting look at a tortured artist. Pacino, the daughter of Al Pacino, is the perfect choice to tell the story of a Hollywood legend.