pedro peira
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  • NYFA Documentary Alum Pedro Peira Talks Upcoming Film LA Queenciañera

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    Pedro Peira is a Fulbright scholar and NYFA Documentary Filmmaking MFA graduate. Since his time as NYFA he has been active in the industry directing, producing, writing and founding his own production company, Festimania Pictures.

    The NYFA alum, who hails from Spain, first became interested in documentary filmmaking in his pre-teen years, “Whenever there was a family event I would take photos or record Hi-8 videos, initially with some help from family members and once they started to trust me, on my own.”

    Having developed a passion for documenting reality, Pedro decided pursue documentary filmmaking as a profession. “It’s a way of informing, entertaining and hopefully, promoting social change. There’s also the added benefit of not having the pressure to raise major funding for a (documentary) film project. Generally, as the costs are much higher for fiction (films), whereas you just need a story and a camera to make a documentary.”

    This decision eventually led him to apply for a Fulbright scholarship and choose NYFA as the place to hone his craft.”When I was doing all the Fulbright paperwork, prior to becoming a finalist, I was looking for a place to study documentary filmmaking and I easily contacted the documentary department at NYFA. The rest is all history.”

    Throughout his career each project has taught Pedro valuable lessons that have allowed him to grow in his profession. “I learned to delegate responsibility. In my first feature I took on most of the production roles (mainly due to budget constraints) and I have now learned to share these tasks. I’ve also transitioned to using a narrative structure so as to make the film more appealing to the audience.” As for what leads him to choose a project Pedro had this to say, “I guess what attracts me most to a project is who’s behind it. There’s people who I would work for free and, also, others who I wouldn’t work for no matter the amount. The type of project is also very important when it comes to my decision making. For me, it’s not the same to be part of a project which can lead to a change in society compared to a film which generates profit for the producers without any higher purpose behind it.”

    The Fulbright scholar has also started his own production company. “Festimania Pictures was set up in Spain 7  years ago. Although we carry out some distribution and consulting, we’re now mainly focused on documentary
    production. Our biggest successes so far have been the features Soul, which world-premiered at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival and Free Way, which world-premiered at the 2020 San Sebastian Film Festival. Both films have been widely distributed around the world and on the top-tier festival circuit.

    As for upcoming projects, Pedro has a few lined up, including the Rosario Dawson backed LA Queenciañera. “We’re finishing post-production of a film called LA Queenciañera,  of which I’m the director and producer. The movie follows LA-based, transgender, undocumented, Latina activist, Bamby Salcedo, as she prepares for an epic 50th birthday celebration, which is a deliberate queering of that traditional Latino ritual, the Quinceañera. Our executive producer is Rosario Dawson and we have the participation of Patricia Arquette, sharing the story of her sister Alexis.”

    Patricia Arquette sites with trans rights activist Bamby Salcedo and documentary filmmaker Pedro Peira

    Pedro Peira with Patricia Arquette and Bamby Salcedo

    “We’re also in development for a documentary series which explores the influence of Islam on the gastronomies of Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Spain.”

    As for advice to aspiring documentary filmmakers and NYFA students Pedro says, “work hard and enjoy what you do. Don’t worry about not having budget – if the idea is good, success (and funds) will come. Just be patient.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Pedro Peira on his success and looks forward to the upcoming LA Queenciañera.

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    June 17, 2021 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1630

  • Celebrating Fulbright Student Highlights at the New York Film Academy

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    Each year New York Film Academy (NYFA) welcomes Fulbright International students from all around the globe. A proud participant in what is considered the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, NYFA has been the school of choice for inspirational, creative minds worldwide. Here are some of our brightest scholars’ stories.

    Pedro Peira

    Pedro attended NYFA’s 1-Year Conservatory program in Documentary Filmmaking and is already finding success. Soul, which he executive produced, screened at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale). Of his time at NYFA Pedro says:

    “What I’ve mainly learned from NYFA is to be able to tell stories. Of course, I’ve learned about image and sound, which are also important, but being able to include some kind of drama in a story stands out above the rest. As a matter of fact, during the final editing process of Soul, I would call the director while he was editing the film and, after watching the cuts together, he applied what I was discovering at NYFA. I think is has helped the film.”

    Soul is now streaming on iTunes,  Amazon Video, and Google Play.

    Abdallah El Daly

    Already a successful journalist in Egypt, Abdallah came to NYFA to study filmmaking and enhance his storytelling skills. He is keenly aware of the impact movies can have on people and his thesis film, Doors of Mercy, seeks to shed light on the plight an Egyptian woman can face when giving birth to a child out of wedlock.

    Monika Sedziute

    Monika is a portrait and fashion photographer whose work has been published in IKONA, L’Officiel, Elegant Magazine, Promo Magazine, Shuba Magazine, Eden Magazine, Fayn Magazine, Stilius Magazine, Zurda Magazine (online), The Wrap (online), and Luxure Magazine. Her work was also featured at the 2017 edition of Photoville, one of New York’s premier photography festivals.

    Melarissa Sjarief

    A New York Film Academy MFA Screenwriting alum, Melarissa wants to help grow the film industry in her native Indonesia and empower women by telling their stories. She has said that being a Fulbright scholar and being able to make personal and professional connections throughout the course of her studies has been a life-changing experience. Of her time at NYFA she’s said:

    “I learned a lot about structure, dialogue, character. I feel like I now have the skills that are expected of me. That’s why I want to use my voice to speak for those who can’t.”

    Hugo Salvaterra

    Already a founder of a production company in his homeland of Angola, Hugo earned his Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking at NYFA’s Los Angeles Campus. Even though he was encouraged to pursue medicine and engineering, of which Angola is in dire need, he replied, “To me, culture is just as important as those other things.”

    For further information visit the Fulbright webpage.

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  • NYFA Student’s Documentary “Soul” Screening at Berlin International Film Festival

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    pedro peiraThe Berlin International Film Festival is underway, and we’re thrilled to see New York Film Academy Los Angeles Fulbright student Pedro Peira is Executive Producer of the documentary film “Soul,” which will be screening at the festival this Sunday, Feb. 12 and Monday, Feb. 13.

    The Spanish documentary, from filmmakers José Antonio Blanco and Ángel Parra, focuses on Eneko Atxa, a three Michelin star chef who runs a restaurant complex near Bilbao in the Basque region. His exploration of the “soul” of cooking has him traveling to famous colleagues in Catalonia and Japan. Throughout the documentary, some of the most relevant personalities of international gastronomy such as Michael Ellis, manager of the Michelin guide, or Joël Robuchon, the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world, take us into the secrets and the vicissitudes of a profession based on effort, which is continually being reinvented and requires huge sacrifices.

    pedro peira
    “What I’ve mainly learned from NYFA is to be able to tell stories,” said Peira. “Of course I’ve learned about image and sound, which are also important, but being able to include some kind of drama in a story stands out above the rest. As a matter of fact, during the final editing process of ‘Soul’ I would call the director while he was editing the film and, after watching the cuts together, he applied what I was discovering at NYFA. I think is has helped the film.”

    “SOUL” Trailer from Festimania Pictures on Vimeo.

    “Even though I’ve just finished my first semester at NYFA, I’ve felt an evolution in my work,” added Peira. “When I arrived, my approach to documentary was an informational one. After screening my final project of the semester, I felt that I had started to be able to generate emotions. When people laugh or cry when watching your films, you know you have been doing something right.”

    For tickets and more information on “Soul” and its screening at the Berlin Film Festival, CLICK HERE.

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