Earlier this year two of our Broadcast Journalism students — Alisa Rajkitkul and Urvashi Barua — became accredited White House reporters. This means they are entitled to attend any White House media events. Last week, they traveled to Warsaw to cover President Obama’s participation in the biennial NATO heads-of-state summit.As far as we know, they are the first student journalists ever to accompany the President on an overseas trip. The team shot stories first in Poland and then Spain, for use on NYFA News, the program the 1-year Broadcast Journalism students produce.In addition to shooting stories for NYFA News they were also active on social media, including Snapchat. Stay tuned for more White House coverage from Urvashi and Alisa.
While Thursday did not go as largely expected for the cast and crew of Selma, who despite winning nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Song, did not receive nominations for its director Ava DuVernay and lead actor David Oyelowo, one additional accolade the film received yesterday was being picked by President Obama for a special screening at the Executive Mansion tonight, January 16. DuVernay and her cast were all invited, with Oyelowo, Common, and John Legend all slated to attend.
The screening was announced late Thursday afternoon, hours after the nominations came through from LA and following growing rage on both social media and amongst activists who decried the total lack of performers of color from the Oscar nominations, with the Reverend Al Sharpton calling the nominations “appallingly insulting.”
However, DuVernay sought to keep the mood positive, tweeting earlier in the day, “Happy Birthday, Dr. King. An Oscar gift for you. To SELMA cast + crew led by our miracle David Oyelowo. To Common + Legend! Kudos! March on!” Rapper Common and singer John Legend were nominated for their song “Glory” which picked up a Best Original Song award at Sunday’s Golden Globes and Common also shared his joy over his joint nomination on Twitter.
This continues a tradition of Obama holding Hollywood screenings at the White House, with past screenings including Lincoln and Mandela: Long Walk Of Freedom. Furthermore, black business leaders across the country have joined together to sponsor free screenings of the civil rights film that chronicles Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to over 90,000 middle school and high school students across the country.
Early Tuesday, President Obama and the White House announced a proposal for legislation to help combat cyberterrorism in the wake of hack attacks on Sony late last year. The administration stated that it was their duty to step in, as a seemingly Hollywood problem was actually indicative of severe national security issues.
One of the key components of the plan is to strengthen communication between private sectors and the Department of Homeland Security, specifically to facilitate cybersecurity information and appropriate knowledge of threats. By creating Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations and encouraging the private sector to participate, the government hopes to have more efficient responses to incoming threats or attacks. The laws would also offer liability protection to the private sector as well as protect the privacy of citizens who may be associated with such companies.
The law would also strength the government’s ability to prosecute cyberterrorists by criminalizing more hacker-related techniques and technologies, including the sale of botnets and the overseas sale of credit card and bank account information. Significantly, the proposal also suggests updating the RICO Act, famously used to take down mob criminals, by including cyberterrorist groups under its umbrella.
Finally, Obama announced a “Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection” for February 13 at Stanford University. The summit aims to bring together major government and private players in the world of cybersecurity to better understand and tackle issues from all perspectives, including consumers and consumer advocates, tech experts, law enforcement officials, and students.
As the head of the Executive branch, the President doesn’t have the power to enable laws—he can only recommend legislation for Congress to debate, write, and pass. With a Congress that has been vocally opposed to most of Obama’s policies, it remains to be seen how much of the White House’s proposal will eventually be enacted.
While Sony’s attack at first seemed nothing more than a leak of gossipy emails and an internal Hollywood problem, it has since proved the impetus for a serious look at the world of financial protection, identity theft, and the looming futurescape of cyberterrorism.
We’re glad to see NYFA 1-Year Documentary Filmmaking alum Frederik Boll keeps popping up on our radar! You may remember Frederik from his work documenting adventures in grassroots politics on the BamaBus in 2008. He and fellow Documentary Filmmaking alumnus Annie Woods took a road trip across the country generating support for the future President of the United States and filming the American experience during election season.
Well, we got wind that Fred’s been up to some other fantastic projects. After getting in touch, Fred was kind enough to give us a little summary of his adventures since NYFA and how he ended up at the New York Film Academy in the first place.
My Life changed after my experience as a NATO soldier in Kosovo for the Danish Royal Guard. It was a very peaceful mission where we mostly did humanitarian work. Kosovo is the poorest country in Europe, and it made a huge impression on me. I quickly found that I felt a tremendous sense of satisfaction from helping others.
When I returned to Denmark, my good friend who works as a videographer offered me a room, which I gratefully accepted. I started tagging along on a couple of the productions he was working on and found out that I really enjoyed it. I started contacting various production companies and found work as a production assistant. I had found my calling. I wanted to make pro social documentary films, a media where I can challenge people’s view of the world by telling a story on a creative and entertaining way.
I knew that I would need to learn my craft. I applied to several Danish schools, but I needed one with a film department. I had a better idea: I was going to move to America. I was accepted into NYFA’s Documentary Conservatory Program and moved to New York less than a month after I had turned down school in Denmark.
It is one of the greatest learning experience I’ve ever had. It culminated with my thesis film where I followed a group of Latino immigrants’ struggle against NYC to keep their artisan food stands in Brooklyn.
Straight after school, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. It was election year, and the US was brimming with excitement. A couple of my friends had decided to buy an old VW bus, stencil it with Obama’s picture and drive it through all the battleground states in hopes of engaging young people in the political debate. I was invited along to film the entire trip. We paid for the trip by selling spray painted political t-shirts that Obama supporters painted themselves. It meant a lot to me that I got to experience that election.
When I finally returned to New york, it didn’t take long before I was called up by one of the guys I traveled with, asking me to become involved with a start-up company where he’d just begun working. The company has the same sense of social responsibility that I strive to live my life by – it’s a place where I feel I can make a difference.
Along with his work on the BamaBus, Frederik Boll has worked with Volunteers of America, an organization that goes out to the most violent urban areas in America to help the homeless into shelters. In Camden, New Jersey, he accompanied VoA’s Hal Miller helping people out of tent cities and into save houses. Boll also filmed a video for the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, the COP15 summit in Copenhagen and, most recently, the China Digital Media Summit, amongst other projects.
We can’t wait to hear more about your work Fred!