Sundance Film Festival
Posts

  • Short Film Associate Produced by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Student Aya Hamdan Competes at Sundance

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Dunya’s Day, a satirical short film tackling class privilege and associate produced by current New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary student Aya Hamdan, is premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival as part of its international shorts competition. The film is notable for its all-female, Saudi cast, who give complex, layered performances that are generating a lot of buzz.

    The film, written and directed by Raed Alsemari, tells the story of Dunya, who struggles to throw the perfect graduation party after she’s abandoned by her domestic help. The film already has the honor of being the first Saudi film to have its premiere in Saudi Arabia, with an IMAX screening at the Vox Cinema at Riyadh Park organized by the General Culture Authority, represented by the Saudi Film Council.

    Aya Hamdan Dunya's Day

    Hamdan first attended NYFA’s 1-week Filmmaking workshop before enrolling in the Academy’s Documentary Filmmaking 1-year conservatory in New York City, where she is being prepared by professional, distinguished faculty members for the practical challenges, opportunities, and realities that arise when creating documentary films.

    Hamdan is grateful for the support she has received from the Documentary school staff while working on Dunya’s Day. She tells NYFA, “I want to thank Andrea, Tracie, Joao, Claudia, and Maxine for all of their support.”

    As part of her curriculum, Hamdan is working on several documentary shorts, including a social issue film and a thesis film that she will shoot in her home country, the Kingdom of Bahrain. She also plans on working with Alsemari on his next film, possibly a feature set in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

    “He has the creativity and drive to positively influence the perception of Arab women in the media,” Hamdan says of writer/director Raed Alsemari. She adds, “I am truly thankful and proud to be part of this journey. I love this film and what it represents not only for Saudi Arabian cinema but for cinema across the Middle East. I can’t wait for it to be shared with a wider audience; it touches on a universal topic that anyone can relate to, but through the stories of the fierce women of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.”

    Aya Hamdan Dunya's Day

    Hamdan served as associate producer on Dunya’s Day. In addition to Alsemari, the crew includes Sarah Elnawasrah as producer, Oliver Theurillat as director of photography, and Tamara Kalo as production designer, and stars Sara Balghonaim, Rahaf Bazian, and Ayah Bazian. 

    The first screening of Dunya’s Day at Sundance is Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at Prospector Square Theater. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Documentary Filmmaking student Aya Hamdan on the Sundance premiere of Dunya’s Day and looks forward to following her work as she completes her studies!

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    January 23, 2019 • Documentary Filmmaking, Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1055

  • Sundance 2018 Will Feature Work by New York Film Academy Documentary & Filmmaking Instructors

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    The Sundance Film Festival announced their 2018 slate this week, and the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking School is once again represented among the Sundance festival selections.

    As soon as Sundance released its announcement, the New York Times published the article, Sundance Film Festival 2018: 6 Films to Know,” which spotlights the documentary RBG.” NYFA Documentary cinematography professor Claudia Raschke is the director of photography for this much-anticipated documentary on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    Directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, “RBG” focuses on Ginsberg’s early work and how it has impacted women’s rights, tracing her evolution as an outspoken Supreme Court Justice, now popular in internet memes as “Notorious RBG.”

    It’s no surprise to find Claudia behind the camera of one of the year’s most important docs. Her previous work has already been nominated for Academy Awards four times.  

    “That NYFA’s Documentary Filmmaking students work so closely with a cinematographer as accomplished and prominent as Claudia is a rare privilege and adds immeasurably to their educations,” says Chair of the Documentary Filmmaking Department Andrea Swift.

    Claudia also shot the 2nd Units of two more 2018 Sundance-selected films: “The Price of Everything,” directed by Nathaniel Kahn (U.S. Documentary Competition), and “The Game Changers,” by Louie Psihoyos (World Premiere).

    A still from “The Game Changers” via IMDB.

    “The Price of Everything” turns its focus to the thriving market of the contemporary art world, while “The Game Changers” follows The Ultimate Fighter winner and special forces trainer James Wilks on a nutritional investigation.

    Joining Claudia in screening work at Sundance 2018 is New York Film Academy Documentary Master Class professor Hilla Medalia, who produced Sundance selection “The Oslo Diaries.”

    “The Oslo Diaries” chronicles the 1992 illegal and clandestine meeting of Israelis and Palestinians in Oslo, which impacted the course of history in the Middle East.

    A still from “The Tale” by Jennifer Fox

    New York Film Academy instructor Debbie De Villa is also represented at Sundance 2018, in the U.S. Dramatic Competition film selection “The Tale,” for which she served as production designer. “The Tale” is written and directed by Jennifer Fox and stars Laura Dern, portraying a character who must reexamine her memories surrounding her first sexual relationship.

    Read more about the Sundance 2018 selections in Variety, Deadline, Entertainment Weekly, and Screen Daily.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

  • Documentary Department Representing NYFA at Sundance 2016

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailsundance film festival

    With all of Hollywood and the independent film world buzzing about Sundance, it’s with great delight to find both Documentary Master Class Instructor Alexandra Johnes and graduate Laura Snow representing the New York Film Academy at this year’s festival!

    laura snow

    Laura Snow

    Snow’s film, Newtown, on which she served as Associate Producer / Associate Post Producer, premiered on Sunday, January 24th. The documentary, directed by Kim A. Snyder, tackles the horrific tragedy that took place in Newtown, Connecticut. There are no words of compassion or reassurance that can bring back the 20 children and six educators who lost their lives during the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In Kim A. Snyder’s searing new film Newtown, we are given exclusive access into the homes of those who lost loved ones. They speak candidly about their grief, anger, and disbelief over what occurred and how nothing has changed in regards to our legal response to gun violence.

    Alexandra Johnes

    Alexandra Johnes

    This past Monday, January 25th, was the premiere of Holy Hell, directed by Will Allen and produced by Alexandra Johnes. Just out of college, Allen, a young idealist filmmaker, joined a secretive spiritualist community led by a charismatic guru. With his camera in hand, he documented 20 years of living inside a cult that changed how he would see the world forever. Allen recorded everything, offering us a juicy and unparalleled look into the extreme ideals and expectations that make up this community, born out of Los Angeles, the city of cults. From total devotion turned to paranoia, the cracks began to unfold as unexpected truths were revealed about the enlightened leader they built every fiber of their lives around.

    All screenings of both documentaries were sold out. Congrats to both Alexandra and Laura, and best of luck with the films!Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    January 26, 2016 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3940

  • Weekend Round-up: American Sniper Keeps Shooting and Sundance Awards Announced

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailScene from American Sniper with Bradlety CooperJanuary continued to be a month full of box office excitement and big movie news as the month wrapped up with American Sniper coming in first place at the box office for the third week in a row since its debut, picking up $31.8 million and setting a new Super Bowl weekend record. Overall, it was a tough weekend for new films, with Paddington edging out new film Project Almanac for second place with $8.5 million. The other major two new films failed to make a major dent in the box office with the Kevin Costner vehicle Black or White coming in at fourth place with $6.5 million and The Loft rounding out the top ten with $2.9 million.

    In other news this weekend, the 2015 Sundance Film Festival wrapped up over a week of premiers, deals, and gossip with its annual award ceremony hosted by comedian Tig Notaro. Nabbing both the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for drama was the coming-of-age film Me & Earl & the Dying Girl. The unique and powerful The Wolfpack, which tells the story of a family of six siblings whose only connection to the outside world comes through film, picked up the U.S. grand jury prize for a documentary while Robert Eggers won the directing award for his film The Witch. To see the full list of winners from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, please click here.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    February 2, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 3477

  • Director Jeff Preiss Discusses Sundance Award-Winning ‘Low Down’

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Low Down

    Director Jeff Preiss with NYFA’s Ben Cohen

    This past Wednesday night, the New York Film Academy in Union Square held a special screening of the star-studded film, Low Down. The emotional drama is based on Amy-Jo Albany’s powerful memoir of growing up in the care of her gifted, tormented and frequently absent musician father — a bebop jazz pianist named Joe Albany. The film focuses on the years 1974 to 1976, when Amy (Elle Fanning) had few resources other than the love of her aging grandmother (Glenn Close) and a ragtag bunch of Hollywood outcasts and eccentrics that were her friends.

    Joining us after the Sundance award-winning film was director Jeff Preiss. Jeff emerged as a professional filmmaker in the eighties, through his involvement in the production of experimental cinema. He was co-director of the pioneering Lower East Side Film venue, Films Charas, and a board member of The Collective For Living Cinema. In 1984, he traveled to Berlin to shoot the Rosa Von Praunheim produced Punk Vampire Film, Der Bis.

    In 1987, he was invited by photographer Bruce Weber to be Director of Photography on a series of short films and two feature documentaries, Broken Noses and Let’s Get Lost — the latter winning the Venice Film Festival Critics Award and an Academy Award nomination for best documentary. After three years of collaborating with Weber, Preiss’ film career began to include directing commercials and music videos (clips for Iggy Pop, Malcolm McLaren, REM, B52s, Mariah Carey / Apple, Nike, Coke, American Express among others).

    In 1995, Jeff became a partner with Mindy Goldberg at Epoch Films. Preissʼs experimental projects include video installations in venues including The Whitney Museum of American Art, MOCA, The Wexner Center for the Arts, Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville Paris, Museum and the Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam.

    He has collaborated with artists including Rem Koolhass, Joan Jonas, Andrea Fraser and Anthony McCall. His work is in the collection of MoMA, New York and The Reina Sofia, Madrid.

    In 2005, Preiss cofounded the artist run gallery, ORCHARD, in New York. He currently sits on the board of Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn. His 2012 experimental feature film, Stop, was a selection of the 50th New York Film Festival.

    During the Q&A, moderated by NYFA Instructor Ben Cohen, Jeff recounted how his nine year passion project came to be after an encounter with Amy-Jo Albany. He elaborately delved into the process of working with his superb cinematographer and all-star cast. Jeff compared working with his camera team to that of falling in love with a spouse. As for his cast, which consisted of John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, Peter Dinklage, Glenn Close, Lena Heady and others, Preiss said, “I could not have picked a better actor to have suited each part.”

    Jeff had a bit of anxiety in his approach toward directing, considering the stature of talent he was working with. Once he discovered how powerful just knowing the story was, his confidence grew. “All I’m doing is getting everyone in sync, telling the story,” said Preiss. “I would tell them the story like it happened to me. Then, everything is in service to them.”

    From there on out, Jeff’s mastery of the story and keeping everyone on the same page was what guided the performances. Though, he admits, Glenn Close was in character from the moment she arrived on set and never broke. As always, her commitment to her craft shined on the big screen.

    The twenty-two day shoot came together through moments of serendipity and perseverance. With a bit of luck and having Jeff behind the wheel, we’re fortunate to have this truly emotional piece that captures Amy-Jo’s story. If you weren’t able to join us for the screening, be sure to check out Low Down when it’s in theaters or On Demand.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    November 20, 2014 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 8147

  • Actor Ronen Rubinstein Returns to His Alma Mater

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailRonen RubinsteinNew York Film Academy Acting for Film graduate Ronen Rubinstein has come out of the gates running. Since graduating from NYFA, he’s appeared in a few features, including It Felt Like Love, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and landed him representation with Radius Entertainment and The Gersh Agency. Last night, Ronen returned to his alma mater to screen the film and discuss life “in the real world.”

    The independent feature truly captures the raw emotions of a teenage girl coming into her sexuality without a mother in her life. The lead, Lila, fixates herself on an older boy, Sammy, played by Ronen. Sammy is the kind of guy who seems to be willing to sleep with any girl at the party and yet Lila becomes infatuated with him. Given the somewhat misogynistic nature of Sammy’s character, Ronen initially found the role challenging.

    “I would take pieces of people I knew in high school and mold them into the character of Sammy,” said Ronen. “I actually knew a lot of ‘Sammys’ in high school, but was afraid to talk to them.”

    With no real rehearsal time and a first time director, Eliza Hittman, Ronen was able to tackle the part in what became an unprecedented nineteen day film shoot in Brooklyn. In the feature film world, that’s almost unheard of. Nevertheless, the film found itself at Sundance, screens across the country, and is currently available on Netflix. Ronen says that Sundance really propelled his career and confidence in the business. Seeing the likes of Robert De Niro, and Robert Redford gave Ronen the inspiration and confirmation that a career in acting was the right path for him.

    Ronen provided a unique prospective to students on life after acting school. Given the fact that Ronen is only two years out of NYFA, it was refreshing to hear first-hand the possibilities of being a working actor right out of school. One piece of advice that Ronen learned at NYFA: “You can’t judge your character. If you judge them, you won’t be able to properly portray what they’re doing in the film.” As an example, if you’re asked to play a murderer in a film and go in with a negative attitude towards that person, the ability to truly capture that person will be extremely difficult.

    While reflecting on his time at NYFA, Ronen recalled one of his favorite instructors, Paul Warner. What he loved most about Paul was that he never sugarcoated anything—much like the real world. Having that critical tutorage is a key to success.

    In addition to It Felt Like Love, Ronen will be appearing in the features Condemned and Some Kind of Hate. Not only that, he will be appearing in season 3 of Netflix’s hit show, Orange is the New Black.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    October 23, 2014 • Acting, Guest Speakers, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 13342

  • NYFA LA Screens “The Skeleton Twins” with SVP of Acquisitions at Sony

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Joe Matukewicz

    Joe Matukewicz at NYFA LA

    This week New York Film Academy students in Los Angeles were treated to a special sneak preview screening of the hit Sundance award-winning comedy The Skeleton Twins followed by a Q&A, moderated by Tova Laiter, with the SVP of Acquisitions at Sony, Joe Matukewicz. The film, which won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award this past Sundance Film Festival and currently has a 100 rating on Rotten Tomatoes, delighted students with its offbeat comedy and surprisingly profound performances by NYFA alum Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig. The discussion that followed with Joe Matukewicz shed light on the less known world of film acquisitions.

    Joe Matukewicz is the current Senior Vice President of Worldwide Acquisition for Sony Pictures. His past positions include SVP and Head of Worldwide Acquisitions at Relativity Media, VP Acquisitions and Co-Productions at Paramount Vantage, and Director of Acquisitions and Co-Productions at Paramount Classics. Among the many films with which he was involved with were Act of Valor, House at the End of the Street, Hustle and Flow (2005 Oscar Winner for Best Original Song), The Machinist, and An Inconvenient Truth (2006 double-Oscar winner for Best Documentary and Best Original Song).

    Skelton Twins

    Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader in ‘The Skeleton Twins’

    At Sony, Joe acquires forty movies a year of all genres, some of which are distributed by Sony and others with indie labels. Some movies can be bought at script stage, if there is a package attached, while others can be very execution depended — distributors may wait to see the movie, even though it can be more competitive.

    When Joe first began in the acquisitions world as an assistant, he didn’t even know what “acquisitions” was. He soon discovered that the purchasing of film properties was an art form and one for which he had a knack. Deciding what to buy and when to buy it is a game for which there is no definitive strategy. Joe Matukewicz considers many factors including cast, execution, genre, social/political climate at the time and, of course, story. The one thing he doesn’t care about is the film’s budget. The producers are never obligated to reveal the true budget of the film. However, Joe will ask as many people involved with the film as he can what the budget is, but mainly to see how many different answers he can get. This will reveal the filmmakers’ expectation of how much they can sell it for, which is a more important factor in how much the film will end up costing him than the budget itself.

    Mr. Matukewicz acquired The Skeleton Twins at this past Sundance Film Festival. His yearly schedule is jam-packed with film festival appearances. Although his job is exhausting, traveling around the world, watching films and making big picture deals is an exciting gig that Joe is very grateful to have. We wish Joe Matukewicz continued success in the world of acquisitions and hope that his next purchase makes a huge splash in a theater near you.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    June 11, 2014 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 5028

  • Beloit International Film Festival

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailBeloit Film Festival

    Kicking off its ninth year, the Beloit International Film Festival celebrates and showcases independent films from all around the world — 120 films from 30 countries. This includes documentaries, features and shorts. The New York Times has recently given BIFF attention, recommending the festival as one of six alternatives to Sundance Film Festival. Starting on February 14, 2014 and wrapping on February 23, local Wisconsin residents and film lovers from around the country fill more than a dozen venues, ranging in size from 40 seats to the 700 seat Eclipse Center.

    “From the outreach educational programs of BIFF, which brings thousands of students together to create films and develop critical viewing skills, to the Silent Film Showcase, and more than 120 films and artists from 30 countries, we have watched BIFF grow in its international reputation,” says sponsor, Diane Hendricks. “With the addition of BIFF PLUS Music, and programs like BIFF Latino, BIFF for the Deaf, and the classic film closing party, BIFF has truly moved up another notch and I am honored to be a sponsor.”

    If you’re interested in purchasing tickets to BIFF, CLICK HERE.

    Tomorrow’s Classics Today – The Beloit International Film Festival from Beloit International Film Fest.

     

     Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    January 22, 2014 • Film Festivals • Views: 3621

  • NYFA Documentary Dept. Well Represented at Sundance

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailsundance film festival

    The Sundance Film Festival is one of the premier film festivals that takes place annually in Utah. If you’re a documentary filmmaker, this is where you want to premiere and showcase your film. The New York Film Academy is proud to announce that several members of the Documentary department — including faculty and students — will be representing NYFA this winter at Sundance!

    • Starting off with NYFA graduate, Muhammed Hamdy, who will be premiering We Are The Giant, in which he was the cinematographer. Hamdy accepted the Audience Award last year for his work on The Square, which is now on the Oscar’s short list for Best Documentary Feature.
    • Master Class Faculty professor, Tony Gerber will be showcasing his film, The Notorious Mr. Bout (in competition).
    • (Credited Graduates:  Camera Operator and Production Coordinator, Todd Leatherman; Production Coordinator, Ilaria Polsonetti; and Production Assistants, Lena Vasiliou, JR Cronheim, Daphne Yaeger-Ostendorf, Katarina Strazdig, Mark Craig and Gaby Lozada)
    • Master Class Faculty professor, Hilla Medalia is also in the mix with her film, Web Junkie (in competition).
    • (Credited grads: Francesca Pagani, Production Assistant and Andrea Blake, Production Intern) Graduate, Andrea Blake, is credited as Production Coordinator on CHICAGOLAND, an 8-part CNN Documentary series Executive Produced by Robert Redford. She is also credited as Production Intern on Life Itself, a film about Roger Ebert, directed by Steve James (Hoop Dreams).
    • Finally, graduate Todd Leatherman crewed on the fiction feature, Obvious Child, which was selected for Sundance’s NEXT section.

    Best of luck to all of our NYFA members representing us at Sundance!Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 23, 2013 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 5705

  • Vulnerables Airs on Viendo Movies

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Vulnerables

    Miguel Cruz, Associate Chair of Acting at New York Film Academy in LA, had his first feature film broadcast on “Viendo Movies” Channel, which specializes in Spanish Language Films. Vulnerables, starring A-list actress Paula Echevarría, has opened theatrically in Spain, Colombia and, starting next month, in Peru. Sundance Channel will air the film for all of Latin America in 2014. The 2006 NYFA Filmmaking grad shot the independent film on privately financed budget of under $200,000.

    Miguel

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    September 11, 2013 • Filmmaking • Views: 3481