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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Abhimanyu Dassani’s Film Wins Toronto International Film Festival Award

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Abhimanyu Dassani’s cinematic debut, Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (The Man Who Feels No Pain), recently won the People’s Choice Award in the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness category. The Bollywood-infused action-comedy follows a young man born without the ability to feel pain as he attempts to defeat 100 foes in a kumite tournament. Dassani plays the lead role of Surya.

    The son of popular Indian actress Bhagyashree, Dassani completed the 4-Week Acting for Film program at NYFA in 2010. Despite his family’s history in the film industry, Dassani was determined to make it on his own without using connections: he responded to an open call for the role, and was denied an audition twice before finally being seen. All told, he ended up completing nearly 30 auditions and screen tests before landing the part.

    “I was sure I wanted to make it on my own, because no matter how much you get in your life, what is it worth if it’s not deserved?” he said in an interview with Hindustan Times. He also mentioned that his casting was a shock to his parents, who had not expected him to follow in their footsteps. “They were really surprised because I have been independent since the age of 16, and I was in the process of setting up businesses.”

    To prepare for the role, Dassani trained for three months in a variety of martial arts, including free hand training and stick fighting. His preparation paid off. The film is the first Indian film to be featured in the Midnight Madness category, despite the country’s huge cinematic output. The role has gained Dassani worldwide acclaim–his work won him the Best New Young Actor award at the 3rd International Film Festival & Awards Macao, making him only the fourth Indian actor ever to receive an award at an international film festival.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Abhimanyu Dassani on his success, and looks forward to his future projects!

     

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    September 30, 2018 • Acting, Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1265

  • TIFF 2017 Highlights NYFA Alumni Film Work Including “Pahuna,” “Waru,” and “Decoy”

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    The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a seminal event of the film industry’s calendar, and is in full swing this year from Sept. 7-17. Celebrities, filmmakers, producers, critics, and cinephiles travel to Toronto from around the world to screen and celebrate new films from rising names and established stars.

    This year, as part of its mission of “changing the way people see the world through film,” TIFF is screening a number of groundbreaking, buzz-worthy films — and a few were created by and with NYFA alumni.

    Pahuna: The Little Visitors

    Produced by global superstar Prayanka Chopras and her mother Dr. Madhu Chopra through their production company Purple Pebble Pictures, “Pahuna: the Little Visitors” has garnered a lot of attention at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in its Special Event category screening. NYFA filmmaking alumna Pragya Rathor partnered with the film’s first-time director, Paakhi Tyrewala of Bonfire Tales production company, to work on the shoot.

    Described as a “contemporary Indian version of Hansel and Gretel,” the film grants viewers a rare glimpse of Northeast India as it weaves a fable-like story of three children who are forced to flee their Nepalese village and become separated from their parents in the forest, adapting to survive together. Through this rarely seen portrayal of a typically voiceless region of India, the film brings larger issues such as children’s rights, racism and refugee crises to the global stage.

    “Waru”

    NYFA alumna Renae Maihi’s work in feature film “Waru” has made an paradigm-shifting international debut, screening at TIFF in its Discovery section as well as opening for 2017 imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in October, which according to Screenz is the world’s largest platform for indigenous media.

    According to Stuff, the innovative feature contains eight separate narratives written and directed by nine different Maori women. New Zealand Film Commission told the magazine, “With ‘Waru,’ there has not been a narrative feature film helmed by a Māori woman since Merata Mita’s ‘Mauri’ in 1988. Having a film made by nine wahine Māori screening in Toronto feels like a positive step toward addressing this, with the opportunities the festival can provide for these filmmakers.”

    TIFF programmer Jane Schoettle praised the “Waru,” saying it’s “like nothing anybody has seen before.”

    “Decoy”

    Another exciting NYFA-TIFF connection comes via The Hollywood Reporter’s announcement that NYFA alumnus Allan Ungar will be at TIFF this year, working with 13 Films to shop new feature project “Decoy” to buyers.

    Heavy hitters including actors Andy Garcia, Frank Grillo and Tyler Posey and producers Andrew Gunn, Michael Bien, Henry Less, Sissy Federer, Tom North, Tannaz Anisi and Greg Schenz are already attached to the action projec. Director Allan Ungar wrote “Gridlocked,” which was acquired by Netflix.

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  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Works With Prayanka Chopra, Paakhi Tyrewala on TIFF’s “Pahuna: The Little Visitors”

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    Produced by global superstar Prayanka Chopras and her mother Dr. Madhu Chopra through their production company Purple Pebble Pictures, “Pahuna: the Little Visitors” has garnered a lot of attention at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in its Special Event category screening, even winning a mention in Vogue India. NYFA filmmaking alumna Pragya Rathor partnered with the film’s first-time director, Paakhi Tyrewala of Bonfire Tales production company, to work on the shoot.

    Described as a “contemporary Indian version of Hansel and Gretel,” the film grants viewers a rare glimpse of Northeast India as it weaves a fable-like story of three children who are forced to flee their Nepalese village and become separated from their parents in the forest, adapting to survive together. Through this rarely seen portrayal of a typically voiceless region of India, the film brings larger issues such as children’s rights, racism and refugee crises to the global stage.

    The film’s director, Paakhi Tyrewala, told LiveMint, “When I started looking for producers for this film — I must have gone to nine or 10 producers before I came to Priyanka — they all rejected me. Four reasons: first, I was a first-time director. Second, I was a woman director. Third, I wanted to make the film in Sikkim [Province]… and fourth, it was a children’s film. When I came to Dr Madhu Chopra, I was so tired of being told no. So I told her upfront, I have these four problems. She started laughing, and she said, ‘For those reasons, I’ll do your film.’”

    NYFA Filmmaking Alumna Pragya Rathor

    From the red carpet at TIFF, The Indian Express quoted Priyanka Chopra as echoing the theme of overcoming obstacles and raising up unheard voices that has helped to make “Pahuna” a success: “It’s not easy – when you come into entertainment being a woman. You’ve got to pull your socks up for a fight.’”

    Filmed in the remote Indian province of Sakkim using unknown local talent and the local language, the film is a remarkable step in Prayanka Chopras’ venture to bring rarely seen stories and marginalized voices from India to the forefront of cinema. So far, her Purple Pebble Pictures has produced regional films in dialects including Bhojpuri, Marathi and Punjabi, with films planned in Bengali and Konkani.

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