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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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  • NYFA Students & Alumni Crew Up for TIFF’s “After the Storm”

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    “After the Storm,” a film from first-time writer and director Jessica Oyelowo, recently screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Jessica’s husband, David Oyelowo, known for his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King in the award-winning film “Selma,” was a producer on the project.
    on set of "After the Storm"

    on set of “After the Storm”

    Shot in only four days at Oyelowo’s home in Tarzana, the production included a number of New York Film Academy students and alumni in its crew. Giulia Governo, a NYFA alumna from the Cinematography program, was the 1st AC on the shoot; David Hebrero, a NYFA alumnus from the Filmmaking program, was the gaffer; Konstantin Frolov, a NYFA alumnus from the Cinematography program, was the boom operator; Vince GE, a student from the Filmmaking program, was a Production Assistant; and Joann Wong, a student in the Filmmaking program, was in the swing department.
    after the storm

    on set of “After the Storm”

    Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Belle,” “Beyond the Lights”), Chiké Okonkwo (“The Birth of a Nation”) and newcomer Caleb Oyelowo (Jessica’s son) star in the film about the emotional journey of an African American family in the wake of tragedy.
    after the storm

    on set of “After the Storm”

    “I became interested in what it’s like for the families of those out on the front lines,” said director, Jessica Oyelowo. “What happens to relationships when things go wrong, change doesn’t come, or loved ones are away or taken away?”

    “The movie has a bit of a surreal tone, as it deals with how tragedy can affect a family in ways they may not be fully aware of,” said NYFA Instructor Craig Ross.

    The film recently screened at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City. For more information, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/afterthestormfilm.

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