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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Li Cheng’s ‘José’ Gets National Release After Winning Queer Lion Award at Venice Film Festival

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    It’s becoming more and more common for New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni to win major festival prizes, so it wasn’t any surprise when news broke out that Filmmaking grad Li Cheng won the 2018 Queer Lion Award at the 75th Venice Film Festival, one of the world’s most prominent cinema competitions; his film José is now the first Central American film to do so. Following the prestigious award as well as premieres in 50 countries and 100 festival cities worldwide, José now has a national USA theatre release, starting in a dozen major markets, with Cheng personally be presenting the film and speaking with audiences during each of the first three days for both the New York and Los Angeles screenings.

    Li Cheng Jose

    NYFA alum LI Cheng on set of Jośe, Courtesy of YQstudio LLC

    In 2008, Cheng attended the 4-Week Filmmaking workshop at our New York campus. “My NYFA experience was wonderful,” Cheng tells NYFA, “and key to getting started right: hands-on, quickly, low-cost/high-value, with passionate film professionals, and meeting and working together with creative, energetic, inspiring faculty, staff, and student-cohorts from day one. I couldn’t have asked for more, or a better kickstart to my career in film.”

    Cheng used that kickstart to his full advantage. His feature film José is a nuanced look at the challenges and joys of gay life in Central America. The Spanish-language, English-subtitled film follows star José (Enrique Salanic), who lives at home with his mother (Ana Cecilia Mota), who makes ends meet by selling sandwiches at bus stops and who is not ready to let go of her youngest child. But when he meets Luis (Manolo Herrera), José is pushed to break down his own boundaries and take a leap of faith with this new relationship. 

    José was written and produced by Cheng, along with George F. Roberson, and was shot in Guatemala with a non-industry artist and academic crew, making it the first major LGBTQIA+ film to come from the nation. Outsider Pictures is the film’s North American distributor and world sales, while international festival sales are handled by Rediance (of Paris and Beijing).

    Li Cheng Jose

    The powerful film has resonated with audiences. Winning the Queer Lion is an incredible achievement; the Queer Lion Award is the trophy awarded, starting in 2007, to the “Best Movie with LGBT Themes & Queer Culture” among those presented during the Venice International Film Festival. Previous winners include Tom Ford’s A Single Man and Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl. José has also won Best Film at the Boston LGBT Film Festival and was cited for its “confident visual sense…a sensitive portrait [with a] depth of feeling” by The Hollywood Reporter.

    The film will screen at the Quad Cinema in New York City from Friday, January 31 – Sunday, February 2. Tickets are available here. Other screenings for José, including at the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles on February 7, can be found here. Q&A sessions between the audiences and Cheng will follow screenings each of the first three days for both the New York and Los Angeles releases.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Li Cheng on winning the Venice Film Festival’s Queer Lion award and looks forward to following his career as a filmmaker!

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  • New York Film Academy at 2019 Venice Film Festival: Master Classes and Student Film Screenings

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    New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) kicked off a successful partnership with Giornate degli Autori, at the Venice Film Festival with an all-day event on September 4, 2019.

    NYFA 3D Animation & VFX Chair, Craig Caton (E.T., Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park) kicked off the day’s events with a private Master Class for the jurors of Giornate degli Autori. The 1-hour talk focused on motion capture and augmented reality was attended by all 28 jurors of the Giornate degli Autori, each of whom is a film student from a university in each European Union nation.

    “I had an amazing time learning about motion capture from one of the leading film professionals teaching at the New York Film Academy [Craig Caton] and I am very thankful I could take part in this event,” said Mladen Pechevski, the Bulgarian student ambassador.

    Craig Caton held a second Master Class open to the general public, press and festival-goers in the afternoon. The packed house participated in a live, interactive facial recognition demonstration. Following the Master Class, NYFA screened three student shorts indicative of the quality of work NYFA students produce. Two of the students, directors Gabriele Fabbro and Alex Cvetkov, were present at the screening and answered questions from the audience about their experiences at NYFA.

    “Having been selected and showcased at the Venice Film Festival is a true pleasure, and the feeling can’t be expressed properly […] Venice is a festival attended by worldwide film industry reps, they are all in one place, at the same time; this is where opportunities can happen, and I was at the right place, at the right time,” shared Cvetkov. “The more people I meet, the more people see my movie, the more your name resonates and people talk about your work. There is no better promotion than mouth to mouth, and at the end of the day this is all happening at one of the biggest film festivals in the world. Just being surrounded with the world-class filmmakers gives me the motivation to keep on chasing my stories and my creativity […] There goes big thanks to the New York Film Academy for the knowledge and for the support they provided me as a filmmaker!”

    Upon reflecting on his own experience at the event, Master Class presenter Craig Caton expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to attend the festival and the students with whom he engaged while there.

    “Being at the Venice Film Festival was very rewarding. Sharing my experiences was met with great enthusiasm,” said Caton. “It was nice to hear several times how NYFA has internationally acclaimed instructors who really care about their students and teach with great passion! I am honored to be part of such an incredible organization!”


    New York Film Academy alumni were prominently featured at this year’s edition of the Venice Film Festival. NYFA Screenwriting alum Shahad Ameen screened her film Scales (Sayidat Al Bahr in Arabic). The film tells the story of Hayat, a young girl who lives in a poor fishing village in which every family must give one daughter to the sea creatures who inhabit the nearby waters. Ameen’s film is the first narrative Arab film to premiere in Venice.

    As part of a special Giornate degli Autori event, NYFA Filmmaking alum Stefano Cipani also screened his film, Mio Fratello Rincorre i Dinosauri. The star studded cast features stars Alessandro Gassman, Isabella Ragonese and Rossy de Palma. The film recounts the relationship between two brothers, the younger of whom has Down Syndrome.

    New York Film Academy faculty, students and alumni are honored to have partnered with Giornate degli Autori, and look forward to the opportunity to engage with attendees in years to come.

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    September 12, 2019 • Film Festivals, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 162

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Alum Shahad Ameen Debuts Feature Film at Venice Film Festival

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting alum Shahad Ameen recently debuted her first feature film at this year’s Venice Film Festival (VFF). The film, a stark black-and-white drama filled with magical realism, was written and directed by Ameen.

    Scales (Sayidat Al Bahr in Arabic), tells the story of Hayat, a young girl who lives in a poor fishing village where every family must give one daughter to mysterious sea creatures who inhabit the nearby waters, who in turn are also hunted by the men of the village. Saved by her father, Hayat is banished from her village and branded a curse. 

    Shahad Ameen

    “I want the audience to relate to the main themes of the film: life and women’s roles within it,” Ameen tells Women and Hollywood in a thoughtful interview. “Although the film is set in the Arab world, this is a universal story that everyone can relate to.”

    Ameen originally hails from Saudi Arabia and studied the 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory program at NYFA’s New York campus in 2012. “I taught Shahad in 2012 and back then she was always the hardest worker in the room,” says NYFA-NY Chair of Screenwriting Randall Dottin. “Her stories consistently reflected the rare alchemy of rigor, complexity, and innovation along with a healthy dose of compassion for her characters.”

    Shahad Ameen

    Ameen’s film is a milestone for Arab cinema, as it is the first narrative Arab film to premiere at the Venice Film Festival, one of the three major international film festivals in the world, along with Cannes and Berlin. Scales premiered as part of the fest’s Critics Week, and screened in competition for the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for Debut Film.

    NYFA-NY Screenwriting Chair Randall Dottin was thrilled to hear the news about Ameen’s presence at Venice. “On behalf of New York Film Academy Screenwriting Department, I’d like to wish Shahad all the best as she competes with her debut feature film Scales in Critics Week at the 2019 Venice Film Festival. After reading Scales years before Shahad went into production, I’m excited to see her incredibly unique and powerful story on the big screen.”

    Shahad Ameen

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    September 3, 2019 • #WomenOfNYFA, Film Festivals, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 176

  • New York Film Academy Partners with Giornate degli Autori at Venice Film Festival

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) has partnered with Giornate degli Autori at the Venice Film Festival to hold an all-day event on September 4, 2019.

    Giornata degli Autori, a parallel section of the Venice Film Festival, is modeled on “Directors’ Fortnight” at Cannes Film Festival and aims to present high quality cinema that features innovation, research, originality, and independence.

    The event will feature two Master Classes taught by Craig Caton (E.T., Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park), Chair of NYFA’s 3D Animation & Visual Effects department, the first of which will be exclusive to the jurors of Giornate degli Autori while the second will be open to festival-goers and the press. Craig will present the basics of motion capture technology and a real-time interactive facial recognition demonstration with volunteers from the audience. Following the second Master Class, NYFA will screen three selected student shorts: Scout by Alex Cvetkov (Slovenia, Italy), 8 by Gabriele Fabbro (United States, Italy), and Two Weeks in Laredo by Adrianne Lundy (United States).  These films by NYFA’s most recent crop of students are representative of the quality that NYFA students produce throughout the course of their studies:

    Giornate degli Autori logoOf the upcoming event New York Film Academy Florence Director Diana Santi said, “On behalf of NYFA, I can say that we are excited to present our educational method and a selection of student shorts to the audience of Giornata degli Autori at the Venice Film Festival 2019. Our mission has always been to train students to be industry-ready through our hands-on, learn-by-doing philosophy that gives students access to cutting-edge equipment and internationally acclaimed instructors such as Craig Caton. We also offer students the support to take the first steps in the industry as professionals.”

    On partnering with NYFA, Giorgio Gosetti, Giornata degli Autori Director, shared, “Inside the huge Hollywood machine, there are skills that give form to ideas that would otherwise be impossible to portray on screen. We wanted to highlight this aspect of filmmaking to reveal the authorship that goes beyond the script, and the place where inspiration and technique meet, the result being those film classics we all adore. Inviting Craig Caton means creating a space for film education, in the form of an entertaining, dynamic class on spaceships, dinosaurs and imaginary creatures turned real, with Caton as our guide.”

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    August 30, 2019 • 3D Animation, Film Festivals, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 159

  • Q&A With New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Claudio Casale

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    Claudio Casale is a busy filmmaker, but recently he found the time to speak with New York Film Academy (NYFA). It was here that he attended our 8-week Filmmaking workshop in April 2017, where he quickly added an arsenal of skills to his already impressive filmmaking prowess.

    “Claudio was one of those students a teacher is so happy to have in the class,” tells his NYFA directing instructor, Thomas Barnes, continuing, “brilliant, passionate, original, and supportive of his colleagues.” 

    Claudio has been incredibly productive since finishing the Filmmaking workshop, working on all sorts of different projects—short films, feature films, narratives, documentaries. In the summer of 2018, he achieved a career highlight when his documentary My Tyson won the MigArti Best Documentary Award at the Venice International Film Festival.

    Claudio Casale

    Claudio Casale

    Claudio spoke with NYFA about that film and win, as well as filmmaking in general, working in documentary, and what lies ahead for him:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy? 

    Claudio Casale (CC): I was born and raised in Rome, Italy. I graduated in Business Management, and at 22 I took two years abroad, mainly in India and Southeast Asia, where I started filmmaking constantly. Many shorts later, NYFA was the first proper education I received on filmmaking. I was mostly self-taught and I joined the 8-week program to gain experience on set dynamics and directing actors. 

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your film My Tyson? 

    CC: My Tyson is a 15-minute short doc on Alaoma Tyson, an Italian teenager born in Italy from Nigerian parents. Today, at 18 years old, Tyson is the Italian boxing champion in the youth heavyweight category. Patience, his mother, sews traditional clothes for the Nigerian community in the Roman suburb they live in.

    As Tyson trains for his next match, Patience tells him the story of their family, revealing ancient rituals, financial struggles, and a severe migration experience. 

    My Tyson premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival where it won the MigrArti Best Documentary Award. 

    NYFA: What inspired you to make My Tyson? 

    CC: Migration is an issue worldwide, from the US all the way to Australia. In Europe, Italy is the first port of arrival for the majority of migrants and asylum seekers from Africa and Maghreb. As many filmmakers of my generation, I felt the need to take a stand on this issue, by offering to the audience a perspective that might get lost in the news cycle. Observation and research was key, as I had to find the story – and therefore my inspiration – on the field: I spent five months with Alaoma Tyson and his family before shooting a single frame. 

    NYFA: How did you get your film involved with MigrArti? 

    CC: MigrArti is a yearly call made by the Minister of Culture in Italy (MiBAC). The production working with me on My Tyson had to submit a detailed dossier for our project. MigrArti can be very competitive, and I was honoured that our project was among the selected ones. Watching our short doc premiere during the 75th Venice International Film Festival was really emotional, and I feel grateful that the Jury awarded My Tyson as MigrArti Best Documentary. 

    NYFA: What are your plans for My Tyson after Venice? 

    CC: We are sending out My Tyson to festivals, as that’s a great way to receive professional feedback and connect with fellow filmmakers. I would be delighted to personally attend international festivals as well, so to see by myself how different audiences relate to the story.

    On the other hand, in Italy we are planning screenings solely for migrants, thanks to the cooperation of NGOs such as ARCI Solidarietà Onlus. Bringing cinema to places where it usually hasn’t belonged, like migration centres and public schools, is a duty as well as a chance to test the impact our little film may have on people we can’t reach with a traditional theatrical run. 

    Then, at the end of the festival distribution, at least in Italy we are working to have a selected theatrical distribution, likely paired with a feature documentary. 

    NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on? 

    CC: In September, I was in Sicily to direct a narrative short film in 35mm, Inshallah, about to enter post-production. Also, I have a feature documentary in creative and financial development, in which I will invest most of my time this year. It’s a project I am very attached to and I can’t wait to get myself on set to shoot it. 

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work on My Tyson, or your work in general? 

    CC: Among the lessons I received at NYFA, two came particularly handy in this project. First, as director you have got to leave the camera to the operator! As many native-digital filmmakers, I also grew very attached to the camera body (I was my own operator on my first shorts). It wasn’t necessarily easy to delegate that, as it is an act of trust toward the operator, especially on a documentary where things happen out of script and must be captured instinctively. 

    But at NYFA, I learned to do just that: trusting the crew I work with and delegating everything that may distract me from the scene. In some projects I would still be my own operator of course, but thanks to NYFA I could recognize that My Tyson wasn’t one of those cases. 

    Second: directing actors! I find the method taught at NYFA to be extremely effective. Honestly, that module alone was worth the whole course for me. With time, I changed it a little to adapt it to documentaries, where you don’t direct actors but subjects, so the relationship is more subtle and the non-actors’ spontaneity is the first priority and must always be protected. I believe that directing actors and non-actors is what ultimately makes a director great, and that’s something hard to learn without seeing some experts at work, either by joining a school or by being on set as 1st or 2nd AD. 

    NYFA: Do you prefer working in narrative or documentary filmmaking? 

    CC: When I started shooting, I had only narrative filmmaking in mind, and frankly I still look forward to direct a feature narrative one day. Documentary happened by chance, yet for the moment I found my little niche here. 

    As for today, I certainly prefer working on documentary filmmaking for a variety of reasons: first, it’s cheaper, so development and pre-production are generally quicker compared with narrative. Second, you can easily practice rhythm and pace with a running time of 52 minutes or longer, a key area of learning for any aspiring director. Last but not least, documentary today is wide open to visual experimentation, an ideal condition for me. 

    NYFA: What differences or similarities do you find between narrative and documentary filmmaking? My Tyson

    CC: Comparing short films only, in my opinion the key advantage of documentary filmmaking is the level of experimentation it allows. I honestly find narrative short films too rigid sometime, as nowadays the pressure to deliver the highest possible production value risks to overpass the focus aspiring directors should be putting into the storytelling. 

    After all, short films are the only tool we have to discover who we really are as visual storytellers. The similarities between narrative and documentary filmmaking are more than one could tend to believe: year after year, more documentaries are shot with a real cinematic language in mind. And I believe that’s one of the reason behind today’s boom of documentaries: many narrative storytellers are getting into documentary, shaping it with their own tools. 

    On the other hand, generally speaking, narrative filmmaking may allow for a wider freedom of expression, especially if you get to write and direct your own script. In conclusion, I would suggest students to be open to both forms, as for different reasons they are equally important in the early stage of a filmmaker’s career. 

    NYFA: What other advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA? 

    CC: If you are a total newbie on filmmaking, be ready to run and absorb everything you’re told. Raise your hand and ask your classmates for help, as at the end of the day, it’s all about the teamwork. 

    While If you have some filmmaking experience already, as I did, be ready to put everything you know aside. Don’t let your previous knowledge block you from learning further. Be open and receptive, and you will take something new and essential with you every day. 

    NYFA: Anything we missed you’d like to speak on? 

    CC: No questions about the Deli down in Battery Park? I must admit, sometimes I miss that sushi! 🙂 

    The New York Film Academy thanks Claudio Casale for his time and thoughtful answers, and looks forward to seeing what inspiring films he comes out with next. We sincerely hope he comes back to New York for a visit sometime and has some sushi from the Deli downstairs! 

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    November 26, 2018 • Filmmaking, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1227

  • NYFA Broadcast Journalism Grad Covers Venice Film Festival

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    federica Soon you will be seeing Hollywood stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone on NYFA News as part of a wonderful story that recent New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism alumna Federica Polidoro produced for us at the Venice Film Festival. NYFA News is a student-produced TV news magazine in which Federica also covered two previous Venice Film Festival stories where NYFA showcased five student films.

    With the Venice Film Festival behind her, we thought we’d catch up with the Italian journalist, who is now back in her hometown of Rome working with XL La Repubblica.

    Can you tell us what drew you to the field of broadcast journalism?

    I am an entertainment journalist in Italy. I used to be a reporter for film festivals for the last 10 years, interviewing celebrities — especially directors. I began to produce videos on my own, but I wanted to refine my knowledge in this particular field and try to get some chances abroad.

    What made you decide to attend the New York Film Academy?

    Everything in Italy is very theoretical, so I needed some hands-on experience. Studying in New York was my lifetime dream. I couldn’t afford the fee, so I finally applied for a European Union scholarship and I won it.

    How would you describe your experience in the NYFA Broadcast Journalism program?

    New York Film Academy is the most wonderful academic experience I’ve ever had. In Italy, I taught Editing Technics at the Fine Art Academy, so this is an opinion also as a professor. I think NYFA is a school that you could only imagine in your dreams. The building is terrific, the equipment is tremendous, professors are incredible people and the tasks are so exciting.

    With [Broadcast Journalism Chair] Bill Einreinhofer, I found the kind of mentor that you can only get in a movie. He’s a very inspiring person, quiet yet powerful. He is a great example of an educator for me, and it was a privilege to meet him on the path of my life. His generosity and sensibility, honesty and open-mindedness, his precious advice, and his guidance are a treasure for me. He let me express my creativity by pushing the bounds of my intellectual curiosity. He gave me the self-confidence to believe that I was in the right place in the right time and that I can do it. Even if it is a school and not real life, as he reminded us often, his support meant a lot to me. His name was my first reason to opt for NYFA, and it was my best decision. My satisfaction with Bill’s appreciation of my work is priceless.

    I can sum up my feelings about the New York Film Academy with one word: happiness.

    How was your experience covering the Venice Film Festival for NYFA News?

    I worked for the biggest newspapers, magazines and platforms in Italy — especially for web content — but I could not believe I had the chance to produce something for NYFA on my own.

    What have you been working on since graduating?

    I am currently working on the second phase of the scholarship with a six months internship for the biggest Italian Newspaper, La Repubblica. I will likely continue to produce and edit video for them as a freelancer, but I am submitting some projects to show to other satellite and web channels with a more dynamic approach — a place where I can create “long-lasting” content.

    So are you working primarily in Italy now?

    I’m working in Italy, but very open to working for the US from European Festivals and for Italy / Foreign Countries from the US as entertainment content creator. I am going to launch my website with a showreel and a catalog of all my previous work. Among my interviews are artists such as Alejandro Jodorowsky, Amos Gitai, Andrei Konchalovski, Andrew Niccol, Anton Corbjn, Asghar Farhadi (Oscar®), Atom Egoyan, Charlie Kaufman (Oscar®), Ethan Hawke, François Ozon, Gabriele Salvatores, Giuseppe Tornatore, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Jeremy Irons, Jerzy Skolimoski, Kim Ki Duk, Kirill Serebrennikov, Lav Diaz, Marco Bellocchio, Mike Leigh, Olga Kurilyenko, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Valeria Golino, Wash Westmoreland, William Dafoe, Wim Wenders, Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

    Is there an assignment or story that you’re most proud of?

    My last day in Venice, after 14 interviews, my last interview was with Lav Diaz. He won the Golden Lion, so XL Repubblica got the interview ready while he was receiving the award. After Venice I interviewed the Golden Palm Winner, Ken Loach, for the Italian premier of “I, Daniel Blake.” I edited part of this work for NYFA, too.

    This season I am working on Award Season with written pieces and on editing videos on the themes of “Toys in Christmas Movies,” on Rube Goldberg machines in cartoons, and on movies set in hospitals and asylums to prepare for the release of Gore Verbinski’s “A Cure for Wellness.”

    I am managing the trip to the Cannes Film Festival and sending projects to find enough sponsors, and more than one media coverage, so that it’s useful to get more interviews and a better accreditation.

    For me it is quite easy to find a job, since I am a very hard worker, but I am looking for the kind of job and creative space where I can do something unique and personal.

    What do you hope to achieve in your career as a journalist? 

    I am a storyteller, a content creator, an investigator, a talent scout, and a wacky Italian with the obsession for weird stuff. I am a dreamer, but I am also a problem solver. There is nothing impossible for me. As a journalist I would like to express my own personality, get in depth subjects with anthropological analysis and humor, telling them with ethics and poetically. I would like to show different ways to read the contemporary phenomena delivering stories with visual appeal, originality, but simple language and profound meaning. Stories useful for the soul, pleasant for the ears, spectacular for the eyes.

    I would like to get work experience in the US for a short amount of time — maybe one year — to get in touch directly with the industry. I would like to do the job I did for the last ten years, traveling around the world looking for untold stories. I would like to be myself, but better, bigger and cooler. And maybe, once in my life, cover The Golden Globes and The Oscars.

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  • NYFA Showcases its Talents at the Venice International Film Festival

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    It was quite an honor to take part in the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. The exclusive New York Film Academy Showcase at the VIFF began with a Q&A between NYFA Florence Program Director, Diana Santi, and NYFA alumnus, Giorgio Pasotti, who attended a Filmmaking Workshop in 2003. Pasotti has acted in numerous well-known Italian films, including Paolo Sorrentino’s Academy Award-winning film “The Great Beauty.”

    Held at the Venice Production Bridge platform at the Spazio Incontri of Venice’s Excelsior Hotel, Pasotti discussed his overall education at NYFA, which he described as an amazing learning experience.

    diana and pasotti

    “It was more useful to study 8 weeks at NYFA in NY than the years I’ve spent studying and watching movies,” said the Italian actor. Pasotti used the skills he learned from NYFA to direct his debut film, “Io, Arlecchino.”

    Following the Q&A, the festival screened five NYFA student and alumni films that included two live-action shorts, two animated shorts, and one documentary short.

    The five films that screened were:

    “The Life Of Janka,” by Luis Henriquez Viloria (fiction)

    After the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, thousands of kids went to the streets and became targets for organizations of child traffickers. These kids were traded like livestock. “The Life of Janka” is a fictional story of two brothers who go through such an experience.

    “Fumo,” by Sean Miyakawa (fiction)

    Set in the mid-1920s, a frustrated sound composer works as one of the first sound engineers in the history of cinema, and happens to be madly in love with the main actress of the production. On the day he decides to finally declare his love to her, he finds out about an affair going on between her and the director. The discovery drives him crazy.

    “Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa,” by Lara-Ann de Wet (documentary)

    In Limpopo, South Africa, the village grannies lace up their soccer boots and start kicking their way down the field — and through centuries of oppressive taboos. They play serious soccer and then break into the laughter and traditional song that help fuel their singular struggle for decent lives and a league of their own.

    “The Perfumist,” by Yukari Akaba, Shannon Lee, Daniela Lobo Dias, Sandra Rivero Ortiz (animation)

    “The Perfumist” is a dramatic story highlighting the battle of Machine-Equipped Man against Cosmic Nature. Seeking the perfect scent for his perfume, Benedict Malville runs into the consequences of trampling on sacred, natural ground.

    “The Right Way,” by Elena Zobak Alekperov & Flavia Groba Bandeira (animation)

    A short animated story of the day in a mom’s life of raising her young child. While the child tests the mother’s patience, there is a final moment of relief after the mom reveals her secret oasis within the confines of the home.

    Following the screenings, director Sean Miyakawa spoke in-depth about the making of his original film, “Fumo.”

    Additionally, “The Life of Janka” director of photography Leandro Mouro spoke about his cinematography on Luis Henriquez Viloria’s film, shot in Haiti.

    The prestigious Venice International Film Festival will continue to run until September 10, 2016.

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  • Two Animated NYFA Shorts to Screen at Venice Film Festival

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    In addition to the two live action shorts and a documentary short, the New York Film Academy will be screening two animated short films at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

    Both films were created in NYFA’s 3D Animation program as collaborative projects.

    the right way

    still from “The Right Way”

    One of the films, “The Right Way,” was created by Elena Zobak Alekperov and Flavia Groba Bandeira. The short story is about a mom trying to do the right thing raising her child, but sometimes things are not what they seem to be.

    “The inspiration behind this video was taken from my life,” says Zobak. “I wanted to share my experience of being a parent and trying to do the right thing with everyday life choices. And since sometimes we’re a little bit hypocritical with all this ‘right approach,’ this funny scenario just came to mind.”

    Flavia was responsible for environment design as well as the overall look.

    “I tried to fit the environment to the characters personality or, in the case of the girl, her imposed personality by the mother,” said Groba.

    “It sounds trite to ‘write what you know,’ but by doing so, this team was able to tap into the emotions—humor, frustration, love, contradiction—that make this mother-daughter relationship so relatable, and so funny,” said NYFA 3D Animation & Game Design Chair, Phoebe Elefante. “The high level of technical expertise exhibited in the production is seamless, so the audience can be completely immersed in the storytelling. That’s the kind of mastery to which we encourage all students to aspire.”

    the perfumist

    still from “The Perfumist”

    The other animated film that will screen at the NYFA Showcase in Venice is “The Perfumist,” which was a collaborative effort amongst several animation students — Yukari Akaba, Shannon Lee, Daniela Lobo Dias, and Sandra Rivero Ortiz.

    “The Perfumist” is a dramatic story highlighting the battle of “Machine-Equipped Man” against “Cosmic Nature.” Seeking the perfect scent for his perfume, Benedict Malville runs into the consequences of trampling on sacred, natural ground.

    “I love this short film for many reasons,” said Elefante. “Its exquisite beauty, its dark humor, its depth. But I am most proud of this short because it is creative collaboration at its best. Each woman worked to showcase the others’ talent, and together they were able to produce something exceptional — even beyond what each could have done by herself. That embodies the spirit of ambition and cooperation I hope to see in every student.”

    The animated shorts will be introduced on September 1st by NYFA alumnus Giorgio Pasotti (“The Great Beauty,” “After Midnight,” “Salty Air”) at the brand-new Venice Production Bridge platform at the Spazio Incontri of Venice’s Excelsior Hotel.

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    August 30, 2016 • 3D Animation, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5231

  • NYFA Student Showcase at Venice Film Festival

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    73rd Venice Film Festival NYFA Student Showcase

    The New York Film Academy and the Venice Film Festival will be providing an unprecedented opportunity to five of our students and alumni as they will be be showcasing their films at the brand-new Venice Production Bridge platform in the morning of September 1st at the Spazio Incontri of Venice’s Excelsior Hotel.

    girgio pasotti

    NYFA alumnus Giorgio Pasotti

    The five NYFA student films that were selected include fiction, documentary and animation. The showcase will be introduced by NYFA alumnus Giorgio Pasotti, who has acted in Italian films such as the Academy Award Winning film The Great Beauty, After Midnight, and Salty Air.

    Following the showcase will be a networking cocktail hour from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m., as well as one-on-one info sessions for those interested in learning more about NYFA’s hands-on programs, including its Florence, Italy location, just a short train ride away from Venice.

    The following five short films will screen on Sept. 1st:

    The Life Of Janka, by Luis Henriquez Viloria (fiction)

    After the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, thousands of kids went to the streets and became a target for organizations of child traffickers. These kids were traded like livestock. “Life of Janka” is a fictional story of two brothers who go through such an experience.

    Fumo, by Sean Miyakawa (fiction)

    Set in the mid-1920’s, a frustrated sound composer works as one of the first sound engineers in the history of cinema who happened to be madly in love with the main actress of the production. On the day he decides to finally declare his love to her, he finds out about an affair going on between her and the director. The discovery drives him crazy.

    alive and kicking

    Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa, by Lara-Ann de Wet (documentary)

    In Limpopo, South Africa, the village grannies lace up their soccer boots and start kicking their way down the field — and through centuries of oppressive taboos. They play serious soccer and then break into the laughter and traditional song that help fuel their singular struggle for decent lives and a league of their own.

    The Perfumist, by Yukari Akaba, Shannon Lee, Daniela Lobo Dias, Sandra Rivero Ortiz (animation)

    “The Perfumist” is a dramatic story highlighting the battle of Machine-Equipped Man against Cosmic Nature. Seeking the perfect scent for his perfume, Benedict Malville runs into the consequences of trampling on sacred, natural ground.

    The Right Way, by Elena Zobak Alekperov & Flavia Groba Bandeira (animation)

    A short animated story of the day in a mom’s life of raising her young child. While the child tests the mother’s patience, there is a final moment of relief after the mom reveals her secret oasis within the confines of the home.

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    August 8, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6303

  • Brazilian Women Rock Behind the Cameras

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    Gabriela Egito is a New York Film Academy alumna living in Los Angeles, with a Masters in Film from Brazil. She has three short films running the festival circuit worldwide, with two winning prizes, all produced during NYFA’s filmmaking program in 2011. In addition to doing Brazilian outreach at NYFA, she writes a blog called Brazilian Girl in L.A. about her cinematic adventures in the U.S.

    2012 Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival winners Clarissa Campolina and Sara Silveira with the festival jury

    According to a study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women make up 24% of all directors, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on domestically-produced feature-length films appearing at top U.S. film festivals. Does that sound low? In fact, it is substantially higher than the 16% of women who worked on the 250 highest-grossing films last year. But to the south in Brazil, the reality is quite different. Despite lacking official statistics on gender issues, judging by the films selected for the Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival, held early this month at the Egyptian Theater, women are rockin’ behind-the-scenes in Brazil.

    Of the 22 films screened at HBRfest, 17 have women in one or more key-positions. The feature-length winner, Swirl (Girimunho), was directed by film making partners Clarissa Campolina and Helvécio Marins Jr. Interestingly enough, three other films in competition were also directed by couples – men and women sharing the command on set. Director Clarissa Campolina doesn’t see these partnerships as unusual, saying, “We are all friends. Some of us attended film school together. We don’t think much of gender –we are all filmmakers.”

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    June 21, 2012 • Academic Programs, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 5590