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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Ilaria Polsonetti Nominated for News & Documentary Emmy

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary school alum Ilaria Polsonetti’s film has been nominated for multiple awards at the 39th Annual News & Documentary Emmys. Made for VICE News Tonight on HBO, “Libya: Intercepting Migrants” is nominated for Outstanding Editor News and for Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story. Winners are announced on the first of October in New York City.

    Ilaria Polsonetti

    Ilaria Polsonetti

    Polsonetti graduated from NYFA’s 1-Year Documentary program in 2011. She is also a graduate of the 3-Month Screenwriting program, which she finished in 2013. Over the course of her career, the editor has melded her knowledge gleaned at NYFA with her M.S. in Sociology (London School of Economics). After graduating, she worked for Market Road Films, Singer Street Films, and as a freelance editor.

    A screenshot from "Dirty Oil in Nigeria"

    A screenshot from “Dirty Oil”

    Since 2015, Polsonetti has worked for VICE in Brooklyn. With the expansive and ever-growing global media brand, she has had the chance to work on urgent and political topics such as Libya’s migrant crisis and Venezuela’s anti-government protests. VICE’s increasingly diverse and critically-acclaimed documentary series’ have been an ideal place for the multicultural filmmaker to hone her skills. In 2017 alone, Polsonetti worked on “German Hotelier turns Hotel into a Migrant Center,” “Dirty Oil,” and “The Politics of Terror” in addition to the aforementioned Libya piece. Along with her work for VICE, Polsonetti has worked on “The Notorious Mr. Bout” and “First to Fall.” She was also recently editor on VICE’s Raised in the System” starring Michael K. Williams (aka Omar on “The Wire”).

    Documentary Chair Andrea Swift says of Polsonetti’s work,”These nominations don’t surprise me in the least. Ilaria has always been an insightful and diligent editor who demonstrated a unique sensitivity to the human experience. She developed a strong sense of story that is equally evident in this piece.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Ilaria Polsonetti on her recent success and looks forward to seeing what she works on next! You can watch VICE on HBO’s documentary on migrants in the Mediterranean below:

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  • Good Morning Connecticut, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and Cannes From the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

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    So another week, and another item about Snapchat … No, I am not obsessed with the digital platform. But if you look at the image below, you’ll notice that a wide range of content publishers are.
    As reported by Digiday, Snap — the parent company of Snapchat — has hired veteran digital executive Sarah Gallagher to coordinate communication between Snapchat and the growing number of news and non-fiction content creators that rely on the digital distribution service. Why are major legacy media outlets anxious to distribute their content via Snapchat? Because people my age watch TV, and people your age (well, the age of the majority of people reading this) use apps.
    At NYFA, we offer a skills-based Broadcast Journalism program because there are certain key skills you need to know in a world that includes both broadcasting and narrowcasting.
    Traffic is moving in the other direction as well, with well-known broadcast outlets searching out digital content. Vice is the preeminent digital platform for edgy non-fiction. Begun as a free arts magazine in Toronto, the now USD $8+ billion production powerhouse cut a deal with Channel 4 in the UK. Channel 4 has a reputation for cutting-edge non-fiction programming, and this alliance allows them to build their brand (and their on-demand video service), without the expenses associated with original production.
    Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, is a lot of time to fill. And, as one of my former colleagues once put it, “every dream has its budget.”
    I heard from NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Alyssa Taglia on Thursday. Last year around this time, she was a student. Now, she is the morning traffic reporter, and a multimedia journalist, at WTNH in Connecticut. Plus, last week she got the chance to anchor the station’s 9 a.m. Good Morning Connecticut newscast.
    Congratulations, Alyssa!
    Meanwhile, in Georgia (“the country, not the state“), NYFA grad Liza Tsitsishvilli works at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Recently she did a story about one of the most famous singers in her country. It is evidence of just how much they value her that she was given such an important assignment!

    Broadcast Journalism alum Federica Polidora should probably get an award for the sheer number of Italian news outlets she contributes to. Recently she interviewed Philip Glass, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century.

    She was at the Cannes Film Festival, but instead of the usual red carpet shot she sent us a picture of her with two of her colleagues, and her son…
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  • NYFA DOCS got off to a great start in the 1st Quarter of 2018

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    We seem to be beating industry’s 50-50 in 2020 goal, and docsters are killin’ it across the board.  

    In January alone…

    An Academy Award nomination landed Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Kristen Nutile in Oscar’s limelight as Editor of the  Netflix original doc, Heroin(e).

    October Films promoted Louis Mole (’13) to Head of Development

    Sundance gave Documentary Cinematography Instructor Claudia Raschke some serious love, lauding her work as director of photography of the acclaimed, RBG, featuring her on the celebrated “Women Who Shoot panel. You’ll find Claudia-centric articles include American CinematographerFilmmakerIndiewire, etc.

    With a two-minute micro-doc, alum Gary Bencheghib (’14) moved the President of Indonesia to launch a massive cleanup of the most polluted river in the world. The initiative will employ 7,000 people for seven years, stopping millions of tons of plastics from reaching the ocean each year, and radically improving the lives of 20 million people along the river.

    And then came February…

    A Sniper’s War, the first feature doc from director Olga Schechter (‘14) premiered to rave reviews at two top festivals, Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

    “Powerful and disturbing.” – Hollywood Reporter

    Superb cinematography.” – Hollywood Reporter

    “Stunning.” – Counter Punch

    “The most chillingly frightening killer imaginable. – Film Threat

    A 9 out of 10.” – Film Threat

    Schechter scored these key reviews despite the lack of a release date, a publicist, or even a production company. A good, old-fashioned bidding war immediately broke out and it looks like Journeyman Pictures has won worldwide rights with a promise of theatrical release. A Sniper’s War has since gone on to win multiple festivals including Best Foreign Documentary at the Academy Award Qualifying, Arizona Film Festival. (With the new eligibility rules, the Arizona win almost certainly qualifies the film for the Oscar race. The Academy will confirm their new list of qualifying festivals later this spring, so we’ll know for sure then.)

    In other February news, Netflix premiered doc series First Team: Juventus, edited by Andrea “Fuma” Fumagalli (‘09), which “is produced with elegance and cinematic finesse,” and “ultimately reminds us of the simple beauty of the beautiful game.” – Sports Illustrated 

    Documentary Producing Instructor Dorottya Mathe also premiered her feature, The Independents, at SBFFThe Hollywood Reporter likes it too, especially, “the way in which it subverts all the clichés of the star-is-born story,” and pronounces it, “an extremely engaging film.” Graduate Erica Wong (’14) assisted Dorottya on the production, and fellow NYFA Instructor Piero Basso served as DP. Documentary Instructor Jessica Wolfson’s feature, Hot Grease followed its Discovery premiere with VOD roll out on Discovery Go.

    March didn’t miss a beat either…

    Wynona Barbera (’16) took a walk on the fiction side and produced El Cat which became an Official Selection of the hip, HBO Women in Comedy Festival.

    Furlough, the second 2018 fiction film from NYFA Documentary Instructor Dorottya Mathe (Production Supervisor) opened in theaters. The female-driven comedy starred Academy Award winners Melissa Leo, Whoopi Goldberg and Anna Paquin.

    Back in the doc world, Invisible Killers: Ebola Virus, associate produced by Laura Snow (’13) for The Documentary Group aired on Discovery and Science Channel. (And is now available on Discovery Go.)

    Francesca Pagani produced The Italian Mafia’s Young Foot Soldiers and associate produced Inside The Two-Decade Fight to Bring Down a Confederate Monument, both for VICE.

    Weighing in for the 6-Weekers, Kendall Ciesemier (6-Week ’17), now a Mic staff producer, has created a series of pivotal social media micro-docs around the Parkland students’ anti-gun violence campaign, including Should This Responsible Gun Owner Surrender his AR-15? and Parkland Teen vs. NRA Member.

    Director/Producer Tarryn Crossman (‘12) won another SAFTA Award, this time for the hard-hitting MTV Shuga episode In Real Life. Mentions include: Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Screen Africa.

    Mariko Ide (’16) edited her first piece for Google.

    Kristen Nutile edited Weed The People (directed by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein),  which premiered at SXSW — where Indiewire and Interview magazine both pronounced it a “must-see” film. And even People magazine gave it a write-up.

    The Stolen River, directed by Krisztina Danka (6-Week ’17), won Best Environmental Film at the Calcutta International Film Festival. That was after taking Best in Show at Cinema Verde International Environmental Film Festival, as well as awards at Independent Shorts Awards, Impact DOCS Award, LiFFT Filmotsav and others.

    Andrea “Fuma” Fumagalli (’08) premiered his first feature documentary, Amigos Del Tren, at San Diego Latino Film Festival.

    The Second quarter of 2018 is off to a great start as well. More on that shortly.

    One spoiler, though…

    Two documentaries nominated for Peabody Awards this year have NYFA Documentary School bloodlines: Heroin(e), edited by prof, Kristen Nutile and Newtown, Associate Produced/Associate Post Produced by Laura Snow (’13).

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  • NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Alumna Andrea Blake is Associate Producer for VICE on HBO’s “Between Oil and Water”

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    “Between Oil and Water” is the latest VICE on HBO piece to benefit from the inestimable talents of New York Film Academy Documentary Filmmaking grad and associate producer Andrea Blake.

    Along with VICE on HBO’s documentary series, Andrea Blake’s growing roster of credits includes “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: a Short Film by Spike Jonze,” “Black Market with Michael K. Williams,” and the acclaimed documentary series “Chicagoland.” Yet VICE’s “Between Oil and Water” provides a uniquely intimate look at the surprising source of a cultural and political movement that grew into one of the nation’s largest and most talked-about protests: Standing Rock, South Dakota.

    “You can’t drink oil! You can’t drink oil!” the crowd chants in “Between Oil and Water.” The film profiles some of the youth who behind the start of the national movement: 13-year-olds Anna Lee Rain Yellowhammer and Alice Brown Otter  — classmates at Standing Rock Community Middle School in Fort Yates, North Dakota. It was in a culture class that a teacher asked them to write to the Army Corps of Engineers about their opinion on the pipeline, which had be rerouted to go through their reservation after the community of Bismarck, North Dakota — a predominantly white population — had cited safety concerns, and the pipeline’s trajectory was moved.

    As VICE News shows, Anna Lee Rain Yellowhammer recalls thinking, “If it’s not safe for them why do they put it on our reservation? It’s like they think our lives are more expendable.” After writing for class, both students joined 30 fellow indigenous youth on an incredible 2000 mile run from North Dakota to Washington D.C. in July 2016 to hand-deliver their letters to the Army Corps of Engineers.

    This was the spark of the Standing Rock movement. According to “Between Oil and Water,” the Standing Rock protests evolved into the largest Native American protest movement in history, with 10,000 participants at its peak. Though the plans for the pipeline have not been changed, the film shows how the movement played an essential role in national debate and also had a transformative effect on the young students who played such a central part.

    Alice Brown Otter concludes that while she is disappointed that the government is moving forward with the pipeline, she tries to maintain a positive outlook. “We fight with our words, we fight with kindness, and we’re just strong.”

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  • NYFA Student Documentarian Braulio Jatar Interviewed by VICE on Resistance in Venezuela

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    Photo by Braulio Jatar

    There are many ways students can spend their breaks from school, but Braulio Jatar took a leave of absence from his studies in the 1-Year Documentary Filmmaking Program at the New York Film Academy to put his training to work in the field by documenting the current, violent protests in Venezuela.

    Currently, Jatar is one of a dedicated group of documentary filmmakers, journalists and photographers  who brave daily danger to be on the scene, documenting the upheaval and protests in his native Venezuela. The young filmmaker and activist’s work has caught the attention of VICE, who have spotlighted Jatar in an in-depth interview that shares some of the filmmaker’s powerful photographs.

    Photo by Braulio Jatar

    Jatar, who hails from the Venezuela’s capital of Caracas, told VICE, “I came back to Venezuela because I felt it was a very important moment in the history of my country, and, as a documentary filmmaker, it was essential that I was here.”

    Venezuela is in turmoil, with violent clashes occurring between the government of Nicolás Maduro and citizen demonstrators, who demand the president step down from power. There have been violent clashes between the police and the protesters, some resulting in casualties.

    VICE reports that Jatar wears a bulletproof vest, anti-gas mask, helmet, and press credentials daily when he leaves his home — where his father, a prominent journalist, is on house arrest.

    Photo by Horacio Siciliano

    Jatar ventures into the streets of Caracas to document what he sees and shares his photos and videos daily to his nearly 150,000 Instagram followers, providing a chilling inside glimpse into the chaotic situation in Venezuela, as it happens.

    Of recent violence and deaths, Jatar told VICE, “We need to take into account that the majority of those killed are young people between the ages of 15 and 18. Who is not saddened to learn that the young men facing the police and the National Guard, who are adults and have guns, are dying for simply demanding a better country?”

    Jatar’s VICE interview in its entirety is available here, and there is a translation function for those not fluent in Portuguese. While there, Jatar is also shooting a set of documentaries, one of which he plans to cut as his NYFA thesis when he returns from his leave.

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  • Photography Instructor Wins Webby & People’s Voice Award for “The Dawn of the Killer Robot”

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    Photography Instructor, Connelly La Mar’s documentary The Dawn of the Killer Robotswhich he and his team at Motherboard pitched, shot and produced for VICE—was awarded both a Webby Award and a People’s Voice in the best online tech film category. Established in 1996 during the Web’s infancy, The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. The Webby People’s Voice Awards garners millions of votes from all over the world.

    “It is certainly humbling to receive recognition always on behalf of our team and Motherboard,” said La Mar. “I think winning the People’s Voice is special because it is by popular vote, but both awards make us remember that people do appreciate the hard work that goes into our process. So, looking at the springy curious object on a shelf somewhere down the road will always be of source of inspiration, and a reason to remember to dust.”

    killer robot

    The documentary started with a simple question about the future of weaponizing technology like robots, and why Google is gobbling up robotics companies, which are contracted to the military and involved in DARPA robotics competitions.

    “It got interesting as we met people who were on the extreme, and feared the end of humanity invoking the notion of a modern ‘John Connor’,” said La Mar. “So, an initial question about AI, Google and the military industrial-complex grew into a study of existential risk and the singularity, as we met more people at the heart of and on the periphery of the subject.”

    If you haven’t already started watching the documentary, we recommend you hit play on the video above…now. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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    May 10, 2016 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking, Photography • Views: 2768