women’s history month
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  • Women’s History Month Industry Panel and Hidden Figures Screening at New York Film Academy South Beach

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    New York Film Academy South Beach screened the 2016 drama Hidden Figures this March as part of a month-long event series for Women’s History Month.

    Hidden Figures was based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about three black female mathematicians who worked at NASA. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe as mathematicians Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, respectively. The release of the film came on the heels of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in 2016, and its critical and commercial success proved that the stories of women of color have been waiting to be told for decades.

    NYFA South Beach Chair of Filmmaking Maylen Dominguez said of the decision to screen this particular film: “These untold stories need to be told. They are part of our history that will disappear if we don’t share them now.” The Filmmaking Chair also served as moderator of the Q&A, which took place after the screening. The Q&A featured panelists who are working women in film, including:

    • NYFA Acting Instructor Susie Taylor
    • Producer Giorgia Lo Savio
    • NYFA Chair of Filmmaking Maylen Dominguez
    • Filmmaker Rhonda Mitrani
    • Actress Maha McCain

    “As a woman, there is no need to be demure or diminutive about your skills,” said Maha McCain, who is an acting instructor at University of Miami. She explained that women are often expected to be more passive, but that they shouldn’t be ashamed to proudly showcase their talent.

    Maylen Dominguez thoughtfully illustrated why it benefits women and men to be more inclusive in casting and hiring: “You’re helping showcase a full picture of humanity. That’s why we’re in film!”

    Filmmaker Rhonda Mitrani added, “Don’t take things personally.”

    Toward the end of the discussion, one of the students raised her hand to say, “Thank you so much for having this kind of discussion. I am about to graduate and I feel hopeful.”

    A male student added, “We want you to know we heard you and our generation is working hard to change how things are.”

    The common themes throughout were to “never give up, support each other, and do not let your voice be stifled. The industry panelists also repeated the idea that it is always important to allow a variety of different voices to be heard, as evidenced by Hidden Figures.

    For a complete look at all of NYFA’s events during Women’s History Month, check out our blog piece here.

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  • New York Film Academy Hosts Hip Hop Film Festival Screening Event

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    The New York Film Academy recently hosted screenings, a Q&A, and panel presented by the Hip Hop Film Festival and 247films.tv. The event at NYFA’s Battery Park theatre was entitled “WeWatch: Femme Fatale Edition” and was presented as part of a series of Women’s History Month events hosted by NYFA. The hip-hop-focused festival is based in Harlem, and was founded in 2015. The third annual festival will take place this year from August 2-5 in Harlem.

    NYFA-HHFF-WomensHistory

    The WeWatch event began with food and drinks presented by Revive Kombucha. Attendees shifted into the theatre for the three-hour screening and Q&A portion of the event. Hip Hop Film Festival founder C R Capers introduced and moderated the event.

    After the first screening of comedy web series Shampagne, Capers sat down with series creator and lead actress Melissa Mickens to talk about her process and what served as inspiration. Mickens’ real life experiences of being pigeonholed during auditions spurned her desire to shift focus and pursue a rap career. She also discussed filming on a budget and in Harlem, where she resides.

    Next up was Australian filmmaker Bella Ann Townes’ Hip Hop & Holiness, which profiled Matthew “Mystery” Peet,  a breakdancer, rapper, and graffiti tagger who also happens to be a pastor at church. Peet discusses his relationship to both hip hop culture and religion and how he does not feel they should be mutually exclusive. Townes won Best Emerging Australian Director for the documentary short at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival in 2017.

    Seattle creative Voleak Sip’s short film Float was third in the lineup. Sip was unable to attend the event, but she recorded a video explaining how her older brother was the inspiration behind the main character, Rocky, who is a Cambodian hustler still living with his parents. The music was a key element of the film, and sound editor Jono Hill was on hand to speak to C R about his process. While the film is set in the ’90s, the music was created by present-day producers and musicians who provided a fresh take on the prominent ’90s boombap hip-hop sound.

    The event concluded with Jasmine Callis’ powerful documentary short set entirely in North Philly. Stay Black, Baby: The Mixtape is a complex portrait of Black youth rising, Black art glorified, Black voices uncovered, Black struggle acknowledged, and Black empowerment revered. Over the course of 20 compelling minutes, the film shifted seamlessly from motivational to heartbreaking and back again, covering topics from Black pride and resilience to police brutality and misogyny.

    Callis, who currently works at New York Film Academy as a video editor and producer, attended the event and discussed her inspirations, including Spike Lee and Philadelphia hip-hop legends The Roots. During the Q&A, Capers raved about Callis’ work, which she said belongs in a museum.

    Keep an eye on the Hip Hop Film Festival’s website for upcoming events and details on the 2018 iteration of the festival.

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  • Stand Up for Women! Comedy Night at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    As part of Women’s Week at NYFA, which was created to celebrate and highlight women in the Entertainment Industry, the Acting for Film department sponsored a night of eight amazing stand-up comedians in a show called Stand Up for Women! Each comedian did a very funny 10-minute set to a packed house of over 100 NYFA students.

    It was a hilarious night — the level of talent was amazing! Students were impressed with the different personal styles of each comedian and how each was able to use their own creative voice in a unique way. Our guest artists covered topics from politics to parents, from women’s rights issues to the struggles of being an artist in this industry.
    Comedy is a great way to teach and each of our artists brought a unique lesson to our students.

    The evening was also a benefit for Women Helping Women (WHW), non-profit organization with the mission of providing unemployed and underemployed women the skills and resources they need to get and keep a good job. WHW job seekers depend on the generosity of clothing donors in the community to support their job search. Attendees were asked to bring an item of clothing for donation to the organization.

    Stand Up for Women! featured an all-star lineup of comedian guest artists, including:

    Lisa deLarios – (host) – Lisa has toured the country, featuring for Zach Galifianakis, Paul F. Tompkins, Anthony Jeselnik, and Maria Bamford, among others. She was showcased on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham and has been a frequent guest on Doug Loves Movies.

    Laura House – Laura is a headlining comedian who has performed on HBO, Comedy Central, and NBC, and starred in MTV’s Austin Stories. She has written on the Emmy-winning shows Mom and Samantha Who and the BAFTA-winning Secret Lives of Boys, as well as Nicole Byer’s Loosely, Exactly, NicoleThe George Lopez Show, Mad Love, Blue Collar TV, and more. 

    Jackie Kashian – Jackie is a comic whose new album, I Am Not The Hero Of This Story, was the #1 comedy album on iTunes and Amazon. She is in the 12th year of her podcast, The Dark Forest, and has a new podcast on the Nerdist Network called The Jackie and Laurie Show.

    Jena Friedman – Jena is a comedian, writer, filmmaker and political satirist who recently appeared on Conan. Her Adult Swim special Soft Focus with Jena Friedman aired in February. She has been a field producer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and has written for Late Show with David Letterman. ​

    Kate Willett – Kate tours nationally and internationally, has been featured on Viceland’s Flophouse and Comedy Central’s This is Not Happening, and recently taped a Netflix special. 

    Vanessa Gonzalez – Vanessa was recently voted “Best Stand-up Comic” in the Austin Chronicle readers’ poll and created and stars in the Mas Mejor web series Ms. Vanessa.

    Jessica Sele – Jessica is a stand-up comedian who tours across the country and has performed at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and SF Sketchfest. She was written about in Huffington Post.

    Ellington Wells – Ellington is a filmmaker and comedian who hosts the monthly stand-up show Blackberry Jam and has worked on television shows such as Insecure, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Baskets.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank each and every one of these incredibly talented and funny women who came to our Los Angeles campus. We truly appreciate your giving our students the chance to Stand Up for Women!

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    March 19, 2018 • Community Highlights, Entertainment News, Guest Speakers • Views: 1203

  • Oscar-nominated Editor Kristen Nutile Screens Heroin(e) at New York Film Academy

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    Academy Award-nominated editor and documentarian Kristen Nutile visited the New York Film Academy recently for a screening of Heroin(e) followed by a Q&A at the NYFA Theatre at the Battery Park campus.

    A Netflix original, Heroin(e) was nominated in the 90th Academy Awards Best Documentary Short category. The film follows three community leaders, all women, as they battle the opioid epidemic and work to save lives their city of Huntington, West Virginia, a place where the overdose rate is 10 times the national average. Heroin(e) is directed by Peabody-awarding winning Elaine McMillion Sheldon and edited by Kristin Nutile, a NYFA instructor.

    “When I was approached by Elaine, I was very moved by this particular problem and that is why I took on the project,” Nutile has told NYFA. “I loved how she was following three women trying to make a difference. I love that it was female-centric.”

    Despite the early, 7 p.m. start time and the fact that Heroin(e) runs at a tight 39 minutes, the event lasted late into the night, as Nutile generously and thoughtfully stretched her time to answer every student question.

    Nutile explained to a packed house of NYFA New York Documentary Filmmaking students, “I choose projects because I am interested in the subject and like to work with great people. Winning awards is never the goal. To be in an Oscar-nominated crew is truly amazing. Ultimately to me, it’s about the work.”

    Nutile has directed six of her own films and edited two dozen more in addition to teaching at New York Film Academy’s Documentary Filmmaking program in New York City. The program was named by The Independent Magazine in the Top 10 Academic Programs for Documentary Filmmakers and recently featured in IDA’s Documentary Magazine.

    Watch Heroin(e) on Netflix. You can also learn more on the website.

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