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NYFA Celebrates Alumni Meshal Aljaser, Tushar Tyagi, and Dr. Ariel Orama López Qualifying for 93rd Academy Awards

NYFA Celebrates Alumni Meshal Aljaser, Tushar Tyagi, and Dr. Ariel Orama López Qualifying for 93rd Academy Awards

January 28, 2021

New York Film Academy (NYFA) is excited to announce the eligibility of three alumni projects that are officially qualified to be nominated in the upcoming 93rd Academy Awards for the Live Action Short Film category. With the Oscars ceremony pushed to April 25, 2021, the Academy will announce the shortlist of potential nominees on February 9, 2021, with the second round of voting narrowed to five official Oscar nominees on March 15, 2021.

The following short films from NYFA alumni have qualified to be nominated for the 2021 Oscars in the Live Action Short Film Category:
  • Screenwriting BFA alum Meshal Aljaser with Arabian Alien
  • Acting for Film Workshop alum Dr. Ariel Orama López with 2ḦOOM [Zoom]
  • 1-Year Filmmaking alum Tushar Tyagi with Saving Chintu
Short films can qualify for nomination one of three ways: a seven-day theatrical run in one of six major US cities, winning a qualifying award at a competitive film festival or winning a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Medal in the Student Academy Awards.

“Arabian Alien” film poster

Arabian Alien, written and directed by Saudi filmmaker Meshal Aljaser and produced by NYFA Producing alum Almotaz Aljefri, tells of a married Muslim man, who gets over his depression after a space alien is introduced into his life. The film had its world premiere at the prestigious Sundance 2020, where it won the Vimeo Jury Award and later went on to be the winner of the Atlanta Film Festival (AFF) Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short Film where it was hailed “a layered, suspenseful and powerfully strange tale of societal taboos and marital tension, told with emotional precision, silent-film-evoking visuals, cultural authenticity, and startling humor.”

Photo courtesy of Meshal Aljaser

The AFF win for Arabian Alien, which cemented the film for Oscar consideration, catapulted the film to further critical acclaim including a feature in GQ Middle East, among others, applauding the work of Aljaser and Saudi influencer and actor Mohammed Alhamdan (Warchief), who starred in the film.

"I enjoyed going to Sundance. It was a great experience,” shared Aljaser. “I met so many inspiring people. However, after that COVID hit, everything was virtual. It was still a high privilege to be part of Palm Springs Shortfest and the Atlanta Film Festival."

Film poster for “2ḦOOM”

2ḦOOM [Zoom] from Dr. Orama López is an experimental live-action and animation hybrid short film about two brothers from the Caribbean who discover what unifies them. Using the backdrop of the current pandemic and the all-too-familiar COVID communication platform of choice, Zoom, the film includes voices and talents from the Caribbean, Latin America, Spain, and Italy.

This is Dr. Orama López’s second consecutive nod for Academy Award consideration with his previous short film, One, qualifying for an Oscar nomination in 2020. “I feel blessed by the opportunity to qualify for the Oscars two years in a row,” Dr. Orama López shared. “I believe that films, more than entertain, can heal us, and represent who we are, as humans.”

“Saving Chintu” film poster

Saving Chintu from Tyagi tells of an American-Indian gay couple who travel to India to adopt a child living with HIV in an orphanage and encounter cultural challenges along the way. Starring Adil Hussain (Life of Pi, Star Trek: Discovery), the film appeared as an official selection at numerous film festivals and received notable critical acclaim, most recently being hailed by both Variety and Rolling Stone India.

Tushar Tyagi at NYFA Q&A event

The NYFA alum shared that being part of the 2021 Oscars race is “almost unbelievable” and having Saving Chintu “being watched and celebrated at the top film festivals and praised by so many is a very blissful feeling.”

“I’m incredibly proud of Tushar, Meshal, and Ariel. These major talents have created short films that are so thought-provoking, powerful, infused with humanity that they stay with you long after the credits stop rolling,” says Crickett Rumley, Director of NYFA’s Film Festival Department. “It’s no surprise that they have been rewarded with strong festival runs. And qualifying for an Oscar nomination? It’s tremendously exciting and so well-deserved!”

NYFA congratulates the alumni who have qualified for Academy Award consideration and wishes them the best of luck when the shortlist is announced on February 9, 2021.








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