Film Festivals

Q&A With New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Student Kartik Venkatraman on His Film Festival Success and Upcoming Film ‘Tehravin’

It was not too long ago when the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking student Kartik Venkatraman decided to quit his day job in India and start a new career in filmmaking in the U.S. Now, his drive for storytelling and the decision to follow his dreams seems to be paying off with his film Tehravin already receiving festival buzz from the likes of New York Lift-Off Festival and the IndieFEST Film Awards. 

NYFA filmmaking student Kartik Venkatraman (Second from right)

NYFA was able to connect with the filmmaker and discuss his journey from Mumbai to the U.S, his upcoming film Tehravin, and the challenges he faced while shooting at the beginning of a global pandemic.

New York Film Academy (NYFA): So tell us a bit more about yourself and how you came to be a filmmaker!

Kartik Venkatraman (KV): I was born and brought up in Mumbai, India and raised in a middle class household. When all kids would go out to play during their summer vacation, I would make my own stories, convert them into a three hour screenplay, and act them out alone and sometimes with my friends. However, as I grew into an adult, I followed the traditional path of completing my education and taking up a day job, but the creative kid in me was still alive and I could not stop thinking of story ideas and converting them into screenplays. 

I would narrate the stories to my wife and my best friends and would usually get positive feedback for them. I ended up writing screenplays for two feature films. Once I wrote them, I wanted to give life to the screenplays and did a six month course in filmmaking, all while keeping my day job. I finally began to realize that I had it in me to become a filmmaker and tell my stories visually, and I couldn’t do so without proper training if. I finally made the bold decision to leave a well-paid job that I did not enjoy and follow my dreams. I was supported by my wife, who also encouraged me to take this opportunity as she believed in me. I did a lot of research and came to the conclusion that New York Film Academy (NYFA) would be best suited to help me enhance my skills as a filmmaker and thus I started my journey into the filmmaking world by moving to the U.S and joining NYFA.

NYFA: Can you tell us more about your film Tehravin?

KV: Per Hindu rites, 13 days is a grieving period which helps in healing the pain of the loss of a loved one. Tehravin (Thirteenth in English) is about a man who follows this ritual to help himself come out of the pain of the death of a relationship. While doing so, he reflects back on his past and the good and the not-so-good memories of the person he lost. His struggle eventually pays off as he emerges stronger and sees the light at the end of this dark period.

NYFA: Where did you shoot Tehravin and what was that process like for you?

KV: I shot Tehravin over the course of five days in New York City and New Jersey. I had a few challenges while shooting the film, however. My actor backed out a day before the shooting and I had to find a new actor within a few hours to make sure I completed the shoot; I was lucky that I could find one (a student who was already taking a 8 Week Acting for Film course with NYFA).

The biggest challenge was that the global COVID-19 outbreak had become an official global pandemic a couple of days after we started shooting (I started shooting on March 8, 2020). I had three days of shooting left and was worried if I would be able to complete it, but my crew and my actors stuck with me and we made sure we completed the shooting in between the pandemic safely. 

It was my first major short movie (I had made a few class assignments before) and I believe the fact that I finished shooting it was the most satisfying part, especially considering the challenges.

NYFA: As writer, director, and producer for this film, what are you hoping the audience will understand or perhaps empathize with after watching Tehravin?

KV: The pain of the end of a relationship is akin to the death of a person. If we mourn the death of a relationship like we would mourn the death of a person, we should have the ability to emerge a stronger person at the end of the mourning period. 

The film also has no dialogue and is reliant on visuals and background music to tell my story. I hope the audience is able to relate to the pain of the protagonist and also learn that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, you just need to work your way towards it. There are some subtle nuances that I’ve tried to bring out through the visuals and the acting, and I hope the audience is able to get them. 

NYFA: Can you tell us more about the New York Lift-Off Film Festival?

KV: The Lift-Off Global Network is an organization encompassing worldwide live screening events, distribution initiatives, a seasonal awards ceremony, and an ever growing and active Network of indie film creators.

The Lift-Off Season Awards is an annual event which celebrates the very best of indie film. Following each Lift-Off film festival, films which have excelled in their respective category are nominated and invited to attend the prestigious Lift-Off Season Awards, culminating at the end of the Lift-Off season.

Each year the Lift-Off Global Network of film festivals screen hundreds of incredible films from a diverse range of artists with huge talent that deserves recognition. Throughout the year, they aim to discover and publicize the very best of this pool of talent and give those filmmakers the recognition they deserve.

In addition to being selected for the New York Lift-Off Film Festival, I also recently got selected for the IndieFEST Film Awards

NYFA: Do you have any other projects in the works?

KV: I am currently working on my thesis film. It is, once again, a very sensitive film and is about child labour and helping poor children have access to education. I have locked my screenplay and look book for the film. I would start shooting it once we are out of quarantine and are allowed to shoot again as I would like to shoot the film in India. 

NYFA: What are some personal elements that you like to include in your stories as a filmmaker? 

KV: Most of my stories are about sensitive topics and about human connection. The thing that attracts me most about an idea is the “what if” part. For example: What if a person who has recently gone through a divorce treats the end of a relationship like he would treat a death? 

I like to take an existing concept and apply a twist to it, and then keep the audience unaware of the twist until the very end. Like I did with Tehravin– it starts with a person mourning a death. All throughout the film, the audience believes that the protagonist is mourning the death of a person and it is only in the end we realize that he was actually mourning the death of his relationship with that person. 

I also like to have subtle nuances in my film and not explain everything to the audience. 

NYFA: Do you have any advice to any incoming NYFA students?

KV: Believe in yourself and never stop dreaming and believing that anything is possible. Make sure you go out of your way to give life to your movie. A movie is like a child. It starts with an idea and then converting that idea to a story then a screenplay, and it does not end with the production and post production. You need to market your film, find a distributor, send it to film festivals, and make sure it gets all the visibility it needs. I did all of that with Tehravin and was lucky to find an audience who understood and related to my movie.

***UPDATE August 6, 2020 – Kartik Venkatraman won the Film Short (Student) Award at the IndieFest Film Awards.

Cannes 2018: Four Things Everyone is Talking About

We’re fast approaching the 71st edition of the Festival de Cannes, which will be held from May 8-19 in the beautiful resort town in France. Cannes is renowned for shining more light on international films, attracting big names, and only allowing a select few to compete for the top prize. Here are the four topics creating the most buzz around this year’s festival.

Women in Cannes

Cannes prefers keeping their list of films competing for the coveted Palme d’Or to a minimum. This year, directors from all over the globe will be represented among the 17 films that made the lineup. However, the number of female directors represented in the competition at Cannes will be the same as this year: three. They are:

  • Eva Husson (Girls of the Sun)
  • Nadine Labaki (Capernaum)
  • Alice Rohrwacher (Lazzaro Felice)

As one of the most important film events next to the Academy Awards, many industry figures have expressed a desire for Cannes to do a better job of including female filmmakers.

According to festival director Thierry Frémaux, the reason for the low number of female directors is due to wider issues in the industry — mainly a lack of women directors in general. According to the 2017 Celluloid Ceiling report on the top 100 films, only 11% directors were women.

Interestingly enough, this year’s festival jury — headed by Cate Blanchett — will include more women than men.

Impressive Veteran & Debut Films

Some of the biggest names in the industry are set to show off their latest projects at Cannes 2018.

French film legend Jean Luc-Godard, who has never won the Palme d’Or despite having seven of his previous films entered, will compete again with Le Livre d’Image. Spike Lee is aiming to win with his upcoming crime drama BlacKkKlansman. Another American, indie favorite David Robert Mitchell, competes for the first time with Under the Silver Lake.

Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, a love story set during the tense period after World War II, is also set to debut at the festival. Other anticipated special screenings include Wim Wenders’ Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, and upcoming blockbuster Solo: A Star Wars Story by Ron Howard (which will not be competing for the main prize).

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a project Terry Gilliam began almost 20 years ago, will have its world premiere this year.

Diverse Filmmakers From Around The Globe

One of the best things about the Cannes Film Festival is the diversity of filmmakers who range from various homelands.

Egypt’s A.B. Shawky and Japan’s Ryûsuke Hamaguchi will be joining the Palme D’Or race with their respective films Yomeddine and Netemo Sametemo (Asako I & II). Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki is in the run with Capernaum alongside China’s Jia Zhangke with A Touch of Sin. South Korean director Yoon Jong-bing didn’t make the competition lineup but will have his thriller The Spy Gone North get a midnight screening.

Two directors currently at odds with their home governments also made it into the main films selection. Iranian film director Jafar Panahi, who will have his drama film Three Faces featured at the festival, is currently banned from leaving his country. Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov will also not get to see his Soviet rock drama Leto screen at Cannes, due to being under house arrest since 2010.

The Netflix Battle

If there’s one topic surrounding Cannes 2018 that people are talking about the most, it’s probably the standoff between the festival and film streaming giant Netflix. Although festival director Thierry Frémaux claims they’re more than welcome in Cannes, Netflix didn’t appreciate the ruling that only films receiving a theatrical release are eligible to compete for prizes. In response to the Cannes ruling, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos made the decision to exclude all their films from screening at Cannes.

Netflix also removed The Other Side of the Wind, an unfinished film by industry legend Orson Welles, from the Out of Competition section of Cannes — despite being eligible to screen with the new rule.

Other films that Cannes goers will miss out on due to the theatrical release rule include Jeremy Saulnier’s Hold the Dark, Paul Greengrass’ Norway, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, and a documentary by Morgan Neville called They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead.

What are you most looking forward to in Cannes 2018? Let us know in the comments below!

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Racial Inclusion – or the Lack Thereof – in Mainstream Media

By Jennifer Betit Yen, President of Asian American Film Lab

Inclusion and diversity have been trending in Hollywood, yet we are — or should I say we remain? — in an inclusion crisis.

Statistics about racial inclusion in film have remained stagnant since 2007, meaning that despite more light being shed on the issue through headlines, social media, and discussion, little real or consistent progress has been made over the past decade. Black Panther aside, we are still seeing a larger story that it is not an easy time to be an American actor or filmmaker of color. Frankly, there’s never really been a good time.

To put this in perspective, The Hollywood Diversity 2018 report states that only 1.4 out of every 10 leading actors are people of color. And USC Annenberg’s 2017 report on diversity the top 900 films shows the sad difference between diversity in the real world compared to the current state of representation in Hollywood:

  •      29.2% of all characters were from minority racial/ethnic groups, compared to 38.7% of the actual U.S. population coming from minority racial/ethnic groups.
  •      Despite the low number of minority characters in the top 900 films, 49% of the movie-going public who went to see these films come from minority racial/ethnic groups.

Clearly, these numbers are just not adding up.

And it’s not better behind-the-scenes: Annenberg found that there were only 30 Asian directors in all 900 films — and only two of those directors were women.       

From problematic classics such as The Good Earth and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, where white actors played Asian characters, to recent major films that have made the problematic choices of casting white stars to play minority characters, actors and filmmakers of color are often shocked and confused by the choice to whitewash minority characters.[1] Strangely, as the population of Asian Americans in the United States has increased, our representation on TV and in film has decreased — the only racial group this was reported as happening to.

Yet study after study shows that, actually, diversely cast films and shows make far more money than homogenous shows. Yes! It’s true! Audiences are demanding diversity.

In an article in The New York Times, one journalist put it quite succinctly, saying, “Economics has nothing to do with racist casting policies. Films in which the leads have been whitewashed have all failed mightily at the box office. Inserting white leads had no demonstrable effect on [increasing] the numbers. So why is that still conventional thinking in Hollywood? For years, audiences have essentially boycotted these films, yet studios keep making them.”

Change is coming, though, and it’s coming from independent filmmakers who work outside of the Hollywood system to create original, diverse, and authentic films — and that’s why I work with the Film Lab. That’s why the Film Lab[2] is here. We create and produce our own content. We encourage our members to create and produce their own content. Content that is bold. Content that is innovative. Content that is — wait for it — diverse. Through the 72 Hour Shootout, an annual global filmmaking competition that gets winning filmmakers network mentorships, exposure and more, and with our incredible sponsors, we provide our filmmakers with platforms on which to exhibit and disseminate that content to a wide range of audiences –not just one homogenous ethnic group, but all audiences.

As U.S. women’s national soccer player Alex Morgan (who, coincidentally, was part of a wage discrimination lawsuit demanding equal pay for equal work) has said, “It’s all about learning to create your own success.” Alex Morgan is one of five players who brought a wage discrimination complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation, as reported by Health Magazine (June 2016).

By making diverse films, we empower ourselves and, by extension, all of us. And by “us,” I don’t just mean Asian Americans. I mean Latinos. I mean African Americans. I mean Native Americans. I mean LGBT. I mean women. I mean men. I mean all of us. #ActionUnites

You know the saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them” right? Well, the economics show we can beat the inclusion crisis. The changing face of the entertainment media landscape shows we can beat the inclusion crisis. And the rise of diverse America shows we will beat the inclusion crisis.

We will make our own content and we will support other diverse content. And we will not support content from Hollywood in which Asian American and other diverse faces, characters, voices, and stories are excluded.

As rising filmmakers and storytellers, I encourage you to work hard to tell your story, raise your voice and show your face. So, go on. To the filmmakers out there with the tenacity, the passion, the power, and the talent: carpe diem!


Jennifer Betit Yen is the President of the Film Lab, a 501c3 dedicated to the promotion and support of gender and ethnic diversity in mainstream media.  She is also an actor (Search Party, Royal Pains, Film Lab Presents, The Beacon Street Girls), writer (The Opposite of a Fairy Tale) and producer (La La Land, My Not So subConscious, The Opposite of a Fairy Tale, Mirror Mirror). She has received mentions by The New York Times and Backstage Magazine, among others, for her work as an actor. Her film The Opposite of a Fairy Tale, a fictional take on elder abuse, sold out at MOCA and was an official selection of the 39th Annual Asian American International Film Festival, the Palm Springs Desert Film Society, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation NY Shorts Showcase, at the NYC Conference on Elder Abuse, at WOMANKIND, screened at HBO, and was licensed by the City of New York.  A graduate of Cornell University, and Boston University School of Law, Jen authors the blog Ethical is Beautiful.  Be Beautiful ( and enjoys boxing, fine vegan dining with her adorable husband and running with her also adorable rescue mutt.

[1] Check out the “Fairy Princess Diaries” blog for more on this topic.


Learn more about filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

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The 5 Biggest Reasons Why We're Excited About Tribeca Film Festival 2018

The Tribeca Film Festival kicks off this week to once again put the spotlight on the latest independent films and their makers. Featuring over a thousand screenings, numerous panel discussions, and more, it’s easy to see why millions of people attend this acclaimed film festival each year.

Whether you’re just a movie fan or have your heart set on a career in filmmaking, here are five reasons why the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival is set to be the best one yet.

Impressive List of Must-See Movies

The beauty of having a film festival spanning 12 days is that no matter what kinds of movies you like, there’s bound to be something for everyone.

This year there will be more than 50 narratives and 45 documentaries spread across every genre imaginable. Of course, there are always a few films that people definitely don’t plan on missing. Fans of documentaries will want to check out Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, It’s a Hard Truth Ain’t It, The Rachel Divide, and Songwriter. Great story films people are talking about are Braid, The Seagull, and centerpiece film Zoe.

With so many great films to recommend, be sure to take a look at the official Tribeca website for a full list of films.

More Films Directed by Women Than Ever Before

Tribeca Film Festival 2018 will make history by having more films directed by women than ever before.

Almost half of the 96 films set to screen at Tribeca this year were directed by women — certainly a cause for celebration, given that women are still vastly underrepresented in the film industry as a whole. According to the famous Celluloid Ceiling study, only 1 percent of 2017’s most successful films employed 10 or more women behind the scenes.

Some of the most anticipated female-directed films that will be at Tribeca include Liz Garbus’ New York Times documentary The Fourth Estate, Eva Vives’ comedy drama All About Nina, and Untogether, the directorial debut of Emma Forrest.

A Look at Upcoming Games

It wasn’t long ago that most people considered games as a form of children’s entertainment. Today, the digital medium is seen as arguably the most powerful form of storytelling. Thanks to the power of interactivity, games allow the audience to not only become a part of the narrative but also influence the outcome of a story and its characters.

Tribeca Games will once again celebrate the artistic and technical achievements of games at this year’s show. Things to look forward to include a special preview of the upcoming Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a talk from God of War‘s creative director Cory Barlog, and a variety of demos and esports tournaments for attendees.

Talks From Stars & Filmmakers

If there’s one thing Tribeca fans love more than watching new films, it’s listening to their makers talk about their project. Since the Tribeca Film Festival’s focus is on independent films, this gives aspiring filmmakers a chance to learn more about the process from both up-and-coming stars and renowned industry figures.

This year, attendees won’t want to miss the Scarface reunion, after its 35th anniversary screening. Other notable talks will include Sarah Jessica Parker, John Legend, and the duo of Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper.

Legendary Film Anniversaries Honored

It makes sense that an independent film festival like Tribeca would do its part to honor the anniversaries of timeless classics. After all, it’s movies like these that help inspire the next generation of filmmakers to push their creative limits and see that their stories one day make it to the big screen.

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Scarface, a screening of the legendary gangster epic will be followed by a reunion panel including Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, and director Brian De Palma.

Oscar-winning masterpiece Schindler’s List will also be screened to commemorate its 25th anniversary. A Q&A including Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, and Embeth Davidtz will follow.

What are you most excited to see at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

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5 Steps to a Better TIFF Experience


Now that we’ve closed the Toronto International Film Festival 2016, it’s a great time to pause and reflect on what we’ve learned and how we can apply that to future film festivals and industry events. Attending TIFF, by day three I was seeing attendees with dark circled eyes from lack of sleep, humpbacked from the weight of all their gear, and pausing on the street to rub at their sore feet. With so much to see, not just at the festival but throughout Toronto, it can be difficult to convince oneself to invest in self-care. But with a 10 day long festival, ignoring your body could mean you miss out.

Try our 10 steps to a better TIFF next year — and try these out at any other festivals, industry mixers, and special events this season!

Get Good Walking Shoes


Toronto International Film Festival is spread over about six miles. And, yes, public transportation is great. It’s fast, reliable, and inexpensive. But after about 10:30 a.m. the busses start to fill up. If you’re attending the festival as a film buff this won’t be a problem. But if you’re showing a film, photographing an event, or attending an event promoting your film, you’ll be hauling gear or wearing fancy clothes — and you might want to skip the bus.  You could order a taxi or an Uber, but that cost will climb quickly.

So, what are you to do?

Strap on your best shoes and get ready to walk. For TIFF, I recommend arriving a day before the festival. Pick up a map at the convention center. Then hit every theater on the map. Learn the shortcuts through parks, which streets will be blocked off, and where the rush lines will be formed. This information will make the next 10 days a breeze and your FitBit will think you’ve transformed into a tri-athlete.

The universally applicable takeaway? For any industry event, make sure you know where you’re going, how to get there, and a backup plan of how to get there — then allow plenty of extra time.

Make a Plan But Don’t Marry It



As previously stated, there’s a lot to do once you get to TIFF. Do yourself a favor and make a plan.

TIFF provides a color coded calendar on their website labeling each event. There are little descriptions in the calendar. Circle every event you hope to attend. Then place every event in a Google Calendar or a travel calendar you can have on you at all times. I prefer Google Calendar because it can send you an alert 10, 15, or 20 minutes before the event. If you place the location of the screening or event in the calendar you can also use Google Maps to navigate instantly, if you skipped step number one.

Now that you’ve cured your fear of missing out, be prepared to chuck the entire plan. Listen, when you’re walking around the Toronto International Film Festival you’re going to find so much to do. This year Express set up a pop up clothing store, Lindor released a new candy and were giving out bags for free, McDonald’s gave out free coffee accompanied by a live DJ performance, and Pure Leaf gave out thousands of samples of their tea. There were free concerts and red carpets and local street performers. Downtown Toronto is lined with the mouthwatering smells spilling out of restaurants.

Don’t miss an amazing opportunity to explore something new.  The universal takeaway for any industry event: plan ahead, but be open to surprises.

Hydrate and Eat



This may sound like common sense advice, but it’s so easy to forget that each day at a festival is like two days in your normal life. With concerts, free food, speakers, conferences, and, of course, film, there’s something to do from sun up to sundown. The fear of missing out is real.

If you decide to follow our first rule, you’ll be walking back and forth all day.

Dehydration leads to fatigue, which means you’ll be moving slower and thinking slower — not a good look if you’re trying to present your work. A good rule of thumb is to keep a bottle of water in your bag. Before you leave the theater, fill up at the water fountain. Try to drink two bottles of water a day and you’ll be ahead of the crowd.

With so much to do it’s likely your adrenalin will get pumping. It’s difficult at times to slow down to eat, but luckily there are so many restaurants around town. King Street is littered with cuisine from around the world. Money won’t be an issue. There are street carts selling everything from hot dogs to falafel. Restaurants range from Canadian favorite Tim Horton’s to Starbucks to McDonald’s on the cheaper side to high end seafood restaurants and everything in between.

Universal takeaway for any industry event: hydrate and eat. You’ll want to be at your best, and you need fuel.

Do More Than The Festival – Meet the Locals


Toronto is an amazing city. Apparent in their architecture, they’ve managed to fuse the old with the new. Pockets of communities surround the downtown area. The Entertainment district is right downtown. Here you’ll find film financiers, publishers, and distributors. Head over to Kensington Market to explore vintage clothes shopping, classic coffee houses, and beautiful street art.

If there’s one stereotype that’s true about Canada, it’s that the people here are incredibly friendly. Even in the financial district it’s not uncommon to stop and strike up a conversation with curious locals. By sitting down with citizens, you can learn about hole in the wall dining, shortcuts, and, best of all, local events. Just because TIFF is in full swing doesn’t mean Toronto is slowing down. The Blue Jays are in the middle of an amazing series, the World Beach Volleyball Tournament is taking place, and soon the World Hockey Games will be kicking off. Locals can give you insight into the secret world behind TIFF.  

Universal takeaway for any industry event: focus on the people and chat with the locals, and you’ll likely discover something incredible.




Everyone who is anyone attends these festivals. You never know to whom you’re talking, so be sure to ask. As I stood in the rush line for Netflix’s new show, “ARQ,” I struck up a conversation with a woman in line. We talked about the films we saw and which were our favorites, and then we began to talk about what we do. She said she was industry but when I pried a little further, it turned out she was a huge producer. She was At TIFF trying to make deals with Netflix, supporting friends, and locking in actors. We had such a good time she invited me, and a guest, to an industry event the same night. All this came because I turned around in a rush line to ask a question.

Universal takeaway for any industry event: you never know who you might meet. Really.

That’s it. Those are the essential rules to a better TIFF. If you weren’t at TIFF try applying these tips to other industry events. If you’re attending a play don’t be afraid to explore the area around the theater. Turn to the person next to you in line and ask them about their day. Come with a plan, but be ready to embrace the moment. You never know what you might find.

Everything That Makes the 2016 Toronto Film Festival Great


Aspiring filmmakers and movie enthusiasts are always looking forward to September. The Toronto Film Festival never fails to inspire, providing us with a look at promising movies, rising stars, and the veteran actors and actresses we love to see on the big screen. This year’s Toronto Film Festival is full of all the reasons reasons why each year we count down the days until this legendary event begins — plus a few extra reasons for the NYFA community to get excited.

NYFA Alum and Instructor Screening Films

This year, the Academy is especially proud of two of our own who debuted new work at Toronto: alumnus Eric Janvier and editing instructor Bob Eisenhardt both screened original films. Their two movies are:

“Gods Acre” – directed by Kelton Stepanowich and produced by NYFA alumnus Eric Janvier.

“Citizen Jane: Battle for the City” – directed by Matt Tyrnauer and edited by NYFA instructor Bob Eisenhardt.

Congratulations! This is truly an accomplishment worth celebrating. And there is plenty more at the festival to get excited about…

The Oscar Buzz


While many films are shown during the 10-day event, only so many of them are considered great — and of those great films, even less receive Oscar buzz. It just wouldn’t be the Toronto Film Festival without a handful of movies already receiving enough acclaim and positive reviews to be considered worthy of an Oscar nomination.

One of these films is “The Finest,” directed by Lone Scherfig and starring Sam Claflin, Gemma Arterton, and Bill Nighy. And “Moonlight,” a coming-of-age story adapted from a biographical play and co-produced by Brad Pitt, is also making waves at TIFF 2016 — enough that the word masterpiece is already being thrown around.

After being a hit at the Venice Film Festival, “Jackie” continued its bid for Oscar contender by being well-received at this year’s event as well. Directed by Pablo Larrain and written by Noah Oppenheim, this film stars Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy and is set during the immediate aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

The Rising Stars

One of the best things about the Toronto Film Festival is that you can expect to see some of your favorite actors and actresses. Of course, it’s also exciting seeing up-and-coming stars begin their ascent to fame  by featuring in a project shown at the anticipated event.

Sophie Nélisse is a 16-year-old Canadian actress doing just that as part of the Rising Stars program. Mylène Mackay, Jared Abrahamson, and Grace Glowicki are other young talents to keep an eye on at this year’s festival and beyond.

The Premieres


There’s no shortage of things to check out at every Toronto Film Festival, and this year’s event is no exception. Of course, the reason this renowned film festival remains influential after 40 years is because it gives people a first look at the next films to hit theaters across the globe.

The show kicked off with the premier of “The Magnificent Seven,” a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s classic “Seven Samurai” starring Denzel Washington. Leonardo DiCaprio’s environmental documentary “Before the Flood” also saw its first showing at the event. The film features DiCaprio himself as he campaigns to bring awareness about the threat of climate change.

Other notable premieres include “Nocturnal Animals” starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, sci-fi film “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway, and Ben Wheatley’s “Free Fire.” 3D musical comedy “Sing” was another anticipated premiere with Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, and John C. Reilly being only a handful of the many big stars offering their voices for the film.

The Best Dressed Stars

Each day gets off to a stylish start as beautiful ladies and gents hit the red carpet. While some Hollywood people attract the wrong kind of attention with their attire, this year we are seeing plenty of fashionable stars making their presence known the right way. Among these include Reese Witherspoon and her trendy off-the-shoulder floral brocade dress made by Ulyana Sergeenko Couture.

Other A-listers who wowed us with their wardrobe choice include Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Camila Alves. On the men’s side, guys like Matthew Mcconaughey, Gerard Butler, Armie Hammer, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christian Bale.

What were your favorite moments of TIFF 2016? Let us know in the comments below!

4 Cannes 2016 Performances that Lived Up to the Hype

As NYFA looks forward to our participation at the Venice International Film Festival, it’s always fun to check in and remember more of the years’ stand-out film performances. It’s not too early to start your Oscar predictions — and before we lose our hearts at the star-studded festivals in Venice and Toronto, let’s take stock of some of the Cannes performances that won us over. This is a handy roundup of Cannes 2016 performances that lived up to the hype — and then some. 

1. Dave Johns and Hayley Squires in “I, Daniel Blake”

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What better way to start than with the British film that took home the coveted Palme d’Or this year. Director Ken Loach delivers a captivating story where we see a realistic scenario of regular people getting cheated by the system. Those of you familiar with Loach’s past works know that he often works with bureaucratic injustice as his central theme.

“I, Daniel Blake” tells the tale of widower Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) and his battle to receive benefits after suffering a heart attack. Denied for no apparent reason, he finds himself in a welfare office where he meets Katie (Hayley Squires), a single mother with two kids who is also struggling to make ends meet.

Together, Johns and Squires do a fantastic job of portraying this desperate, unlikely pair as they see navigate a cruel system. Johns’s performance is both powerful and believable, allowing the audience to see Daniel as a decent but devastated man. Squires also delivers, imbuing her character with complex and subtle layers.

2. Jaclyn Jose in “Ma’ Rosa”

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“Ma’ Rosa” is Filipino director Brillante Mendoza’s latest film, and a return to the same style that made his 2009 film “Kinatay” an international hit. While Mendoza didn’t win another Best Director Award this year, lead actress Jaclyn Jose proudly won Best Actress.

In “Ma’ Rosa”, a woman named Rosa (Jose) owns a small convenience store with her husband in Manila. But with four children to feed, the couple is forced to sell illegal drugs from the store to make ends meet. After they is caught and arrested, their children must do what they can to save up enough money to free their parents.

Jose’s performance of a graceful yet resilient mother left an impression on the audience and jury members alike. It was a huge departure from her previous roles, which were often more bombastic and active. Jose’s historic win marks the first time a Filipino has ever won an acting award at the Cannes Film Festival.

3. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in “Loving”

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Both Negga and Edgerton gave viewers a memorable performance in this film about a mixed-race couple fighting for justice and equality during the late ’50s. Jeff Nichols’ historical drama has received widespread acclaim and was even given a standing ovation upon its first showing at Cannes 2016.

“Loving” weaves a charming tale of a Virginian couple who tied the knot — despite the fact that mixed-race marriage was illegal at the time. Their decision sparked enough controversy and outrage that the Supreme Court passed laws declaring their marriage unconstitutional.

Although the film went home with no prizes, Edgerton and Negga’s touching performances were considered among the best in the festival. The fact that “Loving” focuses less on the civil rights movement and more on the couple’s relationship allowed the talented actor and actress to deliver an intimate, heartwarming story.

4. Shahab Hosseini in “The Salesman”

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In 2011, Asghar Farhadi saw his hard work pay off with “A Separation.” The Iranian drama film won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. With “The Salesman,” Farhadi has crafted yet another thrilling film that’s sure to be a contender at the next Oscars.

Along with Best Screenplay, “The Salesman” snagged the Best Actor award for Shahab Hosseini’s performance. The film combines elements of murder mystery and drama, creating a revenge thriller that left Cannes viewers with eyes glued to the screen.

The film tells the story of Emad (Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), a young married couple involved in a small theater’s production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” While living in a shoddy apartment previously inhabited by a prostitute, Rana is beaten and possibly raped by a man who was looking for said prostitute. Hosseini delivers a convincing performances as an angry husband tracking down the unknown man.

With Cannes 2016 behind us, we still have much to look forward to — whether catching up on these incredible performances, enjoying new festival surprises, or placing our bets in the inevitable Oscars race ahead.

What are you favorite film festival performances of 2016? Let us know in the comments below!

6 Must-See Films at Toronto International Film Festival 2016

Filmmakers and movie lovers alike are counting down the days until Toronto International Film Festival 2016. The annual public event brings in thousands of people from across the globe for an 11-day celebration of our favorite entertainment media. Last year, over 473,000 attendees showed up to enjoy the festival alongside more than 5,400 industry professionals and over 1,200 journalists.

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The TIFF has grown to become the world’s most influential film festival for giving us a sneak peak at rising stars and possible box-office hits. Many films who had their North American premiere here went on to win awards and widespread acclaim, including “The King’s Speech,” “Argo,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “Silver Lining Playbook.”

Boasting an impressive lineup of almost 400 films and including more than a dozen galas and nearly 50 special presentations, this year’s festival is set to be another groundbreaking affair. But with so much to keep track of, perhaps you’re wondering which movies and stars are the ones you don’t want to miss.

To help you out, we’ve provided a round-up spotlighting films that you should definitely look out for. Whether it features a renowned actor or is an anticipated follow-up by a breakout director, you can bet these films already have people talking as we get closer to TIFF 2016’s opening on September 8.

1. “A Monster Calls”

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A. Bayona is known for directing a number of lauded films, including “The Orphanage” and “The Impossible.” The Spaniard’s ongoing success has earned him a directing gig for the sequel to 2015’s “Jurassic World.” But before he prepares to direct arguably his biggest project yet, Bayona is preparing a fantasy adventure drama based on an award-winning children’s book.

“A Monster Calls” tells the story of a young boy who is overcome with grief as his ill mother inches closer to death. During this time of loneliness, he encounters a tree-like monster that comes to his room each night and tells him stories. Notable stars featured in this adaptation include Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, and Liam Neeson — as the monster.

2. “Blair Witch”

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In 1999, the remake of “The Haunting” was predicted to take the spotlight as the top horror movie of the year. Instead, that honor went to a low-budget movie (less than $60,000!) with no famous actors or use of CGI whatsoever. Yet “The Blair Witch Project” was a runaway success, confounding all expectations and launching the career of NYFA grad Joshua Leonard. Leonard went on to prolific work in film and TV, with such high profile projects as “If I Stay,” “Humpday,” “Bates Motel,” and the current Duplass brothers’ show “Togetherness” on HBO.

“The Blair Witch Project” was a classic tale of David vs. Goliath, as the breakout indie feature was able to outperform star-studded “The Haunting” via a genius marketing campaign and word of mouth.

Despite it’s success, the 1999 summer flick was also a very divisive film; people either hated it or loved it. Yet both fans and critics of the original “The Blair Witch Project” are anxious to see what director Adam Wingard does with this unexpected sequel. Judging by early opinions from San Diego Comic-Con attendees who saw the surprise trailer, horror film fans won’t want to miss it.

3. “Lion”

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“Lion” will serve as Garth Davis’ first feature-length film after finding success as director for several episodes of “Top of the Lake.” The film is an adaptation of a novel and features a number of notable actors, including Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel, and David Wenham.

In “Lion,” a young Indian boy finds himself thousands of kilometers away from his home after boarding the wrong train. He manages to survive many challenges and is eventually adopted by an Australian family. More than two decades later, he uses modern technology like Google Earth to find the location of his real family.

4. “Jackie”

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One of the most impactful events in 20th century American history was the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. In “Jackie,” we get to see the aftermath of the the president’s untimely death through the eyes of the person closest to him: former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

“Jackie” stars Natalie Portman and is directed by Pablo Larrain, a Chilean filmmaker who is also behind the upcoming biography drama “Neruda.” Portman has been eyed to portray the beloved First Lady since 2012, and may earn herself another Oscar win should the film live up to expectations.

5. “Planetarium”

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Natalie Portman also stars in this upcoming film alongside Lily-Rose Depp, as the women portray two spiritualist sisters in 1930s Paris with the ability to commune with the dead. The sisters are discovered by an influential French film producer who becomes so intrigued by their supernatural gift that he hires the pair to shoot a provocative film.

“Planetarium” is written and directed by Rebecca Zlotowski, a French filmmaker herself. She has gained fame in recent years with excellent films like “Belle épine,” “Grand Central,” and “You and the Night.”

6. “Trespass Against Us”

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This crime drama is directed by English award-winning filmmaker Adam Smith and features an experienced cast of talented actors, including Michael Fassbender, Sean Harris, Brendan Gleeson, and more.

In the film, a man named Chad Cutler (Fassbender) struggles to leave behind a life of crime by cutting all ties from his outlaw relatives. As you’d expect, his family isn’t too keen on the idea and make his life hell. “Trespass Against Us” will no doubt show us another side of the gritty truth behind organized crime — and who better to help deliver it than Fassbender.

The New York Film Academy is proud and excited to congratulate 2008 producing program alum Eric Janvier on the Toronto International Film Festival premier of his movie, “Gods Acre.”

“I was able to use the skills I learned at NYFA after graduating,” said Janvier. “I want to thank the staff at NYFA for all the great things they’ve taught me, and I wouldn’t be where I am without the school.”

Honorable Mentions

  • “American Pastoral”
  • Dog Eat Dog
  • “Catfight”
  • “The Age of Shadows”
  • “Sing”
  • “JT + The Tennessee Kids”
  • “Frantz”
  • “The Magnificent Seven”
  • “The Bad Batch”
  • “Bleed for This”

Which films are you most excited to see at Toronto International Film Festival 2016? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

Submit To Cinequest 2016

Cinequest Voted Best Film Festival By USA Today

Cinequest, the world-renowned film festival that was voted “Best Film Festival” by USA Today Readers, is back for another year and is currently accepting entries for its 2016 edition, which takes place in San Jose, CA from February 23 to March 6.

Filmmakers and screenwriters of all experience levels are encouraged to enter their Feature Films, Shorts, and Teleplays (accepting both 30 minute and 60 minute versions) into competition with up to $8,000 in cash prizes being awarded during the event. NYFA students from our Film School and Screenwriting School are encouraged to enter their work, especially since last year a student won the festival’s Shorts category.

Those interested in entering can choose submit their script and/or teleplay by either by the Regular Deadline of September 25, the Late Deadline of October 16, or the Extended Late Deadline of November 6 (Withoutabox submissions only). Students interested in entering in the Cinequest Screenwriting Competition are encouraged to use the student promo code of STUDENT15 for a 15% discount on the entry fee. In addition, NYFA students have their own set of promo codes to use for a 50% discount on their film entry fee and are encouraged to use either “NYFAShort” or “NYFAFeature” for the Shorts and Feature Film categories, respectively.

This year, the Feature Final Jury includes distinguished executives from Echo Lake Entertainment, Luber Roklin Entertainment, and Zero Gravity. Meanwhile, the Teleplay 60 minute final jury boasts executives and writers from PBS, FX, and more.

Set in San Jose/Silicon Valley, Cinequest uses the tech backdrop that is home to such companies as Apple, Twitter, and Facebook to premier films, renowned and emerging artists, and breakthrough technology, encouraging global connectivity between creators, innovators, and audiences. Each year the festival presents over 90 World and U.S. premieres with groundbreaking innovations submitted by filmmakers from over 50 unique countries. With over 100,000 people slated to attend the festival, this is a great opportunity for students both to compete at a professional-level festival while being exposed to a wide variety of new work.

Back To The Future’s DeLorean Made of Photographs

DeLorean Print Project Belfast Photo Festival

2015 is a year with many anniversaries, but one in particular that film and photography buffs around the world can celebrate is this is the year Marty McFly famously traveled to in Back to the Future 2. To commemorate this particular anniversary, the internationally recognized Belfast Photo Festival will be building and sharing its own DeLorean, but with a twist.

Fusing the mediums of both sculpture and photography, artist Cyril Hatt will work with more than 150 former employees of the DeLorean Motor Company to build a replica of the DeLorean from Back to the Future 2 through an in-depth photographing of the original car, with each image then printed on to aluminum plates that will be assembled to create a life-size replica of the car.

The DeLorean factory was originally based in Belfast and the former employees intend to reunite once more to celebrate the cult following the car has earned along with the 35th anniversary of its world debut.

One of the many interesting facts that have come out of the planning for this anniversary is that the former employees of the factory actually added their own personal touches to the car—throughout the inner body of the car are messages inscribed by the employees that provide a singular look into the anticipation and joy they felt while working at the DeLorean Motor Company.

To make this a celebration unlike any other, the former employees will travel from all around the globe to meet in Belfast and join the staff of the Belfast Photo Festival in adding a new generation of unique messages to each new photographic aluminum plate that make up the Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine.

Anyone attending the Belfast Photo Festival is invited to stake a claim on a piece of this one-of-a-kind photographic sculpture. Visit Belfast Photo Festival or the festival’s Kickstarter page to learn how you can help make this project a reality.

DeLorean Print Project

The Academy’s Photography School students are encouraged to look into this campaign to get ideas for their own work.

Indie Film Fest Winter Film Awards Returns to NYC

Winter Film AwardsThe Winter Film Awards Independent Film Festival (WFA), which takes place in New York City, returns for the third year and New York Film Academy students are welcome to attend! The festival is geared toward the NYC arts community and is a worthy destination on the US film festival circuit for out-of-state and international filmmakers alike. “The WFA Mission is to recognize excellence in cinema and to promote learning and artistic expression for people at all stages of their artistic careers with a focus on nurturing emerging filmmakers from around the world.” This year, WFA will be screening 61 Official Selections, which includes a diverse mixture of documentaries, shorts, narrative features, animation, music videos and horror films, including 8 student films, 17 female directors and representation from over 20 countries.

WFA will kick off on February 26th with a reception and party. The festival weekend of screenings, panels and networking events continues at the Grayline Theater (777 8th Ave New York, NY 10036) from February 27-March 1.

For more information on the Winter Film Awards, please visit

Boulder International Film Festival 2015

BIFF 2015

Voted One of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals” by MovieMaker Magazine, the 11th Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF) will take place March 5-8, 2015 at the foothills of the stunning Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado.

The festival will run over four days and feature some of the best new talent in filmmaking and is expected to be attended by more than 25,000 people. The festival is scheduled to feature between 50-70 films from all around the world with screenings held in the following venues –

  • Historic Boulder Theatre
  • NEW Church – First Pres Boulder
  • Boulder High Auditorium
  • eTown Hall
  • Boulder Public Library

BIFF has hosted a number of special guests over the past 10 years including Shirley Maclaine, Alec Baldwin, Oliver Stone, William H. Macy, Martin Sheen and Chevy Chase just to name a few.

Opening Night Red Carpet Gala kicks off with TWO simultaneous parties and will feature the film The Wrecking Crew. Tickets are on sale now and are expected to sellout fast. To secure your seat for this amazing night please click here to buy tickets and be sure to follow BIFF on their social channels below –

facebook  twitter youtubeinstagram

For the full BIFF 2015 Program and Schedule please visit here.

Jozi Film Festival

Jozi Film Festival banner

Taking place February 19-22 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the fourth annual version of the Jozi Film Festival will bring four days of original feature, short, and documentary films to the vibrant and historic city. As the first major film festival of the year in South Africa, the Fourth Annual Jozi Film Festival showcases four days of South African and international films. While past editions of the festival have occurred over three days, this will be the first year that the festival has expanded to four days due to the sheer number of quality submissions received.

The festival’s opening night will feature the Johannesburg premiere of Jenna Cato Bass’s Love the One You Love which earned the Best South African Feature Film at last year’s Durban International Film Festival and stars actress Chi Mhende. In addition, this year’s Jozi Film Festival will play host to the South African premiere of the Canadian film Mommy, which was directed by Xavier Dolan and has won numerous awards around the world. The last night of the festival will present the feature length British documentary Garnet’s Gold directed by Ed Perkins. To see a full list of the films screening at the Fourth Annual Jozi Film Festival, please click here.

The festival focuses on feature and short films and feature and short documentary films with the submitted films competing in such categories as Best Feature Film, Best Feature Documentary Film, Best Short Fiction, and Best Documentary Short. In addition, attendants have the opportunity to attend masterclasses at the Goethe-Institut with classes taught by directors Zola Maseko, Jenna Cato Bass, Enrest Nkosi, and Mark Middlewic, amongst others.

Tickets for the festival go on sale on February 3 with screenings taking place The Bioscope Independent Cinema and Cinema Nouveau. Tickets can be purchased at either The Bioscope’s website or at Cinema Nouveau’s website. To learn more about the Fourth Annual Jozi Film Festival, please visit the official site here.

Fast Forward Film Festival

Fast Forward Film Festival

The Fast Forward Film Festival (FFFF) invites New York Film Academy filmmakers from the Rochester, New York area to submit to the inaugural Fast Forward Film Festival. For this first year, the Fast Forward Film Festival is only accepting submissions from filmmakers in the greater Rochester area with short films under 5 minutes. If you are from the area, this is a terrific opportunity to expose your student shorts to your local community.

Entries must be submitted through the Fast Forward Film Festival website by 11:59PM EST on February 27, 2015.

Final selections will be announced by early April, 2015. All submissions will be considered for each of the categories, and the 3 winning film selections will be screened at the festival.

“Embracing the short film format, FFFF challenges filmmakers to utilize the power of visual storytelling to convey the urgency of our environmental problems. Shorts are a liberating form that allow for greater experimentation and give voice to both aspiring and veteran filmmakers. By focusing creativity into films under five minutes in length, FFFF films will become an important communication tool to inspire change, connect people and build an environmentally concerned community.”

Judging the short films will be a jury composed of the following four distinguished professionals:

  • Jack Garner, nationally renowned film critic and author of From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories
  • Deborah Dickson, Academy Award nominee
  • Todd McGrain, independent filmmaker and The Lost Bird Project co-founder and winner of the 2014 Audubon Award for Art Inspiring Conservation
  • Enid Cardinal, RIT’s Senior Sustainability Advisor to the President. Selected entries will be shown at the Little Theatre and George Eastman House during Earth Week 2015.

The festival will award filmmakers for the following three categories:

  1. Most inspiring, compelling, and engaging
  2. Most unique perspective
  3. Strongest call to action.

Winners will receive $1,000 cash awards. Awards of $250 will also be given to Honorable Mentions in each of these three categories.

Los Angeles Amazigh Film Festival

LAAFFIn support of the indigenous people of North Africa, the Tazzla Institute for Cultural Diversity is holding its 6th annual Los Angeles Amazigh Film Festival on Saturday, December 6, from 2:30 pm to 7:30pm at the Wells Fargo Theater.

Tickets are available on their web site for $15.00 each, and at the door the day of the event for $20.00.

This year’s festival will offer the West Coast premieres of three award-winning documentaries regarding Morocco. Two of the films are directed by well known producer, Izza Genini (Vibrations in the High Atlas and Nuptials in the Middle Atlas). LAAFF will also salute the work of Dounia Benjelloun (Sand Hill Production, Casablanca and New York), who has contributed each year to this festival, by showing her award-winning 2012 documentary Palm Grove School. In addition, the program will feature the very special documentary created by Dr. Wassim Korbi, recipient of several awards, called Azul (Tunisia).

Among the attendees, LAAFF will be honored by the presence of Moroccan producer, Mr. Ahmed Baidou, who will present a short on the city of Agadir, which was devastated by a 1960 earthquake. He will also be screening his latest feature film, Aghrabou (the Boat), which won the Best Film Award at last year’s festival.

“We have selected visual productions of quality to illustrate the Amazigh (Berber) culture of North Africa in its wealth and variety. All presentations are subtitled in English. We hope you will join us for an afternoon of good films, and good cheer.” – LAAFF

This event is primarily sponsored by the BMCE Fondation of Morocco, and by A.C.A.A., Amazigh Cultural Association in America.

Cinequest Screenwriting Competition

Cinequest Screenplay Submission


Calling all screenwriters! Have a screenplay that you think could be the next big thing? Then submit it to Cinequest’s Screenwriting Competition and not only compete to win the $5,000 cash prize if you win best feature-length script, but also have your screenplay read by a panel of established industry professionals. In addition, there are also categories in Short and Teleplays, with the winners of each receiving a $1,000 cash prize.

Interested parties can choose to submit their script today, October 17 and enter the code STUDENT15 to receive a $15 discount. You can submit your script here.

In addition, there is an Extra Late deadline that closes November 7. Entrants must submit via WithoutABox and are unable to use the promo code.

Cinequest creates global connectivity between screenwriters, filmmakers, and innovators. Cinequest welcomes writers of all genres for Features, Short-films, and Teleplays to submit for a chance at $7,000 in cash prizes and opportunity to be read by industry pros. The annual Writers Celebration in March 2015 features innovative writing forums and inspiring Maverick Spirit event honoring legends like Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk, and J.J. Abrams! For more info, visit Cinequest Screenwriting Competition.

Brooklyn Girl Film Festival

Brooklyn Girl FF

Here is something for the female filmmakers at the New York Film Academy. The 4th Annual Brooklyn Girl Film Festival, which runs from March 26-28, 2015, is now open for submissions. Brooklyn Girl Film Festival’s mission is to showcase the work of women filmmakers from around the world, and bring these artists together for networking in a fun, informative and supportive environment. In a seemingly male dominated industry, the BGFF Films are sought in which a woman plays a key role as a director, writer, or lead animator. Features, documentaries, shorts, music videos, experimental and animated works are all considered. All genres are welcome as well.

For efficiency, all submissions are accepted through Withoutabox at or Film Freeway at

Official Selections will be in competition for an Audience Choice Award in two different categories, feature film and short film.

Deadlines For All Submissions:

  • Regular Deadline: November 22, 2014
  • Late Deadline: December 12, 2014 
  • Extended Deadline: December 19, 2014

A three-day annual event that takes place in March, BGFF features screenings that include filmmaker Q&A, workshops, an opening night reception, special events and an awards ceremony. BGFF attendees include local filmmakers as well as those from around the country and the world. Programs and events are designed not only for filmmakers, but anyone interested in the moving image.

What Filmmakers Have Said About the Brooklyn Girl Film Festival:

“Brooklyn Girl Film Festival is a fantastic festival. They communicate with and care about the filmmakers and provide a warm place to showcase work by women filmmakers. We had a wonderful time at the Festival!” – Amanda Melby – director of “Kerry and Angie

“I was really blown away by the films that screened at Brooklyn Girl Film Festival. These are film Makers that have big careers ahead of them, many very established already and really very cool people doing very important work. April, The festival director and the festival team made the whole experience enjoyable as a filmmaker and an audience member. The talent here was pretty amazing! The Brooklyn Girl festival has the pulse of upcoming film makers from all over the world!!!” – Megan Corry, Director “The Smell of Sand

REEL Recovery Film Festival

REEL Recovery Film Festival

Located in nine cities around the Unites States, the REEL Recovery Film Festival, presented by Writers In Treatment, is now entering its 6th year. The multi-day event showcases filmmakers who make honest films about addiction, alcoholism, behavioral disorders, treatment and recovery. The festival is a celebration of film, the arts, writing and creativity.

On the whole, W.I.T.’s primary goal is to save lives through promoting and providing treatment as the best first step solution for Addiction, Alcoholism and other Self-Destructive behaviors. They also offer Educational, Prevention and Awareness Programs through their W.I.T. Author/Outreach Series. Similar to Betty Ford’s mission to bring addiction out of the closet twenty-eight years ago, the Writers In Treatment collective will work to bring recovery out of the closet now and forever.

Screenings typically encompass an eclectic array of contemporary and classic films, documentaries and shorts from American and international, first-time filmmakers and industry veterans.

For New York Film Academy students in New York City, the 3rd annual NYC REEL Recovery Film Festival will take place at Quad Cinema (34 W. 13th Street, NYC, NY 10011) from September 26th to October 2nd.

Chick Flicks Film Festival

Chick Flicks Film FestivalThe Women in Film Dallas (WIFD) provides a wonderful opportunity for women filmmakers to showcase their work. They accept narrative, documentary, animated, and experimental short films in any genre with a runtime of 35 minutes or less. The 2014 categories are Female Filmmakers and Flicks by Texas Chicks, and they are now accepting short film submissions for the 13th Annual Chick Flicks Film Festival, which will be held on October 2, 2014 at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas.

In honor of WIFD’s 30th Anniversary, winners will be awarded cash prizes. The Best of Fest winner will take home $1,000.00 and the Best Student Film will win $300.00.

To learn about Chick Flicks Film Festival rules, guidelines, and fees please visit or 2014 Submissions will be accepted up until August 28th, 2014.

The United Film Festival Los Angeles

United Film Fest

The United Film Festival Los Angeles will be returning to the City of Angels for its 7th year at the Los Feliz 3 from September 5th through the 11th. The festival will be screening great independent films, both features and shorts, and a midnight screening of their cult classic documentary, The Rock- afire Explosion.

Selections include:

  • Live-In Fear on Friday, September 5th at 9:30pm (In order to escape the anxieties and fears of their normal lives, four emotionally distant friends travel to the Utah mountains to try and reconnect but it only ends up driving them further apart. They soon find the world coming down on them as they must face their fears and a deranged cult hell-bent on waking something ancient and evil up from a thousand years of sleep.)
  • Chasing Notes on Saturday, September 6th at 7:00pm, (The first documentary of its kind – focusing on the real-life challenges and demands faced by film composers who apply their craft in an intensely competitive field. Broader than that, however, it captures the spirit of chasing one’s dreams, which is an aspect of life that everyone can relate to. This film will allow you to meet the personalities of those who write the music we love in our movies, showing you a human side of an overlooked industry. As you get to know the key players of film composing, and hear their widely entertaining (and at times painful) tales of experience, you will also witness the emotional journey of an emerging composer attempting to break through into the industry at all costs. Capturing the very essence of the independent spirit, Chasing Notes shares candid stories intertwined with behind-the- scenes access about what it’s really like to be a composer in Hollywood today, and how some will brake for nothing to succeed at it.)
  • Legend of the Red Reaper on Sunday, September 7th at 6:30pm (For a thousand years, the Reapers guarded mankind from the demons that wait in the dark. Now, at the beginning of a new age, the Reapers are betrayed and slaughtered. Only one Reaper remains – Red, and she’s out to exact revenge.)
  • Echoes on Tuesday, September 9th at 7:00pm (Struggling with horrifying, sleep-paralysis induced visions, a young writer retreats with her boyfriend to an isolated desert house. As the visions intensify, she finds herself on the verge of losing her mind…or uncovering a life-threatening secret.)
  • Furthest From The Wild on Wednesday, September 10th at 7:00pm (Chronicling the many struggles that non-profit animal sanctuaries must face, Furthest From the Wild is a window into the world of captive animals. It offers a unique look at the lives of those who care for beautiful, and at times, dangerous creatures.)

Jason Connell is the founder and director of the United Film Festival, which started in Tulsa in 2002 and then spread to Los Angeles & New York in 2007 and next to San Francisco, Chicago & London in 2009. The festivals have a rich tradition of screening exceptional independent films and have gained a respectable reputation in only a few years time. Connell’s distribution division, the appropriately named United Films, has grown rapidly and now represents an impressive and constantly expanding library of independent films.

If you’d like to check out the full schedule or buy tickets, visit:!

NOTE: Tickets for most screenings are $10, with the only exception being the midnight screening, which is 2 for $10.