the magnificent seven

NYFA Around the World: Latest Industry News from Our Film School Alumni

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Just as the hearts of parents swell with pride and a little bit of heartbreak as they watch their children head off to film school, we too get a little teary-eyed when watching our students graduate before going off to make waves in the working world!

Successfully completing one of the most intense film school programs in the world is a feat worth celebrating in and of itself, so we’re doubly proud whenever we see headlines featuring our alumni’s names.

Here’s a round-up of just a few of the feature films and shows our alumni have been working on that have either just hit the screen or are coming up imminently this fall.

“Kevin Can Wait” – Michael Soccio

Comedian and actor Kevin James (who you’ll recognize from his hit show “The King of Queens” and feature film “Grown Ups”) recently took to the stage for an informative and delightful talk as part of our Guest Speaker Series, and in tow was NYFA’s very own directing alumnus Michael Soccio.

As explained on the panel, Soccio channeled everything he learned about directing into becoming a better writer, and has collaborated with James on a number of projects including the aforementioned smash successes “King of Queens” and “Hitch.”

But the successes don’t stop there. As of this week, Soccio and James have been commissioned by CBS for a full a full 22-episode season of their newest comedy “Kevin Can Wait.”

Kevin might be able to, but we sure can’t!

“Insecure” – Issa Rae

Following her graduation from NYFA, the hugely talented Issa Rae went on to establish the hit YouTube series “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl.” It garnered her a quarter of a million subscribers (with the individual episode view counts numbering in the multiple millions), leading her to be recognized with a Shorty Award for the series.

It also caught the attention of HBO, who admired her sheer grit and determination in producing the show almost singlehandedly. A two-year deal followed, and as of this month we’ll be seeing the first of Rae’s HBO work with the release of “Insecure.”

There’ll be eight episodes in total (which began airing Oct. 9) and we applaud HBO’s decision to focus on diversity within its programming.

They definitely hired the right girl for the job.

“The Magnificent Seven” – Manuel García-Rulfo

Mexican-born García-Rulfo originally majored in communications and went on to pursue a career in that industry, but he couldn’t shake off a nagging thought: his real passion was acting.

In a brave move, he ditched everything he’d worked towards and decided to go back to studying, this time at NYFA. It was a move that was to pay off — big time.

Since 2006, García-Rulfo has starred in a slew of features and shorts. What could be considered as his “big” break, however, was a role in the brilliant “From Dusk Till Dawn” TV series between 2014-2015. He’s using that momentum to go from strength to strength, having received prominent screen time as The Outlaw in the this fall’s “The Magnificent Seven,” now in theaters.

“Amanat” – Sanzhar Madiyev

It’s with great honor and privilege that we’re able to report that alumnus Sanzhar Madiyev has appeared in a movie that has been nominated (and is looking like a strong contender to win) the 2017 Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

“Amanat” was screened in May in Madiyev’s native Kazakhstan to great reception, and NYFA will be reporting on its wider international successes in the coming months.

And Madiyev is not the only NYFA graduate involved in an Oscar nominated film…

“Sparrows” – Atli Fjalarsson

“Sparrows” is a dramatic, endearing coming-of-age story set in Iceland, and is the country’s own entry into next year’s Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film.

A celebration of both Icelandic culture and an intricate tale of the 16-year-old Ari (played by Fjalarsson), “Sparrows” is already gaining traction ahead of the Oscars thanks to two critically-acclaimed screenings at TIFF and the San Sebastian Film Festival this year.

We pay a huge debt of gratitude to all our alumni who fly the NYFA flag into their successful careers. Share your NYFA success story in the comments below — we love hearing from you all!

Everything That Makes the 2016 Toronto Film Festival Great

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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

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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

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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!