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Tag Archives: Film Anthology Archives

July 30th DFA Student Screening!

July 30th turned out another series of exciting, diverse short films from DFA students at New York City’s Anthology Film Archives!

Patricia Olivera and Silvan Friedman in The Dawn.
Patricia Olivera and Silvan Friedman in The Dawn.

First up was The Dawn, a film written and directed by yours truly. Despite his very sheltered point of view, the five-year-old protagonist pieces together the fact that his beloved mother has killed his father. The biggest challenge of making this short was working with such a young child, although hopefully his youth and innocence serve to create that much more of an impact once you realize his life will never be the same.

Ananya Sundararajan
Ananya Sundararajan

Next there was In the Bedroom, a short by Ananya Sudararajan, who also co-wrote and acted as DP for another short film in the line-up, Jam. In the Bedroom was more experimental than the other offerings. The camera remained in one position the entire time: at the foot of the bed of a couple whose relationship is on the rocks. This served to make the viewer feel almost as if they’re spying on a real couple from a hiding place, rather than watching a short film. After the male lead fails to perform in bed, he takes his anger and frustration out on his girlfriend; however, she’s the one who gets the last laugh.

Filmmaker Pauline Gefin (right).
Filmmaker Pauline Gefin (right).

Next up was The Potluck, from frequent screening contributor Pauline Gefin (and Jam’s sound recordist!). In the course of 9 minutes, the audience sees a very strained relationship between three former friends, and how catty two of the girls are toward the third, Victoria. However, when the hostess, Ashley, begins choking, she’ll find out who she can really count on. The short packs a great visual punch at the end, when Ashley puts a photograph of her and Victoria in a place of pride on her shelf.

Kaylyn Scardefield and Joseph Ernest in Jam.
Kaylyn Scardefield and Joseph Ernest in Jam.

Jam, the fourth short, came from Nacho Diaz-Guerra. This piece served to keep viewers guessing as different details were revealed. The three characters meet when young Alice buys back her grandfather’s watch from a pawnbroker and his friend. It’s clear that both Alice and the pawnbroker’s friend, Luke, have strained relationships with their father figures. In Alice’s case, we hear one side of a tense phone call; as for Luke, we witness his older friend’s constant badgering. In the end, Alice and Luke form a bond – and take a small revenge on society.

African masks.
African masks.

The last film of the evening, Thousands: Sonnets of the Sun, was also the longest at close to 29 minutes. This film, from Lucas D. Oliveira, was ambitious not just in terms of length but in subject matter. A true coming-of-age story, viewers were treated to an intimate look inside the mind of a young boy, Tolo, as he struggles to understand nothing less than the meaning of life and his place in it. His father, an African mask carver, has taught him the stories behind the masks, and how masks would be used in special ceremonies where children became adults. Of course, these ceremonies aren’t common in Brooklyn, where Tolo lives – but that doesn’t stop him from exploring their power and doing what he feels he needs to to get to the next level in his life.

Congratulations to everyone who screened! I’m looking forward to what’s next to come from this group of my fellow filmmakers.

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain.

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"Voice & Rhythm" Event a Success!

March 31, 2014 saw NYC’s Film Anthology Archives packed with ESL learners, teachers, and enthusiasts. The “Voice & Rhythm” Event was well under-way with the three main sponsors well-represented: Broadway Dance Center dancers put on a spirited opening performance and later ended the night with passionate freestyle dancing; Rennert students shared a lively music video to the tune of Jay Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind”; and the DFA shared videos from several of its ESL filmmakers.

The Broadway Dance Center Dancers
The Broadway Dance Center Dancers

DFA videos included three short pieces from international students. Daniel Adminokan from Nigeria showed a trailer for his short film Twisted, a dramatic thriller. Carina Silva Alves from Portugal shared an anime-esque adventure based on a 30-second short she’d made with her siblings while in middle school. The entire short was made with the use of a greenscreen. Finally, the DFA presentations were rounded out by a hot music video featuring belly-dancing from Turkey’s Nergis Senturk.

Tom Griffin, Director of Admissions for DFA, presents students' work
Tom Griffin, Director of Admissions for DFA, presents students’ work

Of course, the main events for the evening were the presentations by Fluency MC (Jason R. Levine) and Rachel Smith of Rachel’s English, two big YouTube personalities. They did not disappoint!

Fluency MC started strong, performing his hit “Stick Stuck Stuck (The Irregular Verb Song)” and getting the whole crowd of 100+ participants to sing along. All attendees got a free MP3 of the song in their gift packets. He also sang “That’s What’s Up” and “Get a Life,” two songs focused on two of the more versatile and therefore confusing words in the English language: up and get. His segment concluded with his “Rhyme & Rhythm” instrumental, a back-and-forth with the audience getting them to rap-respond to questions in full sentences.

Fluency MC does his thing!
Fluency MC does his thing!

Rachel blew the audience away when, in the first minutes of her presentation, she put her microphone aside and belted out a line from Madame Butterfly. A former opera singer, her take on learning English is different from that of the average person. Her technique is all about learning which syllables should be stressed and which shouldn’t, so that the language sounds natural. Her theory on how mastering sounds alone isn’t enough was fascinating; she concluded by saying that, when speaking a foreign language, “It shouldn’t feel as easy as speaking your own language. It should feel silly, weird, stupid, embarrassing… Make it feel different.” If you do that, you’re closer to getting it right.

Rachel gives an audience participant from Thailand a pronunciation lesson!
Rachel gives an audience participant from Thailand a pronunciation lesson!

Additionally, the night was absolutely loaded with prizes for attendees. Prizes included a day trip to Philadelphia, facials, sweatshirts, chocolate, dance classes, and lots more… but the biggest reaction came when a girl won a Circle Line Tour and decided to bring her best friend with her.

Later in the evening, her best friend won her own prize – a free film editing course at the DFA!

 

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain

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DFA to Sponsor "Voice & Rhythm" Performance Event!

Today’s indie film world is all about innovation. For this reason, the DFA is proud to sponsor Voice & Rhythm in English, an ESL Performance, along with Rennert International and the Broadway Dance Center. The show will take place at the Film Anthology Archives in NYC on March 31st, 2014, from 6-9 pm.

The Anthology Film Archives in New York City.
The Anthology Film Archives in New York City.

This event features two YouTube celebrities who are all about “innovation. ” Rachel Smith and Jason R. Levine are both American teachers who use digital video to entertain and educate, approaching the world of ESL (English as a second language) in creative, ground-breaking ways. As a result, they have developed massive followings for their fun, unique YouTube videos. Voice & Rhythm will give them the opportunity to interact personally with fans.

This event struck a particular chord with the DFA as many DFA students are international, hailing from all corners of the globe. Despite English being their second language, they’ve still gone on to have successful careers in the world of film – which is why an event celebrating the use of digital video to promote ESL was a natural fit for the DFA. Clips from some DFA international students’ short films will even be featured at the event.

The show will incorporate video, rap, and dance and will be the first time Smith and Levine have performed together in New York City.

Rachel's English
Rachel’s English

Smith, a classically trained opera singer, produces the YouTube series Rachel’s English, a free compilation of more than 300 English self-study tutorials. Her focus is on the subtleties of English pronunciation – often the hardest thing to master in learning a new language. In 2013, she was named a YouTube Next How-To Guru for the quality and popularity of her work.

Fluency MC
Fluency MC

Levine, better known to his global audience as Fluency MC, creates songs and videos to deliver high-energy lessons. Levine has toured nine countries as an English Specialist for the U.S. State Department, using his unique approach to inform his audiences. His video for “Stick-Stuck-Stuck (The Irregular Verb Song)” recently surpassed 1.5 million views on YouTube.

“With Voice & Rhythm we’re breaking new ground in online learning,” says Levine.

There will be free giveaways for all attendees and a prize drawing.

Reserve your spot at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/voice-rhythm-in-english-tickets-10977055669.

 

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain

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DFA New Filmmakers' Screening

October 23rd was the most recent in a proud history of evenings that celebrate DFA graduates’ work. As each semester draws to a close, the DFA screens student projects at the Film Anthology Archives, an impressive venue in NYC whose name also carries quite a bit of weight.

The experience of getting to see their work on the big screen is often mind-blowing for students.

These nights typically feature a wide range of work across different genres, and the 23rd was no exception. The audience was treated to a documentary trailer, the first episode in a new web series, a video Kickstarter campaign, two innovative short films, and a music video.

Three of the filmmakers were in attendance, so I got to chat with them after the show.

First up for my Q&As was Rich Lanzillotto, the creator of the short film Stood Up. The film, which goes inside the troubled relationship of two New Yorkers, offers viewers an unsettling ending. Unlike the other filmmakers in attendance, Lanzillotto shied away from directing his own piece. His long-term goal is to become an editor, so he focused on the editing and producing of Stood Up, which he co-wrote with his step-brother. The directing reins were handed over to another DFA student, Joseph Leon Stein.

Next up on my journey through filmmakers was Mari Kawade, whose web series 2ndAve is garnering lots of well-deserved attention. Three episodes are already online and have received more that 17,000 views, no small accomplishment. Maho Honda and Tsukasa Kondo, Kawade’s two lead actors and co-producers, were also in attendance.

2ndAve Team
Tsukasa Kondo, Maho Honda, Sara McDermott Jain, and Mari Kawade talk about 2ndAve.

The show, which features a new-to-NYC Japanese actress (Honda) and her homo-sexual roommate (Kondo), has developed a strong following of immigrants. “We knew the show would have a strong reaction from other Japanese,” Kawade says, “But we didn’t expect the massive reaction from other immigrants.” 2ndAve’s storyline, which features, among other things, the struggle of living in a foreign country and trying to build a creative career, showcases characters that anyone can relate to.

2ndAve Mari
Tsukasa Kondo and Mari Kawade give Sara McDermott Jain the low-down on 2nd Ave’s audience.

The third filmmaker was Linda Ainouche, an Anthropology PhD with a passion for documentaries. Her documentary-in-the-making, Dreadlocks Story, was presented in the form of a trailer. The subject is fascinating: the documentary explores the connection between India and Jamaica, how India influenced Jamaica’s Rastafari, and the movement which led to the proliferation of dreadlocks. The finished film will delve into how this is a result of India and Jamaica both being oppressed by Britain at the same time, and how their resulting connection is one positive thing to emerge from this oppression.

Linda
Documentarian Linda Ainouche discusses Dreadlocks Story with Sara McDermott Jain.

Ainouche is currently organizing a crowd-funding campaign to help finance the next stages of her research. Of the DFA, all the filmmakers stressed how the support and experience offered during their classes made their films possible. The DFA membership, which allows free access to film equipment, also made it possible to do these films with little to no budget. Those filmmakers who were unfortunately unable to attend were Jamaal Green, whose Kickstarer campaign trailer for the dramatic, psychological web series Chronicles of a Profiler was screened; Christopher Delao, who directed the surprising short film The Room Next Door; and Jimmy Negron, whose music video “Anthem” for the group Chameleon packed a powerful punch. The following projects are available to view online:

Happy viewing!

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain

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