New York Film Academy Women Rise at Sundance

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The women of the New York Film Academy (faculty and alum) screen work at Sundance 2018, and demonstrate exceeding success in documentary.

Sundance Film Festival 2018

Sundance Film Festival 2018

"The key to making a good documentary film is identifying a great story and telling it well. At NYFA we’ve learned that the only way to get good at this is to do it. You learn to make films by actually making films.”

We are constantly reminded that it is not easy for women to rise to the top in Hollywood, yet the Sundance 2018 buzz generated by certain documentary films tells another side of the story. SDSU’s just-released 2017 Celluloid Ceiling Report shows “by genre, the largest percentage of women, relative to men, worked in documentaries (30%)” -- nearly twice the rate as the wider film industry (18%). Experts at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) are working to spread awareness that this moment presents greater opportunities than ever for women to excel in the field.

“There are as many different documentary careers as there are documentary makers,” says award-winning documentarian, Fulbright speaker, and NYFA Chair of Documentary Filmmaking Andrea Swift. “Our female grads are having great success carving their own paths.”

Four-time Academy Award-nominee, cinematographer and NYFA instructor Claudia Raschke agrees: “Statistics should not deter anyone when starting in the field. In the end what stands out is your work as an artist.”

Raschke is the director of photography of the much-anticipated "RBG,” premiering Jan. 21 and identified by The New York Times and others as one of the most important films to see at Sundance 2018.

“It was an amazing experience to work on the feature doc ‘RBG,’” says Raschke. “...Our film team, a brilliant all-women crew, worked relentlessly to establish successful careers in an industry that has also been dominated by men. It demonstrates that it is possible to persevere when the odds are not in your favor.”

Raschke is one of many faculty and alumni of the New York Film Academy’s lauded Documentary Filmmaking program (The Independent magazine’s Top 10 Academic Programs for Documentary Filmmakers), represented at Sundance 2018 this week, as well as in other industry news.

At Sundance, "The Price of Everything" and "The Game Changers” feature Raschke on second unit cinematography; NYFA Master Class Instructor Hilla Medalia produced "The Oslo Diaries"; and, in the fiction arena, "The Tale" features NYFA Filmmaking Instructor Debbie de Villa's work as production designer.

The early Oscar race includes a similarly female-driven gem: Netflix original “Heroin(e)” is one of 10 films shortlisted for this year’s Best Documentary Short Academy Award®, a female-led story edited by NYFA instructor Kristen Nutile.

“Everybody should be studying docs right now,” asserts Swift. "The opportunities are remarkable. The key to making a good documentary film is identifying a great story and telling it well. At NYFA we’ve learned that the only way to get good at this is to do it. You learn to make films by actually making films.”

A FEW NYFA WOMEN MAKING NEWS IN DOCUMENTARY:

  • "RBG" (Sundance) - Director of Photography: NYFA Faculty Claudia Raschke
  • "The Game Changers" (Sundance) & "The Price of Everything" (Sundance U.S. Doc Competition) - 2nd Unit Photography: NYFA Faculty Claudia Raschke
  • "The Oslo Diaries" (Sundance) - Producer: NYFA Master Class Instructor Hilla Medalia
  • “Heroin(e)” (Academy Award® Shortlist) - Editor: NYFA Faculty Kristen Nutile
  • “Atomic Homefront” (HBO Premiere Feb. 12) - Cinematographer: Claudia Raschke
  • "Sniper's War" (Premieres at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival & Santa Barbara Film Festival) - Director: NYFA Grad Olga Schechter
  • “Hot Grease” (Discovery Impact) - Director/Producer: NYFA Faculty Jessica Wolfson
  • "Newtown” (Netflix) - Associate Producer: Laura Snow
  • "50 Shades of Silence" - Writer/Producer: NYFA Grad Amy Wright

About New York Film Academy
The New York Film Academy (NYFA) is a leading visual and performing arts school that offers courses across 15 areas of study in New York City, Los Angeles, South Beach/Miami, Gold Coast (Australia), Florence (Italy), Mumbai (India), and more. Thousands of aspiring artists come to study at the New York Film Academy each year from over 120 countries. For more information, please visit nyfa.edu.
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Winnie De Moya

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