Today, The Film Society of Lincoln Center announces the participants for the Artist Academy, an immersive creative experience for filmmakers early in their careers, and the Critics Academy, a workshop for aspiring film critics, at the 54th New York Film Festival.
This year marks the sixth edition of the Artist Academy, which offers an experience for 25 up-and-coming and established filmmakers from a variety of backgrounds. The private two-day program features talks and case studies designed to inspire filmmakers’ artistic instincts and encourage collaboration. The program will also include a slate of screenings and panel discussions by esteemed veterans from a variety of disciplines.
This year’s mentors include filmmakers Ira Sachs (“Little Men”) and Laura Poitras (“Citizenfour”), cinematographer Ed Lachman (“Carol”), producer Mynette Louie (“The Invitation”), Submarine Entertainment’s Josh Braun, IFC Films’s Arianna Bocco, and more. As in previous years, FSLC is proud to collaborate with the Princess Grace Foundation, which supports ten emerging film artists from various disciplines for the Artist Academy.
Meanwhile, The NYFF Critics Academy, now in its fifth year, is an annual workshop for aspiring film critics that takes place before and during the festival. The program is designed to nurture promising film critics and journalists as they attend and cover screenings and events at this year’s festival. The ten selected Critics Academy participants (featuring, for the first time, two writers outside of the New York area) will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a wide variety of international cinema while dealing with the practical challenges of covering a festival at the epicenter of New York’s film culture. The Critics Academy will have the opportunity to attend NYFF press screenings and cover the festival in a variety of ways, from quick-turnaround film reviews to more in-depth articles and interviews for potential publication on Film Comment’s website and IndieWire.
Critics Academy participants will also partake in candid roundtable discussions with working critics and other members of the industry to put their work in context. The Academy’s 2016 mentors include journalists and critics Melissa Anderson, K. Austin Collins, David Ehrlich, Mark Harris, Mekado Murphy, Nick Pinkerton, B. Ruby Rich, and Alison Willmore, as well as Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker, Brigade Marketing’s Adam Kersh, and Cinetic Marketing’s Ryan Werner.
Critics Academy is led by Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Deputy Director Eugene Hernandez; Academy organizer Brian Brooks; Eric Kohn, Deputy Editor & Chief Film Critic of IndieWire; FSLC Editorial Director Michael Koresky; and Film Comment Editor Nicolas Rapold. The NYFF Critics Academy is a co-presentation of Film Comment magazine, a publication of Film Society of Lincoln Center, and IndieWire, with support from the latter’s parent company, Penske Media Corporation.
The complete list of 2016 Artist Academy and Critic Academy participants are below, including their bios and information on current projects. The New York Film Festival runs from September 30th through October 16th.
Artist Academy Participants
Amman Abbasi is a 27-year-old Pakistani American writer-director, editor, and composer. The coming of age story “Dayveon” is his debut feature film. Having worked in documentary for several years, Abbasi has had the opportunity to travel the world and discover undocumented stories. In 2011, working for the Renaud Brothers, Abbasi traveled to Haiti to cover the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake for “The New York Times” for a short form documentary. The piece went on to win the prestigious duPont Award. He has also worked for acclaimed filmmaker David Gordon Green. His music compositions have appeared in many commercials, films, and documentaries. In 2008, he and his brother’s debut album “Something Like Nostalgia” topped the charts in Japan. In 2015 Abbasi worked as an editor on the Renaud Brothers–produced “Last Chance High,” which received an Emmy nomination for outstanding editing.
“Bad at Dancing”
Joanna Arnow is a filmmaker based in Brooklyn. She recently wrote, directed, and acted in “Bad at Dancing,” a narrative short that was awarded the 2015 Berlinale Silver Bear Jury Prize. She also directed several other films including personal documentary feature “I Hate Myself :),” a film that was named on top ten lists at “IndieWire” and “Fandor.” Her films have screened at other festivals including Hong Kong International, New York Film Festival, Rooftop Films, Moscow International, Guanajuato, AFI Fest, Raindance and IndieLisboa.
Michael M. Bilandic
Michael M. Bilandic is a New York–based filmmaker who wrote and directed the feature films “Happy Life” (2011) and “Hellaware” (2013), the latter of which premiered at BAMcinemaFest and enjoyed a well-received theatrical run. He holds an MFA in film production from NYU and has worked on numerous projects as Abel Ferrara’s assistant. He is currently in postproduction on his latest movie, “Jobe’z World,” set to premiere in 2017.
“Our Life Will Be Ours”
For his first feature, currently in postproduction, Charlie collaborated with cinematographer Sean Price Williams, editor David Barker, producer Krista Parris, composer Travis Laplante, casting director Jessica Kelly, and actors Julie Sokolowski, Dominic Fumusa, and Kerry Condon, among countless other extraordinary people. He is honored to act in various projects, including Gina Telaroli’s festival entry “This Castle Keep.”
Award-winning Mexican writer/director Maru Buendia-Senties graduated with an MFA from UT-Austin in Film Production. She worked for three years in the Visual Effects Department for director Robert Rodriguez at Troublemaker Studios and currently works at Mirada Studios. Over the years, Maru has premiered five award-winning films, directed Mexican Ariel-winning actors, received the Visionary Award by the Sor Juana Festival: A tribute to Mexican Women and the Cary Grant Film Award by The Princess Grace Foundation. Her latest sci-fi short, “Windows,” has been chosen as one of four projects of NALIP: Latino Lens Narrative Short Incubator program 2016. Living on the Mexican/American border exposed Maru to two different cultures, creating the desire to share that unique perspective through her storytelling. As a female Mexican filmmaker, Maru sees a great opportunity in utilizing genre films to explore our deepest fears, push boundaries, and challenge the audience by approaching universal themes like identity, belonging, and solitude.
Esy Casey’s directorial debut Jeepney was broadcast on PBS in May 2015, and her cinematography can be seen in the films “Thing with No Name” (Best Documentary nominee LAFF) and “Born to Fly” (2016 Outstanding Arts and Culture Emmy nominee). Her work has been supported by The Princess Grace Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Center for Asian American Media, and The MacDowell Colony. Her current film with Sarah Friedland, “Here After,” examines an undersea cemetery, anonymous border graves, and other shifting ways our presence outlives us.
Ashley Connor is a New York-based director of photography. Her work on Josephine Decker’s “Butter on the Latch” and “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely,” which both premiered at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival, prompted “The New Yorker” critic Richard Brody to name her, alongside Darius Khondji and Fabrice Aragno, one of the year’s best cinematographers. Her breadth of style can be seen in work as diverse as Alison Bagnall’s “Funny Bunny” (SXSW ’15) and Carleton Ranney’s “Jackrabbit” (TriBeCa ’15), as well as in popular music videos for artists including Jenny Lewis, Angel Olsen, and Chairlift. She recently premiered Adam Leon’s second feature, “Tramps,” at TIFF.
“Six Cents in the Pocket”
Ricky D’Ambrose has written and directed four short films, including “Six Cents in the Pocket” (2015), which screened at the 53rd New York Film Festival and at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival, and which will appear in this year’s Vienna International Film Festival. His video-recorded directors talks — with Chantal Akerman, Bruno Dumont, Matías Piñeiro, among others — have been published by MUBI Notebook. He has written about film and the arts for the Nation, n+1, the Times Literary Supplement, Film Quarterly, the White Review, and “Filmmaker Magazine.” He is currently planning a feature, to be shot in 2017.
Born in Buenos Aires, Agostina Gálvez graduated from the film directing program at Universidad del Cine. She co-wrote and co-directed short “El traje” in 2012, which was selected for BAFICI. In 2015, she co-wrote and co-directed “La novia de Frankenstein,” a short film that was selected for the official competition of Locarno Film Festival, as well as for the Viennale, NYFF, Leeds, Milano and BAFICI international film festivals. In 2016 she co-directed “Dear Renzo,” a short film that will premiere in Viennale this year. Agostina lives and works in New York as a film and commercial director and is represented by Radical Media. She is currently writing her first feature film, to be shot in Argentina in 2017.
Jason Giampietro is a filmmaker and musician whose short films have played at BAMcinemaFest, the Maryland Film Festival, and the Montclair Film Festival. He wrote and directed “Hernia” which screened at the 53rd New York Film Festival in 2015. His street photography capturing the eccentric denizens of New York City has been praised by “The Guardian,” “British GQ,” and “The Village Voice.”
Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich
“A Gentleman’s War”
Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich is a documentarian who has completed projects in Kingston, Jamaica; Miami, Florida; and extensively in the five boroughs of New York City. Her work has been featured in “Essence Magazine,” Studio Museum’s Studio Magazine, ARC Magazine, BOMBLOG, and Guernica Magazine, Small Axe journal among others. She is the recipient of a 2015 TFI ESPN Future Filmmaker Award and a 2014 Princess Grace Award and has received grants from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council as well as National Black Programming Consortium. Madeleine has a degree in Film and Photography from Hampshire College and has an MFA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University. Her work explores themes of physicality, violence, and identity within urban space.
Amitabh Joshi is a filmmaker originally from Kathmandu, Nepal. He is a director and cinematographer at Vacant Light, a production company based in New York City. His first feature length documentary “Tashi’s Turbine” will have its broadcast premiere in November 2016 on the PBS World Channel. “Tashi’s Turbine” received numerous grants and accolades including support from the Princess Grace Foundation in 2012. Amitabh has directed several short films, most recently about the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. His films have received recognition from the Academy of Motion Pictures, The Center for Asian American Media, and The Rubin Foundation. Currently Amitabh is the cinematographer and co-producer of an intimate documentary about Hart Island, the potter’s field of New York City.
Tallie Medel is an actor, comedian, dancer, and founding member of Cocoon Central Dance Team. Feature film credits include “The Unspeakable Act,” “Joy Kevin,” “Uncertain Terms,” “Stinking Heaven,” and “The Arbalest.” She’s currently at work on films with Rachel Wolther and Alex Fischer (“Snowy Bing Bongs Across the North Star Combat Zone”), Daniel Laabs (“Jules of Light and Dark”), Caleb Johnson, and Dan Sallitt (“Fourteen”). She’s from Ketchikan, Alaska and currently resides in Queens.
Jess dela Merced
Jess dela Merced is a writer/director from San Francisco with an MFA from the NYU Grad Film Program where she received the 2012 Spike Lee Fellowship as well as the Lorraine Hansberry Arts, Performance, and Media Award. Her award winning thesis film “Hypebeasts,” written under the mentorship of Spike Lee, will play on PBS starting this fall as part of KQED’s Film School Shorts. From 2014-2015 Jess was a San Francisco Film Society FilmHouse screenwriting resident and one of IFP’s Emerging Storytellers. Her latest short film, “Wait ’til the Wolves Make Nice,” which acts as a prelude to her first feature in development “Chickenshit”, premiered at SXSW and won the Grand Jury Prize in Detroit’s Cinetopia International Film Festival. The feature script “Chickenshit” is a winner of NYU’s 2016 Purple List. This year, Jess has been selected as one of “Filmmaker Magazine’s” 25 New Faces of Independent Film.
“The Barefoot Lawyer”
Danica Mills is a filmmaker with a background in music and Chinese language. She is the recipient of grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Princess Grace Foundation. She was a writing collaborator with blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng on his critically acclaimed memoir, “The Barefoot Lawyer” (Henry Holt, 2015).
Narcissister is a Brooklyn-based artist and performer. Wearing mask and merkin, she works at the intersection of performance, dance, art, and activism. She actively integrates her prior experience as a professional dancer and commercial artist with her art practice in a range of media including photography, video art, and experimental music. She has presented work in New York at The New Museum, Moma PS1, The Kitchen, and at Abrons Art Center and at many nightclubs, galleries, and alternative art spaces. Narcissister was a re-performer of Marina Abramovic’s Luminosity piece as part of The Artist is Present retrospective at MoMA. Narcissister has also presented her work internationally at the Music Biennale in Zagreb, Croatia, at Chicks on Speed’s Girl Monster Festival, at The City of Women Festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia, at Warehouse 9, Copenhagen’s first live art festival, and at the Camp/Anti-Camp festival in Berlin, among many others. Her art videos have been included in exhibitions and film festivals worldwide, including on MocaTV. Her video “The Self-Gratifier” won an award for “Best Use of a Sex Toy” at The 2008 Good Vibrations Erotic Film Festival and her film “Vaseline” won the grand prize of this festival in 2013. Interested in troubling the divide between popular entertainment and experimental art, Narcissister appeared on America’s Got Talent in 2011. Narcissister was in FORE at The Studio Museum and had her first solo gallery exhibition “Narcissister is You” at envoy enterprises, both in 2013. She was nominated for a 2013 Bessie Award for her evening-length piece “Organ Player” which debuted at Abrons Art Center in March 2013. Narcissister is featured in “The F Word,” a 2015 documentary exploring fourth wave feminist art practices. She is a 2015 Creative Capital Awardee, a 2015 Theo Westenberger Grantee, and a 2015 United State Artists Awardee. Check out her website.
“Iraq in Fragments”
Fiona Otway is a documentary filmmaker who tackles complex social issues through nuanced, emotionally resonant stories. Her work has been featured in top-tier film festivals, theatrical release, and television broadcasts around the world. She was an editor on “Iraq in Fragments,” which was awarded the first-ever prize for Best Documentary Editing at Sundance Film Festival and received several other international awards, including an Academy Award nomination. Fiona was also an editor on the Academy Award-nominated film “Sari’s Mother.” In addition, she was the editor of “Hell and Back Again,” which won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, a DuPont Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award. She is a recipient of the Princess Grace award and, in addition to creating films, teaches at Bard College as a Visiting Artist in Residence.
John Palmer is a director, writer, and producer. His short film “Pitbull” won the Juror’s Award for LGBT Awareness at the Don Thompson Film Festival, and he recently produced the documentary “al imam” about one of the world’s only female Muslim religious leaders. His experimental work has screened at venues such as Frameline, REDCAT, and Pacific Film Archive, and he is recipient of an LA AIR residency at Echo Park Film Center, the James Broughton Film Award, and a Princess Grace Honorarium. John is currently finishing his graduate studies at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, and is developing his first feature, “Timber.”
Raúl O. Paz Pastrana
Raúl O. Paz Pastrana is a filmmaker living in East Harlem NYC. Raúl’s cinematic style melds Visual Anthropology, Ethnography and Cinema Verite. He is a 2013 CINE Golden Eagle Award Winner, and a 2013 IDA Award Nominee. His films have screened all over the world including at the Sheffield Doc/Fest in the U.K., DOCSDF in Mexico City, and at the Ethnografilm Festival in Paris France. Currently Raúl is working on his first feature film “Border South,” which paints a disarming portrait of the harsh physical environment and brutal journey that Central American immigrants face when crossing through Mexico without proper documentation.
After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2007, Matthew Petock debuted his feature film, “A Little Closer” in 2011 at the 40th International Film Festival Rotterdam, and went on to screen at prestigious film festivals around the world. Martin Scorsese called it “a hauntingly beautiful film and a remarkable debut.” In 2011, Petock co-founded the Brooklyn-based production company Flies Collective, and as a producer his credits include “Hide Your Smiling Faces” (Daniel Patrick Carbone, 2013) which “Film Comment” called “Remarkable,” and “Americana “(Zachary Shedd, 2016) which is currently on the festival circuit. Petock is in post-production on his second feature, “Naked Sea,” and is currently developing new feature work. He is a fellow of IFP’s Emerging Storytellers program and the recipient of Panavision’s New Filmmaker Grant.
Eleanore Pienta is a NY-based actor, video-artist, and dancer. She is currently finishing “Snowy Bing Bongs Across the North Star Combat Zone,” a short-film adapted from the live show she created and choreographed with Cocoon Central Dance Team, the dance-comedy trio she co-founded. Presently, she is in preproduction for “Ada,” which she wrote and will direct, edit, and perform in.
“The Sound of Old Rooms”
Sandeep Ray’s films have screened at diverse forums including Pusan in Korea, Iran, Sydney, Copenhagen, the Films Division of India, and at the Whitney and Getty museums in New York. His documentaries include “Leaving Bakul Bagan” (1994), “A Trial in East Kalimantan” (2000), “In the Aftermath of Peace” (2010), and “Thin Arms” (2014). His recent feature-length documentary “The Sound of Old Rooms,” a coming of age story about a poet, won the Grand Prize at the Taiwan International Documentary Festival and was selected to represent the best of Indian cinema at the Bradford Film Festival’s ‘100 Years of Indian Cinema’ series in 2013. His current project is based on his immersion with Syrian refugees in Chios, Greece this past summer. Sandeep is a Henry Luce Research Fellow at Rice University this year.
“See You Next Tuesday”
Drew Tobia is an independent film director. “See You Next Tuesday,” his first feature length film, was called “refreshing” and “productively abrasive” by The New York Times. He was included in Brooklyn Magazine’s 30 Under 30 and is currently in development on a new feature film.
Nick Twemlow’s short films have screened at MCA Chicago, Slamdance, SXSW, Tribeca, and elsewhere. He’s a recipient of a Princess Grace Foundation honorarium and is a former Fulbright fellow. His first book of poems, “Palm Trees,” received the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. His is assistant professor of creative writing and film at Coe College.
In awe of everyday life, Jordi Wijnalda (the Netherlands, 1990) is a nomadic filmmaker in search of stories that simply need to be told. Honing his passion for cinema in Amsterdam and New York City, he graduated from Columbia University’s M.F.A. Film program in 2013 with his short film “Southwest,” which premiered at New Directors/New Films, was nominated for a Student Academy Award, and is currently being transformed into the feature film “Foreigners.” Since returning to his home country, he made the acclaimed short films “Now What?” (2015), “Lukas by the Sea” (2016), and the recently released “Gilles” (2016), and co-founded the filmmakers’ collective Blunt Cinema.
Critics Academy Participants
Aaron is a freelance film critic in New York City. Aaron completed an MA in Film and Media at Columbia University after obtaining his PhD in Spanish Cultural Studies from the University of Michigan. His interests include Hispanic, Francophone, Hollywood, and LGBT cinemas.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Emma is a recent graduate of Whitman College where she specialized in film and media studies. Her passions for pop culture, film, and feminism have lead her to do work in all aspects of media: from academic writing, to organizing workshops for girls about representation of women in popular culture, to film distribution. Emma currently lives in Brooklyn, where she spends her time trying to befriend dogs she meets on the street and drinking an excessive amount of coffee.
Bradford is a born-and-raised New Yorker with a love for the pictures. He wants nothing more than for his young son to like Creed as much as he did. He is an editor at Gradient and co-founded Foul and Fair, a newsletter examining the relationship between sports and social issues.
Anthony’s writing focuses on smaller independent cinema in order to highlight important works that may go unnoticed within the mainstream. He eventually wants to be a film professor and inspire students to learn about cinema the same way his teachers inspired him. His writing can be found here, and he can be reached over Twitter @Dmngzzz.
Lauren Du Graf
Lauren Du Graf is a Lecturer in the English Department at Goucher College in Baltimore, where she teaches through the Goucher Prison Education Partnership. In 2016, she received her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is from Seattle, Washington.
Wei Jie Lim
Wei Jie Lim is a transnational, migratory cinephile fresh off the university manufacturing line having just graduated with a double major in Film/TV Production and Philosophy from Tisch at New York University. Once a tree climber and cat chaser in the small former mining town of Klang, Malaysia, Wei is now a filmmaker, filmgoer, and aspirational cook roaming downtown Manhattan and the interwebs for celluloid treats. If cinema is ideal food, it would be served on silk screens by the streets, and downed with Tiger beer in the alleys. Currently in Bushwick nursing the Kurosawa summer bug.
Lee Purvey is a 24-year-old native of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He graduated from Grinnell College in 2014 with a degree in anthropology. This spring, he completed an internship in the Moving Image department of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. His writing about film has appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Santiago Times, Joyless Creatures, and on the Walker Art Center’s Crosscuts blog. He is a professional grocery stocker and dishwasher.
Jamie is an author, journalist, and freelance film critic from New York City. She is a graduate of Columbia University and her work can be found in numerous publications including Film School Rejects, Bitch Flicks, Daily Grindhouse, Belladonna, and more. Jamie is also Managing Editor and a frequent co-host for Fan Bros Show, a podcast on The Loud Speakers Network which has been deemed “the voice of the Urban Geek.” Most recently Jamie launched ScreamBros, a spin-off horror podcast which digs into the deeper issues at play in the genre. Jamie’s debut novel, Beechwood Park, follows two sisters who mirror the downfall of Cain and Abel in 1960s New York and is currently available on Amazon. For more information, please visit his website.
Aramide A. Tinubu
Aramide is the Editor at Hollywood.com and an avid contributor to Shadow and Act. She wrote her Master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema at Columbia University. She is a Black cinephile, bookworm, blogger, and brunch enthusiast. You can read her blog or tweet her @midnightrami
Rachel is an alumna of Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts degrees in English, and minored in film studies. In December 2013, she completed her thesis, titled “Mirror Through Time: Images of Male Arrested Adolescence in the Plays of Eugene O’Neill and Films of Quentin Tarantino,” a project which largely focused on the media’s reinforcement of stereotypical male images in society. Upon the completion of her Master’s degree, Rachel began teaching as an adjunct instructor of English at Iona College. She currently teaches English Language Arts to grades 6-8 in Washington Heights. When she is not teaching, Rachel enjoys writing scripts, and guest contributes to the feminist film website Bitch Flicks. Three of her favorite directors are Ryan Coogler, Martin Scorsese, and Ava DuVernay. She currently resides in the northeast section of the Bronx.