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It was a splendid time for film this past weekend.

The New York City International Film Festival presented by Russian Standard, wrapped up its tenth consecutive edition with the Closing Award ceremony on March 1st at The Dolby Screening Room in New York City. Founded by Roberto Rizzo, the NYCIFF celebrates storytelling in all its forms, from feature filmmaking to short-story narrative, and web series to documentaries.

“The New York City International Film Festival is dedicated to showcasing the most powerful voices in cinema, as well as nurturing up-and-coming talent, so we are thrilled that our 10th anniversary celebrated new mediums and emerging platforms,” said Founder and Director Roberto Rizzo. “We watch the festival grow bigger and more recognizable every year and continue to look forward to providing a platform to recognize the best talent in the industry.”

Opening night featured the North American premier of Factory Cowboys – Working with Warhol, introduced by director Ulli Lommel. Based on Lommel’s 2017 biography “Factory Fame – Working with Warhol,” the feature film focuses on Warhol’s factory life in Manhattan during the late 1970’s.

Veneno – The First Fall, starring accomplished actor Manny Pérez in the role of Dominican wrestler Jack Veneno, was also screened on Monday night and ultimately went on to win Best Feature Film at the Closing Award ceremony. Director Tabare Blanchard and Roberto Rizzo moderated a Q&A post screening to discuss Veneno’s impact and legacy in the Dominican Republic and beyond.

Actor Vincent Pastore was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, and actress, philanthropist and comedian Renée Willett was honored with The Rising Star Award. Both Pastore’s films The Kids Menu and St. Joseph directed byKathrina Miccio and Renée’s film Flight 666 were screened on closing night.  

This year, NYCIFF introduced new award categories including web series and sci-fi, in addition to the eight category awards, which led by the jury president, R. Couri Hay.

Debuting this year, New York City International Film Festival showcased filmmakers and documentarians who use their craft to explore social issues.

Included in Best Documentary Short category was Depicting the Invisible, which traces the creation of a portrait series by artist Susan J. Barron that depicts 15 American veterans suffering from PTSD and their inspirational stories.

Nominated in this category is also Freedom Education Project Puget Sound: College in Women’s Prison.The documentary short focuses on the subjects of the Seattle-based nonprofit which provides a rigorous college program for incarcerated women, trans-identified and gender nonconforming people at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Washington state.

Renowned artist, Robert Cenedella introduced a special screening of his award-winning documentary, Art Bastard, on Tuesday, February 26th. The provocative feature film explores collusion and corruption within the art industry.

The world premiere of Monarch Butterfly, a psychological thriller written by and starring actress Deborah Kuhn was nominated in Best Narrative Short category.

Actress Janel Tanna who was awarded the New York City International Film Festival Emerging Talent 2019 Award screened her female driven drama, Sienna’s Choice on closing night.

Other notable guests who attended included actor Paul Borghese, actor Beau Baxter and producer Darrell Lawrence.

NEW YORK CITY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL AWARD WINNERS 2019

  • NYCIFF LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD 
    Vincent Pastore
  • NYCIFF RISING STAR AWARD 
    Renee Willett
  • BEST FEATURE FILM

                        Veneno – The First Fall

  • BEST DOCUMENTARY
    Art Bastard

  • BEST HORROR / ACTION 
    Flight 666

  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A FEATURE FILM 
    Pepe Sierra 
    Veneno: The First Fall

  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A FEATURE FILM 
    Taylor Castro 
    Marriage Killer

  • BEST DIRECTOR IN A FEATURE FILM
    Tabare Blanchard 
    Veneno: The First Fall

  • BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE 
    Talulah Riley  
    The Last Witness

  • BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
    Manny Perez
    Veneno: The First Fall
  • BEST WEBSERIES 2019
    Awkwardly



  • BEST TV SHOW / TV SERIES
    St.Joseph
  • BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
    Kathrina Miccio
    St. Joseph
  • BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
    Angela Pietropinto      
    St.Joseph

  • BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
    Vincent Pastore
    St.Joseph
  • BEST SCI-FI SHORT
    Eternity
  • BEST HORROR –  SHORT FILM 
    The Smiling Strangers

  • BEST SUPER SHORT FILM 
    Hello Brother

  • BEST SHORT FILM 
    Fairy Tail

  • BEST SHORT FILM NY
    The Kids Menu

  • BEST INTERNATIONAL SHORT 
    Paco

  • BEST ACTRESS IN A SHORT FILM
    Nyle Lynn 
    The Kids Menu

  • BEST ACTOR IN A SHORT FILM
    Vincent Pastore 
    The Kids Menu

  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A SHORT FILM
    Mario Macaluso
    Kids Menu
  • BEST DIRECTOR IN A SHORT FILM 
    Justin & Kristin Schaack
    Fairy Tail

  • BEST DIRECTOR IN A SHORT FILM NY
    Paul Borghese
    The Kids Menu
  • BEST SHORT FILM 
    People Like You

  • BEST ACTRESS IN A SHORT
    Deborah Kuhn
    Monarch Butterfly



  • BEST ACTOR IN A SHORT FILM
    Josh Mayes
    People Like You

  • BEST DIRECTOR IN A SHORT FILM
    Blake Winston Rice
    People Like You
  • BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
    Depicting the Invisible

  • BEST COSTUME DESIGN 
    Hilary Hughes
    The Last Witness
  • BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY 
    Edward Ames 
    The Last Witness

ElizaBeth Taylor is a journalist for Times Square Chronicles and is a frequent guest at film, fashion and art events throughout New York City and Los Angeles due to her stature as The Sensible Socialite.Passionate about people ElizaBeth spent many years working as a travel reporter and television producer after graduating with high honors from University of Southern California. The work has afforded her the opportunity to explore Europe, Russia, South America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. It has greatly influenced the way in which ElizaBeth sees a story and has created a heightened awareness for the way people around the world live today.

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Off Broadway

Despite Its Ambiguous Title the Play N/A Is Very Applicable for Today

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N/A A New Play at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater makes current political discourse interesting and fun. Don’t worry this is neither a preachy lecture or harangue about what’s wrong with the world nor is it a one-sided political commentary; but a lively discussion between two women who represent different generations, experiences and methods of how to get a job done. Very clearly based on the real-life Nancy Pelosi (N) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (A); we see how two passionate women have similar goals for America, but very different ways of achieving them. Holland Taylor, who previously became Ann Richards on stage, again plays a powerhouse woman as N. She delivers the dialogue in Mario Correa’s well-paced new play with strength, passion and wit. N, the experienced legislator wants change and progress for the country; but, after forty years in the political arena knows how the fight is fought.

Ana Villafane is A, a newcomer to Congress and a worthy opponent to N (A is in fact the youngest woman ever to be elected at the age of 29).  Ms Villafane previously seen as Gloria Estefan in On Your Feet proves she can do more than sing as she is a wonderful sparring partner with Ms Taylor. Being young and new to Congress, A thinks that the system doesn’t work and will do what she feels is right to not only change the world but also break the system – two causes that can defeat each other in the long and short term.

Conflict between the two could have been a dull slog to watch but thanks to the wit of Mr Correa’s writing, Diane Paulus’ seamless directing and these two wonderful actors the 80 minutes flies by. The show, however, will stay with you for days. It is a play that all generations should see not just to for the political story but to create a better understanding of each other regardless of when we were born. The “Baby Boomers” had their causes when they were young and they wanted change ‘NOW!’ just as Gen Z feels today. But those in position know through years of experience, triumphs and defeats that change takes time and it is not just the opposition to ideas that have to be overcome but also the system, consensus and tradition that need to bend slowly without causing irreparable cracks.

Mr Correa, who was a Congresswoman’s aide prior to becoming a playwright, knows of what he writes which makes the dialogue flow so easily. Myung Hee Cho’s basic yet effective set allows Ms Paulus to move from scene to scene quickly to keep the story moving (and special shout out to that unmistakable liquid red lipstick she has for A). Ms Holland and Ms Villafane are both terrific and not to be missed.

If we want to sum up the lesson of this evening in two letters as the title does I will say P/P. Passion and Patience – have passion for change but also be patient for that change to occur and also be patient with those who don’t know how long it takes for that change to happen.

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Events

Sail On Sail On Great Ship Titanic To Broadway

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It has been forever since I have bought tickets for a show, however I believe in the Encore series and Titanic holds a special place in my heart. New York City Center production of the Tony-winning 1997 musical, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston (Broadway’s Nine), reminded me why I love musicals and what is sorely lacking in musicals now.

First there is Yeston’s magnificent score that sails, soars and captures you in its powerful cadence. Music Director Rob Berman, and the full orchestra brought the nuanced score to life from the depths, filling the theater with a powerful emotional tug.


The cast was the best Broadway has to offer. standing out was Ramin Karimloo ( Broadway’s Funny Girl) as the ship’s stoker whose solo’s were heartfelt and sung in perfect voice. His duet with Harold Bride played by Alex Joseph Grayson (Encores!/Broadway’s Parade) brought out what makes Titanic so tragic, the feelings of love, hope, and desire that will never be fulfilled.


“I Want To Be A Lady’s Maid” sung by sung by the 3rd class passengers and the three Kate’s Samantha Williams, Lilli Cooper, and Ashley Blanchet, Irish lasses who all dreams of lives in America that will never be attained, as more than 1,517 and out of the 710 in 3rd class, only 174 survived.

Outher key players who made this show their own were Jose Llama as the architect Andrews. Brandon Uranowitz (Tony winner in Broadway’s Leopoldstadt) as Ismay, the villainous owner of the shipping line. Chuck Cooper (Tony winner Broadway’s The Life), as the Captain of what should have been an unsinkable ship.

As the social climbing 2nd Class passenger Alice Beane, who feels she should not be deterred from hobnobbing with the rich and famous. Bonnie Milligan (Broadway Kimberley Akimbo) brings comic relief. Drew Gehling (Broadway’s Almost Famous) is her husband who can not see his wife’s vision of a new society where classes do not exist.

As the owners of Macy’s department store Chip Zien (Harmony) and Judy Kuhn portray Isidor and Ida Straus whose love keeps Ida staying to go down with her husband. There duet “Still” proves love can always conquer all.

We know the iceberg is coming but the haunting melodic “No Moon” makes it that much more sobering.

Anne Kauffman direction is seamlessly and she brings out the comedy, passion, and horror of Peter Stone’s words. Paul Tate Depot III (Broadway’s The Great Gatsby) is one of the best scenic designers around and his simple design is effective. The costumes by Márion Talán de la Rosa (Off-Broadway’s The Connector) keep us in the time frame.

City Center Encores! Titanic needs to be resurrected and come to Broadway. It is sure to be triumph, at least it was last night.

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Off Broadway

Empire A New Musical Meets The Press

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One of the shows opening up this summer is Empire: The Musical, premiering off Broadway in July.

Empire: The Musical is created by Caroline Sherman and Robert Hull


Directed by Tony Award winner Cady Huffman.

Inspired by the history of the Empire State Building, the show centers on the people who saw the skyscraper’s construction through in desperate times and when it seemed impossible. The story jumps between three time periods: the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and the Bicentennial Year of 1976.


The Empire: The Musical cast includes Danny Iktomi Bevins, Monique Candelaria, Devin Cortez, Morgan Cowling, Kaitlyn Davidson, Joel Douglas, Joseph Fierberg, Alexandra Frohlinger, Matt Gibson, Albert Guerzon, Julia Louise Hosack, Kiana Kabeary, Howard Kaye, TJ Newton, April Ortiz, Kennedy Perez, Jessica Ranville, Paul Salvatoriello, J Savage, Robbie Serrano, and Ethan Saviet.

The show also features choreography by Lorna Ventura

scenic design by Walt Spangler, costume design by Tina McCartney, lighting design by Jamie Roderick, sound design by Shannon Slaton, music supervision and orchestrations by Lena Gabrielle, arrangements by Hull and Gabrielle, music direction by Gillian Berkowitz, and props design by Brendan McCann.

Performances begin July 1st with a July 11th opening night at New World Stages, for 12 weeks only.

 

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Entertainment

New Jersey Hall of Fame Entertainment & Learning Center Opens at American Dream

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Dedicated to encouraging people to find their heroes and achieve their best, the New Jersey Hall of Fame unveiled its Entertainment and Learning Center today at American Dream before a crowd of supporters, inductees, and elected officials, including Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy opened to the public on June 28th.

“We are incredibly excited that America’s first state-focused Entertainment and Learning Center will be right here in the Garden State,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Located at American Dream, the space will embrace our rich history and celebrate the achievements of over 230 outstanding New Jerseyans. This Center will serve as a testament to our one-of-a-kind entertainment culture and supply knowledge and inspiration for generations to come.”

The 10,000-square-foot Entertainment and Learning Center, now the permanent home for New Jersey Hall of Fame inductees, boasts state-of-the-art exhibits. These include a simulated space ride called “Fly Me to the Moon,” where visitors can experience the thrill of space travel. For music enthusiasts, there’s a karaoke stage where they can sing alongside holograms of Tommy James, Gloria Gaynor, Wyclef Jean, Frankie Valli, and other musical legends. Also, for those interested in the arts, visitors can interview holograms of Tommy James, Danny DeVito, Jason Alexander, Connie Chung, Laurie Hernandez, and other notable Jersey greats in the “Late Night Jersey” Television Studio.

“Through education and entertainment, we are inspiring people to realize their dreams by becoming their best,” added Jon F. Hanson, Chairman of the New Jersey Hall of Fame. “So, there’s no better place to be than here at American Dream!”

“The State of New Jersey boasts a rich history full of iconic moments and legendary heroes, which will now be celebrated for the world to see at American Dream,” notes Don Ghermezian, CEO of American Dream. “We are excited to inspire our guests with leading entertainers, athletes, and influential individuals from the arts, education, science, and public service sectors at this one-of-a-kind Entertainment and Learning Center.”

Added President Steve Edwards, “The soul of the New Jersey Hall of Fame mission is based on the concept of Areté, Ancient Greek wisdom that means the act of actualizing one’s highest and best sense of self, with a moral excellence of character, and for the greater good. Our inductees have indeed realized their Areté, and are heroes who inspire others to do the same.”

The New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) honors citizens who have made invaluable contributions to society, the State of New Jersey, and the world beyond. Since 2008, the NJHOF has hosted 15 ceremonies for more than 230 notable individuals and groups in recognition of their induction into the Hall of Fame. The NJHOF endeavors to present school children with significant and impactful role models to show that they can, and should, strive for excellence. The NJHOF is thankful for the support of its many sponsors, including Hackensack Meridian Health, without which none of our endeavors would be possible.

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Entertainment

Midnight Moment Our Islands 11°16’58.4 N 123°45’07.0 E

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From July 1–31st starting at 11:57pm – 12am Martha Atienza reimagines a yearly local parade from her native Philippines by staging it on the floor of the Visayan Sea. The film’s performers are underwater compressor divers from Bantayan Island, who specialize in a dangerous form of fishing necessitated by the devastating impact of illegal and commercial fishing, industrialization, and climate change in the archipelago. The exact coordinates for the dreamlike underwater procession were chosen by the divers themselves according to the tide, current, and time of day. As they trudge across the seabed, Atienza’s cast of characters and choice of setting not only present a critical and humorous take on society and culture in the Philippines, but also allude to the threat of climate collapse to which Southeast Asia is increasingly exposed.

Part of her continuing series to establish art as an open source for ideas, Atienza’s moving diorama under the sea is a collaboration with the local community, with whom she creates work to empower and amplify seldom-heard voices. In addition to her art practice, Martha Atienza is the president and co-founder of GOODLand, a platform under her Art Lab that develops and applies a creative and collaborative methodology to tackle social, economic and environmental issues on Bantayan Island in the Visayas, Philippines. Its mission is to facilitate the realization of an empowered, self-sufficient, and resilient community.

The original version of Our Islands 11°16’58.4”N 123°45’07.0”E was awarded the Baloise Art Prize in 2017 and acquired by the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in 2021, with previous screenings across Asia, Australia, and Europe.

Martha Atienza is a Philippines-based artist whose video work documents issues of the environment, community, and development within her island home. Her observational lens takes on both ecological and sociological concerns as she studies the intricate interplay between local traditions, human subjectivity, and the natural world. By deeply examining the patterns within her immediate surroundings, Atienza explores the potential that the video medium holds as a catalyst for societal transformation. She was twice awarded the Ateneo Art Awards in Manila (2012/2016) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines Thirteen Artists Award (2015). Recent biennials and triennials include the 2nd Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, Riyadh (2024); 17th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2022); Bangkok Art Biennale, Bangkok (2020); Honolulu Biennial, Oahu, Hawaii (2019); and the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane (2018).

In addition to her art practice, Martha Atienza is the president and co-founder of GOODLand, a platform under her Art Lab that develops and applies a creative and collaborative methodology utilized to tackle social, economic and environmental issues on Bantayan Island in the Visayas, Philippines. Its mission is to facilitate the realization of an empowered, self-sufficient, and resilient community.

Silverlens is an international gallery with locations in Manila and New York. Through its artist representation, institutional partnerships, art consultancy, and exhibition programming including art fairs and gallery collaborations, Silverlens aims to place its artists within the broader framework of the contemporary art dialogue. Its continuing efforts to transcend borders across art communities in Asia have earned it recognition as one of the leading contemporary art galleries in Southeast Asia.

Silverlens was founded in Manila by Isa Lorenzo in 2004, and in 2007 she was joined by co-director Rachel Rillo. In September 2022, the gallery opened its doors in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, broadening its international scope and bringing its diverse roster of artists to a new global audience. In 2024, Silverlens commemorates its 20th anniversary, marking a significant milestone for the global gallery and its dedication to championing diasporic artists.

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