NYU film students chronicle unique moment in time

NEW YORK (WABC) -- When in-person classes were canceled at New York University back in March, graduate film students were no longer able to shoot their films. So professors came up with a backup plan that allowed those students to complete projects safely.

The idea was to chronicle this unique moment in time while working within the limitations imposed by the lockdown. The NYU project was called, "The Private Month," and one short film that resulted is called "Here and Now."

It's a portrait of life during the pandemic made under quarantine. The lead performer, Farrah Cine, who played a mom, had to record the film on her own iPhone.

She was directed via Zoom by graduate student Ifeyinwa Arinze.

"In this time, our imaginations are being stretched and what we deem as possible is being pushed," Arinze said.

She was a week away from shooting a completely different movie when COVID-19 restrictions kicked in and forced her back to square one.

Professor Andrew MacLean said the idea was "to make sense of this really, really bizarre world of all, all of a sudden found ourselves in."

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Her assignment was to make sense while staying safe.

"I think it resulted in my better movies," Professor Jennifer L Ruff said. "Different movies, right? They had to strip away the fancy cameras or fancy shots that they might've thought of, and they had to really explore the core of what they wanted to tell."

This, if not true greatness has come from big obstacles. As WWII was winding down, Italian filmmakers took to the streets to show the world the devastation of the conflict in movies like "Rome, Open City" and "The Bicycle Thief."

Film and food were in short supply. There were few movie cameras available, but the films became a movement known as Neorealism.
"Great art sometimes happens because of difficulties, because of limitations that are put," MacLean said. "There's something about it that can really spark creativity."

Eighty years later...it is Ifeyinwa's turn. She came to a simple realization: "If I could make this film thru zoom and world with an actor and a child through zoom, I can literally do anything!"

She is tomorrow's important director, here today. She is working to tell 21st-century stories of inclusion and diversity. But, Arinze and her fellow NYU students are also following in the footsteps of earlier directors who made movies under near-impossible conditions: great work that has stood the test of time.

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