Villanova Social Justice Documentary Invited to Harlem International Film Festival

“No Greater Pain” tells the story of Dorothy Johnson-Speight and four other Philadelphia mothers who lost sons to violence and formed an organization, Mothers in Charge, to provide support and prevent violence through education and intervention

The Villanova University social justice documentary, “No Greater Pain,” has been invited to the prestigious Harlem International Film Festival (Sept. 7-11). The film will be screened Saturday, Sept. 10, at noon, at the Maysles Institute in Harlem, N.Y.

The documentaryproduced by students in Villanova’s Center for Social Justice Filmtells the story of Philadelphia resident Dorothy Johnson-Speight and four other mothers who lost sons to violence and formed an organization, Mothers in Charge, to prevent violence through education and intervention, and provide support to those who have lost loved ones to violence.

Click here for more information and a full schedule for the 2011 Harlem International Film Festival.

It’s been nearly 10 years since the cold December night when Johnson-Speight lost her son to a gunshot in front of his own home, but during that time she’s built a network of support for other mothers and family members who have lost loved ones to violence. She founded Mothers in Charge in 2003, two years after her 24-year-old son Khaaliq was gunned down over a parking space in Philadelphia. In the documentary, Johnson-Speight and other mothers discuss the darkest days of their grief and their desire to end the cycle of violence.

“These students, none of whom have experienced the loss of a loved one to violence, were able to produce a very sensitive yet powerful documentary that shares our experiences,” Johnson-Speight said. “I think we’ve not only touched their lives in a powerful way, but also helped them to make a film that will leave an impression on others.”

No Greater Pain was the fourth film to come out of Villanova’s Center for Social Justice Film, housed within the Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society (WFI). The Institute promotes the study of communication by emphasizing social justice, ethical leadership and community, and the ability of those key influencers to create a more just world.

“It was a privilege for the students and faculty members to work with Mothers in Charge,” said Stephen McWilliams, one of the course’s instructors. “The courage of these women in the face of unspeakable pain and their loving support for one another was a remarkable lesson that will always stay with us.”

Villanova’s Center for Social Justice Film allows students from all majors the opportunity to learn about filmmaking through hands-on training, and to use this experience to create documentaries that explore important issues facing society and allow them to become advocates for those issues.