Three New Villanova Student Produced Social Justice Documentaries to Premiere in May

Poster of, "NINA"

Villanova, Pa – Every year the students in Villanova University’s Social Justice Documentary filmmaking course produce films that bring attention to crucial social issues, often earning local and national awards. In May 2023, three new documentaries premiere on campus; the films tell stories of resilience, women’s empowerment and advocacy.

Under the guidance of faculty, students spend two semesters studying filmmaking and producing documentaries, visiting locations both domestically and abroad. Students become passionate advocates for the issues explored in their films, often organizing volunteer events to engage the campus community. The course is run by the Communication Department in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and open to students across the University.

Oak Tree Films is a student-run production group in the Social Justice Documentary course led by Hezekiah L. Lewis III, MFA, assistant professor of Communication. During their two-week stay in Siaya, Kenya, the students of Oak Tree Films visited various women's groups and communities, including Nina School for the Deaf, a primary boarding school that educates students with deafness, visual impairments and other physical disabilities. The international documentary "NINA" shares the story of the students’ and faculty’s resilience and determination in the face of societal stigma and government de-prioritization of the school’s needs.

Poster of, "Her Time is Now"

Oak Tree’s second international film, "Her Time is Now," follows two women in Siaya as they navigate economic and social challenges within a patriarchal context. The documentary highlights their creative methods of self-determination and their dedication to empowering themselves and future generations.

“In Siaya, Kenya, I was granted the opportunity to meet such inspiring people and hear profound stories,” says Kristine Rivera ’23 CLAS, Economics and Peace and Justice. “I am proud to be afforded the opportunity to amplify voices that tend to be silenced, and hope that our documentaries facilitate positive social change.”

Tickets are now available for the premiere of “Her Time is Now” and “NINA” on Thursday, May 4 in the John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts. The lobby opens at 6 p.m., and the doors to the Topper Theatre open at 6:30 p.m. Additional on-campus screenings will take place at the Connelly Cinema on Friday, May 5 at 1 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 at 6 p.m. The on-campus screenings are open to the public with a $5 entry fee payable at the door via cash, Venmo, Zelle, Cashapp or Apple Pay.

Poster of, "Say What You See"

6060 Productions, a student-run production company and part of the Social Justice Documentary course taught by Tania Romero, PhD, assistant professor of Communication, is proud to announce the release of their documentary, "Say What You See." The film explores the untapped potential of audio description and its impact on the lives of those who are visually impaired. “Say What You See” follows the journey of Thomas Reid, who became blind as an adult and turned his disability into a call for action by creating a podcast to advocate for audio description. “Say What You See” encourages media professionals and audiences alike to recognize the importance of accessibility in entertainment and media.

6060 Productions will host an on-campus screening of the film on Wednesday, May 10 at 6 p.m. in the Connelly Cinema. The event is free and open to the public.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenging and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.