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Villanova University’s Center for Social Justice Film Recognized for “Filmmaking Dedicated to the Greater Good”

Center for Social Justice Film named recipient of Garden State Film Festival’s Broader Vision Award

Villanova documentary, Coming Off the DL, to be featured at Garden State Film Festival April 2 at The Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, N.J.

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Students in Villanova University’s Center for Social Justice Film have become an influential mouthpiece to the public, producing social justice documentaries that position them as advocates for important social change in the community. Recognizing the Center’s efforts towards “filmmaking dedicated to the greater good,” the Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) has named Villanova’s Center for Social Justice Film the recipient of its 2011 Broader Vision Award.

Housed within the University’s Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society, the Center for Social Justice Film allows students from all majors the unique opportunity to learn the art and craft of filmmaking, and then use their experience to create documentaries that explore important issues and are utilized in the service of social justice.

The 2011 Garden State Film Festival (March 31-April 3, Asbury Park, N.J.) will present the Villanova documentary, Coming Off the DL, at The Paramount Theatre, Saturday, April 2 at 1:15 p.m.

A documentary which changes the way people see ability, Coming Off the DL takes an intimate look at the lives of two Villanova students with cerebral palsy. Frank Kineavy and Nick Gaynor are overcoming the prejudice of others, as well as the physical, academic, and social challenges of cerebral palsy to study at Villanova and be involved in campus life as managers for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The documentary has been recognized by six film festivals including GSFF, LA Reel Film Festival (Los Angeles), Peace on Earth Film Festival (Chicago), Heart of Gold Film Festival (Gympie, Australia), Hearts and Minds Film Festival (Wilmington, Del.) and the West Chester International Film Festival (West Chester, Pa.).

Two new documentaries produced by Villanova’s Center for Social Justice Film are turning the spotlight on important Philadelphia stories:

  • The recently completed documentary, No Greater Pain, focuses on the pain of losing loved ones to violence through the eyes of a Philly-based nonprofit “Mothers in Charge,” founder Dorothy Johnson-Speight, and four other mothers who also lost sons to violence. Founded in 2004, the organization provides support for mothers and families affected by violence and offer violence prevention and education to at-risk youth. The documentary will be screened at a May 10 event in Philadelphia honoring Mothers in Charge eighth anniversary. 
  • A second documentary, Who is Wright, is slated for release later this spring. The film chronicles a popular Philadelphia street performer, Julius Wright, who encourages youth to rise above their troubles through music. On March 20, Villanova hosted a benefit concert featuring Julius Wright, with proceeds benefitting The Georgia E. Gregory Interdenominational School of Music. On May 6, a Philadelphia screening of the film will take place at the Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia.

Other documentaries from the Center for Social Justice Film include:

  • Price of Life chronicles the journey of an ex-con, Robert Childs, whose rough upbringing on the streets of Philadelphia led to a life of violence, drugs and illegal weapons.  After realizing his actions could only lead to jail or death, he made a decision that changed his life. With the help of the National Comprehensive Center for Fathers, Childs now inspires others to create a better life. Price of Life received several film festival accolades.
  • Meh Sha is the journey of a teenage Burmese immigrant, Meh Sha Lin, who flees political unrest in his homeland to spend the next 14 years in a refugee camp before emigrating to Philadelphia. Lacking language skills, lagging six grade levels behind, and working an afterschool job to help keep his family afloat, Meh Sha strives to overcome the cultural obstacles that continue to plague 21st century immigrants. The film was screened as part of the 2010 Free Burma Alliance Conference in N.Y. City.