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Villanova University Social Justice Documentary Examines the Everyday Struggles of an Impoverished Family in Costa Rica

“One is No One” Premiere to be Held April 28 at The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia; April 30 “Beyond the Lens Conference” Tackles the Social Justice Challenges Facing Costa Ricans

One is No One

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Set against the backdrop of an impoverished Costa Rican community, a family struggles against systemic poverty. That is the subject of “One is No One” an inspiring film written and produced by students from a social justice documentary course in Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). The official premiere of the film will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 28 at The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. In conjunction with the film, the class will host an educational “Beyond the Lens Conference,” from 6 – 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 30 in the Driscoll Hall Auditorium on the Villanova University campus. Both the premiere and the conference are free and open to the public. Tickets for the premiere can be reserved online in advance.

“The amount of research we did on Costa Rica did not fully prepare us for the life changing experience we would have,” said Diandra Navarro, ’15 CLAS and film co-producer. “We came to Costa Rica with unclear expectations of what we would experience and that changed drastically by the time we left. The people we spent our time with live in the most impoverished conditions I have ever personally seen. However, despite the adversities they face on a daily basis, they are the happiest and most giving community of people I have ever been blessed to get to know. In the beginning of our two weeks spent in Costa Rica, we were strangers; however, by the time we left, we were family.”

“One is No One”

In October 2014, 16 students from the course travelled to Liberia, Costa Rica a city with a population of 50,000 people in the North West region of the country, to learn about the community and to find inspiration for the film. “One is No One” is the illustration of what the students found – a family of three generations living under one roof and struggling everyday with issues such as poverty, abuse, lack of education and minimal government support.

However, amidst this sea of oppression, the students found a beacon of light in the form of the family’s 57-year-old matriarch known as “Mama.” The film follows Mama as she provides for her family by working for a recycling program. Love of family enables her to move forward with hope for a better future. Despite Mama’s extreme efforts to support her family, she lacks needed resources and support from the government. A reoccurring theme of unfulfilled government promises leads to mistrust between the people and politicians. “One is No One” unveils systemic flaws in order to encourage discussion about how to structure an ideal political, social, and economic order capable of providing opportunity for those struggling in poverty.

No Trace Films, the name the Villanova documentary class adopted for their working group, represents the students’ aim to travel to Costa Rica, tell the story of the people they met without interfering in their lives, and depart without leaving a trace of their trip behind.

“Beyond the Lens Conference”

The “Beyond the Lens” Conference will be held from 6 – 7:30 p.m. in the Driscoll Hall Auditorium on Thursday, April 30. It is free and open to the public. The event will serve to raise awareness of the social justice issues the students discovered while in Costa Rica, especially how unequal distribution of opportunity prevents underserved populations from reaching their potential. Keynote speaker Clare Munn, acclaimed media executive and social justice activist, along with the No Trace Films crew, will address questions such as: “When does passion fail in storytelling? When does activism backfire? When does impact happen?” Other highlights of the conference include a question and answer session about the film with the No Trace Films crew, a screening of the film’s trailer, and the unveiling of the new ALIARSE app, created by the crew. ALIARSE is a non-profit organization that builds public-private partnerships for sustainable development in Costa Rica.

In addition to the April 28 premiere at The Kimmel Center, a screening of “One is No One” will be held at Villanova’s Connelly Center at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 1.

The social documentary course for which “One is No One” was produced is offered with support from Villanova’s Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society. The Center engages students in producing professional quality documentary films that spotlight contemporary social justice issues.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.