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Villanova University Social Justice Documentary Examines West African Migrant Crisis in Italy

Team of 17 students produced ‘Limbo,’ which premieres on April 24 in Philadelphia

Villanova University Social Justice Documentary Examines West African Migrant Crisis in Italy

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Approaching the conclusion of a year-long social justice documentary course, 17 Villanova University students will host a conference and debut their film, which explores the issue of African migrants seeking refuge in Italy, this weekend at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.

The student-run production group, Crosscurrent Pictures, will host a conference on Saturday, April 23 from 3-6:30 p.m. on campus that will focus on the experience of African migrants in Italy and the perspectives of Italians on the issue. Luigi Ceccarini, professor of politics at the University of Urbino Carlo Bo, will be the keynote speaker and address, “Immigration, Public Opinion and Politics at a Crossroads with Global Crises.”  The following evening, Sunday, April 24, Crosscurrent Pictures will debut their documentary, “Limbo” at the Kimmel Center at 7 p.m.

The “Limbo” premiere is free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved by visiting

The migrant and refugee crisis facing millions of people around the world has been well-documented. The student group traveled to Italy last fall to learn first-hand about the issue.

Many flee the war torn Middle East, while others seek refuge from Africa. In the last two years, nearly 325,000 people risked their lives to cross the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean Sea to find a better life in Europe –specifically, Italy. Those that arrived safely in Italy face unfavorable conditions and an unwelcoming government that leave them waiting to wonder what’s next.

The Crosscurrent Pictures film, titled “Limbo,” includes the stories and raw emotion that migrants from the West African nations of Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria together with supporters on the ground face on a daily basis, with no clear sign of what’s next – or when. To further complicate matters, the migrants face a large amount of scrutiny and prejudice from native Italians and their government.

“The first time we walked in, we were scared of the rawness of the migration crisis,” said co-director Olivia Bickel. “Once we began conversing and listening to the migrants’ stories and frustrations, we found purpose in our work. Following them through their journey gives us hope and allows us to see their new beginnings. This is why these stories matter. These stories are real.”

The social justice documentary class is a year-long course offered by Villanova’s Department of Communication that gives students an opportunity to create a documentary film dedicated to a social justice topic.

“This has been one of the more memorable experiences our students have had, telling the story of one of the true social issues facing our world today,” said professor Hezekiah Lewis, who teaches the social justice documentary class. “Every year, we try to give our students the best possible experience by exposing them to topics that make them more informed and knowledgeable young adults. I think the students did a wonderful job to continue the conversation on this important issue.”