Students, faculty, staff and community members packed the lecture hall at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria Campus during the 2017 NOVA Student Film Festival (NSFF) on April 27. The festival – in its fourth year – highlights short films created by students and allows students to use the skills they’ve learned about making and exhibiting films for the public.
Organizer and Cinema Professor Lucy Gebre-Egziabher explained that the NOVA Student Film Festival gives students the opportunity to show their films to an audience and answer questions from viewers after the film screenings. This year, Gebre-Egziabher and her students premiered 19 films for the festival before hosting a Q&A session for the audience.
“It’s important for students to experience the Q&A, so don’t be too nice,” said Gebre-Egziabher jokingly. “If you see imperfections, point them out because this is also a part of the process of creating a film and a part of learning.”
In partnership with George Mason University and their Film and Video Studies (FAVS) program, former NOVA students who have transferred to GMU also premiered their films during the event. GMU will also host its own film festival May 4-6 which will showcase more than 70 films created by students.
Giovanna Chesler, FAVS director, said their program is about 10 years old and they currently have 200 students – five of whom were previously enrolled in NOVA’s film studies program. She explained that FAVS is a great program for students who have studied film and want to continue to explore opportunities or focus on a specific area of filmmaking such as cinematics, editing or sound.
“We’re in a media-driven environment, so the more people we have telling the story the better,” Chesler said. “It’s important to have different perspectives and more diversity in storytelling. With our programs and events like these, we’re training students in media literacy and bringing in strong storytelling.”
NOVA-Alexandria Liberal Arts Dean Jimmie McClellan encouraged the audience during his welcome with his previous experiences with the festival. He said he didn’t know what to expect but was surprised and impressed with the students’ work.
“I come back every year because the quality of the student work is just amazing,” McClellan said. Alexandria Provost Annette Haggray added that students in the film studies program should know that Gebre-Egziabher is a champion for them, their educational activities and the film program at NOVA.
Films included in the festival covered various topics including autism, grief, U.S. politics and student life. The film genres included documentary, animation, promotional video, drama, narrative and experimental video.
The festival was free and open to the community, and a reception took place before the screening of the films. Every year, the event brings in more than 100 people to view film from students’ perspectives and to discuss filmmaking. This year, Annandale Provost Pam Hilbert also showed her support.
Gebre-Egziabher thanked the Photography Department, Division of Liberal Arts, Student Life, Fine Arts Department, Communication Design Department and Technology Innovation in Learning and Teaching (TILT) who all showed their support for the event. For additional information about NSFF or NOVA’s film studies program, contact Lucy Gebre-Egziabher at email@example.com or visit or faculty blog.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.