The committee for NOVA-Alexandria’s very first Film Pitch Competition recently announced this year’s winner. Led by film professor Lucy Gebre-Egziabher, the committee decided to use the story idea written by Northern Virginia Community College student Joann Bonanno to create this year’s project for Film Without Walls.
As part of the Film Without Walls film series, Film Collaborative International (FCI) at NOVA will develop and produce a short narrative around this year’s theme, “Climate Change.” FCI members will collaborate with students from Dundee & Angus College in Dundee, Scotland who were exchange students at NOVA in spring 2017.
“We train students to be filmmakers and, in the process, to also be activists using this powerful medium to shed light on social, political and environmental issues,” Gebre-Egziabher said. “The idea of exploring climate change in our yearly production was inspired by current activities on the world stage on this topic. Each year, we collaborate on a film project with film students from different countries around the world.”
Joann is not your typical college student; she’s not even a film student. After graduating high school, she didn’t know if she wanted to attend college. However, she decided to try NOVA just to see if she liked it. After initially trying a workforce program, Joann stopped her coursework with NOVA, not knowing her path would lead her back to the College to complete a degree.
“When I chose NOVA, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do, so I just thought it would be better to go somewhere where I can just feel things out. I went for a little bit and then decided I didn’t want to go to school,” Joann recalls. “But I was lucky enough some years later to get a scholarship to come back to finish.”
After being in the workforce for years, Joann started to debate returning to college and she received some encouragement to return to NOVA once she found out she was only a few credits shy of graduating.
While Joann will receive her degree in social sciences in December, she has always had a love for movies and entertainment. Joann found out about the competition in film class and came up with the concept of her pitch after having a conversation with her sister in September about the unpredictable weather. Her film pitch is about a female college student sitting in a geology class in the middle of September in shorts and a T-shirt, when she starts to think about the different ways and reasons the climate has changed over the years.
Attending NOVA has opened up Joann’s opportunities and she is thinking of taking advantage of several career paths once she graduates. When she started at NOVA originally, she had the idea that maybe she would eventually work for the county; now she’s considering film and TV and returning to take classes at NOVA in hospitality management in hopes of working in the hotel industry.
“I’ve always wanted to do something in the film industry and that’s what was so exciting about this class. Now that might be an option for me,” Joann said. “Maybe I’ll continue to take classes and go on to do something like that. I’ve also started working in hospitality management, and I would love to run my own hotel one day.”
As the winner of the competition, Joann will have the opportunity to see her idea developed by her fellow classmates and be a part of the production process. The film will debut during the annual film festival at NOVA-Alexandria in spring 2018.
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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 NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.