Film festival showcases movies from around the world

Matthew L. Self

Mass media faculty and students have been working to put together a new event that will be coming to Washburn this April, the Washburn International Film Institute Film Festival. This event gives the Washburn community the opportunity to watch movies and to learn how to make them.

Professional filmmakers from around the world will be in attendance along with university staff in a three-day series of events that will showcase select films. The pieces are known for their focus on themes about immigration, race and gender.

The campus-wide festival will begin Thursday, April 11 to Saturday, April 13. To kick off the festival, the first film showings will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, April 11 at the Rita Blitt Gallery inside White Concert Hall and Mulvane Art Museum. These showings will include narrative and documentary short films by directors and producers all over the world. 

Continuing to Friday, alongside many film selections, the festival will showcase “Laramie Inside Out,” a documentary by director and producer Beverly Seckinger, who is a film professor from the University of Arizona. The film focuses on the nationwide debate regarding homophobia and hate crimes. Seckinger will be present for the showing to answer questions about the film.

In the evening, the festival will debut the world premiere of “Imagine,”  directed by Allan Holzman, a Peabody and two-time Emmy award-winning filmmaker. The documentary focuses on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy. The premiere will be followed by a Late Night with Hollywood Filmmaker Allan Holzman interview conducted by KTWU’s Eugene Williams.

Throughout Saturday, the festival will showcase more film selections, including “#TAKEMEANYWHERE,” a feature directed by Shia LaBeouf, Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner. The festival will conclude with the WIFI Film Festival Awards Reception at 1 p.m. at White Concert Hall.

The idea of the WIFI Film Festival was first conceived and organized by Matthew Nyquist, an experienced director and filmmaker who is currently an assistant professor in the mass media department. His background in Hollywood gave him the idea for the event and he pitched it to Maria Stover, chair of the mass media department.

“So, I thought about the event but at the time I didn’t have the time to devote to it. Last fall, after I decided to do it, I pitched the idea to Stover,” Nyquist said. “I can’t give enough credit to her. She is the best boss I’ve ever had. Most bosses figure out ways to tell you no but she finds ways to say yes.”

Stover and Nyquist took off with the idea and began preparations for the event last year in the fall. From January to February, the mass media department began collecting applicants to the event who wanted their films showcased to the Washburn community.

“When we first started in January, we said let’s hope 200 people submit. At this point our formal deadline ended Feb. 28, but we had 2,000 entries from over 90 countries instead,” Stover said. “We’re talking about films from all over the world, not just Europe, but Canada, Spain, Brazil, India, China, Iran, Iraq and Bulgaria to name a few.”

Filmmakers from 92 countries submitted hundreds of movies to be reviewed by a board of judges consisting of Washburn faculty and students. The festival itself has also received funding from private donations, the university and the city.

Admittance to the event is free to students but tickets are required to attend the film screenings. Tickets to the screenings can be found at the WIFI Film Festival Event Brite website, https://wifi-film-festival.eventbrite.com. If you have further questions about the event, contact Stover by phone at 785-670-1802. Visit the washburn.edu/wifi website for a schedule of events, film screenings and more information about the festival.