Towson University sends a message of individuality and diversity at this year’s WAMM Film Festival

 

To shed light on some of the local women and minority film directors, a local university holds an annual film festival just for that purpose.

The Towson University 7th annual WAMM (Women And Minorities in Media) film festival took place from Thursday, April 3, 2014 to Saturday, April 5, 2014.

On Friday’s section of the festival, ten diverse types of motion pictures were shown. Some were animation pictures, some were live-action narratives, some were documentaries and one was a music video.

All of these motion pictures had some sort of special message or tribute towards women, minorities or even female minorities.

A film that really stood out was entitled “Tryouts.” This nearly 14-minute professionally made narrative told the story of a female Muslim high school student, Nayla, who has been practicing hard with her friends to make it on the cheering team.

But after giving it her all as she tried out with her friends, the cheering tryout judges said that Nayla could not wear her religiously worn Hijab (head dress) during the cheering practices or events.

After being picked on by bystanding students, being rejected by her cheer friends and not being allowed by her mother to cheer without her hijab, Nayla thought of a brilliant and clever plan to make everyone happy.

Nayla decided to shave her head. This would allow her freedom of not having to wear a hijab, since she had no hair. The last shot of the last scene in this film is of the cheering committee, who rejected Nayla, looking at her bald head as Nayla takes off her hijab.

Festival director Elsa Lankford has been the festival director for seven years.

“I try to take what works each year and build on it,” Lankford said. “A big part of that is marketing and branding the festival – and making it an enjoyable, fun, learning experience.”

At this year’s WAMM fest, there was a special appearance by one of the film’s directors.

Matthew Vandyke directed the film entitled “Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution,” he attended the festival and was asked to come up in front of the audience to answer questions and speak about his film, which is about the current Syrian civil war which first began on March 15, 2011.

Vandyke also discussed an issue he had with budgeting.

A good way for Lankford to hear about the success of the festival is people talking about their favorite films.

“I usually get comments about how eclectic and diverse the programming is, in a really good way,” Lankford said. “People laugh and cry, and people are coming back each year.”

Lankford also notes the festival’s main point and overall message, something that she hoped left with the audience.

“The main point of WAMM is that the right now, media production is not diverse – in age, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.,” Lankford said. “Each film will have a specific message – but the overall message is the power of an individual’s voice in media to entertain and to educate.”

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