Films Without Walls

The 2019 NSFF International screened at Xingtai Polytechnic College, Xingtai, China

Our partners in Xingtai, China, hosted for the second year the 2019 NOVA Student Film Festival International, on October 30, 2019. Xingtai Ploytechnic College has been a partner in the “Films Without Walls” series on the yearly themes.

The NOVA Student Film Festival International is a traveling festival. We are honored to have our festival hosted by our partner in the “Films Without Walls” series, Xingtai Polytechnic College. We look forward to our continued partnership.

2019 NOVA Student Film Festival International screened at Xingtai Polytechnic College


One of FCI’s 2017-18 academic year film projects

Our 2018-2019 Films Without Walls partners :

NOVA Alexandria film students partners, film students from Oaxaca Mexico for the 2019 Films Without Walls co-production on our theme for the year: Immigration & Refugees. Our partnering team is made up of film students from 100Volando Escuela de Cine and from UNIVAS – Universidad José Vasconcelos. Looking forward to this exciting journey!

“The Mexican crew is already closed for the filming of the bi-National short film next to Northern Virginia Community College in Films Without Walls 2019. Congratulations guys, it is coming along well!!! Thanks to Lucy Gebre-Egziabher for the invitation and to the for joining us A new adventure!”

Gustavo Mora – Director, 100Volando Escuela de Cine

2018-19 FCI members, Prof. Lucy Gebre-Egziabher and Dean Jimmie McClellan – message to our partners in Oaxaca, Mexico


Film Collaborative International (FCI) film students joining forces with film students from institutions in various parts of the world on the theme for 2018-2019:

Immigration & Refugees

NOVA Alexandria Cinema and Environmental Science professors featured on National Public Radio (NPR)!

Films Without Walls gets national coverage! Lucy Gebre-Egziabher, Professor of Cinema & Christine Bozarth, Professor of Environmental Science were featured on NPR, on the “With Good Reason” program. The interview was about the 2018 NOVA Student Film Festival – Films Without Walls series on climate change.

Last year Christine joined forces with Film Collaborative International (FCI), serving as an advisor on the topic of our yearly film production: Climate Change. Stay tuned for the announcement of next year’s theme. Below is the link to the interview.

FCI film students joining forces with film students from institutions in various parts of the world on this year’s theme: Climate Change

The story idea competition is now over. A finalist has been selected. We now have a story that the screenwriting team will develop. For our 2017-2018 film production, NOVA Alexandria campus students are joining forces with film students from institutions in different parts of the world to make films that address the theme of climate change. Each group, will make a film that reflects how climate change has affected them in their respective countries.

We are still looking for more partners from colleges and universities and/or private schools from various regions of the world to be part of this collaborative filmic experience by making a statement about our environment, and what we are doing and not doing to protect it.

The guidelines are as follows:

  • Theme: Climate Change – it’s impact on your community or your country (film can have a wider approach: how it is compacting your country or a local one: how it is impacting your local area; farmers, students, etc in your local area)
  • Film genres limited to: Drama or Comedy
  • TRT (film length): 15 minutes maximum

The films will be screened at the 2018 NOVA Student Film Festival on April 26, 2018.

Please help spread the word about this international collaboration. The films must reflect the reality of how climate change is affecting that particular country. It could be directly addressed or indirectly. Be creative! Join us in this collaborative international filmic experience. If you or someone you know would like to be part of this collaboration, please contact Prof. Lucy Gebre-Egziabher, Associate Professor of Cinema, NOVA Alexandria Campus – or at 703-845-6297.


Joann Bonanno, a Social Sciences student at NOVA wins the story idea competition! Joann will get to see her idea develop into a film. At the 2018 NOVA Student Film Festival, Joann will be recognized as the finalist where she will get to see her story idea turned into a film. More information to follow!

Read more about Joann:

2017-18 Academic year – FCI Launches story idea competition:
Have your story idea be made into a film

Each year film students, members of the Film Collaborative International (FCI), develop and produce a short narrative.  As part of the “Films without Walls” film series, this year (2017-18) FCI members will collaborate with students from Dundee & Agnes College, in Dundee, Scotland. The theme is selected each year but stories have to evolve around a student’s life. This year the theme is “Climate Change”. For the first time, FCI is opening up a competition to ALL NOVA students to submit a story idea around this year’s theme “Climate change”. Here are the guidelines:

  • Theme: Climate Change
  • Main Character: has to be a student
  • Story Location has to take place on a College Campus
  • Film genres limited to: Drama or Comedy

Competition is open to ALL students, not just film students, from ALL NOVA campuses

Please submit your story idea to FCI by Thursday, September 21st 2017 by 11:30pm. It should be in a one paragraph, word format. Email your story ideas to Prof. Lucy Gebre-Egziabher at  Students from FCI will select 3 ideas from all submissions and invite the 3 students to pitch their story in person to the FCI group.  Final selection of the story idea will be by Monday, October 2, 2017.

The idea will then be developed by FCI screenwriting students and made into a short film. The finalist will be invited to be on the set of the film.  When completed the film will be screened at the 2018 NOVA Student Film Festival.  The student whose idea was selected and made into a film will be acknowledged and receive a special award at the festival.

This year, in addition to students from Dundee, Scotland, students from different parts of the world are expressing interest in being part of the project. So far, students from Addis Abeba, Ethiopia and from Oaxaca, Mexico are on board. We are still waiting for confirmation from students from other parts of the world. Please stay tuned and follow us on this global journey.

Films without Walls is a project conceived by Lucy Gebre-Egziabher, Professor of Cinema at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), Alexandria campus. In 2015, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to go teach Cinema in Ethiopia. When she returned to NOVA, she decided to link up her Ethiopia film students with her NOVA Alexandria, Film students so that they can collaborate on a film project. She gave both sides perimeters for the film project and let them work on it together. The result was, in addition to a poignant film (Final Exam), a learning experience that took place through this art form: cinema.

Students from very different places in the world, reached out to each other, came up with creative solutions to communicate and researched about each other’s’ reality.  At the end, they both learned about and appreciated each other.

Promoting understanding across geographic boundaries through cinema is the spirit of this project. We are having talks with various international educational institutions about partnering on such projects. Prof. Lucy G/E’s dream is each year to form partnerships with film students from various educational institution around the world and collaborate on film projects.


“Final Exam” a collaborative film project by NOVA Alexandria film students and film students from Ethiopia (from Fulbright program)

19:58 minutes | Drama | Ethiopia/USA | US Director: Taylor Spears| Ethiopia Director: Samuel Dejene
Cory and Girum are both college/university students from working class families. One lives in Virginia. The other lives in Addis Abeba. The story follows both students as they try to study for their final exam while dealing with life’s responsibilities and challenges in their respective worlds.

(to watch film click on image below)


The experience in their own words…

One of the follow on activities that resulted from my Fulbright program In Ethiopia is a collaboration on a film project between students from the Film Collaborative International and Ethiopian New Wave Filmmakers.

The challenge was to find a way to communicate as a group on the project and update each other. Students came up with a way to communicate thanks to technology: make each other short videos and upload them on you tube; then share via Facebook! The result:

and …

I am happy to report that they are currently collaborating on a film project, partly shot in Virginia and partly shot in Addis Abeba, two characters, two locations, two realities, one story. My students (on both continents) and I are very excited about this project.script reading session2

The US side students are in pre-production:


 rehearsals 2rehearsals 5rehearsals 1

 Update Message to The Ethiopian New Wave Filmmakers