Our Festivals

2019 NOVA Student Film Festival film lineup now available online (link below festival review)

Sixth Annual NOVA Student Film Festival: A Forum for Humanity

Festival review by Dr. Meredith Aquila

The 2019 NOVA film festival was screened at the Schlesinger Auditorium on Alexandria campus to an audience of more than four hundred. In her welcoming remarks, Cinema Professor, Lucy Gebre Egziabher, repeated what she tells her students, that films should hold a mirror to society. Professor Lucy’s announcement of the Joe Windham Award for Cinematic Activism was a tribute to a former colleague whose dedication was being memorialized, as it was a stamp on the role of cinema for social activism.

Out of two hundred and ninety entries, a careful selection of films portrayed documentary, narrative fiction, animation, and experimental, and the diversity of the film genres and cinema styles ranged from American, Chinese, Iraqi, Turkish, and Azerbaijani to Iranian, Mexican, and Tunisian filmmakers. The films treated burning issues of our time depicting government surveillance, gun violence, LGBTQ persecution, and acts of terrorism just to mention a few poignant topics.

The festival showcased 15 original short films 8 by NOVA students and 7 by international peers in the “Films Without Walls” series which welcomes submissions by film students from across the globe. Included in the series were films that addressed the theme of the year: Immigration & Refugees.  The series were created by Professor Lucy Gebre Egziabher, with the objective to have, each year, film students from various parts of the world address a given theme as it pertains to their respective realities.

This year, a selection of films from Iran, Mexico, and the U.S.  recognized the challenges, fears, and injustices suffered by so many who leave their homes behind in search of a better life. The centerpiece of the Festival was the debut of “Siempre Experanza,” a creation of the Film Collaborative International ­– a partnership between NOVA Alexandria students and students from two institutions in Oaxaca, Mexico: 100 Escuela de Cine and UNIVAS – Universidad José Vasconcelos. Communicating with thousands of miles between them, students from the three institutions acted, directed, filmed, and edited an original, haunting tale of an undocumented family trying to find the American dream.

After a sumptuous reception of middle eastern food, the screening kicked off with  welcome messages from Prof. Lucy Gebre-Egziabher, Founder and Director of the festival, the Dean of Languages, Arts, and Social Sciences, Dr. Jimmie McClellan and the Provost of the Alexandria campus, Dr,. Annette Haggray; and ended with a Q&A session with the student Directors in which numerous from the audience remarked on the students’ professionalism, talent, insight, and creativity.

There were more than a few misty eyes visible among those in attendance when lights came on after the screening. The NOVA Film festival has become an annual event with growing followers who look forward to it with great anticipation and it never disappoints. It is a powerful forum using cinema to move us and to make us confront the best and worst in our society and in ourselves.

Meredith S. H. Aquila, D.A. is a Professor in the Communication Studies and Theatre (CST) Department at the NOVA Alexandria Campus

2019 NSFF – NOVA Student Film Festival – the complete film lineup

2019_festival program

The winners of the 2018 Dean’s award for Cinematic Distinction are co-writers/directors Nikkia Atkinson and Long Tran with their experimental short film Dinosaurs in the Hood.  The film is based on the spoken words of Danez Smith.

Nikkia Atkinson is a NOVA Alexandria alumna, who studied Cinema under Prof. Lucy Gebre-Egziabher and transferred to University of Washington, Tacoma, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in communications and film studies degree.

The “Dean’s Award for Cinematic Distinction” is awarded to a film in the NOVA Students & Alumnae category of the festival. Dr. Jimmie McClellan, the Dean of NOVA Alexandria’s Liberal Arts Division, awards one film for its message and cinematic delivery.

2018 NOVA Student Film Festival film lineup now available online (films below festival review)

2018 NOVA Student Film Festival in review…

a review by Prof. Meredith Aquila

The 5th annual NOVA Student Film Festival was held on Thursday, April 26, 2018 in the newly built Alexandria’s Fine Arts (AFA) building. This festival had a standing room only audience with a succession of strong films with bigger visions and powerful voices. The event kicked off with a reception on the patio on a sunny afternoon with an audience made up of students, employees, community members, and even international visitors. Cinema professor, Lucy Gebre-Egziabher, known to her students as Prof. Lucy, founded the NOVA Student Film Festival with a vision to provide a platform for students to exhibit their talent and showcase their works in film.

The screening opened with a lineup of NOVA students’ films followed by a “making of” film on the process of making of the experimental film on climate change. Professor Gebre-Egziabher’s Film Collaborative International (FCI) students made the experimental film based on a script written by screenwriting students inspired by a concept that won the story idea competition this year.

Two FCI partner schools that submitted films on the overarching theme of “climate change” were China’s Xing Tai Polytechnic and Mexico’s 100Volando Escuaela de Cine. This partnership is part of Professor Lucy Gebre-Egziabher’s “Films without Walls” initiative which brings together student filmmakers from all over the world to learn from one another and to share meaningful stories.

Delegates from China’s Xing Tai Polytechnic College were on hand to introduce their students’ film, “Snow,” and to enjoy other international contributions from Belarus, Congo, Germany, Italy, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and the United States.

Xing Tai Vice President, Liu Weihong, Director of Arts and Media, Yang Zhihong, and Vice Director of the International Office, Wei Wei endured a long flight and weathered the jet lag to attend the event, but their students made them proud, and they expressed sheer delight with the entire event and its participants.

The audience was remarkably impressed by the creativity and talent displayed in the wide variety of genres, including animation, narrative fiction, documentary, experimental, and promotional videos. NOVA alumni had a significant presence in the festival lineup. Nikkia Atkinson’s film entitled “Dinosaurs in the Hood” was a powerful visual interpretation of a spoken word poem, a commentary on race realities in the US; while “Consumed” by Madeleine Rooks was a gripping depiction of schizophrenia; and Mathew Vargas, who directed this year’s FCI film “Impact” offered a wakeup call on climate change. Director Qin Wenlong’s 秦文龙 “Snow” was a heartwarming tale on how the weather weaves into life.

Other “Films Without Walls” directors including, Mohamed El Mamouni’s Pression from Morocco; Patrizia Fazzi and Antonella Barbera’s Franca from Italy, and Jubrail Abubaker’s Ailan from Iraq are among those that were powerful and thought provoking. Animation films by Bernadette Tshiang Tshiananga, Germany/Congo “Madogo” and from Belarus director Evgeniy Zarutski’s “The Toy” were entertaining social commentaries while “Alphabet” by a film by Kianoush Abedi from Iran was profoundly moving.

The screening closed with a film entitled, “Nature” by director Hadi Mustafa from Iran, a story woven in fine art with a message on our precarious humanity. The festival ended with a Q&A where the audience interacted with the student directors and others who participated in the filmmaking process.

Amidst the celebration of global camaraderie and scholarship, Professor Lucy Gebre Egziabher officially announced the creation of NOVA’s new Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) Degree in Cinema. This program has been a long time in coming and represents the hard work and dedication of numerous NOVA faculty and staff, prominent among whom is Lucy herself. NOVA students will now have more opportunities than ever to build successful careers in film, and community members will have more opportunities to see outstanding student films.

Bravo! Professor Lucy Gebre Egziabher for your vision, dedication and your selection of an awesome film lineup for this year’s festival.

We look forward to the 2019 NOVA Film Festival!

Meredith S. H. Aquila, D.A. is a Professor in the Communication Studies and Theatre (CST) Department at the NOVA Alexandria Campus

Visit our Picture Gallery for pictures from the 2018 NOVA Student Film Festival.

Please check submission details for the 2019 NOVA Student Film Festival here.

2018 NSFF – NOVA Student Film Festival – film lineup


Flyer design by Julia Goldberg – NOVA Studio

The winner of the 2017 Dean’s award for Cinematic Distinction Serkadis Megabiyaw with her short film Our Compound. This was the first year the Dean’s award for Cinematic Distinction was given.  In 2 minutes and 23 seconds Serkadis spoke volumes on leadership, on conformism, on peer pressure, how we treat our environment! Watch her powerful short Our Compound.

Serkadis is an Ethiopian filmmaker and TV producer, who resides in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. She took part of the 2015 filmmaking training program that Prof. Lucy Gebre Egziabher delivered during her Fulbright Scholarship in Ethiopia.

Press Release

Films from the 2017 NOVA Student Film Festival now available online (click on link below festival review)

2017 Film Festival in review…

a review by Prof. Meredith Aquila

NOVA held its fourth yearly film festival on April 27, 2017 at the Bisdorf auditorium on its Alexandria campus.

The 2017 NOVA Student Film Festival opened with a reception and it was evident that repeat attendees were in abundance and there was an air of excitement from anticipation of the films to be screened. The auditorium was packed and even the standing room was filled up.

The festival presented a selection of 19 films covering a wide variety of genres, including comedy, horror, documentary and drama. Included in the lineup were films from NOVA alumni currently studying film at GMU. Students from NOVA whose works were presented at the festival came from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines including engineering, computer science and history.

Included in the selection was a film by an Ethiopian filmmaker a former student of Professor Lucy Gebre Egziabher who taught film courses in Ethiopia as a Fulbright scholar. The Film Collaborative International is yet another forum that Professor Lucy created. A film exchange through the collaborative resulted in “Final Exam” from Ethiopia and the US about student life. Final Exam was screened in the 2016 festival, but “the making of Final Exam” was one of the films presented at the 2017 NOVA Student Film Festival.

It was evident from the breadth of the films presented and the enthusiasm of the audience that the NOVA Student Film Festival has hit a high note in both quality and diversity. The credit goes to Professor Lucy who planted the seed four years ago with a vision to create a platform for her film students to showcase their best works. At the end, students who were involved as actors, directors, producers, cinematographers, and editors had an opportunity to engage with the audience and receive critical feedback.

The festival was well organized and except for minor technical sound disruptions, it was conducted with precision, humor and camaraderie. Certainly, the NOVA Student Film Festival has become a yearly event one looks forward to. Congratulations to the participants and hats off to Professor Lucy Gebre Egziabher.

Films from the 2017 NOVA Student Film Festival are now available online. Click image below to watch:

Elena by Fernando Barrientos

(click here for 2017 NOVA Student Film Festival Program)

Please save the date for the 5th Annual Student Festival will be held April 26, 2018 and NOVA students from all campuses are invited to submit their original works for consideration.

For more information, please contact Prof. Lucy Gebre-Egziabher: Email: lgebre@nvcc.edu or 703-845-6297

Meredith S. H. Aquila is a Professor in the Communication Studies and Theatre (CST) Department at the NOVA Alexandria Campus



film line up from our 4th annual film festival

will soon be available online

(click here for 2017 NOVA Student Film Festival Program)

Elena by Fernando Barrientos


To enter your film please read submission details below

Call for Entry

2017 NOVA Student Film Festival

Submissions details:

Films not more than 15 minutes 

Scripts not more than 5 pages

Submission deadline: Friday, April 14th at 5pm

fill out entry form below and email it signed by deadline to:


2017 NSFF entry form

Send your film via WeTrasfer.com to novastudentfilmfestival@gmail.com

For more information contact: Prof. Lucy G/E lgebre@nvcc.edu * phone: 703-845-6297


Film festival lineup is now available online

(click here for 2016 Film Festival Program)

This year the festival was comprised of films made by NOVA film students AND film students in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian films in context…

This year the festival showcased films from NOVA students and from films students in Ethiopia. Gender Gift, Arogew Genzeb & Bithonis were made by women that took Prof. Lucy’s Screenwriting workshop “Telling Herstory”, that was part of a campaign launched by the US Embassy in Ethiopia to raise awareness against gender based violence (GBV). Participants in this workshop had to treat a GBV theme in their scripts.  The 3 finalists scripts were made into these short films.

Qanafaa & Ye Goma Werat were films made by students from Prof. Lucy’s recent Fulbright Specialist Program in Addis Abeba (October – December 2015). Once the intensive short term training program was completed in the classroom, students had a “from script to screen” workshop, a practical application were they flexed their filmmaking muscles 🙂 These were 2 out of the 4 films that were made.

2016 Film Festival Program

2016 Film Festival in review…

a review by Prof. Meredith Aquila


The 3rd Annual NOVA Film Festival was hosted by Professor Lucy Gebre Egziabher on April 4 web
29, 2016 on the Alexandria campus. The Festival brought together students, employees, and community members to the screening of films in a variety of genres. Students had the opportunity to showcase their work in which they worked as scriptwriters, actors, directors, producers, sound/light technicians, and editors.

The 3rd Annual NOVA Student Film Festival demonstrated the growth in variety and quality of films it featured. The films covered a wide variety from narrative to experimental films. The scripts also treated timely social and political issues on immigration and gender inequality, among others.

audience shot2The centerpiece of the NOVA Film Festival was one that explored a parallel of student life in Ethiopia and the US. This narrative short film, entitled, “Final Exam” was a joint production of her students in Ethiopia and those at NOVA, Alexandria campus through Professor Lucy’s Film Collaborative International.

audience shot

The audience was captivated throughout the screening of the films, and had the opportunity to view the works of Ethiopian students, whom Professor Lucy had taught during her recent Fulbright Scholarship in Addis Ababa (October-December 2015). A video recorded message from the Ethiopian student filmmakers added a special flavor to the event. The audience engaged with the NOVA students, during the Q&A session, by asking student filmmakers Q&Aquestions and giving them feedback. The student filmmakers were able to share their insight into their artistic choices, challenges, and triumphs and this gave the Festival a platform for an informative and intimate encounter between students and audience.

Films from the 2016 NOVA Student Film Festival are now available online (http://blogs.nvcc.edu/lgebre/) Please save the date for the 4th Annual Student Festival will be held April 27, 2017 and NOVA students from all campuses are invited to submit their original works for consideration.

For more information, please contact Prof. Lucy Gebre-Egziabher: Email: lgebre@nvcc.edu or 703-845-6297

Meredith S. H. Aquila is a Professor in the Communication Studies and Theatre (CST) Department at the NOVA Alexandria Campus


Friday, April 29th from 6pm -9pm. Opening reception at 6pm. Event free and open to the public:
NOVA Alexandria – 5000 Dawes Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22311 – Bisdorf Bldg. Room 196
Our 3rd annual NOVA Student Film Festival will highlight students’ films from NOVA AND Ethiopia!
Please do not miss this event:
5 shorts films from Ethiopia, from my Fulbright program and from US Embassy in Ethiopia “Telling Herstory” Screenwriting workshop, will be featured:
“Betehonis” by Azeb Worku
“Gender’s Gift” by Meaza Hadera
“Arogew Genzeb” by Serkadis Megabiyaw
“Qanafaa” By Bayisa Tura (Romeo) & Sagni Dibisa
“We Goma Werat” by Michael Shemelis
The highlight of the festival will be a collaborative film project made by film students from the NOVA Alexandria campus, Film Collaborative International, and the Ethiopian New Wave Filmmakers, my students from the Fulbright program in Ethiopia.

2016 NSFF

2016 NSFF

2016 NOVA Student Film Festival

Friday, April 29, 2016 – 6pm – 9pm

opening reception at 6pm

NOVA – Alexandria Campus – 5000 Dawes Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22311

Bisdorf Bldg., room 196

Our 3rd annual festival will highlight 5 short films from Prof. Lucy’s film students in Ethiopia; from both the Fulbright Specialist program as well as from the “Telling Herstory” screenwriting workshop delivered at the US Embassy in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

event free and open to the public


Submission deadline extended for

2016 NOVA Film Festival

Send your film via WeTransfer.com to NOVAstudentfilmfestival@gmail.com


Submit your entry form to:



Friday, April 15, 2016 (final extension) by 5pm

2016 NOVA Student Film Festival

Friday, April 29, 2016 – opening reception at 6pm

NOVA – Alexandria Campus – Bisdorf Bldg., room 196

== / ==

2016 NOVA Student Film Festival

Call for entries

Please submit your short films (up to 15 minutes long); your scripts (5 minutes)
New section added for the Ethiopian New Wave Filmmakers
Deadline for submission 
April 11, 2016
For more information please check out our promo video

All entries must be submitted with
a 2016 NSFF entry form 
 (detailed submission information on the entry form)
== / ==


a review by Prof. Meredith Aquila

Students and professionals came together Friday, May 1, 2015 at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Alexandria campus to share the fruits of their labor at the 2nd Annual NOVA Student Film Festival. An audience made up of NOVA students, friends and family as well as faculty, staff and Alexandria community members, turned out and enjoyed a festive spread with the opening reception followed by a night of screenings, thanks to the hard work and hospitality of Filmmaker and Professor, Lucy Gebre-Egziabher. “Professor Lucy G/E” as she’s known by her students, screened 10 film made by NOVA students, ranging from gritty documentaries and dramas to surreal experimental shorts. The festival also showcased the “best of shows” from three local film festivals: the Alexandria Film Festival, Rosebud Film and Video Festival, and DC Shorts Film Festival. Representing new partnerships with the college, the participation of these three professional festivals gave students the chance to see the work of some of the area’s top writers, directors, and producers, while learning more about their craft. Those who attended marveled at the level of expertise shown; some viewers occasionally mistook a student film for one of the professional ones! One thing was obvious to all in attendance however: the 3RD annual Student Film Festival is not to be missed!

Meredith S. H. Aquila is a Professor in the Communication Studies and Theatre (CST) Department at the NOVA Alexandria Campus

To watch our students films online click here:  2015 NSFF


2015  NOVA Student Film Festival is proud to feature “best of shows” from 3 established film festivals in the DMV area:

 Alexandria Film Festival

Rosebud Film & Video Film Festival

DC Shorts Film Festival

join us 

on Friday, May 1 2015

at the Alexandria Campus – in Bisdorf Bldg., room 196

from  5:45pm – 9pm

Opening Reception at 5:45pm followed by program

Free admission and open to the public

====== / ======

the 2nd Annual NOVA Student Film Festival

Call for entries

is now open

Please submit your short films (up to 15 minutes long); your scripts (5 minutes)

New section for  Virginia High School Students

Deadline for submission 

April 15, 2015

For more information please check out our promo video

All entries must be submitted with

2015 NSFF entry form

(detailed submission information on the entry form)

====== / ======

2015 NOVA Student Film Festival

SAVE the Date:

Friday, May 1st 2015

1st Annual NOVA Student Film Festival (May 2014) in review 

by Merideth Aquila (Professor, Communications Studies & Theatre Department)

Family, friends and fans of Professor Lucy Gebre-Egziabher’s film students got a treat last week when NOVA hosted its first annual Student Film Festival on May 1st 2014.

audience shot

The festival started with the presentation of awards and was followed by film screenings and script readings.  

IMG_9499  IMG_9504IMG_9503IMG_9506


The festival featured short films, experimental films, music videos, the film that was shot for last year’s 48 Hour film project and a “making of” documentary, all created by NOVA Alexandria film students. The audience got an additional treat with script readings of select scripts written by screenwriting students.

IMG_9507 IMG_9539IMG_9512 IMG_9518  IMG_9570


In addition to seeing the results of Professor Lucy’s coursework and club activities, visitors had the chance to engage the student filmmakers in Q&A sessions and hear about their creative process.

Several faculty and staff members attended the event to show their support, and were impressed by the quality and variety of the submissions. It was clear that Professor Lucy’s emphasis on creative collaboration has been taken to heart by her students, who gained valuable, hands-on experience in screenwriting, directing, cinematography, editing, and acting.

Reviewer – Professor Meredith Aquila


the 1st Annual NOVA Student Film Festival – Alexandria is

Coming to a theatre near you on May 1st 2014

Alexandria Campus – Bisdorf Bldg., room 196 – 6pm – 9pm

SAVE THE DATE! More information will be posted! Stay tuned!

To enter your film in the film festival please download entry form below and submit it with a preview DVD of your film and a short typed synopsis, by April 17th 2014 by 5pm. 

Drop off your entry at NOVA – Alexandria Campus – Tyler bldg., Room 226 – CST Department 

NOVA film festival entry form