Second Annual Festival Brings Film Lovers Together

The Neumann Inspires Film Festival brought campus and community people together not just for movies, but conversation and connection.  

There were discussion panels and Q&As, receptions, and workshops. People gathered in corridors between blocks of films.  

“I love bringing the community together and to have everyone at this school to see what a special place this is,” said Professor Kerry Hustwit, the festival general manager.  

The premier panel discussion was by the creators of the new biopic Cabrini about America’s first saint, the patron saint of immigrants. 

Mother Cabrini is listed as the film’s executive producer, but its earthly leader was J. Eustace Wolfington. He stressed that no one should make money from her story, so he created a non-profit to produce the film.  

Many people shed tears while viewing the movie, some even getting watery eyes when talking about their experiences and how they could relate to its spiritual message.  

“Among all this growth and all this opportunity that people found in the Americas, you cannot build a community with a lack of faith and without recognizing the dignity of all those around you,” said Jackie Martin, executive director of student advisement and progression for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.  

It was one of the first opportunities for people to see the new movie about Mother Cabrini and the house was full.  

Saturday’s headlining film, Lucky Louie by Daniel, Tammy, and Grace Roebuck, was a much lighter film but held some of the same values as Cabrini.  

Lucky Louie was also produced by a non-profit organization, Channel of Peace, founded by the Roebucks. As with Cabrini, it featured Christian faith as inspirational. 

Next year, the Sisters of Saint Francis of Philadelphia, the founders of Neumann University, will provide the inspiration. Faculty and staff at Neumann are currently making a feature-length documentary about their remarkable achievements and the film will debut at the festival.  

Festival Director Sara McDermott led a team of faculty and students who organized the festival. 

We “got the right team of people together and it has been energetic and fun right from the start,” said Professor Jim Kain, creative consultant for the festival.  

The team works all year round and includes four student interns and five faculty members in addition to the director and a staff member.  

The festival now hosts events throughout the year as well, such as a screening in the fall of Jimmy in Saigon, which included a director's talk.  

Making the festival is a lot of work, like making a film, said Professor and Festival Chair Joe Glass, “[People] don’t realize how many hours go into a film for seconds worth of video footage.”  

Like any good film festival, there were juried prizes. 

Dia, the Conservation Dog by Ciara Kain won Best Documentary; Mercy’s Blessing by May Taherzadeh won the Inspiration Award; Two Strangers who Meet Five Times by Marcus Marlou won Best Narrative Film; Dance by Elizabeth Cavaliere won Best Student Film; Dizzy Fingers by Joe Cipriani was the audience favorite; and Best of the Festival went to Wanted: Strong Women by Marilyn Cooke.  

 “I am on a lot of committees and the film fest committee is my favorite,” said professor Janis Chakars, creative consultant. “The festival is a gift to the community, the university, the students, and the filmmakers all of whom come together for a day and a half of beautiful thought-provoking art and interaction.”  

This year the festival included a late-night screening of student work from Neumann and the Media Arts Council Film Initiative as well as a film and photography exhibit about Spain in the library.