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Award-Winning Student Film to Be Screened on Campus

Five Communication Arts students will be showing their film on sexual violence at an on-campus screening.

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The student creators of the short film that will be screened on Beirut campus, after their win at the second-annual IWSAW art competition.

An award-winning film by five Communication Arts students is being shown at a screening at the Gulbenkian Theater on LAU’s Beirut campus December 19.

The film previously took home the prize for best work at an art contest held by the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) as part of the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) both co-sponsored the event and contest.

The students – Rita Abi Daoud, Emma Nader, Imad Barakat, Jana Abi Ghosn and Pia Maria El Khoury – created the film as part of their “Introduction to Audio Visual Media” class. The subject of the film fit with the contest’s theme, “Violence Against Women: Whose Problem Is It?”

In the film, a young woman steps out of her bloodied clothes and into a bathtub as off-camera voices demean her for having been sexually aggressed. The powerful film, called “Misplaced Guilt,” addresses issues of sexual violence, victim-blaming and public harassment in only one minute and 16 seconds.

For El Khoury, the director of the film, the subject was close to her heart. “I’ve heard so many explanations given to justify rape – sympathizing with the criminal and blaming the victim. And as the ‘rape culture’ grew, my anger about it was fed more and more, and I felt the need to address it and share my thoughts with others.”

This was the first time directing for El Khoury, who is a first-year TV and Film major. The producer of the film, Abi Daoud, shares her passion for the cause. “My teammates and I are proud not only to have won, but to have had the opportunity to show women that they are not alone in this,” said Abi Daoud, also a first-year TV and Film major.

The students’ lecturer, Nasser Chour, was delighted with the win, the second year in a row that students representing the Department of Communication Arts take home the prize. “The importance of such a win is to give students’ projects a life outside classroom settings,” he said. “Participating in competitions allows them to build up their portfolios and resumes as soon as they join the department.” 

Department Chairperson Jad Melki seconded the importance of the win for the students. “Our introductory first-semester students are winning awards for the second year in a row! This is fabulous news and undeniable evidence about the increasing quality of our teaching and students’ output.”

In addition to the screening on December 19, the winners, along with their work, will be featured on Lebanese and regional media platforms, as well as by outlets affiliated with ESCWA and UNFPA.

The students had a lot of competition as the contest was open to people younger than 25 from across the MENA region, and included submissions across a wide variety of media.

“Such a win sheds light on the role media can play in advocating social justice-related issues,” said Chour. “Our students become aware of the ethical responsibility and power they have as storytellers and how that power can be channeled into giving a voice to the voiceless.”

The students are far from done with the issue of gender-based violence. “I want to incorporate film and activism to fight for what is right,” El Khoury said. “I want to use film as a medium to share the voices of the many who were silenced.”

Communication Arts students at LAU express their pride in the department’s mission to #ReinventCommunication 

Watch the full video: http://comm.lau.edu.lb

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