Villanova Goes Hollywood

Nina Pellegrini

While most classes are forgotten as soon as final exams are over, the students in last spring’s communication documentary filming class embarked on a full year’s journey to propel their work into national acclaim.

Besides, professor Steve McWilliams didn’t insist that the film meet the requirements for the Oscars’ documentary category without an ulterior motive.

“The Price of Life” is a 39-minute documentary aimed to portray social justice in Philadelphia. It tells the story of Robert Childs, born and raised in Philadelphia amidst a culture of drug-trafficking and gun violence. Childs tells his story on site in Philadelphia, visiting the locations that have held the most significance during his life.

The documentary features the National Comprehension Center for Fathers, the organization which helped Childs to recreate his life and mentor other men whose lives are dominated by drugs and violence.

Professors McWilliams, John O’Leary and Dan Hunt produced the film, while each of the 16 enrolled students contributed to the final project according to his/her talents and interests.The students, with the instruction of the professors, assumed all the roles of documentary production including writing, camera operation, editing, sound and publicity. Even original music was written by students for the documentary.

Student director and junior communication major Margaux LaPointe began the 2009-’10 academic year by traveling to Los Angeles to release “The Price of Life” in a theatrical run at the Westwood Crest Theatre, thus qualifying the documentary for the Oscars.

Stay alert for the documentary’s appearance in the Villanova Cultural Film Series, running from Sept. 12 through 14. Sept. 24 is the tentative date for its Philadelphia Premiere at the Perelman Theatre in the Kimmel Center.

Come October, the documentary will launch into a series of film festivals including the International Hamptons Film Festival (Oct. 8-12), the Chicago International Film Festival (Oct. 8-21), the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (Oct. 16-25) and the Austin Film Festival (Oct. 22-30). During Nov. 2-8, the film will appear at the Santa Monica International Film Festival.

During Jan. 21-30, the documentary will appear at the Sundance Film Festival. On February 2, the nominations for the Academy Awards will be announced.

With that nomination, “The Price of Life” could appear at the Academy Awards on March 8, 2010.