The accomplished writer, director and producer Hezekiah Lewis III will bring his latest project, “Warrior Queen,” to this week’s Cultural Film Series.
Lewis came to Villanova in 1995 on a football scholarship and graduated with double major in sociology and communication and a triple minor in Africana Studies, business and theatre.
Lewis went on to earn an M.A. in theater from Villanova in 2002 and is now a professor in the communication department.
Lewis’ background in sociology is evident in his films as he capitalizes on the power of cinema to tackle both past and contemporary social issues.
Despite making socially conscious films, Lewis does not want to fall in the trap of being too biased.
“You need to give the other side a voice, and you don’t want to be too preachy because that turns the audience off,” he says.
Instead, he aspires to simply shed light on certain issues to make people aware of things going on in our world.
“With my films, I want to present an issue and have people discuss it because without discussion, we can’t move forward,” he says.
This social concern is on display in “Warrior Queen,” which brings to life the true story of an early 20th-century Ghanaian queen, Nana Yaa Asantewaa, as she commands her West African village with pride.
This peaceful situation turns sour when the British enter the village and demand one of the most valuable pieces of their Ashanti culture: the Golden Stool. Yaa Asantewaa refuses to hand over this precious piece and rallies her village to fight back.
Lewis shot “Warrior Queen” on location in Ghana, and he soon realized the different world in which its residents live in.
“It was a life changing experience,” he says. “You can’t wrap your mind around the poverty you see. There wasn’t one member of the crew who didn’t break down and cry.”
Lewis used the powerful voice of film to tell the story of their heritage.”These people have a story, but they just don’t have the resources to tell it,” he says “So, it was a collaboration; I wanted to listen to what they had to say.”
“Memoirs of a Smoker” and “Curtain Call,” two of Lewis’ other short films, are also on the bill.
In “Memoirs of a Smoker,” Lewis tells the true story of his uncle as he struggles with his drug problem in Los Angeles.
“Curtain Call” features a young poet who deals with racism.
These three films have a total running time of 54 minutes.
The trio of films will be screened four times in the Connelly Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m.
Admission is free for students with ID and $5 for all others.
Lewis will be present at the Monday screening. He will provide an introduction to the film and lead a discussion afterward.
For more information, please contact the communication department at x9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the CFS Web page: www.culturalfilms.villanova.edu.