University Holds First Ever Villys Student Film Festival


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale

The Villys were held on Apr. 23. 

A.J. Fezza, Co-Culture Editor

This past weekend may have been the weekend of the Oscars, but on Villanova’s campus, all eyes were on a different film award ceremony: The Villys. On Friday, Apr. 23, the organization Villanova Television (VTV) held its first ever Villys, a student film festival. The event took place at the Oreo at 8 p.m., and lasted a little over two hours. Films were shown on four screens located around the perimeter of the lawn. 

Submissions were open to all Villanova students, and had to be submitted by Sunday, Apr. 11 in order to be considered for the festival. All submissions were evaluated by a panel of seven judges, who ranged from University professors to administrators and alumni. The judges were JJ Brown (Director of Student Involvement), Dr. Debra Arvanites, Dr. Susan Mackey-Kallis, Dr. Rebecca Makas, Fr. David Cregan, Kimmy Mariani, and Professor Hezekiah Lewis.

There were a total of thirteen films screened in the three categories of Documentary, Drama and Comedy.

The documentary “Warrior Class” was filmed last year in the Social Justice Documentary class led by Matthew Marencik, Steven McWilliams and John O’Leary. “Warrior Class” tells the story of three Philadelphia-area veterans from the War on Terror. The film won the biggest award of the night: “Standout Villy Filmmaker.”

Another documentary, “Cathedral,” was created by the Carroll Sisters, Jackie and Betsey. “Cathedral” centers around Chandler V. Coleman, a retired Marine and life-long artist who creates stained glass in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The film won “Best Documentary.”

The largest category of the night by far was the Drama category.

“Abroad” was directed by A.J. Fezza, Matthew Gaetano and Jake Saunders. The film begins with two roommates finding the ideal candidate to replace their third roommate, A.J., before A.J. embarks on his study abroad semester. The tone quickly shifts after A.J.’s study abroad plans fall through. “Abroad” won “Best Story.”

“Panopticon,” directed by Connor O’Malley, is a silent film about a man living under constant surveillance. The film won “Best Direction.”

“Echo,” directed by Will Acchione, shows how a deaf girl deals with loss. The film won “Best Drama.”

“Dunface,” directed by VTV Internal Director Ally Weitzman, follows a young man (played by VTV News Director Miguel Badia) who is drawn by paranormal visions to a mysterious mansion on West Campus. The film won “Best Cinematography.”

“On the Move,” directed by E.J. Burke, shows the story of when a disheveled hitchhiker finally gets a ride.

Finally, The Villys topped off the night with its Comedy category.

“Spoons Out,” directed by Miguel Badia, shows the events that unfold when a member of a friend group is “spooned to death.”

“Bathroom Break” was directed by A.J. Fezza. The film follows a college student as he waits for hours for his roommate to finish using the bathroom. 

“Rewrites,” directed by Audrey Agnew, follows a writer and director who are stuck in rewrites for their film. “Rewrites” won “Best Comedy.”

“Russian Roulette” was directed by VTV President Zach Mann. The film, set in 1982, is about a covert branch of the CIA that is tasked with stopping the USSR from unleashing a deadly bio weapon on U.S. soil. “Russian Roulette” won the “Audience Choice Award.” This award was decided by the festival attendees, who voted for the winner via Google Form at the end of The Villys. 

Each of the winners of The Villys received a certificate. The “Standout Villy Filmmaker” winners received a $100 gift card to Campus Corner Pizza, and the “Audience Choice Award” winners received a $50 gift card to Forget Me Not Food, a cake and pastry business run by senior Erin Gresh. 

The rest of the winners received a $25 gift card to Campus Corner Pizza and a $25 gift card to Rosie’s Coffee at Villanova Station, both Villanova favorites. 

The Villys appear poised to become an annual event. The festival was primarily managed and advertised to the student body by VTV Internal Director Ally Weitzman.

“The Villys were amazing this year,” Weitzman said. “All of the films were great and we had a really enthusiastic audience. I’m so glad that we were able to have this event this year and make it fun for everyone.”

Going forward, Weitzman wishes to make a few changes to The Villys. She hopes that in the coming years, with COVID-19 behind us, the festival will instead be held indoors and films will be presented on one large screen instead of multiple smaller screens. The current locations that VTV officers are looking at for the 2022 Villys are The Connelly Cinema and the new Performing Arts Center.

Hopefully, The Villys will become an iconic staple of the University’s spring calendar in the years to come. 

You can watch all of the films shown at the 2021 Villys here: