film

Created and produced by 21 Villanova students, the documentary “Sankofa”  captures the story of mental slavery and its negative systemic impact on black males around the world. Showing the complexities and parallels between men in the United States and Ghana, the movie explores the international presence of mental slavery. The group of Villanovans worked under the name Riptide Pictures, shooting on location in Ghana and the United States in the fall of 2017. 

Riptide Pictures was formed in Communication professor Hezekiah Lewis’ Social Justice Documentary course. The class gives students the opportunity to create documentary films that spotlight contemporary social justice issues. The Social Justice Documentary course is made possible through the support of Villanova’s Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society.

“Sankofa” was recently announced as a winner in the 46th Student Academy Awards in the Documentary/Domestic Film Schools Category. This achievement marks the first Student Academy Award won by the University. The Villanova team will find out at the Student Academy Awards in Beverly Hills on October 17th whether they will receive a gold, silver or bronze medal placement in their specific category. 

“Sankofa” was one of 16 winners from more than 1,600 entries from around the world. Because of the team’s award in the Student Academy Awards, their documentary is now eligible to compete for the 2019 Oscars in the Documentary Short Subject category.

In addition to the Student Academy Awards, “Sankofa” has been selected to seven film festivals worldwide, receiving first place in the Student category at the 2019 San Francisco Black Film Festival.

“As a production company, Riptide Pictures was created to produce a story that was authentic and rooted in the amazing communities that allowed us intimate looks in their lives,” Sarah Harris ‘19 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), co-producer of the film, said. ““Sankofa” is a product of passionate discussions, late nights and reflection of ourselves and how we operated in and saw the world. I am incredibly honored to be a part of it and to continue to share the message. The Student Academy award win is a huge honor, but even more so are the stories that we were able to bring to life in film.”

“These students are the first in the history of Villanova University to win a Student Academy Award-which is an amazing honor,” Hezekiah Lewis, Assistant Professor of Communication, said. “They have been on a historical journey, and I am honored to be on this journey with them. “Sankofa” is a film that will challenge you and it takes a brave group of students to take on such a deep subject matter.”

The Student Academy Awards is an international student film competition conducted by the Academy and the Academy Foundation. The Academy established the Student Academy Awards in 1972 to support and encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level. Each year over 1,700 college and university film students from all over the world compete for awards and cash grants, with films being judged in seven categories.

In addition to the Student Academy Awards, “Sankofa” has been selected to seven film festivals worldwide, receiving first place in the Student category at the 2019 San Francisco Black Film Festival.

Since the documentary debuted in May 2018, a number of the students pursued careers and worked in the film and entertainment industries.