Villanova University theater coordinator Steve McWilliams came up with the idea of combining students’ passion for social justice issues with their talent for visual storytelling. Together with assistant communication professor John O’Leary and adjunct instructor Dan Hunt, McWilliams is heading up “Social Justice Documentary Film,” a course unlike any other on most college campuses.
Now, one of the documentaries made in the class is earning accolades as it reaches a broader audience. First screened this past spring, Coming Off the DL has since won an award in New Jersey’s Garden State Film Festival and a nomination in the Los Angeles Reel Film Festival. The 30-minute documentary focuses on the daily struggles of sophomore Frank Kineavy and freshman Nick Gaynor, two wheelchair-bound student managers for the school’s basketball teams who were born with cerebral palsy. “The film gets Frank and Nick’s story out there,” says Greg Hannah, disability advisor and academic aide for Kineavy, who works with the men’s team.
“We place a great emphasis on the importance of having a great attitude each day,” adds men’s head basketball coach Jay Wright. “Frank’s passion for learning and basketball is a reminder about what you can accomplish.”
Women’s head basketball coach Harry Perretta relies on Gaynor, who he sees as nothing less than an inspiration. “He teaches us a life lesson every day,” says Perretta.
Kineavy and Gaynor are characteristically modest about their roles in the film. “It was an honor,” says Gaynor. “Frank and I will hopefully carry the torch.”
To learn more, contact Steve McWilliams at email@example.com or (610) 519-4095.