Creative Media Festival showcases student multimedia projects

February 14, 2019

Working with the theme “Legacy and Promise,” students at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) spent 48-hours producing multimedia projects with film and photography as well as creative writing and live performance at the University’s annual Creative Media Festival. 

The theme inspired students to explore how legacies are formed and what promises legacies hold for the future. Moving forward to increasingly critical moments on the global scale such as mass migration, climate change, and political populism, students were urged to consider what promises are being made to future generations. 

One team of students used photographs and live performance for their project “The Good, The Bad, and The Evil” to demonstrate how sometimes only the bad things happening in the world get portrayed in media while goodness is overshadowed or simply does not receive deserved recognition. The hope is to break that cycle of coverage in the future and rise above evil. 

Another group addressed climate change and the importance of keeping the planet clean as their promise for the future through visual designs. Others used film and dance to convey their ideas about personal family legacies and cultural traditions that they carry with them.

The festival, now in its second year at NU-Q “connects distinguished professionals as empowering mentors and a challenge to respond with immediacy as they create extraordinary projects over a mere 48-hours,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of NU-Q. 

“It shows that when we equip our students with the knowledge, tools, experience, and proper platform, they rise to the occasion and work hard together to demonstrate their potential as effective communicators and deliver powerful messages as a result,” said Dennis. 

Two seniors, Asmaa Benkermi, producer, and Jawaher AlMoawda, director, led the efforts in preparation for this year’s event with about 60 fellow students. They incorporated an overarching skit about graduation and designed the setup in the Events Hall to match a graduation ceremony. That set the tone for students to present their individual projects, which explored what legacies they are leaving behind after spending four years of study at NU-Q and what kind of promises they intend to uphold as future alumni. 

This year’s festival was managed almost entirely by the NU-Q students with guidance from Northwestern School of Communication alums Tom Casserly, a New York-based theater producer, and George Bajalia, an anthropologist/theater director based between Morocco and New York. Supervising the event, Casserly as the producing mentor and Bajalia as the directing mentor emphasized teamwork and the importance of collaboration as well as creativity. 

“The focus actually is the process, not the final product,” said Casserly, who has produced multiple Broadway productions, including Fun Home – which won five Tony Awards. 

Bajalia, who is a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University and a co-founder for the Borderline Theatre Project with Casserly, described the theme as a concept students could approach from all levels. “It’s something you can talk about from the family level to the community level at NU-Q to the national level of Qatar and even the broader region,” said Bajalia. He also acknowledged how appropriate the timing was to reflect on such a theme – “Legacy and Promise” – as NU-Q celebrates its 10-year anniversary and several students involved are preparing to graduate in a couple of months. 

Casserly and Bajalia have extensive experience in the creative arts, theater, and media industries and offered their insight to the NU-Q students over the course of the 48 hours. They jointly have produced the annual Youmein Creative Media Festival in Tangier, Morocco since 2015, which inspired this similar event at NU-Q. In addition to working with Casserly and Bajalia, participants received advice virtually from Caitlin Cassidy, an actor-singer-theatremaker based in NYC, who helped at last year’s festival as well.