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People look to the media in hope of finding characters and success stories that reflect their identities. Throughout history, women have struggled to find recognition in many of their endeavors, including literature.UW-Stout’s 2019 Short Film Festival aimed to shed light on the struggles of women and appreciate women’s work by tasking students to create a short film adaptation of any piece of literature written by a female author.

UW-Stout hosts an annual film festival that encourages students to think about literature in a new way and adapt the stories into films.

“For too long, women writers have been overlooked, marginalized or simply forgotten,” said festival founder and coordinator Joan Navarre, also an associate professor in UW-Stout’s department of English and philosophy. “Mary Shelley, author of the classic novel Frankenstein, serves as an example. When the first edition of Frankenstein went to press in 1818, the author’s name was omitted from the title page.”

Madeline Kayser, a sophomore in the art education department, has entered her films into the festival two years in a row.

“I just want to celebrate how far we have come you know? Women didn’t always get the credit that they deserved, or they weren’t allowed to write or get their stuff published. I can’t imagine it because I love making art and films, and to think that at some point in history I might not have gotten credit for those things is crazy,” Kayser said.

Navarre speaks with a passion for the topic: “It is important to hear new voices and encounter a diversity of perspectives. In “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” Mary Wollestonecraft (Mary Shelley’s mother) envisioned a better world, a world where women could strive for and achieve their potential as human beings. Mary Wollestonecraft recognized and celebrated the transformative power of education.”

What a better place than a university to host this event focusing on the work and progress of women?

This festival is an opportunity for students to not only refine their video and storytelling skills, but to gain an appreciation for the work of a marginalized population, which demonstrates UW-Stout’s dedication to bettering their students in all aspects.

“Making films is a form of making magic. It’s a joy to see student filmmakers discover fresh, new perspectives, gain hands-on filmmaking experience and blur the line between art and technology. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate UW-Stout’s Polytechnic Mission,” Navarre said.

This festival takes Stout’s mission to the next level, expanding beyond statistics and buzz words, and transforming into something larger than itself.

It gives students a platform and a voice in a way that addresses age-old issues, and encourages progress and change.

“This is why I love film. I get to be creative and send a message,” Kayser said.

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Rachel Hughes is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

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