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SOC Partners with Community Leaders for First Ever Anacostia Youth Media Festival

The inaugural festival is the only youth-directed event in the DC area organized and held in the Anacostia Neighborhood.

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Students at the Anacostia Media Youth Festival

On May 20, the Anacostia Youth Media Festival wrapped up a very successful two-day event held at the Go-Go Museum & Cafe. This was the first ever youth-directed festival in the DC area organized and held in the Anacostia Neighborhood of Washington DC. American University School of Communication (SOC) Film and Media Arts division and AU Community Voice Lab are both proud sponsors of the event. 

AU SOC Student and Filmmaker, Grace ChenThe team from AU includes professors Brigid Maher (SOC), Natalie Hopkinson, Gemma Puglisi and Sonya A. Grier (Kogod) and students Ava Clarq, Tambra Raye Stevenson, Aspen Farnes, Grace Chen (pictured right), Mar Cox, Riceira Graham, Ambrose Austin, Mary Supernaw, and Hélène Lupa—who spoke to SOC earlier this year about teaching young students the basics of game development in preparation for the festival.

The event was kickstarted with opening remarks by Maher, the founder and director of the project. Maher has been an SOC faculty member for the past 19 years and this year achieved the rank of full professor.  

The festival gave students tA group of students present their project at AMYFhe opportunity to share a range of creative projects. There was a full day of film screening followed by another day full of activities ranging from workshops on photography, video game design, and smart phone filmmaking to award ceremonies celebrating the youth’s work. The event concluded with an important discussion on how we can build support for our youth in the future. 

On Media in the Mix, SOC’s podcast, host Grace Ibrahim sat down with Maher to discuss her experience with filmmaking, video game design, and the youth media festival. 


“[The festival] is significant because as of July 2022, Mayor Bowser issued the dictate that the Anacostia neighborhood will be the arts and cultural district for Washington. What is exciting about that is there’s going to be infrastructure and opportunities around the arts specifically in that neighborhood,” said Maher. 


Students hold up their awards at the conclusion of AMYF
Student participants pose with their AMYF Awards


Maher conceived the Youth Media Festival after she spent a year volunteering and working with youth at Kramer Middle School in Anacostia after moving her own family to the area. She wanted to expand the experience of AU students by inviting them to work with the youth in DC Wards Seven and Eight to the benefit of both groups of students. 

Game Student attends AMYFSOC MA Game Design alum and current adjunct Che Rose brought students from, a group that he co-owns, which sets up computer-science programs for schools that normally wouldn’t have one. He said, “I brought my own kids to the event as a field trip, and they had a blast. It was also really cool that my K-12 game developers got to demo their games to hundreds of people." 

AMYF Founder and Director, Brigid Maher poses with community partnersIt’s important that youth have an opportunity to express themselves artistically which is why we have it as a Media Festival where students can submit anything from photographs to games, digital games, short films and videos, whether they’re fiction or documentary, as well as podcasts,” Maher explained. 

Yanna Contee-Jones holds up an Award of Excellence at AMYF
Brooke Jasper Weaver holds up an Award of Excellence at AMYF

To view the entire list of participants and award winners, please visit the Anacostia Media Youth Festival website.


AMYF MAY 2023 presented by SOC

The festival celebrated the youth of wards 7 and 8 by hosting a public event exhibiting their work in their community. Watch the recap now!