Death Metal Angola UPDATE


Local film festival aims to bring social issues to the forefront

Eighteen-year-old Israeli model and beauty queen, Linor Abargil, was kidnapped, stabbed and raped by a travel agent outside of Milan, Italy, in 1998. Six weeks later, she was forced to put on a smile when she was crowned Miss World on national television. That’s when she vowed to use her crown as a platform to speak out against sexual violence.

“Because I believe that the title of Miss World holds a responsibility for social action, I would like to give my crown a personal and meaningful context,” Abargil wrote on the website for the documentary about her story, “Brave Miss World.”

The fourth annual Reel Change Documentary Film Festival is screening “Brave Miss World” at Court Square Theater on Thursday at 7 p.m.  Four other call-to-action documentaries about social issues will also be screened throughout the week, Monday through Friday, with free admission and each airing at 7 p.m. The films were handpicked by the student director of the festival, senior media art and design major Marley McDonald, and Shaun Wright, an assistant professor in the School of Media Arts and Design and faculty director of the festival.

“Documentaries are just an awesome art form,” McDonald said. “Telling real stories and real issues through film is really important.”

Documentaries about veganism, poverty and the struggles of crossing the United States/Mexico border will also be screened at Reel Change this week. Skype Q-and-A sessions will be hosted after several of the screenings with the directors of the films, one of them being Abargil, who will be answering questions all the way from Israel on Thursday.

“[Being able to see these films is] not something that’s widely available, and it’s happening right in our backyard,” Sabrena Deal, the director of marketing and social media for the festival, and media arts and design instructor, said. “This is a really unique opportunity and it will without a doubt be worth the time spent.”

JMU’s Community Service-Learning is co-sponsoring the screening of “Brave Miss World” and the following Q-and-A session. Three Notch’d Brewing Co. and the Arts Council of the Valley also helped sponsor the festival, bringing together the university and the greater Harrisonburg community.

“The whole idea is to share the films and get people thinking critically [about the issues], making them feel more aware,” Wright said.

The film being screened on Friday is “Death Metal Angola.” It’s about an orphanage in Angola that found death metal music to be a source of hope, so it started the first death metal music festival in the area. After the screening, a concert will be held at Three Notch’d at 9:30 p.m. For every beer sold, a dollar will be donated to Okutiuka, the orphanage and nonprofit organization that the film is centered on.

“Harrisonburg is a very small community and small communities tend to care about these issues a lot more,” Alejandra Buitrago, a senior media arts and design major, and one of the directors of public relations for the festival, said. “Part of JMU’s mission statement is to include the community.”

By holding the festival downtown, the directors of Reel Change hope to impact all of Harrisonburg.

“There needs to be a dialogue between these two different groups,” Deal said. “That’s part of why I think this festival is really valuable.” 

 Contact Julia Nelson at