To bring real world film industry professional experience to the Midwest.
The WIFI Film Festival is 100% free to the public and is intended to provide a high quality film festival experience for our community and visitors of all types. We do not make one cent off of this festival, and all money goes directly into funding the festival. The staff do this purely on a volunteer basis and solely to provide this service to the public.
In 2019, we launched the WIFI film festival to much fanfare. We were featured on CBS, NBC, the Topeka Capital Journal and the Washburn Review among others. We were able to show films from a wide variety of filmmakers including Shia LaBouf, an Academy Award winning film “Skin”, and Emmy Award winning filmmaker Yasmin Mistry.
In 2017, Matthew Nyquist, an experienced filmmaker, joined the Department of Mass Media at Washburn University as an assistant professor in film and video. Nyquist’s Hollywood background gave him a vision for a film program that would encourage and help prepare Washburn students to take their stories from the Midwest to a national stage through film.
Nyquist’s dedication and enthusiasm for the mass media program were shared by his colleagues in the department and championed by Maria Stover, the chair of the Department of Mass Media. Through a unique opportunity provided by Allan Holzman, acclaimed Hollywood filmmaker and editor, the idea of a film festival at Washburn was born and the very first WIFI Film Festival (2019) hosted Holzman as the featured director. Among the many submissions that year, the film Skin directed by Guy Nattiv went on to win an Oscar for best short film at the 91st Academy Awards.
The second film festival (2020) was canceled due to the pandemic, but in 2021, the festival featured Ashley Maria and her film Pioneers in Skirts, along with a panel arranged by acclaimed filmmaker Sue Vicory titled Award-Winning Women Talk Film.
In 2022, the festival featured many workshops and talks by industry professionals, including Allan Holzman, Sue Vicory, and Academy Award Winning American film director and screenwriter Kevin Willmott. Submissions included The Mailroom starring Oscar Isaac and a screening was held for The Stylist by Jill Gevargizian.
WIFI is dedicated to promoting and celebrating film production, stories from the Midwest, and education in film. The WIFI Film Festival exists as a standalone entity within the Topeka community to champion filmmakers. Yet, because some of the creative minds who thought up the vision for the festival work at Washburn University, the film festival adopts Washburn's WUmester theme each year as a focal point for its educational workshops, panels, and featured directors. Although the theme changes annually, the festival never loses its focus on film.
WIFI offers free educational workshops during the festival. These workshops are offered both in-person and streamed on Facebook Live. Past speakers include notable filmmakers such as Allan Holzman and Kevin Willmott, as well as local talent like Ethan Jackson from the Midday Show on V100.
The festival is both in-person and streamed over Facebook. In 2022 WIFI had 2,890 people tune in over Facebook, including 647 people for the Women in Film Panel and 331 people for Ethan Allen’s Filmmaker Talk.
To foster growth and development of professional relationships through delivering top-tier international film content in the heart of the Midwest alongside Kansas student films and interaction with respected professional filmmakers.
At the core of WIFI’s inception is the belief that cinema is one of the most democratic arts with its ability to reach large audiences on an accessible and inclusive level. The WIFI Film Festival has dedicated Its ability to feature multiple films that support this belief.
Shatter the barrier between the film industry and the Midwest.
Mass Media Alumni Partners
2023 Partners will be added soon!
Press coverage has included the KSNT Morning Show, the Topeka Capital-Journal, Majic 107.7, and V100 - The Midday Show.
-President’s Award - Picked by the President of Washburn University
Awards given by working Hollywood industry professionals:
- Allan Holzman Award for Special Achievement in Editing (Picked by Allan Holzman)
Allan Holzman is an award-winning filmmaker that has enjoyed success in feature and documentary films as both director and editor. He received the Governor’s Emmy Award for Special Achievements for the Ted Turner six-hour mini-series The Native Americans. He also won two Emmy Awards as director and editor of Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Holocaust, which was also honored with a Peabody Award for best documentary.
- Ivy Sunderji Screenwriting Award
Ivy Sunderji (credited as Ivy Mariel Pruss) is a writer, producer, and screenwriting professor. Her credits include eight produced episodes of television on two OWN series, Delilah, a critically acclaimed legal drama, and Greenleaf, the network's NAACP Image Award-winning flagship series.
-Golden Bowtie – Best film overall (All Categories)
-Golden Ichabod – Best film by a Washburn student or alum
-Audience Award Narrative– Overall vote from the audience for best overall narrative film
-Audience Award Documentary – Overall vote for the best documentary
-Best directing – Narrative
-Best directing – Documentary
-Best Cinematography – Narrative
-Best Cinematography – Documentary
-Best Sound Design
-Best performance by an actor
-Best performance by an actress
-Best production design
-Best costume design
-Special Achievement in Social Progress through film
-Excellence in Title Design
-Best film by a Kansas Middle/ Highschool Student- Cash prize
1. Film must be in English or have English subtitles.
2. Film must have been completed on or after January 1st, 2018.
3. Film cannot have been previously submitted to WIFI.
4. Film must not be of pornographic nature. (This includes “torture porn”, which are films that feature violence in a gratuitous manner regardless of sexual content)
5. Film must not promote anything that is obviously immoral.
$100 prize goes to the best overall film.
$100 prize goes to the best overall film.