Photo: Courtesy of the DC Web Fest
Photo: Courtesy of the DC Web Fest

DC Web Fest Unveils Unseen Realities

The DC Web & Digital Media Festival has done it again. Since 2013, founder Otessa Marie Ghadar has brought together award-winning global online creators to exchange ideas, perspectives and experiences with content consumers of all walks of life. She, along with her team of seven, has ushered in the fifth annual DC Web Fest with a careful look at what five more years may produce in the world of digital technologies, especially as it relates to our use of online content.

Festivalgoers have more to gain from visiting this year’s festival than simply watching content that wows and exposes presumably unseen realities. The lines between filmmaker and audience are intentionally blurred as, “It’s the audience that makes the festival a success,” explains Ghadar. Participants will notice the extra sense of priority assigned to their involvement and level of engagement as they partake in the festivities at the U.S. Navy Memorial tomorrow from 4-11 p.m.

True to its reputation, this year’s festival will showcase “new media in its ever-changing form.” Highlighting the importance of online media, this year’s schedule includes 20 web series and short films, five apps and online games, and three virtual reality experiences. This collection will further exhibit the significance of online media as a competitor of traditional media.

After a lengthy chat with Ghadar, it was evident how passionate she is about maintaining the “safe haven” that is the Internet through the promotion of local, quality content. She praises online media and the DC Web Fest as a space that is “inherently diverse.” Content creators from Australia to Japan to the U.S. will have works displayed at this year’s festival in an attempt to democratize media.

Along with screenings and app premieres, a discussion among established professionals in television, filmmaking and policymakers will occur, embarking on a review that you’ll have to sit in on to gain the full perspective. One should expect, however, a lively discussion on facets of the media industry that profoundly impact us all from net neutrality to the opportunities to create in online spaces versus competing to no avail in Hollywood. Established panelists include first-time DC Web Fest participant Michael Ajakwe Jr. and returning panelist Stephani Deluca.

Ajakwe began the trend of web festival, blazing the trail with LAWEBFEST in 2010. As an Emmy-winning TV producer and four-time NAACP Image Award-winning producer and playwright, best known for sitcoms like Martin, Sister Sister and more, Ajakwe offers a perspective as one who has battled the Hollywood execs for years before getting his big break, and has witnessed others’ struggle for decades without so much luck. He has now been called upon by 30 different international and domestic web festivals to offer assistance and advice to increase exposure of thoughtfully produced content. He believes that “web series give people a chance that Hollywood wouldn’t, and it is time to fight those archaic mindsets.”

Deluca’s industry experience includes her role as coordinating producer of Gossip Girl and assistant producer coordinator of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Her interests involve understanding “the possibilities for ‘conventional’ media (television, film, print journalism) to expand their storytelling capacity and more deeply engage with audiences.” Deluca views DC Web Fest as “a gathering of creatives from many different fields within media and tech.”

“Attendees [will be] treated as participants, as makers, rather than just consumers…[all will] feel a sense of community and the potential for collaboration,” Deluca says.

This year’s festival will be hosted at the U.S. Navy Memorial on Saturday, April 1. Ticket holders will receive access to all events occurring during those times. Click here for a complete schedule and list of panel guests. Tickets can be purchased for $35 here.

DC Web Fest: U.S. Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; 202-588-5891; www.dcwebfest.org

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Langford Wiggins

Langford Wiggins is the CEO and founder of LANCAR Ink, a nonprofit news outlet that produces and distributes distinctly diverse multimedia content created by multicultural entry-level and matriculating journalists to news outlets, showcasing the impact of charitable initiatives, programs, and services aiding a plethora of communities. His personal multimedia works have appeared in five different languages and five countries on Voice of America and TheRoot.com.