UAB political science major Laura Nell Walker wins award at ConnectHER Film Festival

Study abroad class lands UAB student high awards for documentary.
Inside LNWPhoto credit: Laura Nell Walker

Laura Nell Walker, a University of Alabama at Birmingham political science student and Institute for Human Rights intern, has received a $2,500 award, winning one of the two categories she was nominated in, “Ending Violence Against Women,” at the 10th Annual ConnectHER Film Festival on Nov. 5 in Austin, Texas. Walker is a student in the University Honors Program, a specialized program in the UAB Honors College.

“The festival was an extraordinary all-day event,” said Walker, a Bessemer, Alabama, native. “I had no idea what to expect, as this was my first film festival and the first time I saw my work on a big screen. I left feeling incredibly inspired by the other aspiring filmmakers and the professionals.”

Her documentary, “Our Land Contains the Stories of Our People,” tells the story and experiences of a young Kenyan women, Grace Ndanu, who was rescued from an abusive situation as a child and taken to a rescue center. Walker sourced and filmed the story through a study abroad course taught in Kenya offered at UAB. The program, led by professor of political science Stacy Moak, Ph.D., and Tina Kempin-Reuter, Ph.D., associate professor of human rights, peace studies and international politics, last spring, is a joint human rights and political science course looking at how women’s rights, health and politics intersect.

“The trip itself was transformative,” Walker said. “Dr. Moak and Dr. Reuter were very supportive of my film work, making sure that I had access to individuals I wanted to interview and allowing me time to get the footage I needed. UAB provides courses like human rights and political science class, alongside an ethnographic filmmaking class that gave me a foundation and built my interest in documentaries and filmmaking.”

Walker initially became interested in documentaries through the ethnographic filmmaking course offered by Michele Forman, director of the Media Studies Program at UAB.

“Director Forman mentored me on this project, watched my rough cuts, and gave me advice to advance the project,” Walker said. “I feel grateful for the level of instruction from all three professors and the personal encouragement they offered as well.”

To learn more about political science courses offered at UAB, click here.

The ConnectHER Film Festival is an annual showcase of original short films by high school and college students. The nonprofit strives for social justice advocacy through film. The featured works highlight women’s issues such as women’s rights, education, ending violence against women, poverty and economic independence, and the authenticity of beauty/body image.

“There was an atmosphere of mutual support and encouragement that is difficult to come by in competitive arts industries,” Walker said. “ConnectHER feels like a community that is deeply invested in supporting each other, thus I’m honored by their recognition and acceptance of me.”