SJC Executive Director on the Justice Film Fest and Upcoming Activities

Nicole Finigan Ndzibah speaks at the podium of the Justice Film Festival
Ndzibah introducing a film at the Justice Film Festival in FIT’s Katie Murphy Amphitheatre.

On March 3 and 4, FIT hosted two days of programming for the Justice Film Festival, brought to the college by the executive director of the Social Justice Center at FIT, Nicole Finigan Ndzibah. She spoke with us about collaborating with the festival and upcoming SJC events. 

Nicole Finigan Ndzibah sitting
Social Justice Center Executive Director Nicole Finigan Ndzibah.

Newsroom: Why was it important to you to bring the Justice Film Festival to FIT?

Nicole Finigan Ndzibah: I felt this immediate synergy when I first met with the Justice Film Festival’s founder/creative director, Andy Peterson, and its executive director, Chad Mulder, and they shared with me the work that the festival has engaged in over the last decade to amplify themes of social justice through film and provide a platform for filmmakers. Bringing the film festival to FIT was a natural extension to connect the JFF team with our own Film and Media Department, which led to the idea of creating an ongoing partnership between FIT and JFF to not only provide a place to showcase great films, but to contribute to the development of future filmmakers through an incubator program.

As the executive director of the Social Justice Center at FIT, what role did you play in determining which films were chosen?

I was invited to prescreen and rate the films that the JFF team was considering showcasing throughout the four-day festival, and especially at FIT. I watched countless feature-length and short films, and would either give a thumbs up or down, and discuss the films if I was on the fence. It was important to me to have diverse topics, which we achieved.

Which film most inspired you and why?

It is so hard to pick favorites because there were quite a few that profoundly struck me, and which I will be unpacking for days to come. But If I had to choose one feature-length film it would probably be the festival finale, Lovely Jackson, which focuses on Ricky Jackson. He served 39 years in prison—three on death row—for a murder he was wrongly accused of at age 18.

The bonus was that Mr. Jackson and the film’s director, Matt Waldeck, participated in a talkback with the attendees and offered so much insight into the film. This film, which focused on this egregious miscarriage of justice, ended on such a powerfully hopeful note that you can’t help but love it.

What other SJC events and initiatives can we look forward to this spring?

We just wrapped up on submissions for a graphic T-shirt contest in partnership with the NFL Players Association. The students were charged with creating a design that addresses the theme of health care access and equity. Three winners will be selected and awarded cash prizes. The first-place winner will also have their graphic printed on a T-shirt that will be worn by NFL players during this year’s training camp.

SJC is also hosting internship informational sessions with Career and Internship Services for students to learn about meaningful paid summer employment opportunities with various corporate partners.

And toward the end of March, we are launching the SJC Exchange Speaker Series with a fireside chat featuring celebrity stylist and costume designer Pamela Watson in conversation with yours truly.

Find out more about the Social Justice Center and its upcoming events at

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