A headshot of Nancy AljouniAt San Bernardino Valley College, Nancy Aljouni has found the freedom to create films on her own terms.

The Highland resident enrolled at SBVC in Spring 2021, intending to complete the transfer requirements as a computer science major with foreign coursework. When she discovered that her coursework was not accredited by the universities she applied to, Aljouni followed her heart.

“This meant that I had to start over, and in turn, I decided to study for what I truly wanted to do — filmmaking,” she said.

She contacted Prof. Lucas Cuny to learn more about the Film, Television, and Media Department, and found that it “fit exactly what I was looking for: an interdisciplinary film program that balances practice and theory.”

Aljouni has always been fascinated by filmmaking, and at 12 years old, began dreaming of becoming a director. “Growing up in Syria, I never had the opportunity or the means to follow this dream,” she said. “When I enrolled in SBVC’s FTVM Department, I was provided with all the tools and educational resources that I never had access to, and in turn, this allowed me to build my skills and take the first steps toward achieving my dream.” 

Her experiences at SBVC have solidified Aljouni’s passion for the art of movie making. She participated in her first-ever film contest, the 48 Hour Film Project, and her work took home the Best Acting award and honorable mention as an audience favorite.

“I was overwhelmed by the FTVM department’s support that sponsored my team and allowed us access to all the equipment necessary,” Aljouni said. “I got to work with peers who have become friends and meet fellow filmmakers at the screening events. Overall, it was an experience that made me feel lucky to be part of the program.”

She is now planning the next chapter in her story: pursuing an education at a four-year university. “My goal is to learn through advanced courses,” Aljouni said. “My emphasis is on cultivating my knowledge in directing and screenwriting while seizing opportunities that will challenge my leadership skills and prepare me for a career in the film industry.”

Aljouni has been accepted into UCLA, and is still waiting to hear from the other universities she applied to before making a final decision. She is especially interested in taking courses about experimental film, “which will help me better navigate unconventional approaches in filmmaking,” she said. “Once I’m finished, I plan to pursue graduate studies and career opportunities in film directing and screenwriting.”

For Aljouni, there is no better feeling than being able to fully express herself as an artist.

“Most of all, I look forward to establishing a filmmaking career as I am finally free to make the films I want, explore touchy subjects, comment on social issues, and express my ideas while maintaining aesthetically pleasing visuals,” she said. “I cherish that I have the opportunity to try different things without being afraid to experiment, write characters that evoke emotions, and tell stories that captivate audiences. Now, at the age of 24, the dream of that 12-year-old girl remains the same; I want to be a film director, and hopefully, make cinema even more fascinating.”