Our Mission

WIFI is dedicated to promoting and celebrating film production, stories from the Midwest, and education at Washburn University, in the Topeka community, and in the state of Kansas. Its leadership holds to the mission statement of Washburn University and sees WIFI as an organization that will allow the department to foster and engage in relationships that will enhance students’ lives and help them in their development as productive and responsible citizens.

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. 

Each year, the WIFI Film Festival adopts Washburn University's WUmester theme as a focal point for its panels, workshops, and featured directors. The current WUmester theme can be found at the WUmester website.

Our Vision

We hold the guiding principle that students at Washburn, Topeka community members, and Kansans should have a place to showcase and promote their work and come together to celebrate stories from the Midwest in film and artistic expression. We believe there are unique stories that can only be found in the Midwest, and particularly in Kansas. We support filmmakers in producing and creating stories from the Midwest that need to have a voice in our world and we advance the impact of those stories.

Our Story

Matt Nyquist and Maria Stover standing in an entrance hall

In 2017, Matthew Nyquist, an experienced filmmaker and director, 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.

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 August 2018, the Department of Mass Media faculty created an internal organization called the Washburn International Film Institute, or WIFI for short. Under the direction of Nyquist, a dedicated leadership comprised of Washburn faculty and valuable community members was formed.