Local film wins best feature film award


Dr. Debra Johanyak

It was more than chance that led the film by the same name to win best feature film in the 7th Annual Colony Film Festival earlier this month.

According to a judge on the panel, it was the Hollywood-like opening minutes of the film, while attendees said it was the uplifting theme and inspiring message it left with them.

Written and directed by Wayne College Professor Dr. Debra Johanyak, "More Than Chance" is based on the true story of Russian-born Kelsey Minick who overcame tragedy suffered at the hands of her first adoptive father, to later find love and acceptance in the Minick family living in Akron. Along the way, she develops a special bond with troubled high school student Melissa Preston, and together they inspire one another to realize their individual dreams. The film is rated PG.

The Colony Film Festival is a showcase for emerging filmmakers from around the country. All proceeds from the event went toward the continued restoration of the Colony Theater located in historic downtown Marietta, Ohio. Previously called the Hippodrome, it was built for vaudeville productions in 1911 and has endured as a cultural center for the arts since then.

Film experience benefits teaching

"Filmmaking for me is a fun pastime as a visual medium of storytelling,” says Johanyak, who teaches Shakespeare and His World at The University of Akron Wayne College. "Producing movies is impacting how I teach course material at Wayne College, in learning to use more visual elements."

Johanyak is currently producing a romantic comedy titled "House Calls." She says some crew members have Hollywood film experience that she believes will further improve the quality of this and future productions.

In addition to making movies, Johanyak is a successful author who has penned two books, "Shakespeare’s World" and "Behind the Veil." 

See the film trailer at "More Than Chance." The film is available for viewing on Netflix.

Wayne College is a regional campus of The University of Akron and offers a number of associate degree programs along with the first two years of general bachelor's degree courses for students who intend to complete their studies at the Akron campus or another college or university. Wayne College offers a Bachelor of Organizational Supervision (BOS) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in addition to a number of noncredit, professional development classes.

Media contact: Debbie Muniak, 330-684-8729 or dmuniak@uakron.edu.