Come One, Come All
By Sophia Kercher
This weekend Santa Barbarians are being encouraged to take a timeout from their usual rabblerousing and take an educational trip abroad. Presented by Arts & Lectures, the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival hopes to enlighten moviegoers on global politics and challenge attendees to recognize and acknowledge the ongoing struggle for human rights. The original festival, which takes place in London and New York, chooses a select number of films to tour the country as part of the organization’s traveling film festival. Human Rights Watch Director Bruni Burres says that they hope to make the film festival an annual event for the UCSB community.
The festival is a forum for exposing a variety of injustices and, hopefully, promoting activism in its viewers. In a sunny paradise such as our own, it often becomes difficult to comprehend a world outside of our bubble of beach cruisers, sunny days and beer-consuming weekends. Executive director of the Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, says that the topics of the film festival are both risky and controversial, allowing for the victims of human rights abuse – and their champions – to come alive and be noticed through film. Where most of the information we receive about human rights comes to us through writing and reporting, the visual medium often carries a bit more weight. “That connection is a powerful educational and mobilizing tool,” Roth said.
All of the films promise to be well-documented, true-life stories which incorporate issues that the Human Rights Watch is currently involved it. While each of the eight films is praiseworthy in its own right Burres is especially proud of two if the festival’s entries.
“‘State of Fear’ and ‘Video Letters’ [are both great films.] ‘State of Fear’ because even though it is a powerful and moving documentary exploring Peru during the last 20 years – Fujimori’s reign, the Shinning Path, its war against terror – this documentary is also a strong cautionary tale about how a government uses [and] abuses the fight against terror to strip its society of many basic human rights,” Burres said. “[Likewise,] ‘Video Letters’ gives us a very new and individual view into reconciliation.”
A festival pass is $30 and admits one person to all eight film screenings. Individual film passes are $6 each. Tickets can be bought at the door and are available for pre-sale at the Arts & Lectures Ticket Office. More information about the festival can be found online at www.hrw.org/iff.