UCSB’s seventh annual Human Rights Film Festival will kick off its month-long celebration today at Pollock Theater, featuring documentary films about global humanitarian issues.
The festival, hosted by UCSB Arts & Lectures and sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center, will span six dates throughout the month. Tonight’s event features the movie “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” — an examination of genocide and justice in Guatemala — as well as “The Siege,” which delves into the issues of revolution in Colombia.
A&L Associate Director Roman Baratiak said the program aims to shed light on human rights abuses throughout the world with help from the Human Rights Watch Santa Barbara Committee and The Fund for Santa Barbara.
“This particular series has a lot of films dealing with issues around the justice system, judicial practices and with victims trying to come to some settlement of past grievances,” Baratiak said. “Now that things have changed and democracies have rolled into some countries, we still have to hold into account the dictators and generals responsible for the various human rights abuses that occurred. Times may have changed, but those crimes are not forgotten.”
First-year global studies major Nicole Fisher said the Oscar-nominated documentary “Hell and Back Again,” which will be featured on May 7, deals with a scarred Marine sergeant’s return home from the war in Afghanistan.
“I’ve heard that [‘Hell and Back Again’] is an … eye-opening film,” Fisher said. “I want to see it because it got nominated for an Oscar and I heard it was good, but also because I have a close relative who served in Afghanistan, and so maybe it will give me better perspective on what that was like [for him].”
The festival’s second documentary showcase on Wednesday will focus on the Arab Spring and feature “Goodbye Mubarak!” and “Fragments of a Revolution.”
According to Human Rights Board chair Sophia Armen, a third-year global studies major, the movies illustrate the impact local actions have on global issues.
“Much like the facts that the [lieutenant] of Isla Vista Foot Patrol is training Egypt’s military on policing techniques and that the University of California operates two of the U.S. government’s nuclear labs that are currently deploying weapons in Afghanistan, it is important to know that our actions and our activism have transnational effects,” Armen said. “Making events like the Human Rights Film Festival is important for our students to learn from and support.”
Baratiak said the events strive to inspire people to take an active role in solving human rights issues.
“We have a three-fold mission: to educate, entertain and inspire. This particular festival is all about trying to educate, particularly students, about what’s happening globally, and to inspire people to get involved and care about human rights issues,” Baratiak said. “One thing you’ll see about films is that they’re not downers; they’re incredibly inspiring and about people who have faced amazing conflicts and have overcome them.”
Event tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for UCSB students and can be purchased at www.artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu.