Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Apr 15, 2004

The Human Rights Watch Traveling Film Festival will return to Flint April 30 & May 1 and May 7 & 8, with an expanded schedule and two locations. This year's films examine human rights issues in Chile, Palestine, Israel and the United States.

Issues of personal freedom, government's role in public health and the effects of totalitarianism on a generation are just some of the topics that will brought out into the cold light of day in the 2004 Human Rights Watch Traveling Film Festival.

The HRW Film Festival will return to Flint in April and May with more films, an expanded schedule and two locations. This year the festival will be brought to Flint through collaboration between Kettering University and Mott Community College (MCC).

Eight films highlighting human rights issues around the world, including Israel, the United States, Palestine, Chile, Colombia and South Africa will be shown beginning Friday, April 30 and Saturday, May 1, at Kettering, and will conclude Friday, May 7 and Saturday May 8, at MCC.

Admission is free at both sites. At Kettering, films will be shown in McKinnon Theatre, located in the Academic Building at the corner of Third and Chevrolet avenues. At MCC, films will be shown in the Auditorium of the Regional Technology Center, located off Robert T. Longway Boulevard.

Festival planners are pleased to bring one of the filmmakers to Flint to discuss her work. On Saturday, May 8, Producer/Director Elaine Epstein, a native South African who has worked extensively in AIDS and public health, will be at the screening of her film "State of Denial" to discuss her motivation for making the film and take questions.

Festival sponsors for 2004 include:

  • Greater Flint Arts Council through the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs,
  • Kettering University Office of Governmental and International Affairs,
  • Mott Community College with support from the Ballenger Trust,
  • Patsy Lou Williamson Buick GMC,
  • GM Sullivan Fellowship Program,
  • Arab American Heritage Council,
  • Devinder K. Bhrany, M.D.,
  • Susumu Inoue, M.D.,
  • Richard Mach, Ph.D.,
  • St. John Vianney Church and
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Flint.

Through the eyes of committed and courageous filmmakers, Human Rights Watch (HRW) films showcase the heroic stories of activists and survivors from all over the world. The works featured help to put a human face on threats to individual freedom and dignity, and celebrate the power of the human spirit and intellect to prevail. HRW seeks to empower everyone with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a very real difference.

Kettering and MCC are pleased to present the 2004 HRW Film Festival films at the following dates and times:

Friday, April 30 at 7 p.m. at Kettering University Pinochet's Children - Directed by Paula Rodriguez. Produced in Germany, 2002. Alejandro Goic was sixteen, Enrique Paris, twelve, and Carolina Toha, eight years old, when General Pinochet seized power in Chile on September 11, 1973. During the coup Alejandro and Carolina lost their fathers, and all three lost their innocence and their youth. And eventually all went on to become powerful student leaders in the tumultuous eighties. Pinochet's Children charts three people's course of life against the background of the socio-political developments in their homeland. Running Time: 83 minutes.

Saturday, May 1 at 2 p.m. at Kettering University When the War is Over - Directed by Francois Verster. Produced in South Africa, 2002. "Killing an enemy is nothing here. I would just do it, go home and sleep peacefully." - Marlon, former BMW militant. When the War is Over deals with the after-effects of the South African Struggle against Apartheid, as experienced by survivors from the Bonteheuwel Military Wing (BMW), a militant teenage self-defense unit from the mid-1980s and a guerrilla branch of the ANC. Focusing on two ex-activists, Gori and Marlon, this documentary reveals the scars left among what has become the country's lost generation. Running Time: 52 minutes.

Saturday, May 1 at 3:30 p.m. at Kettering University Scenes from an Endless War -Directed by Norman Cowie. Produced in the U.S., 2002. A humorous and biting experimental documentary on militarism, globalization, and the "war against terrorism." Part meditation, part commentary, Scenes employs re-contextualized commercial images, rewritten news crawls, and original footage and interviews to question received wisdom and common sense assumptions about current American policies. Running Time:32 minutes.

Saturday, May 1 at 7 p.m. at Kettering University War Takes - Directed by Patricia Castano and Adelaida Trujillo. Produced in Colombia and England, 2002. For over four years, three Colombian filmmakers turned their cameras on themselves, using personal stories to expose the tough reality in their violent, war-ravaged country. Their portrayal does not aim to confirm the image the outside world has of Colombia as a hotbed of excessive political violence and drug traffic, but instead draws out the beauty and warmth amidst the larger turmoil within their homeland. The humor borders on surreal as the film moves between conversations in the jungle with guerrillas to elegant dinner parties with society's elite. War Takes allows the real lives of its heroes to break through the stereotypes. Running Time: 78 minutes.

Friday, May 7 at 7 p.m. at Mott Community College Dans Grozny Dans - (The Damned and the Sacred) Directed by Jos de Putter. Produced in the Netherlands, 2002. De Putter goes to Chechnya to follow a traditional youth dance group as they prepare for and embark on a European tour. A portrait of the group and their mentor, revealing how dancing quickly becomes their life, despite the trauma of growing up in a country at war. De Putter reveals how these young people discover comfort, confidence and dignity through dance, and the acknowledgement of their cultural identity and unquestionable talent.Running Time: 75 minutes.

Saturday, May 8 at 1 p.m. at Mott Community College State of Denial - Directed by Elaine Epstein.Produced in the U.S., 2002. Through six intimate and powerful portraits, State of Denial takes an unprecedented look at how the citizens of South Africa are living with the AIDS epidemic, given the climate of confusion and neglect perpetuated by President Mbeki's administration. Revealing conversations capture the unbreakable spirit of a people determined to conduct their lives with dignity, grace, and humor. This movie weaves the personal with the political to create an uplifting portrait of ordinary people in an extraordinary struggle to survive. Running Time: 86 minutes. Producer/Director Elaine Epstein, a native South African who has worked extensively in AIDS and public health, will be at the screening to discuss her film and take questions.

Saturday, May 8 at 4 p.m. at Mott Community College Welcome to Hadassah Hospital -Directed by Ramon Gieling. Produced in the Netherlands, 2002. A startling, close-up look at the individuals who make up the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Hospital staff must regularly treat those affected by, and sometimes those involved in the planning of the numerous suicide attacks which take place in Israel. In a twist of irony, victims and offenders are often treated side by side. The doctors take the situation for granted and make no distinction between their patients; for the patients, the situation is more difficult to swallow. Running Time: 50 minutes.

Saturday, May 8 at 7 p.m. at Mott Community College Rana's Wedding - Directed by Hany Abu-Assad. Produced in Palestine, 2002. Rana wakes up one morning to an ultimatum delivered by her father: She must either choose a husband from apre-selected list of eligible men, or she must accompany her father abroad. A romantic drama about a Palestinian girl who wants to get married to the man of her own choice. With only ten hours to find her boyfriend in occupied Jerusalem, Rana sneaks out of her father's house at daybreak to find her forbidden love. Running Time: 90 minutes.

Started in 1978 as Helsinki Watch, Human Rights Watch is the largest human rights organization based in the United States. Human Rights Watch researchers conduct fact-finding investigations into human rights abuses in all regions of the world, presses for the withdrawal of military and economic support from governments that egregiously violate the rights of their people, provides up-to-the-minute information about conflicts while they are underway. All the "Watch" committees were united in 1988 to form Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch believes that international standards of human rights apply to all people equally, and that sharp vigilance and timely protest can prevent the tragedies of the twentieth century from recurring.

Written by Dawn Hibbard
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