By Jeff Dodge, as appearing in SOURCE
The ACT Human Rights Film Festival at Colorado State University has announced its much-anticipated lineup of screenings and discussions for its inaugural April 15-22 run.
The full schedule and tickets for the festival, hosted by CSU’s Department of Communication Studies, are now available at www.actfilmfest.org.
The event is the city and state’s first-ever weeklong film festival dedicated to human rights documentary and narrative fiction cinema. It showcases 18 films that cover a spectrum of human rights issues, from hunger, homelessness and women’s rights to the fight for democracy, GLBTQ rights in Africa and art as resistance and cultural resilience.
“We have made an effort to be as wide-reaching as possible in terms of the programming, showcasing films from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America,” said festival organizer Scott Diffrient, who holds the William E. Morgan Chair of Liberal Arts. “The presence of directors from Iran, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Korea and other countries not only raises the profile of the ACT Human Rights Film Festival, but also helps to put Fort Collins on the cultural map.”
While the festival’s opening weekend and closing night will be held at the Lory Student Center Theatre on the CSU campus, from Monday through Thursday most films will screen at the Lyric Cinema Café at 300 E. Mountain Ave.
The Harmony Library will also host a free community screening of Planet of Snail at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 17.
Screenings will be hosted by a variety of moderators who will provide context-setting introductions and lead Q&A sessions with filmmakers, film subjects and other experts afterwards. There will also be a “Call to ACT” initiative, with more than 20 nonprofit and student organization representatives helping connect film-goers to information and opportunities for getting involved in local efforts that address themes similar to those presented in the films.
The majority of films selected for the first ACT film festival have been produced within the last two years and are not available in wide release.
The week of awareness-raising kicks off April 15 in the LSC Theatre with a 7:30 p.m. screening of Burden of Peace, a documentary about Guatemala’s first female attorney general, Claudia Paz y Paz, and her attempts to break a downward spiral in a country filled with drug cartels, corruption and violence. Director Joey Boink will be on hand to answer questions after the screening.
There are many other highlights during the week:
– In American Arab, Director Usama Alshaibi — an Iraqi-American filmmaker and Colorado State University adjunct instructor — confronts issues of identity and perception toward Arab-Americans in today’s society. Alshaibi will attend the 4:30 p.m. screening on April 16 in the LSC Theatre.
– Kings of Nowhere tells the story of three families who live in a northwestern Mexico village partially submerged by dam floodwaters. Director Betzabe Garcia will be available to answer questions after the 7:30 p.m. screening in the LSC Theatre on April 16.
– “Call to ACT” is a nonprofit fair that will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on April 17 in the LSC’s Longs Peak Room. It is an opportunity to connect with organizations, student groups and community members involved in advancing health and human services across Northern Colorado. Light refreshments will be served.
– Stories of Our Lives, which screens at 2:30 p.m. April 17 at the LSC Theatre, is an anthology of five short films dramatizing true stories of GLBTQ life in Kenya (it has never been screened inside Kenya).
– Born This Way, about two young gay men in Cameroon, will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on April 21 at the Lyric and will feature Director Shaun Kadlec and Cedric, one of the film’s subjects.
– Tomorrow We Disappear, which screens at 4:30 p.m. on April 19 at the Lyric, tells the story of a community of magicians, acrobats and puppeteers in India who protest when their land is sold to a developer building a skyscraper. As part of that presentation, CSU graduate student Kyle Rasmussen will present a 15-minute clip of an in-progress documentary called Without Color, a film about the hope for societally oppressed widows in India. Additionally, CSU alumna Alexandra Ruiz will discuss and show clips from Alwadi, a documentary following the Syrian refugee route from Lebanon to Germany.
– No Land’s Song chronicles composer Sara Najafi’s efforts to organize an official concert for solo female singers in Iran, where women are not allowed to sing in public as soloists. Najafi and director Ayat Najafi, her brother, will attend the 7:30 p.m. screening on April 20 in the LSC Theatre.
– Chau, Beyond the Lines is an Oscar-nominated short about a teenager in a Ho Chi Minh City care center for children disabled by Agent Orange who battles with the reality of his dream to become a professional artist. It will be shown at 4:30 p.m. on April 21 at the Lyric, and director Courtney Marsh will be on hand.
– The festival closes on April 22 with a 7:30 p.m. LSC Theatre screening of Something Better to Come, in which Oscar-nominated filmmaker Hanna Polak follows Yula as she grows up in the forbidden territory of Svalka, a garbage dump 13 miles from the Kremlin in Putin’s Russia.
Odell taps special IPA
Receptions will follow opening and closing night screenings, and ticket holders of legal drinking age with IDs may sample “Screening Session,” a special edition IPA created by Odell Brewing Co. for the festival. The small batch session brew will also be on tap at the Lyric Cinema Café and the Odell tap room.
The Fort Collins band vee device, which provided the music for the festival trailer, is playing the closing reception at 9:15 p.m. on April 22. Sam Ernst, who sings and plays guitar in the group, holds a master’s degree in communication studies from CSU; his wife and vocalist Kat coordinates the Global Social and Sustainable MBA program in the College of Business.
“Three years ago, when I first began conceiving of a locally hosted human rights film festival, I certainly did not anticipate such a large event,” organizer Diffrient said. “But thanks to the many organizers who have contributed to the creation of this festival, the people of Fort Collins will have an opportunity to sample a truly global array of some of the best motion pictures of the past couple of years.”
“If this first edition of the AHRFF is a success,” he added, “it will become the foundation for even larger, more ambitious event-planning in the future, with a second edition sure to attract even more local audiences and global filmmakers.”
Tickets to general screenings cost $5 for students and $9 for the general public. Opening and closing night tickets include admission to a post-screening reception and cost $8 for students and $12 for the general public. Group ticket discounts are available while supplies last. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In addition to visiting www.actfilmfest.org, keep up to date with ACT on social media by liking the ACT Facebook page, following @actfilmfest on Twitter, and using the hashtags #ACTfilmfest and #takeACTion.
The purpose of ACT is to expose audiences to aspects of life that are often ignored in mainstream cultural productions, enlightening them and perhaps leading to a more engaged citizenry. ACT is a production of the Department of Communication Studies in CSU’s College of Liberal Arts and inspired by scholarship made possible through the William E. Morgan Chair of Liberal Arts held by Diffrient. The core team responsible for programming and producing the event includes Carol Busch, Greg Dickinson and Kristy King. The ACT name and brand were conceived and developed by the festival’s founding sponsor, One Tribe Creative, a full-service branding and marketing firm located in Fort Collins. All festival partners and sponsors are listed online at www.actfilmfest.org.