The Human Rights Watch International Film Festival swings into Denver, Colorado, this May 20 to 26, 2010 in its Traveling Film Festival incarnation. Co-presented with the Denver Film Society, the itinerant Festival culls the highlights of HRWIFF's London and New York programs. It features documentaries and shorts from Armenia, Tibet and Burkino Faso, among other countries whose issues are too often honored in compassion fatigue and less in inquisitive viewing.
To help audiences overcome human rights' subtlest foe, the Denver Film Society and Flobots.org have tapped into the creativity of young people through a program of short films called Youth Producing Change. Seven works generated under its aegis will open this year's HRWFF in the Mile High City.
The driving philosophy of Youth Producing Change is that young people are drawn into human rights battles around the globe, yet their voices are seldom communicated.
Youth Producing Change narratives are drawn from the young lives of their teenaged filmmakers. These searching, original POV's will set the tone for the rest of the HRIWFF, to be held at the Denver Film Society's Starz FilmCenter on the Auraria Campus (900 Auraria Parkway). (The Film Society has an educational partnership with the University of Colorado at Denver’s College of Arts and Media.)
Using digital cameras, the young filmmakers spotlight human rights challenges facing them and their communities, and entertain scenarios of change. For example, festival-goers will meet the animated character of Leila, an African girl whose farmer parents sell her into servitude to feed rest of her family. (Fret not; the film, called Leila, has a happy ending.) Another film, Mozambique, centers on a Mozambican boy who is orphaned by HIV/AIDs, and who copes through unusual resourcefulness.
Immigration themes rear up in several entries, including Thoughts In A Hijab and Noè’s Story. The former is about a young Iranian emigree to the U.S. who wears an Islamic head covering despite its association with oppression back home; and the latter tracks a 15-year-old as he grapples with identity and notions of success in his adaptive country of America.
Other selections are What Courage Means to Me, drawn from the story of a Tibetan nun and former political prisoner who escaped Tibet, and Aquafinito, a look at corporations, profit motives and the diminishing supply of community water. A seventh short, It’s Not About Sex, looks into the causes and preventions of rape.
Following the program, a panel of local educators and Denver teens will comment on the films and talk about human rights issues close to their own lives. The teen discussants are involved in Colorado Youth at Risk's mentoring programs at Manual High School. A party and reception will also accompany the Youth Producing Change screening.
To coincide with HRWIFF, Starz FilmCenter will host a trade show of Denver organizations that work with youth. These are but a few of the year-round events presented in collaboration with the Denver Film Society, whose flagship event is the Starz Denver Film Festival, now marking its 33rd year.
Festival tickets and information are available at http://bit.ly/hrwiff.
Human Rights Watch Film Festival Denver
May 20 to 26, 2010
Denver Film Society
900 Auraria Parkway
Tivoli Student Union
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 595 - 3456 x250