Illuminating Oppression:

8th Annual Human Rights Film Festival (HRFF)

HRFF is an annual three–day festival featuring award–winning documentaries by independent filmmakers from around the globe.

September 30–October 2
All screenings and panel discussions will take place Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, Newhouse III

S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, South Asia Center, LGBT Resource Center, LGBT Studies Program, INSCT, The Mellon Central New York Humanities Corridor, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation initiative, and the SU Humanities Center

Opening Night: Thursday, 30 September

The Response (30 minutes)
7-9 p.m.

Inspired by the 1957 classic 12 Angry Men, The Response (Look at the Moon Production, 2010) is a courtroom drama based on actual transcripts of the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals. Acclaimed director Sig Libowitz follows three military officers who must decide the fate of a suspected enemy combatant. For the first time ever, The Response holds a mirror up to the tribunals, and allows an audience to see and hear for themselves what went on inside Guantanamo.

Panel discussions occur before and after the screening, featuring Libowitz; William C. Banks, Board of Advisors Distinguished Professor of Law, professor of public administration, and director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT) at SU; David Crane, professor of practice in SU’s College of Law and former chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone; and Gabor Rona, international legal director of Human Rights First.

INSCT and SU College of Law

Friday, 1 October

Digital Witness

Screening and Panel Discussion
11 a.m.

Increasingly defined by digital convergence, human rights media are rapidly transforming global social justice efforts and creating new standards of transparency and information dissemination. This HRFF event brings together leaders in the field of human rights to explore such innovations and their future implications on the increasing turn to new media by human rights activism.

Panelists include: Sam Gregory, Program Director at WITNESS; Mallika Dutt, founder and Executive Director of the international human rights organization Breakthrough; and Fred Ritchin, Professor of Photography and Imaging, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

Digital Witness is generously supported by The Mellon Central New York Humanities Corridor an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation initiative

Promises and Lies

7 p.m.

“Promises and Lies” features two more documentaries. “Bound by Promises: Contemporary Slavery in Rural Brazil” (2006) is a compelling short produced by Comissão Pastoral da Terra, the Center for Justice and International Law, and WITNESS. Each year, more than 25,000 workers are enslaved by landowners in the Amazon regions of Brazil. This video tells the story of men who set out in search of work, only to be taken to isolated ranches and forced to do backbreaking work in inhumane conditions. Good Fortune (2009), directed by Landon van Soest, features intimate portraits of three people living in the poorest regions of Kenya. The documentary explores how massive international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with the co-director, Jeremy Levine.

Saturday, October 2

 Queering Colonial Power

1 p.m.

Queering Colonial Power includes Rex vs. Singh (2008), a short experimental film based on a 1915 trial, in which Naina and Dalip Singh—two Sikh millworkers in Vancouver—were tried for sodomy. Rex vs. Singh restages scenes from the trial in order to explore the interplay between homophobia and racism in this little known chapter of Canadian gay social history. An Island Calling (2008) examines the 2001 murder of Fiji’s most prominent gay couple: John Scott, the decorated leader of the Red Cross, and his partner, Greg Scrivener. Directed by Annie Goldson and John’s brother, Owen, the documentary traces the last four generations of the Scott family on Fiji and, in turn, explores the island’s history of colonialism, revolution, and rising religious evangelism.

Haunted Lives 

4 p.m.

The “Haunted Lives” theme encompasses two documentaries. “Slaves/Slavar” (2008), an award-winning animated short by David Aronowitsch and Hanna Heilborn, visualizes traumatic testimonies of child kidnapping and slavery in Africa. The film is based on 2003 interviews with a nine-year-old and 15-year-old, who, like thousands of children in Sudan, were separated from their families and forced to work as slaves. October Country (2009), by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, is a beautifully rendered portrait of an American family struggling for stability while haunted by ghosts of war, teen pregnancy, foster care, and child abuse. This documentary probes the forces that unsettle the working poor, as well as the violence that lurks beneath the surface of American life.

Profits of Poverty

7 p.m

In Well Done, Abba! (2009), legendary Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal crafts a wily satire on the politics of development in rural India. After months away from his job as a Mumbai chauffeur for a senior executive, Armaan must explain his absence to his boss or lose his job. In his hilarious tale of misadventure, mayhem and matchmaking, Armaan returns to his village in order to wring a profit out of living below the poverty line and find a suitable husband for his only daughter.

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