Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Using the Power of Film to Make a Difference
Article by Alejandra Enciso Guzmán
The Museum of Photographic Arts hosted the Human Rights Watch Film Festival’s fifth year. Screenings started this past Thursday and concluded on Sunday with the films Return to Homs and The Homestretch.
The festival, hosted in MOPA’s newly renovated Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theater, entail six films that focus on the power of an individual’s perseverance against human rights issues and cultural expectations. The subjects of the films live in various places around the world, but the themes of their stories are present in San Diego. A discussion and question-and-answer session to explore those local connections followed each screening, featuring filmmakers, human rights experts and audience participation.
“We are honored to host the Human Rights Watch Film Festival and continue our partnership for another year,” said MOPA Executive Director Deborah Klochko. “MOPA is proud to be a platform where the community may participate in conversations of change.”
I got to see the movie Private Violence. A film that explores domestic violence thru two cases: Kit Gruelle, a woman that survived and decided to work on creating awareness advocating for this cause that is sadly, a constant factor; and Deanna, a wife and mother that has had enough of the toxic and violent environment that she has been living in for years, up to the point where her daughter Martina is taken away from her. In the film, various statistics as well as outrageous laws are shown. One of them: Every day in the US, at least four women are murdered by abusive (and often, ex) partners. The immediate reaction from outside spectators is, ‘why didn’t she just leave?’ Kit with her experience as a survivor and advocate multiplier as well as a hostage negotiator, is to also create awareness on that precise question. It is not a matter of ‘just’ leaving, it is a matter of dealing and seeking justice. This is not a problem that only strikes in the U.S; sadly there are many, many countries where –as the film states- women and children are ‘free game’ due to outdated and totally irrational laws.
As with all the films in the festival, there was a post-screening Q&A. The panel was integrated by: Kit Gruelle, Anne O’Dell, Ret. Sgt. SDPD, and Verna Griffin-Tabor, CEO and Executive Director, Center for Community Solutions. As well as discussing the movie and the cases exposed, it also addressed how community members can contribute to this cause, from answering phones to helping and or coordinating toiletry drives.
The closing day of the festival focused on the strength of the world’s youth as they fight to overcome the odds against them. Return to Homs is an intimate portrait of a group of young revolutionaries from western Syria and their fight for justice. The final film, The Homestretch, follows three homeless teens in Chicago as they try to build a successful future for themselves.
For more information please visit www.MOPA.org/hrwff
ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world. To learn more about our work or to make a donation, visit www.hrw.org