Categories: Rebecca Romani, THE BUZZ

THE BUZZ: The Human Rights Watch Film Festival Goes Digital

By Rebecca Romani

February 1, 2021

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) Film Festival has always put on a strong program at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in Balboa Park. Their focus is on human rights anywhere and everywhere and their programs feature such seminal documentaries as I am Not Your Negro, about James Baldwin’s prophetic words to Whose Streets? about the protests in Ferguson to The Silence of Others, a searing look at when a country, in this case, Franco’s Spain, goes to war against its people.  HRW  brings the light of the camera to bear witness to human rights successes and often tragic failures from here at home to the far reaches of Asia and Africa.

And this year is no different even though the pandemic has shut down the projector. HRW and MOPA have teamed up to bring a well-curated program that promises to bring not only thought-provoking films to you, but also interesting Q&A’s with the directors and subjects of the film as well as members of MOPA’s staff and HRW itself.

The five San Diego screenings are part of HRW’s outreach to over 20 cities worldwide, according to Jen Nedbalsky, the Deputy Director of the  Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

Inspired by streaming possibilities, Nedbalsky sees the current shuttering of most the screening venues the festival uses, as a unique opportunity. “We’re thrilled to reach out to wide audiences,” she said during a press conference.

The screenings in San Diego start on-line February 2 and go until February 6.

This year’s festival was carefully curated to reflect issues that would be of interest or are pertinent to San Diego, according to Nedbalsky. Films like Missing Brooks County looks at missing migrants diverted to the harsh Texas desert, a familiar issue along the California, Mexico border while I am Samuel and Through the Night, look at social and economic injustices. I am Samuel explores rejection and censorship for LGBTQ men in Kenya while Through the Night looks at the economic realities that force poor working women to leave their children in 24-hour day care. All the films will be available during the span of the festival, and viewers can watch them at any time. The Q&As are scheduled and those interested in joining will need to sign in on the website.

You can access the films at any time starting Feb 2. The festival offers both individual and festival pass tickets. Viewers are advised to get their tickets early as some of the films may sell out.  Once a film is accessed, you have 48 hours to finish it.  A festival pass is $40 with individual films $9. There are special discounts for students, seniors, and active military. All of the films have free Q&As associated which often include the directors and various subject experts. Learn more HERE.

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