Aussie Filmmaker Wendy Dent Guest-Speaks at University of Southern California Screening of Her Zimbabwe Human Rights Documentary

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As Zimbabwe prepares for its constitutional referendum, award winning Australian filmmaker Wendy Dent is guest-speaking at USC's screening and discussion of her film 'No News From Harare', following special events at Harvard, Columbia, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Villanova and Macquarie universities.

Wendy Dent, guest speaker at USC School of Cinematic Arts

Wendy Dent, guest speaker at USC School of Cinematic Arts

I produced 'No News From Harare' -and other films -on a shoestring budget in some of the most dangerous conditions thinkable for a filmmaker. It proves that there is always hope and anything is possible. I hope the same will prove true for Zimbabwe.

Award winning Australian filmmaker Wendy Dent will guest-speak at University of Southern California 7pm Tuesday March 12 at a special screening and discussion of 'No News From Harare', her human rights documentary about Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe regime.

The event is co-presented by the world's top ranked film school, USC School of Cinematic Arts, as well as USC's School of International Relations, Department of Politics and International Human Rights Law Clinic.

Dent, who is serving as Visiting Scholar at USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) for the 2012-2013 academic year, will be joined in a post-film discussion by SCA professors Dr. Michael Renov, (Vice-Dean of Academic Affairs), co-heads of SCA documentary Doe Mayer and Oscar winner Mark Jonathan Harris, as well as Ron Osborn (USC Program in Politics and International Relations).

‘No News From Harare’ is an account of censorship and attacks on the media and the opposition movement in Zimbabwe, featuring leading opposition figures and human rights lawyers speaking about the challenges of their work under the Mugabe regime, interspersed with razor sharp political comedy. “It is a portrait of persecution in the guise of democracy”, Dent says, “which Mugabe may prefer remains unseen”.

With both an upcoming Zimbabwe referendum this weekend and a mid-year Zimbabwe election looming, the timing of this week's screening is particularly pertinent. Dent hopes that USC's post-film discussion, like that at Harvard and Columbia, will be spirited and unflinching in addressing human rights and foreign policy issues, in Zimbabwe and the wider African continent.

USC is the ninth university screening and discussion with Wendy Dent as guest speaker, following events at Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Villanova University and Sydney's Macquarie University. An upcoming event is also scheduled at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Harvard University's screening and discussion, with Wendy Dent as guest speaker, was co-presented by the Harvard Humanitarian Academy at the School of Public Health, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard’s Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research. Claude Bruderlein, Negeen Darani and Charlie Clements, the executive directors of the three human rights institutes, were in attendance and spoke highly of the documentary.

Columbia University's Human Rights Master of Arts Student Council and Institute for Human Rights, described the film as “phenomenal”. The documentary also launched the UC Berkeley's Center for African Studies' 2012 events program, where a faculty member reported the post-film discussion with the director was “inspiring”.

“By necessity, the film is provocative”, Wendy Dent states, noting that the power of the documentary was proven by Stanford University's event, which was not only a full house but “successfully sparked very intense discussion from the audience. After the screening several people came up to privately tell me their own experiences, echoing the stories of fear and censorship told in the film.”

In March 2012 Dent was invited to present and discuss her work (including ‘No News From Harare’) as a guest-speaker for the USC SCA advanced documentary course. The enthusiastic response led to the University inviting her to serve as Visiting Scholar at the prestigious school, which is the oldest and largest film school in the US.

In reflecting on the film’s journey, and her own journey from Australia to Zimbabwe then on to speaking engagements at the United States' most prestigious universities, Wendy Dent comments; “I produced 'No News From Harare' -and many of my other films -on a shoestring budget in some of the most dangerous conditions thinkable for an independent filmmaker. It proves that there is always hope. And anything is possible. I hope the same will prove true for Zimbabwe”.

A further announcement about Dent's work and upcoming engagements is imminent. She hopes that the interest building in ‘No News From Harare’ and her films may also bring more news of Zimbabwe back into the press, and put an action plan for the country back onto the international foreign policy agenda.

“I hope that through these screenings we may bring ideas to the table of how to help usher in change, through a greater respect for human rights, to a country facing a critical moment in its history”.

Further information on Wendy Dent and 'No News From Harare' can be found at: http://www.wendydent.com and http://www.humanrightsonfilm.com

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