15th Annual USF Human Rights Film Festival to Bring Award-Winning Documentaries to Bay Area

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Free Three-Day Program Highlights Social Justice Issues Across Eight Countries

“Especially at this time of heightened political awareness and concern, documentaries can deepen understanding of the world around us," said Susana Kaiser, USF associate professor of Media Studies.

Celebrating its 15th year of bringing award-winning documentary films to the Bay Area, the University of San Francisco will host the USF Human Rights Film Festival at the Presentation Theater (2350 Turk Boulevard at Masonic Ave.), Thursday-Saturday, March 23-25. The three-day festival will showcase 14 films from eight countries, including winners of the Tribeca and Sundance film festival awards. This USF event is free to the public, and includes four to five screenings each day. A complete line-up can be found at https://www.usfca.edu/arts-sciences/about/human-rights-film-festival.

“Especially at this time of heightened political awareness and concern, documentaries can deepen understanding of the world around us, and motivate audiences to help make the world a better place,” said Susana Kaiser, USF associate professor of Media Studies and Latin American Studies, director of Cine Acción, and organizer of the festival. “We are thrilled to host this free festival for the 15th year, and celebrate the groundbreaking work of documentary filmmakers who have illuminated critical human rights issues with in-depth, fact-based reporting and artistic vision, often at great personal risk.”

Among the festival’s many films to have pushed social and political boundaries to expose human rights issues are:

● “Hooligan Sparrow,” a real-life thriller on the Chinese government’s cover up of a kidnapping and alleged rape of six girls by their school headmaster and government official.
● “Outrun,” which focuses on the challenges of the LGBT community in the Philippines.
● “Les Sauteurs,” which documents the struggles of African migrants on the border of Morocco and Spain.
● “Sonita,” which spotlights an aspiring, young female rapper in Iran, who fights to be the voice of women who are silenced in contemporary Iran.

Other films included in the line-up pan over topics closer to home, such as the U.S. prison system and police culture in “The Prison in Two Landscapes” and “Do Not Resist,” and the human cost of environmental conflict in the Amazon rainforest in “When Two Worlds Collide.”

Featured films by USF alumni include: “Surviving International Boulevard,” a short documentary about sex trafficking in Oakland, Calif., by Sian Taylor Gowan, and “Oklahoma City,” a cautionary tale about Timothy McVeigh and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, produced by Emily Singer Chapman. Gowan and Chapman will be present at the festival to discuss their films. Also present for a post-film “Q&A” will be U.S. veteran and USF graduate, Asma Echen, who was among the whistleblowers featured in “National Bird,” Sonia Kennebeck’s acclaimed film on the secret U.S. drone war.

The festival begins with a series of short films produced by current USF students at 11 a.m., Thursday, March 23, and closes with the sneak preview of “Adios Amor- The Search for Maria Moreno” at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, March 25. Maria Moreno is the story of an impoverished migrant mother of twelve who crusaded for farm worker justice in the U.S. during the 1950s.

For a full schedule and descriptions of the selected films, please visit https://www.usfca.edu/arts-sciences/about/human-rights-film-festival.

Journalists interested in covering the festival or who would like to interview with Susana Kaiser, should contact Jennifer Kriz at (415) 422-2697 or jkriz(at)usfca(dot)edu.

About the University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco is located in the heart of one of the world’s most innovative and diverse cities and is home to a vibrant academic community of students and faculty who achieve excellence in their fields. Its diverse student body enjoys direct access to faculty, small classes, and outstanding opportunities in the city itself. USF is San Francisco’s first university, and its Jesuit Catholic mission helps ignite a student’s passion for social justice and a desire to “Change the World from Here.” For more information, please visit usfca.edu.

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