Human Rights International Film Festival

A few years ago, in the audience of the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center watching A Closer Walk, a wonderful documentary about the global struggle caused by AIDS, I felt tuned into something bigger than myself. Reading New York Times film critic Steven Holden’s article about the Human Rights International Film Festival going on at the Walter Reade Theater through June 25, reminded me about that night, as well as, my day at the Cleveland International Film Festival this past March.

A film festival is an opportunity to view the world through a variety of lenses. In a summer of blockbusters where the popular theme seems to be horror and sci-fi—again, breaking up the fiction action with action that is real may give you that bigger than yourself feeling. If nothing else, seeing such films is an opportunity to see the work of passionate people who are like dogs with bones when it comes to getting a movie made about a cause they care about.

Besides, for people who are world travelers, heading to a film may shed light on some of the issues of the countries where one visits. Although one may visit a country, there may not be the opportunity to really find out what goes on behind closed doors, literally and figuratively.

Holden gave an overview of some of the films in his articlem and indicates that there is much worthwhile to see. You may have heard of some of the offerings. They are a mix of films that are new and others have been previously viewed elsewhere.

Because the films take in a range of slices of life in Afganistan, Ecuador, Pakistan, India and more–and often are about subjects that are not what one would think they might be about, they hold details well outside the sound bite version of the nightly news.

Here is a link to the films that will be featured and a link to the calendar to see when each will be screened.

Since I’m going to be in New York City next Wednesday, I have my eye on Regret to Inform, the award-winning documentary by Barbara Sonneborn. The film, nominated for an Academy Award in 1998 is about Sonneborn’s journey to Vietnam twenty years after her husband was killed there during the war. She set out to see where he was killed and along the way developed relationships with Vietnam war widows from the other side. Sonneborn will be at the showing and will give a talk as part of the venue.

If you do have a chance to head to the Walter Reade Theatre, take time to stop in the adjacent Furman Gallery to see the exhibit “Long Story Bit By Bit: Liberia Retold” by Tim Hetherington. Through photographs and writing, Hetherington has aimed to make sense of Liberia’s complicated past and present. The exhibit is another avenue to experience another person’s passion.

An artist is thrilled when people heading to a movie duck into a gallery to see his or her work as part of an event. The gallery is not open at night, so if you do want to see the exhibit, stop in before 5 p.m.