A scene from Grassroots in Dry Lands

Human rights films make hope possible

Amnesty International Nelson is presenting the 16th annual Human Rights Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 29, and Saturday, Jan. 30.

Amnesty International Nelson is presenting the 16th annual Human Rights Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 29, and Saturday, Jan. 30 at the Shambhala Music and Performance Hall at Selkirk College in Nelson. This volunteer-run festival features eye-opening, must-see films that offer both inspiration and information.

“We invite people to come and learn from and celebrate the remarkable work of these talented filmmakers, who brave threats and danger to capture moving stories about human rights abuse, resistance, and triumph,” said George Chandler, a local Amnesty volunteer.

The festival kicks off on Friday evening at 7 p.m. with The Abominable Crime, a story about a mother’s love for her child and an activist’s love for his country. Spanning five countries, it explores the impacts of homophobia through the eyes of two gay Jamaicans who are forced to choose between their homeland and their lives.

At 8:35, Lessons in Dissent is a vivid portrait of a generation of Hong Kongers committed to creating a new more democratic Hong Kong. Filmed over 18 months, this film offers a kaleidoscopic and visceral experience of their struggle.

Saturday afternoon showings begin at 1 p.m. with Highway of Tears. Matt Smiley’s hard-hitting documentary movingly relates the personal stories of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. He investigates the systemic problems that contributed to their fate, as well as how contemporary First Nations leaders are striving to make change.

At 2:45, Grassroots in Dry Lands tells the story of three unconventional social workers united by a common vision that transcends the antagonisms between their countries. These women from Jordan, Israel, and Occupied Palestinian Territories are empowering some of the region’s most disenfranchised, war-scarred communities in an effort to build a just and civil society.

The festival closes on Saturday evening, starting at 7 p.m. with Allende’s Grandchildren. The right to free education is the motto of the heroes of this film about the 2012 student riots in Chile that occurred in response to the privatization of the educational system. This is the story of Filipe and his friends, who refused to give up and leave their school, despite the threat of clashes with riot police, who are just behind the fence.

The 8:15 film is Casablanca Calling, the story of a quiet social revolution in Morocco. In a country where 60 per cent of women have never been to school, a new generation of women have started work as official Muslim leaders. They work in some of the poorest communities to separate the true teachings of Islam from prejudice and misunderstanding, support girls’ education, campaign against early marriage, and encourage young people to build a better Morocco, rather than dreaming of life in the West.

Doors open Friday and Saturday evenings at 6:30 p.m. and at 12:30 on Saturday afternoon.

“These films have the power to take us away from our own lives, and to awaken our curiosity and concern about the human condition,” said Chandler, “As well, they communicate inspiration that helps to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.”

Films will also be shown in Castlegar Thursday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Mir Centre, Selkirk College (The Highway of Tears) and Kaslo on Friday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Langham Hall (Casablanca Calling).

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