Presenting the 2020 ACT Human Rights Film Festival Program.
- Films are listed in alphabetical order. Click through for screening details, or consult our Schedule.
- All Festival and Opening and Closing Weekend passes are available for purchase through Passes & Tickets.
- Please visit How to Fest for important details and FAQs.
A Line Birds Cannot See
E.L. never imagined she would leave her tiny village high in the mountains of Guatemala, but when her mother got up the strength to flee a violent home, she was thrust into a journey that would forever change her. After a smuggler separated them, E's life honed to a single goal—surviving so she could find her mother again. In the animated short film 'A Line Birds Cannot See,' E.L tells her story of coming to the US as an unaccompanied minor in 2006.Learn More
The interior of an East German supermarket has been recreated in a film studio where actors reenact a violent incident for an audience of 10. A troubled Kurdish man starts arguing with a cashier, and bystanders intervene, violently throwing him to the ground before taking him outside and tying him to a tree. After the reenactment, audience members talk about the hardening of the debate around migration, and increasing racism.Learn More
When men turn up dead, the old folks whisper of the aswang, a shape shifting beast from folklore. In Manila, bodies pile up and lives entwine as the state wages a brutal war against drugs and crime. In Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war, death squads have shot, tortured and kidnapped tens of thousands of drug users, dealers and innocent bystanders over the past three years. Duterte gives police officers free rein to use brutal violence, which is particularly directed at the poorest sections of society. Learn More
Balolé: The Golden Wolf
At a quarry in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, around 2,500 men, women and children break stones all day long. It’s backbreaking, monotonous work for appallingly low wages. The miners are a forgotten group, living in medieval conditions. But when the young filmmaker Aïcha Boro visits them, what she finds isn’t just abject misery, but also dignity, resilience, love and humor. A contagious optimism prevails in this frank portrait of people who refuse to be marginalized. Learn More
Call Center Blues
A cinematic tale of deportation, migration, displacement and opportunistic capitalism, Call Center Blues follows four characters as they struggle to make sense of their lives in Tijuana. Each with a vastly different story, they are all linked by their displacement and the sole choice of call center work they have in a country that is so unfamiliar and oftentimes frightening, yet other times a ray of hope.Learn More
Changing The Game
Michael Barnett’s dynamic documentary takes us into the lives of three high school athletes—all at different stages of their athletic seasons, personal lives, and their unique paths as transgender teens. Trans athletes have to work harder than their cisgender peers in order to thrive in their field while also having the courage and resilience to face daily harassment and discrimination. The kids in this film have found sports as a way to channel the negativity around them into a positive, to gain a sense of self-worth and validation. This film is their urgent, articulate plea for acceptance.Learn More
Collective - Colectiv
The story starts in 2015 with a fire at the Bucharest nightclub Colectiv. The tragedy killed 27 people on site and injured over 100 more. Romania's Health Minister promised the burn victims would get the highest-quality treatment, but, in subsequent months, dozens more perished. What was going wrong inside the hospitals? Director Alexander Nanau follows a crack team of investigators at the Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor as they try to uncover a vast health-care fraud that enriched moguls and politicians — and led to the deaths of innocent citizens.Learn More
Euphoria of Being
The Hungarian Éva Fahidi was 18 when she and her family were deported to Auschwitz in 1944. She was separated from her family and learned after the war that all her 49 blood relatives had been murdered, including her parents and sister. Director and dancer Réka Szabó became fascinated by Fahidi’s life story, documented in her book The Soul of Things. She reached out to the elderly Fahidi to ask if she would like to dance in a piece about her life, together with the young and acclaimed dancer Emese Cuhorka.Learn More
Gay Chorus Deep South
To confront a resurgence of faith-based anti-LGBTQ laws brought about in the Trump era, Conductor Tim Seelig leads 300 singers of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on a bus tour of the deep south, showcasing fine music, confronting political and religious intolerance, and challenging his own troubled past with the church. Joined by the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, they bring a message of music, love, and acceptance to communities often on the front lines against intoleranceLearn More
Havana, From on High
Nestled above a decaying district of Havana is a secret village, hidden from the clamour of the streets below. These make shift-houses are inhabited by Arturo, Tita, Pedro, Lala, Roberto, José, Reynol, Juan, Alejandro, María and Omar. Like many other residents in Central Havana, they have been forced upwards by the chronic shortage of housing.From their perch atop the city,they bear witness to a society in full historical transformation after more than 60 years of revolutionary government. Learn More
Hiplet: Because We Can
Created with the intention to inspire young Black women and men, this film brings the Hiplet ballerinas to center stage. Hiplet fuses classical pointe technique with hip-hop and urban dance styles. This film showcases how amazing and gifted these young Black girls are, how they've battled adversity within the dance community online and how they are pushing the culture forward. Learn More
Hungry To Learn
The cost of college is forcing students to make choices that put eating regular meals and their education at odds. Director Geeta Gandbhir and executive producer Soledad O’Brien’s poignant film follows four college students as they navigate food insecurity in their attempt to change their lives for the better. Homelessness, abandonment and mental health issues loom as students are caught between educational institutions’ pursuit of profit during “the best time of their lives.”Learn More
INFLUENCE is a profile of the morally slippery British reputation manager, Lord Timothy Bell. In 1998, Bell co-founded the legendary PR firm Bell Pottinger, which quickly earned a reputation for representing even the most unsavory characters, regardless of the circumstances. INFLUENCE examines how Bell and his associates shaped and co-opted the very institutions on which our governance systems are premised, quietly entrenching one of the most sophisticated—and successful—business ventures of recent times: the weaponization of democracyLearn More
A group of exceptional young ladies in Khartoum are determined to play football professionally. They are prepared to defy the ban imposed by Sudan’s Islamic Military government and they will not take no for an answer. Their battle to get officially recognized as Sudan’s National Woman’s team is fearless, courageous and often laughable. But their struggle is unwavering.Learn More
In Japanese, there's a specific word for an unborn life. Mizuko, which means "water child," is used to refer to both miscarried and aborted pregnancies. In addition to this word, there's a ritual for grief that allows women to metaphorically return their water children to the sea. Narrated by a Japanese American woman, Mizuko tells the story of her abortion in the US against the backdrop of this cultural context.Learn More
Once Upon a Time in Venezuela
When filmmaker Anabel Rodríguez Ríos visits a remote floating village in Venezuela to see its eternal lightning storms, she discovers another ongoing and alarming situation taking place... Congo Mirador was once a magical, thriving fishing community, built on stilts near Latin American’s biggest oil field. But more recently, Venezuela has been spiraling into chaos and violence, and the village itself is literally sinking from pollution and neglect - a prophetic reflection of Venezuela itself.
Prison for Profit
Whistleblowers, former prisoners and an investigative journalist paint a shocking picture of South Africa’s first privatized prison. Priority for the controversial private security firm G4S is profit maximization, with underpaid guards and violence against prisoners as the inevitable result. Learn More
Following a simple conversation between a CSU student and staff member, events are set in motion that lead to building a school in a rural village in Uganda. The film follows the student and various staff members to connect across cultures and see how they can make a difference for Ugandan children. Learn More
Ryun-hee Kim, a North Korean housewife, was forced to come to South Korea and became its citizen against her will. She tried to smuggle herself out and even sought political asylum at the Vietnamese Embassy but all in vain. As her seven years of struggle to go back to her family in North Korea continues, the political absurdity hinders her journey back to her loved ones. The life of her family in the North goes on in emptiness, and she fears that she might become someone, like a shadow, who exists only in the fading memory of her family.Learn More
Oscar nominee Feras Fayyad (“Last Men in Aleppo”) delivers an unflinching story of the Syrian war with his powerful new documentary,The Cave.For besieged civilians, hope and safety lie underground inside the subterranean hospital known as the Cave,where pediatrician and managing physician Dr. Amani Ballour and her colleagues Samaher and Dr.Alaa have claimed their right to work as equals alongside their male counterparts, doing their jobs in a way that would be unthinkable in the oppressively patriarchal culture that exists above. Following the women as they contend with daily bombardments, chronic supply shortages and the ever-present threat of chemical attacks,The Cave paints a stirring portrait of courage, resilience and female solidarity.Learn More
The Claudia Kishi Club
For many Asian American women—and other women of color—Claudia Kishi was the first time they saw themselves in popular media. A main character in the best-selling Baby-Sitters Club books, Claudia defied stereotypical portrayals of Asian characters: she was creative, popular, and bad at school. Nostalgic yet timely, this film highlights the personal and universal importance of representation.Learn More
The Prison Within
Prisoners incarcerated for murder inside San Quentin Prison transcend the punitive prison system to unearth the root cause of their violence by working with victims of violent crime. Each character undergoes a radical transformation, revealing how all human beings, on both sides of the wall, can break free from their own personal prisons. These prisoners and survivors come together to participate in an innovative restorative justice program, enabling prisoners to discover how the trauma they’ve experienced has contributed to their criminality and to understand the impact their crimes have had on their victims. Together, the prisoners and survivors confront and expose the pain, shame, and rage caused by the extreme trauma they have experienced.Learn More