The ACT Human Rights Film Festival is the latest festival to be accepted into the Human Rights Film Network (HRFN), an international partnership of 41 independent human rights film festivals. The Network’s general assembly announced ACT’s membership at its annual meeting at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam on Monday, November 19.  

Produced by the Department of Communication Studies at Colorado State University, ACT is only the second U.S.-based human rights film festival to join the network. The first is the Vermont International Film Festival (VTIFF), which was established in 1985 and born out of the anti-nuclear movement. 

Logo for Human Rights Film Network“Movies that Matter is very pleased to welcome ACT Human Rights Film Festival to the Human Rights Film Network,” says Julie Nederkoorn, the current secretariat of the Human Rights Film Network and international support coordinator for Movies that Matter, one of the Network’s founding members. “In these times of shrinking space for independent media and civil society, we feel it is important to screen films on human rights in every corner of the world, including in the United States.” 

The Human Rights Film Network primarily focuses on promoting exchange, communication and collaboration regarding the representation of human rights issues in moving pictures, as well as promoting member festivals and assisting established and emerging festivals in securing a sound and independent basis. Through these activities, the network seeks to create a supportive environment for human rights film makers, in particular those at risk for their life or repressed by censorship. 

Dr. Scott Different at the Human Rights Film Network brunch

Dr. Scott Different at a Human Rights Film Network social gathering during the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

“Our acceptance into the Human Rights Film Network is a tremendous accomplishment,” says festival founder and Professor of Communication Studies Scott Diffrient. “To stand alongside top international human rights film festivals as a partner is humbling and inspiring.”  

ACT has had its sights on HRFN membership since 2016 when the festival first occurred at CSU. However, the Network requires members to produce a minimum of two consecutive festivals before seeking membership, and gain the support of at least two other festival members. ACT secured the support of three: VTIFF; Muestra de Cine Internactional Memoria Verdad Justicia, located in Guatemala; and, Festival Internacional de cine de los Derechos Humanos, in Bolivia. 

According to Carol Busch, ACT marketing director and assistant producer, HRFN is keen on protecting the territoriality of festival members and typically limits membership to one per country. But given that more than 2,000 miles separate Fort Collins from Burlington, Vermont, ACT organizers felt confident VTIFF would recognize the value of a second U.S.-based festival.  

“We also felt it was compelling to acknowledge that while the United States’s international reputation may be precarious, the addition of a second U.S.-based festival signals that our institution and our community deeply values human rights and is committed to bringing to our small corner of the world visions and voices that would otherwise go unheard,” Busch says.  

The 4th annual ACT Human Rights Film Festival returns to Fort Collins April 5-13, 2019. Opening and closing nights occur at the Lory Student Center Theatre. The remainder of films will screen at The Lyric, an independent arthouse theatre located in north Fort Collins. Ticket and film information is available at www.actfilmfest.org