Archive

Official Film Selection 2021

Program Director Statement – 2021

Belly Of The Beast Poster

Belly of the Beast

A powerful expose of human rights abuses against women in the U.S. criminal justice system.Learn More

Dear Philadelphia

The film poetically explores the beauty and strength in the often demonized North Philadelphia neighborhood.Learn More

Duty Free Poster

Duty Free

After a 75-year-old mother gets fired from her lifelong job as a hotel housekeeper, her son takes her on a bucket-list adventure to reclaim her life. Learn More

êmîcêtôcêt: Many Bloodlines

A Cree filmmaker and her white partner document their pregnancy and journey to parenthood.
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Hakamada Poster

Hakamada

Exposing Japanese criminal justice system failings and the case of Iwo Hakamada, the longest held deathrow inmate in the world.
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Landfall Poster

Landfall

Landfall examines Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and spins a cautionary tale for our times.
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Missing In Brooks County Poster

Missing in Brooks County

Seventy miles north of the Mexican-US border lies Brooks County, Texas -an inhospitable place where thousands of immigrants have gone missing or died over the past decade.
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Mr. Somebody

A former member of the Crips searches for redemption after 14 years behind bars.Learn More

My Brother's Keeper

Former Guantánamo detainee, Mohamedou Ould Salahi, and his guard, Steve Wood, reunite in Mauritania 13 years after last seeing each other, rekindling an unlikely relationship that profoundly changed their lives.
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No Ordinary Man Poster

No Ordinary Man

No Ordinary Man is an in-depth look at the life of musician and trans culture icon Billy Tipton.
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Rebellion of Memory

When economic reforms in Ecuador led to gas prices rising by 123 percent, people from urban and indigenous communities united in protest.
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Songs Of Repression Poster

Songs of Repression

At the foot of the Andes Mountains in Chile lies an idyllic German colony. This film explores how the colony deals with its grim past of child-abuse, torture, and mass graves.
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Talking About Trees Poster

Talking About Trees

Four Sudanese filmmakers and friends reunited, after long years of distance and exile, to bring life back to their old dream: make cinema a reality in Sudan.
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The 8th Poster

The 8th

The 8th traces Ireland's campaign to remove its ban on abortion. The film shows the country forging a progressive path at a time when women’s rights are threatened around the world.
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There Will Be No More Night Poster

There Will Be No More Night

Utilizing footage recorded by French and U.S. helicopter gunners’ helmet cameras the film provides a chilling and disturbing look at Western militaries’ rules of engagement.
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This Is The Way We Rise

Portrait of Native Hawaiian slam poet Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio as her calling to protect sacred sites atop Maunakea, Hawai`i reinvigorates her art.
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This Rain Will Never Stop Poster

This Rain Will Never Stop

This Rain Will Never Stop takes the audience on a powerful, visually arresting journey through humanity’s endless cycle of war and peace. The film centers on a Syrian refugee in Ukraine. Learn More

Tiger and Ox

In Korean patriarchal society, what does divorce mean to women? Is a fatherless family a failure? In order to find the answer to these questions, a single mother and her daughter start a conversation.
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To Calm The Pig Inside (Ang Pagpakalma Sa Unos)

Myths are woven to try to understand how a small town copes with the devastation and trauma of a natural disaster.
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Up at Night

As dusk fades and another night without electricity falls, Kinshasa's neighborhoods reveal an unstable environment of violence, political conflict and uncertainty.
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Vivos Poster

Vivos

Vivos is a documentary feature film by artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei, portraying the human impact of Mexico’s ongoing crisis of enforced disappearances.
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Official Film Selection 2020

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

Abortion Helpline: This Is Lisa

At a Philadelphia abortion helpline, counselors answer nonstop calls from women who seek to end pregnancies but can’t afford to. In this documentary we learn how economic stigma and cruel legislation determine who has access to abortion.Learn More

Again

The interior of an East German supermarket has been recreated in a film studio where actors reenact a violent incident for an audience of ten. 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

Aswang

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

Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business

There’s no stopping the legendary artist Betye Saar, even at age 93.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

Do Not Split

The story of the 2019 Hong Kong protests, told through a series of demonstrations by local protesters that escalate into conflict when highly armed police appear on the scene.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 intolerance.Learn 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

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 democracy.Learn More

Khartoum Offside

A group of young women 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

Mizuko

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.

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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

Robert's Village

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

Shadow Flowers

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

Short Films Program 1

Short films return to ACT in 2020 with two programs. Program 1 features five short films from Germany and the United States - including a Colorado State University student. Learn More

Short Films Program 2

Short films return to ACT in 2020 with two programs. Program 2 features five short films covering stories from Tiajuana, the United States, Hong Kong and Japan. Learn More

The Cave

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 Gender Line

The Gender Line is about transgender rock star, Cidny Bullens (formerly Cindy Bullens) who once sang in Elton John's band. Cidny is fortunate to have been both a wife and husband in the same lifetime. He reflects on having lived both sides of the gender line.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


Official Film Selection 2019

Accountant of Auschwitz Matthew Shoychet

Accountant of Auschwitz

Ostensibly focusing on Oskar Gröning, a 94-year-old former member of Hitler’s Schutzstaffel (SS) who was finally brought to trial in 2015, Matthew Shoychet’s The Accountant of Auschwitz mounts an incisive critique of the German justice system’s many failings. Through a skillful blending of archival documents, footage from past and present court proceedings, and contemporary interviews with constitutional scholars, this briskly paced yet deeply ruminative documentary reveals how the titular defendant lacks remorse. Ultimately, though, this moving testament to the perseverance needed to pursue justice at all costs is mainly concerned with the survivors, rather than the perpetrators, of genocidal acts. Learn More

Angels are Made of Light poster

Angels Are Made of Light

Following up his Oscar-nominated masterpiece Iraq in Fragments (2006), James Longley turns his camera toward another country in the Middle East and chronicles the day-to-day lives of those who have grown accustomed to the cruel circumstances that have put them in the cross hairs of both American soldiers and members of a resurgent Taliban. Beautifully lensed by the director himself, Angels Are Made of Light is nevertheless grounded in the gloomy realities of contemporary Afghanistan, whose citizens were once blessed with relative peace and prosperity but are now scraping by under the ever-watchful eye of an ominous surveillance balloon. Despite the looming threat of war and the daily reminders of recent traumatic events, people go about their business and pursue hard-won educational opportunities in hopes of restoring their beleaguered nation. Learn More

Edgecombe still

Edgecombe

Divided neatly into three sections (“House,” “Homestead,” and “Community”), Crystal Kayiza’s poetic group portrait of the titular North Carolina county goes deeper that a standard journalistic account of racialized poverty to show, with the patience and sensitivity of a seasoned auteur, an African American population thriving — emotionally if not economically — in their rural surroundings and mutual support for one another.Learn More

Eldorado Markus Imhoof

Eldorado

Taking its title from the mythical place where untold riches are thought to await the bravest of explorers, Markus Imhoof’s Eldorado reveals the sad truth behind superficially uplifting stories of benevolent protection on the part of various EU nations. Even after escaping their home countries and temporarily settling down in transit camps, asylum seekers are often subjected to inhumane treatment and forced to kowtow to criminal organizations that exploit them for their labor. The Swiss director, a pioneering figure in the history of nonfiction cinema, distinguishes his work from other refugee films by incorporating his own childhood reminiscences. As a young boy during the Second World War, Imhoof witnessed his family take in an eight-year-old girl from Italy, transported to Zurich by the Red Cross. Named Giovanna, she become a touchstone in the filmmaker’s haunted memory of war and familial separation, sparking his present-day efforts to extend the same generosity of spirit to current political refugees and economic migrants whose inalienable right to protection is being ignored by many of the world’s governments.Learn More

Gaza film poster

Gaza

This elegantly shot and masterfully crafted portrait of Palestinian life offers a rare chance to be immersed in the heart of Gaza, as we glimpse behind the walls of this misunderstood land to get to know real people who inhabit it.Learn More

Ian by Abel Goldfarb

Ian

Ian was born with cerebral palsy. All he wants is to make friends, although it seems impossible to achieve when discrimination and bullying keep him away from his beloved playground. However, this young boy is determined and won’t give up easily.Learn More

Las Sandinistas

Las Sandinistas

¡LAS SANDINISTAS! uncovers a watershed moment in history when a group of Nicaraguan women shattered barriers to lead rebel troops in battle and reshape their country with landmark social reforms during 1979's Sandinista Revolution and the ensuing US-backed Contra War - only to face renewed marginalization by their male peers once the wars ended. Learn More

Letter from Masanjia

Letter From Masanjia

When an American mom discovers an SOS note stashed in a package from Kmart, she never imagines it will lead to the closure of Masanjia, China's most notorious labor camp. When news of the note goes viral, the writer, a Chinese engineer who had been jailed for his spiritual beliefs, fears for his life and his family's safety. Realizing the spotlight is a chance to further expose the brutality of the Chinese regime, he decides to make a film about the harsh reality of being a human rights defender in China, risking his life in the process.

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Los Comandos poster

Los Comandos

Violence has overrun El Salvador. The emergency medical unit Los Comandos de Salvamento is standing up to the gangs’ reign of terror. Sixteen-year-old Mimi is a dedicated Comando caught in the cross hairs. When her fellow Comando, 14-year-old Erick, is gunned down while serving, she faces pressure to flee El Salvador and head north.Learn More

Midnight Family screened at ACT Human Rights Film Festival 2019

Midnight Family

In Mexico City, the Ochoa family runs a for-profit ambulance, competing with other unlicensed EMTs for patients in need of urgent care. In this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care.Learn More

Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements

Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements

Irene Taylor Brodsky builds on her powerful first feature, Hear and Now (Audience Award winner at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival), by delving into an intergenerational exploration of living with deafness. Brodsky’s son Jonas began losing his hearing as a baby and underwent cochlear-implant surgery as a toddler. Now 11 years old, Jonas has adjusted to a world with sound and is learning to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.Learn More

New Homeland by Barbara Kopple

New Homeland

New Homeland by two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, USA) chronicles the experiences of five refugee children from war-torn Syria and Iraq whose families have resettled in Canada. In this sweetly observed film, Kopple follows the boys for two weeks at a summer camp in the Canadian wilderness. We watch as some boys thrive while others struggle and the best intentions of the camp counselors are put to the test.Learn More

Our Song to War Juanita Organza

Our Song to War

In the Colombian village of Bojayá, in 2002, FARC guerrillas committed a massacre. In this poetic, visually stunning film, the town emerges as a mysterious place where people sing as they guide the spirits across a mystic river. This death ritual, Novenario, is to ensure that the angry spirits of the dead don’t return—a reconciliation between the world of the living and the lost souls that roamed the Colombian landscape during 50 years of war.Learn More

Private Lives, Public Spaces: Intimacy and Community at Human Rights Film Festivals

Join us for a compelling conversation about important topics in human rights filmmaking with visiting filmmakers attending ACT's opening weekend. We welcome Irene Brodsky Taylor, director, and Tahria Sheather, producer, of Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements; Matthew Shoychet, director of The Accountant of Auschwitz, and other filmmakers.Learn More

Scenes from a Dry City Capetown

Scenes from a Dry City

In 12 minutes, Scenes from a Dry City looks at the water crisis from different perspectives: illegal car washers, demonstrators against water privatization, Christians in a mass service praying for rain, or golfers on a lush green course. Presented without commentary, the film gives an impression not only of the water crisis, but also of the racial inequality and income disparity in South African society.Learn More

Three Boys Manzanar

Three Boys Manzanar

This film is the story of the 70-year old reunion of three men interned at the camp Manzanar as children, incarcerated by circumstance and bound by history.Learn More

Trapped in the City of A Thousand Mountains

Trapped in the City of a Thousand Mountains

A new phenomenon of authentic Chinese rap has taken the internet by storm. But behind the unprecedented gains in popularity, there is a struggle for freedom of speech. Rappers are trying to figure out what they still can and cannot do after new censorship is announced.Learn More

Waldheim Waltz by Ruth Beckermann

Waldheim Waltz

A film about truth and lies or “alternative facts”. About individual and collective consciousness.  “Waldheim no, Waldheim no” shouts a crowd in the center of Vienna in 1986. Ruth Beckermann was one of the activists trying to prevent the election of Kurt Waldheim and documented the political events with her camera. More than 30 years later she goes back into her own archive and additionally uses international TV-material to analyse this turning point in Austrian political culture.Learn More

Western Collections by Aaron Burns

Western Collections

An intimate conversation with retired geologist Jude Gassaway, whose collection of objects representing the American West is just one facet of her endlessly fascinating, unexpectedly revealing story.Learn More

A Woman Captured poster

Woman Captured

A WOMAN CAPTURED is about Marish, a 52-year-old Hungarian woman who has been serving a family for a decade, working 20 hours a day - without getting paid. Her ID was taken from her by her oppressors and she's not allowed to leave the house without permission. Treated like an animal, she only gets leftovers to eat and no bed to sleep in. Marish spends the days with fear in her heart, but dreaming of getting her life back.
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N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear

Words from a Bear

Words from a Bear examines the enigmatic life and mind of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Navarro Scott Momaday, one of Native America’s most celebrated authors of poetry and prose. Cinematically this story takes audiences on a spiritual journey through the expansive landscapes of the West, when Momaday’s Kiowa ancestors roamed the Great Plains with herds of buffalo, to the sand-painted valleys of Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico where his imagination ripened and he showed superior writing skills as a young mission student. Learn More


Official Film Selection 2018

69 Minutes of 86 Days

In a recent statement echoed by United Nations officials, Amnesty International has called the Syrian refugee crisis the worst humanitarian disaster of our lifetime. Fittingly, as the Syrian Civil War has escalated since 2011, one of the most prominent themes of human rights film festivals around the world has been that of displaced citizens seeking asylum or other forms of humanitarian assistance. Norwegian documentarian Egil Haaskjold Larsen’s latest production, 69 Minutes of 86 Days, thus joins a long list of films that seek to enhance our understanding of the sheer magnitude and global impact of the refugee crisis. But, unlike so many of its precursors, this visually arresting, hauntingly scored tone poem dispenses with the kind of expositional information (e.g., onscreen text, voiceover narration) that lards other motion pictures, and instead emphasizes motion itself — the nearly wordless movement of one particular family (including a charismatic three-year-girl named Lean Kanjo) as they journey by land and sea, through countless border checks over a three-month period, toward their destination in Uppsala, Sweden. Watching 69 Minutes of 86 Days, especially as it builds toward its emotionally stirring conclusion, audiences experience the unshakeable, empathy-building sensation of having “lived” with a group of people accustomed to the physical strain of immigration and for whom open arms are the most welcoming sight imaginable. Learn More

Anote's Ark

Trained as a visual anthropologist, photographer Matthieu Rytz makes his stunning debut as a filmmaker with Anote’s Ark, a thought-provoking documentary about the plight of the roughly 100,000 people living on — and now regretfully leaving — Kiribati, a remote Pacific Island nation that is on the frontline of a global environmental crisis. As rising sea levels threaten its citizens with national extinction, Kiribati’s firebrand President Anote Tong races to find a solution to his country’s relocation problems while lobbying the world’s leading “carbon nations” (including China and the United States) to take a more active role in addressing climate change. Cross-cut with President Tong’s world-spanning initiative to save his nation are scenes depicting a young mother (Sermary Tiare)’s extraordinary journey to begin life anew with her husband and six children in New Zealand (where 75 of her country’s environmental refugees gained citizenship in 2014). This aesthetically striking yet heartbreaking film is a must-see for audiences in the United States, especially now that President Trump has declared his intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement (a decision that is scheduled to take effect in 2020). Notably, two other countries that previously had not signed the 2015 accord (Syria and Nicaragua) have decided to join, leaving the United States as the only country excluded from the global effort to mitigate the effects of climate change. Clips of President Obama’s galvanizing speech at the Paris conference as well as captioned text at the end of Anote’s Ark, informing us of an opposition party leader’s recent reversal of President Tong’s environmental policies, highlight how much work remains to be done in order to confront this most pressing, potentially catastrophic global issue.Learn More

Chega De Fiu Fiu

Inspired by Brazilian feminist blogger and Think Olga founder Juliana de Faria’s “Chega de Fiu Fiu” campaign (a crowdfunded effort to end gender-based abuse, launched four years ago), this electrifying, eye-opening documentary brings to light an issue that few men ever bother to ponder. Specifically, it exposes the culture of “catcalls” that women must endure when navigating the streets of São Paulo, Brasília, and other areas where verbal and physical harassment have become an increasingly prominent part of daily life. Besides de Faria, many other social activists (including Chega de Fiu Fiu’s co-directors Fernanda Frazao and Amanda Kamanchek Lemos) are seeking to make public spaces safe for women, and have called on urban planners and local governments to rethink the design of cities while ensuring access to safe transportation alternatives and well-illuminated pedestrian routes. Turning their lens toward three representative individuals, each from a different part of Brazil, the filmmakers give their empowered subjects an opportunity to speak for themselves; from Raquel, a black manicurist and nursing student, to Teresa, a white history teacher, to Rosa, a trans woman artist who deals not only with objectifying catcalls but also with demoralizing hate speech. Asking audiences to look at the world through the eyes of these women (presented by way of hidden-camera footage), Chega de Fiu Fiu makes a crucial contribution to the Time’s Up Movement and is essential viewing for anyone who believes that cities belong to all of its inhabitants, regardless of their gender.Learn More

Complicit

In November of 2017, the online resource Dictionary.com announced its Word of the Year, one that has gained renewed relevance in the United States owing to recent political events. That word, “Complicit,” hints at the moral entanglements that result from partnering with others involved in wrongdoing. It is also the title of one of the most important documentaries to come out of China, the country where many of our smartphones are manufactured (and often at the cost of human lives). Co-directed by Heather White and Lynn Zhang, Complicit was filmed covertly over a grueling three year period in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, two so-called “electronics zones” where local and migrant workers are forced to contend with unsafe workplace conditions as well as hazardous chemicals. Prolonged exposure to toxic solvents and carcinogens, including Benzene and n-Hexane (which were banned in developed countries more than four decades ago), frequently leads to nerve damage, paralysis, and cancer. Incorporating footage sourced from undercover workers, and balancing the perspectives of victims with those of activist groups such as Labor Action China, this riveting film is a rude awakening to people who say they “can’t live” without their cellphones. It is also a reminder that there are winners and losers in the game of global capitalism, and that no one can claim innocence so long as we remain complicit in rewarding electronics manufacturers with our undying patronage. Learn More

Crime + Punishment

The standard definition of a “whistleblower” as a person who publically or privately raises a concern about illegal or unscrupulous workplace practices fails to conjure the ethical conundrums and professional consequences of such a brave act. Stephen Maing’s Crime + Punishment shines a light on a small group of African American and Latino police officers in New York City (the “NYPD12”) who put their careers and lives on the line while blowing the proverbial whistle on the racial injustices that have become so tragically endemic to their profession. In doing so, this gripping film — much like the courageous men and women who gradually uncover systemic levels of abuse directed at ethnic minorities — exposes how precincts not only protect and serve but also, in adopting ostensibly outlawed policing quotas (the subject of a recent class-action lawsuit), criminalize the most vulnerable members of society. With unprecedented access to private documents and incriminating audio recordings, Maing synthesizes material from over a thousand hours of footage (including candid interviews with Sandy Gonzales, Edwin Raymond, Felicia Whitely, and other active duty members of the NYPD12), providing irrefutable evidence that minority communities have been targeted by law enforcement at an inordinate rate simply to meet a certain number of arrests and summonses each month. Learn More

Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas

Verdant, arable farmlands in Africa, especially in biodiverse but poverty-stricken countries like Ethiopia, have been called “green gold.” This is because of their exploitable, exportable resources and the relative ease with which local bureaucrats are able to evict indigenous people from their homes, thus clearing the way for foreign investors and land grabbers to step in. Swedish director Joakim Demmer’s eye-opening documentary, seven years in the making, brings international attention to the long-unchecked government corruption that has robbed many Ethiopian farmers of their livelihood. With the procedural rigor and pulse-pounding suspense of a detective story, Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas investigates the roles of the European Union, the World Bank, and the UK’s Department for International Development in allowing such injustices to occur, but focuses specifically on local officials (not only from Ethiopia but also from Kenya, South Sudan, and other areas) who put profits above the lives of their own people. Few films are as insightful about the negative impact of foreign aid and the dark undercurrents of developmentalism as this bracing example of journalistic cinema.Learn More

Freedom For The Wolf

Bearing a title that was inspired by a quote from the philosopher Isaiah Berlin, who once warned his readers of the deleterious effects of unrestrained capitalism and economic individualism (writing, “Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep”), director Rupert Russell’s feature-length debut should be required viewing for anyone who doubts the recent rise of “illiberal democracy.” The latter expression, which some political scientists and journalists call “empty democracy,” refers to the illusion of freedom that comes from presumably free elections but which masks governments’ troubling tendency (even in advanced, developed nations) to deprive people of civil liberties as well as access to information that might make them question the status quo. Traversing three continents and taking the viewer from the streets of Hong Kong (where a series of “Umbrella Movement” demonstrations against the Chinese government took place in 2014) to the U.S. capital (where hundreds of thousands participated in the Women’s March one day after President Trump’s 2017 inauguration), Freedom for the Wolf maps out a present-day history-in-the-making and reveals how the same spirit of protest can be found in everything from the Arab Spring to #BlackLivesMatter. Agitational cinema at its best, this incendiary documentary is sure to rile even the most passive, apolitical onlookers.Learn More

Mama Colonel

For decades, but especially after the Continental War ripped Central Africa apart beginning in the 1990s, sexual abuse has been a facet of life for many people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (a country labeled by some human rights organizations as the “worst place in the world for women”). Indeed, rape was, and continues to be, used as a weapon of war, often at the hands of security force members (including the Congolese army and other military groups) who abduct women and children as sex slaves. Victims of abuse have been denied opportunities to report their traumatizing experiences, or have simply remained silent for fear of recrimination and stigmatization. One woman, the fortysomething Honorine Munyole, confronts this crisis head-on, hunting down perpetrators — some of them high-ranking government officials — who have long been shielded from investigations and prosecutions by corrupt politicians. As the titular hero in director Dieudo Hammadi’s documentary Mama Colonel, this mother of seven children and full-time police officer has seen her share of rights violations as the head of a unit protecting minors in the eastern city of Bukavu, where she first earned the respect of her peers fifteen years ago. Now that she is transferring to Kisangani, however, a new set of obstacles awaits Munyole, who remains resolute in her commitment to bringing perpetrators to justice. Hammadi’s film — a loving tribute to a heroine as courageous and inspiring as any fictional superhero — arrives in the midst of the #TimesUp Movement, giving U.S. audiences a more global perspective on the issue of sexual violence and focusing our attention on a tireless champion of children’s rights and women’s rights who refuses to remain silent. Learn More

Memory in Khaki

Following its premiere at the 2016 Karlovy Vary Film Festival, director Alfoz Tanjour’s A Memory in Khaki has garnered international acclaim for its lyrical treatment of the decades-long oppression faced by Syrians, millions of whom have been forced to flee their country and its authoritarian government because of their political beliefs. What distinguishes this gripping documentary from the many other equally lauded motion pictures that explore the prelude to and consequences of the Syrian Civil War (such as last year’s City of Ghosts and Last Men in Aleppo) is the filmmaker’s wide-ranging look at how the system of oppression associated with Bashar al-Assad’s rise to power continues to be felt today by Syrians living abroad, from Finland to France. Symbolized by khaki, a neutral, seemingly bland color that conjures traumatic memories of blood-stained military uniforms and school clothing (part of the Assad regime’s efforts to control people’s bodies and minds), that palpable feeling of oppression is offset by the hope for a better future that each of the film’s five interviewees courageously nurtures. Stitching together several different monologues in which those far-flung individuals (including Tanjour himself) speak with heartbreaking honesty about their experiences as exiles or refugees, A Memory in Khaki will stir the emotions of anyone who has longed for the familiarity — if not always the comforts — of home.Learn More

Minding The Gap

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Comparisons to Richard Linklater’s poetic coming-of-age drama Boyhood (2014) are fitting yet inadequate in gesturing toward the boundless exuberance and bottomless depth of feeling awaiting viewers of the Sundance sensation Minding the Gap. Shot by first-time filmmaker Bing Liu over five years, this Rust Belt documentary begins by showing a trio of teenage skateboarders goofing around in their blue-collar, crime-ridden hometown of Rockford, Illinois, but quickly takes the viewer on a ride as perilous as any freestyle maneuver or high-flying trick in their arsenal. Focusing on Bing’s childhood friends Zack and Keire, survivors of domestic abuse and broken homes, this deeply personal exploration of toxic masculinity’s effects on young men and women is kept aloft by these subjects’ infectious passion for their favorite pastime, yet remains grounded in the very real poverty and violence that make escape from such conditions difficult if not impossible. Minding the Gap not only marks the debut of a talented, wise-beyond-his-years director; someone from whom equally great work is sure to come. It also augers a new era of liberated — indeed, liberating — youth-centered documentary filmmaking.Learn More

Nowhere To Hide

Nowhere to Hide" follows a man - the medic and father Nori Sharif - through 5 years of dramatic change in the war-torn Diyala-province; one of the most dangerous provinces in the middle of Iraq. From the time of the American retreat to the fall of Nori's home town, we follow him filming stories of survivors. In a world trapped between ISIS and the different Iraqi Militias, his integrity and humanitarian vision is the only thing that drives him to continue against all odds. Even when, as last man standing, he is forced to turn the camera towards himself. We are given a unique insight into one of the worlds most dangerous and inaccessible areas - the "triangle of death" in central Iraq. We get to know and hear the stories of the people who live there; survivors of this 'new war" that has become the norm - where the enemy is invisible, and there is nowhere to hide.Learn More

Other Side of Everything, The

Having burst onto the filmmaking scene with Cinema Komunisto (2010), her feature-length exposé of the ties between the movie industry of the former Yugoslavia and that country’s authoritarian regime prior to President Tito’s death in 1980, director Mila Turajlic returns with a more intimate — but no less-sweeping — look at her own family’s entrenchment in political events. Focusing on her mother, Srbijanka, a former professor at Belgrade University whose decades-long commitment to socially progressive causes would be an inspiration to any activist today, The Other Side of Everything brings together personal memory and public history to quietly devastating effect. Set largely within a single space (that of Srbijanka’s home, which was partitioned by the Communist government decades ago and left in a state of internal division after the rise of Slobodan Milošević in the 1990s), this film explodes the literal and figurative walls that might otherwise contain its firebrand protagonist, giving her an opportunity to talk back to Serbian nationalists who have labeled her a “traitor” and to government officials who once subjected her to state surveillance. As the winner of the prestigious Best Feature-Length Documentary Award at last year’s IDFA (the world’s largest festival devoted to nonfiction cinema), The Other Side of Everything earns its many accolades by keeping the past alive and reminding audiences that the hard-earned right to protest — to raise one’s voice against ruling forces — is essential to democracy.Learn More

RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World

In recent years, a string of nonfiction films have brought long-underappreciated and professionally marginalized creators of American popular music into the spotlight, from the Los Angeles-based group of session players featured in The Wrecking Crew (2008) to the backup singers largely responsible for the Motown sound and so lovingly documented in 20 Feet from Stardom (2013). Alfonso Maiorana and Catherine Bainbridge’s recent festival hit Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World is perhaps the most revelatory of the bunch, writing a much-needed chapter in the annals of a cultural form that has often been whitewashed by historians. Taking a cue from the Native American rock and roll guitarist Link Wray (who, born to Shawnee parents, gained fame for his 1958 instrumental single “Rumble”), this documentary is like a soul-shattering power-chord blast, sure to floor audiences and send them on a hunt for the legendary recordings of musicians like Delta blues great Charley Patton and electric guitarist Jimi Hendrix. However, besides memorializing the many accomplishments of these and other artists, Maiorana and Bainbridge open up the contextual scope of their film to examine the U.S. government’s shameful campaigns to erase indigenous cultures as well as the solidarity between African Americans and Native Americans that was needed in order to survive and even thrive in a historically racist industry. Learn More

Student Film Competition Selections

The third annual ACT Human Rights Film Festival continues its special student filmmaker section, celebrating excellence in the field of socially conscious cultural production. Eight student films that examine a range of human rights issues from domestic violence, immigration, sexual assault, identity, and war will screen.Learn More


Official Film Selection 2017

Driving With Selvi

Selvi, like so many girls living within India’s patriarchal culture, is forced to marry at a young age, only to find herself in a violent and abusive marriage. One day in deep despair, she chooses to escape, going to a highway with the intention of throwing herself under the wheels of a bus. Instead she gets on the bus, choosing to live… and goes on to become South India’s first female taxi driver. Through Selvi’s eyes, the audience is taken on an intimate journey of healing, overcoming obstacles, and fulfilling dreams. And throughout this journey, Selvi’s unwavering spirit shines through. Wildly charming (without even realizing it), remarkably strong, and utterly courageous, by the end of the film Selvi speaks almost as a sage or our wisest teacher, sharing important, hard-won secrets about happiness and life.Learn More

Frame By Frame

Set in a modern Afghanistan bursting with color and character, FRAME BY FRAME follows four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate an emerging and dangerous media landscape – reframing Afghanistan for the world, and for themselves. Learn More

I Am Not Your Negro

James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of this manuscript.Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material. I Am Not Your Negro is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.Learn More

Jackson

Jackson is an intimate, unprecedented look at the lives of three women caught up in the complex issues surrounding abortion access. Set against the backdrop of the fight to close the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, Jackson captures the essential and hard truth of the lives at the center of the debate over reproductive healthcare in America. Learn More

Raving Iran

Anoosh and Arash are at the center of Tehran's underground techno scene.Tired of hiding from police and their stagnating career, they organize one last manic techno rave under dangerous circumstances in the desert. Back in Tehran they try their luck selling their illegally printed album without permission. When Anoosh is arrested, there seems to be no hope left. But then thety receive a phone call from the biggest techno festivval in the world. Once landed in Switzerland, the haze of the instant euphoria evaporates quickly when the seriousness of the situation starts to dawn on them.Learn More

Sing Your Song

Wonderfully archived, and told with a remarkable sense of intimacy, visual style, and musical panache, Susanne Rostock’s inspiring biographical documentary, SING YOUR SONG, surveys the life and times of singer/actor/activist Harry Belafonte. From his rise to fame as a singer, inspired by Paul Robeson, and his experiences touring a segregated country, to his provocative crossover into Hollywood, Belafonte’s groundbreaking career personifies the American civil rights movement and impacted many other social justice movements. Rostock reveals Belafonte as a tenacious hands-on activist, who worked intimately with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., mobilized celebrities for social justice, participated in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and took action to counter gang violence, prisons, and the incarceration of youth.Learn More

Solitary

There are 100,000 US citizens in solitary confinement across the country, a staggering number prompting comment from both President Obama and the Pope. Situated in rural Virginia, 300 miles from any urban center, Red Onion State Prison is one of over 40 supermax prisons across the US built to hold prisoners in eight-by-ten-foot cells for 23 hours a day. With unprecedented access, director Kristi Jacobson offers a revealing and moving portrait of life inside solitary confinement. Learn More

Starless Dreams

Starless Dreams plunges us into the lives of young teenage girls sharing temporary quarters at a juvenile detention center on the outskirts of Tehran. Director Mehrdad Oskouei, one of Iran’s most prominent filmmakers, spent seven years securing access to this all-female facility. As the New Year approaches, the girls bond, and reveal—with playfully disarming honesty—the circumstances and acts that resulted in their incarceration. They have killed their father, robbed a bank, or were arrested for carrying 651 grams of cocaine. Outside the prison walls, danger is everywhere, even within their own families.
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The Apology

The Apology follows the personal journeys of three former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Some 70 years after their imprisonment in so-called “comfort stations”, the three “grandmothers—Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines—face their twilight years in fading health. After decades of living in silence and shame about their past, they know that time is running out to give a first-hand account of the truth and ensure that this horrific chapter of history is not forgotten. Whether they are seeking a formal apology from the Japanese government or summoning the courage to finally share their secret with loved ones, their resolve moves them forward as they seize this last chance to set future generations on a course for reconciliation, healing, and justice.Learn More

The Fog of Srebrenica

11th July, 2015 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, the only holocaust in Europe since World War II, when 8,372 Bosnian men and boys were killed in one week. In the documentary film Srebrenica Survivors we meet a cast of extraordinary characters, people who have been struggling to come to terms with the past while dealing with the harsh realities of living in one of the poorest countries in Europe. Their stories raise serious and profound questions about the nature of human existence, war and forgiveness.Learn More

The Queen of Ireland

THE QUEEN OF IRELAND is a documentary film that follows Rory’s journey from the small Mayo town of Ballinrobe to striding the world stage. The film takes us behind the scenes with his alter ego Panti in the year she became the symbol of Ireland’s march towards marriage equality. Directed by Conor Horgan (One Hundred Mornings, Deep End Dance) and produced by Blinder Films (Citadel, One HundredMornings) the film builds build up a multi-faceted picture of a complex and compelling character through behind the scenes footage and interviews with friends, peers and protégés, including Bunny, Tonie Walsh, Shirley Temple Bar, Una Mullally, David Norris, the O’Neill family, the other half of CANDI PANTI, Angelo Pitillo, long time collaborators Niall Sweeney and Philip McMahon. Learn More

They Will Have To Kill Us First

Malian music in exile is a feature-length documentary following musicians in Mali in the wake of a jihadist takeover and subsequent banning of music. Music, one of the most important forms of communication in Mali, disappeared overnight in 2012 when Islamic extremists groups rose up to capture an area the size of the UK and France combined. But rather than lay down their instruments, Mali’s musicians fought back. Learn More

This is Exile: Diaries of Child Refugees

This Is Exile: Diaries of Child Refugees is an extraordinary, intimate portrait of the lives of child refugees forced to flee Syria’s civil war.
The documentary tells children's stories in their own words, capturing the moving truth of how they deal with the loss and hardship of living in exile from their homeland.
This is Exile was funded by friends of Save the Children and filmed in Lebanon by the Emmy-award winning director Mani Benchelah.
Made by the independent production company Make Productions, the film offers an uncompromising portrayal of refugee children’s experiences.Learn More

Transit Havana

Once a year, two plastic surgeons from Holland and Belgium fly to Havana to perform surgery on five Cuban transgender persons. The surgeons are invited by Mariela Castro, daughter of the president and head of the new state program for transgender care.Castro organizes this as a modern completion of the socialist revolution of 1959 because, in her words, it is all about emancipation and self-realization. ‘Homofobia no, socialismo si!’ is the official slogan. The state helps transgender people with therapy, hormones, surgery and a new identity. Learn More

Walls

When the Berlin Wall came down, we dismissed the idea of separation walls as something from the past. Reality is exactly the opposite. There have never been so many walls. There are thousands of kilometres of fences, gates, barbed wire and barriers in the most distant and dissimilar parts of the world. This film tells the true stories of people living on both sides of very different walls. These are intimate and intense stories that show us that on both sides, we all share the same hopes, fears, thoughts and emotions; the same desire to survive.Learn More

What Tomorrow Brings

With unprecedented access, WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS goes inside the very first girls’ school in one small Afghan village. From the school’s beginnings in 2009 to its first graduation in 2015, the film traces the interconnected stories of students, teachers, village elders, parents, and school founder Razia Jan. Filmmaker Beth Murphy embeds herself in this school and community for a most intimate look at what it really means to be a girl growing up in Afghanistan today.Learn More


Official Film Selection 2016

2016 Festival Program.