Amnesty International joins literature and human rights class for film festival

Lauren Mimms

This term, Amnesty International is partnering with Assistant Professor of English Lena Khor’s Literature and Human Rights class to present an array of student films profiling injustice in a number of arenas.
Human rights violations such as genocide in Rwanda, lack of access to pain medication and sex trafficking in Eastern Europe are a few of the twelve projects that will be revealed. These student works will be shown March 4 and 9, at 7 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively.
Amnesty International’s LU President Bridget Heiking gave more information on the project: “The class is all about thinking critically about human rights issues. Our final project is to make a film either reviewing how an issue has been portrayed in the media, or as a call to action, [and] then give a speech with it,” Heiking said.
Heiking is a student in Khor’s class as well and when Khor found out about her connection, she asked if Amnesty would help.
The project’s goal is to create a public showcase where students can see how people react to the messages presented. The films featured in the showcase are very open-ended, most using found footage, although some use original shots.
The festival’s two days will be broken up into presentations based on categories. The showing on March 4 will examine analyses of pieces that have already been produced. The showing on March 9 will focus on advocacy for human rights problems. Each film spans three to five minutes, with 12 productions in total.
Heiking gives us some insight as to what she tries to accomplish with her film: “I’m focusing on media portrayals of Guantanamo Bay, the stories that people tell,” she says. “There was a patriotic story told at the beginning. Every story has a hero, [as] the government was at the beginning; a villain, [in this case] the terrorists; and a victim, [here] America. I’m investigating how those perceptions changed around, with liberals being the hero and the villains being those violating prisoner’s rights.”
Heiking tells of another important goal this film festival will develop: “Investigating how stories were represented and what really happened shows that reality is more complicated [than it appears]. Even in some of the most terrible violations we’ve learned of, the story isn’t as simple as we make it out to be.” Students will expand upon the differences between depiction and reality in this project.
Amnesty will be tabling for this free event soon. It is open to everyone and will include question-and-answer sessions at the end of each film. The variety of topics addressed in the films makes it a useful presentation for all departments.

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