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Human Rights Film Festival Shows the Faces of Injustice

February 27, 2024
UC Merced Human Rights Film Festival
Films to be shown at the festival March 1-8 include (from left), "Sansón and Me," "Little Palestine: Diary of a Siege" and "A Man Escaped."

The unflinching demand for justice drives the moving images and impassioned ideas packed into the agenda of this year’s UC Merced Human Rights Film Festival, presented by the university’s Global Arts, Media & Writing Studies department.

From discussions of systemic oppression and the horrors of imprisonment to a thoughtful study of filmmaker Robert Bresson's minimalist style and often tragic themes, the weeklong festival known as “Todo Cambia” (Spanish for “Everything Changes”) offers food for thought against a backdrop of wrenching conflict half a world away.

“Obviously, we need to be conscious of what’s going on in Israel, in Gaza. But we also need to be aware of what’s going on in America,” said Yehuda Sharim , a UC Merced professor and filmmaker who serves as the festival’s artistic director. “When you’re impoverished, when you’re incarcerated unjustly, you’re already in a state of war.”

Sharim said this year’s festival “offers ways to imagine creative spaces for dialogue and stop the wars within and around us. We cannot ignore the horrors and fearmongering taking place around us. We have no time to waste. Tomorrow is our today, and cinema is another vehicle to enter our shared now.”

The festival is scheduled for March 1-8. Events will be held on campus and at Mainzer, the classic downtown Merced theater converted into an upscale event space. There is no admission charge for festival events, and the entire community is invited. Attendees are urged to RSVP .

This year’s festival includes:

We Are the Rebellion: Visions of Restorative Justice: Representatives from the Coalition for Justice, a Virginia-based organization, will talk about injustice and unequal treatment in our prison systems and how they are pushing back. 5 p.m. Friday, March 1, COB2 290

Robert Bresson Retrospective: The French film director and screenwriter made an impact with his focus on character psychology and exploration of moral and philosophical themes. Three of his works will be shown starting at 2 p.m. March 3 at ACS 120.

“Bresson was one of the earliest filmmakers to address the devastating obligations of capitalist structures and how we treat one another,” Sharim said. “War, again, is not only among soldiers but seen in how we treat and see each other.”

Merced Demanding Justice: A screening and in-person Q&A with filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes, moderated by UC Merced Professor Robin DeLugan. The event will present “Sansón and Me,” which was the opening film for the season premiere of PBS documentary series “Independent Lens.” 6 p.m. March 5 at Mainzer.

There also will be discussions about the healing power of language and poetry, along with a screening of three films that frame the human suffering occurring in Ukraine and Palestine.

“With the upcoming elections and so much else, there is so much suspicion and tension and fear,” Sharim said. “How can we create spaces based on trust?”

2024 UC Merced Human Rights Film Festival by smurray10 on Scribd