Film festival highlights human rights issues
HANNAH GEHMAN, CONTRIBUTOR
The M21 Human Rights Film Festival is where human rights’ dialogue starts, not where it ends, according to Michelle Falk, the executive director of the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties (MARL). The film festival, now in its sixth year, took place at the West End Cultural Centre on March 19.
The festival is a place for people to gather and watch thought-provoking films on a variety of human rights issues, and it also includes panels discussing current issues.
“Films are a really great, accessible way to get across an important message,” said Falk. “You can see a very powerful message in a very short amount of time.”
Falk added that the point of the festival is not to give solutions but educate and spark interest. “You don’t have all the answers at the end of the film,” she said. “But it’s a good way to start learning about something.”
Evan Maydaniuk, vice-president of the MARL Board of Directors, said that the festival is a wonderful way to connect with people who may have limited knowledge of human rights issues.
“It’s a great way to reach out to the community,” said Maydaniuk. “I mean, who doesn’t love watching films?”
In order to further encourage discussion on human rights topics, M21 also hosted two discussion panels featuring local activists, one on LGBTQ* rights in Winnipeg and one on refugee rights.
Among the six films shown were One Gay City, a documentary about the LGBTQ* community in Winnipeg directed by Aaron Floresco, and Arctic Mosque, a documentary about the Muslim community in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, and their attempt to build a mosque in the arctic town.
Sisters Saira Rahman and Nilufer Rahman directed Arctic Mosque.
Both women are extremely passionate about the impact their movie, and others like it, has on both the community and the world in general. They want to show the world that humans can connect in the strangest of circumstances, including hitching an entire mosque to a semi-truck and driving it 4,000 kilometres up north.
“Too often in today’s world we see religion being used and abused, and accused of being a source of division amongst human beings,” said Nilufer Rahman. “But [people in the film] really see religion as a course of connecting to other people.” She said that the film shows beautiful human connection and cross-cultural bridge building.