SGI-USA Hosts Human Rights Film Festival in Santa Monica, California
On October 24, 2008, the SGI-USA Santa Monica Culture of Peace Resource Center hosted the opening of the Eighth Annual Human Rights Film Festival in Santa Monica, California. The goal of the festival, curated by the Echo Park Film Center, was to highlight social justice issues too often ignored by the mainstream media. Paolo Davanzo, founder and executive director of the film festival, participated as a speaker in the 2008 SGI-USA Culture of Peace Distinguished Speaker Series where he talked about “Working Locally, Thinking Globally: Community Approaches to Media Activism and Literacy” (February 2008).
The festival offered an opportunity for viewers to participate in the event, deconstructing the traditional barriers between filmmaker and audience. The program was intended as a vehicle to promote thought, discussion, debate and action.
The festival featured films from a variety of countries, including Taiwan and Mexico, examining real-life stories that underlie human rights issues. It opened with a screening of "Love Lived on Death Row" at the SGI-USA center, followed by a reception with the film's director, Linda Booker. The film tells the story of four siblings whose father was sentenced to death for the murder of their mother in 1990. In 2004, the siblings decided to visit him in prison, seeking answers so they could move on with their adult lives. The film’s portrayal of a family torn apart by tragedy and reunited by another impending tragedy is a powerful examination of capital punishment.
For the first time, the festival screened films at three different venues in the Los Angeles area: the SGI-USA Culture of Peace Resource Center in Santa Monica on October 24, the Echo Park Film Center on October 25 and the Metabolic Studio/FarmLab on October 26.
[Adapted from the January 2009 issue of the SGI Quarterly; photos courtesy of the SGI Quarterly]