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Local film festival shines spotlight on human rights issues

The late founder of Amnesty International, seen here signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Petition, is the subject of the festival’s opening film, ‘The Life of Amnesty International Founder Peter Benenson. Photo provided

By Darla Shelden
Contributing Writer

The Shine a Light on Human Rights film festival will be held at the Oklahoma City Norick Downtown Library, 300 Couch Drive, on Saturday, March 24 from1 to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, March 25 from 1 to 6 p.m. Screenings will be shown in the 4th floor, Friends Event Room.

The two-day film festival will highlight human rights causes that include torture, equality issues, war, human trafficking, the death penalty and slavery.

“The Human Rights Film Festival features eleven films on some of the most important issues facing the global community,” said John Walters, Amnesty USA OK Group #238.

“This film festival is dedicated to bringing these stories to our communities so that everyone can see for themselves the diverse perspectives and many challenges facing people in every part of the world.

The film festival is presented by several local organizations that include Amnesty International OKC Local Group #238, Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Peace Research, United Nations Association OKC Chapter, the Peace House Oklahoma City and the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library.
The festival opens on Saturday, at 1 p.m., with a screening of the full-length documentary, The Life of Amnesty International Founder Peter Benenson.

At 2:40 p.m. a short film, A Message from Fallujah, tells the story of Daniel Crane, a civil engineer working to rebuild Iraq, who was kidnapped on his last day in Fallujah. A hostage in the drama of war, his one last wish is to tell his wife he loves her.

Justice without Borders follows three stories. First, the movement to extradite ex-President Alberto Fujimori from Chile to Peru on charges of gross human rights violations; second, the work of the International Criminal Court to address the issue of child soldiers in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and then Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchú’s quest to bring General Ríos Montt and others to justice for their policies that killed 200,000, mostly Mayan peasants.

At 3: 35 p.m. Fighting for Life in the Death Belt follows legendary anti-death penalty attorney Stephen Bright through the gripping final hours as he tries to prevent two clients from being executed.

The short film Imagine Campaign, features an interview with Yoko Ono asking why John wrote the song “Imagine” and why they decided to donate the song rights to Amnesty International.
On Sunday, at 1 p.m., Not My Life probes the dark realities of human trafficking and modern-day slavery and how certain multi-billion dollar global industries earn profits, as the film’s narration says, “on the backs and in the beds of our planet’s youth.”

At 2:50 p.m. This Way Out, a short film written, performed and produced by Veronica Gledhill and Peggy Corrigan, discusses the concept of diversity within the same ethnic group, geography and religious indoctrination.

Torture on Trial investigates the history of interrogations in the “War on Terrorism”, and
the movement calling for accountability for those who authorized and participated in torture.

At 4 p.m. there will be a screening of the groundbreaking 2011 Human Rights Day Speech given by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Geneva, Switzerland to the United Nations on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights Closing the Human Rights film festival will be a presentation of Interview with an Executioner.
This film follows Don Cabana, from his days as a warden at Parchman Penitentiary in Mississippi to his anti-death penalty work thirty years later. Cabana describes the emotional pain of carrying out executions, and the near-certainty that he had executed an innocent man.

“I saw several films when Amnesty’s Oklahoma City group held their Human Rights Film Festival several years ago and was so impressed—the timely, heart wrenching, topics plus the quality of the presentation and our Downtown Library were so impressive,” said Lydia Polley, Oklahoma Coalition Against the Death Penalty Co-Chair.

“So it was with a whole hearted “yes” the OK-CADP Board decided to co-sponsor the festival this year.”
Shine a Light on Human Rights is a free film festival that is open to the public. For more information visit or call John Walters at 405-720-6467.

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