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Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

City and United Nations Association-Davis host Human Rights Film Festival

Marking the sixth consecutive year in which the staff team and relations commission of Davis has partnered with United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF), three selected documentary films will be featured in this year’s film festival at the Varsity Theatre on Sunday.

Utilizing the medium of film and cinematography, the festival aims to enlighten and inspire audiences. This year, the City of Davis and UNAFF brings greater issues of human rights, sustainability and justice to the forefront.

“I think the individual impact [with films] is so great. Film and what we see is only a fraction, but what they convey is the deep-seeded problems and solution,” said Verena Borton, officer of United Nations Association-Davis. “Actually seeing and hearing these issues has more of an impact in our modern day world.”Soldiers of Peace, Milking the Rhino and The Sari Soldiers illustrate the greater theme of how human energy and active decisions can create social and economic change on a global scale. Each of the three films was chosen among a large collection submitted to UNAFF founded in Stanford.

“We filter and watch the films together with the commission and UNA Davis representatives and choose the films that would logistically work best for the festival,” said Kelly Stachowicz, deputy city manager for Davis. “We chose films that, while they certainly deal with heavy issues, have an uplifting message of hope or progress.”

The first featured documentary film, entitled Soldiers of Peace, focuses on the current challenges facing sustainability in regards to climate change and management of resources, such as the accessibility to water. Narrated by actor Michael Douglas, the film takes the audience on a journey around the world, from Nigeria to Kenya to Columbia, and examines how different conflicts of individuals and groups can work together to find resolutions.

The second film, Milking the Rhino, examines two of the oldest cattle cultures on earth – the Maasai tribe of Kenya and Namibia’s Himba. The films take two conflicting worlds, the new and modern and the traditional way of life, and juxtapose them to one another. Examining the effect of ecotourism, Milking the Rhino reveals how the paradigm of an ancient culture conflicts with the need to globalize to Western expectations.

The final film featured in the festival is The Sari Soldiers. The film takes place in Nepal over the span of three years through the eyes and experience of six Nepalese women. These females struggle to find a way to cope and find resolution through the democratic revolution that takes place on a larger political scale.

Mandip Rai, a native from Nepal and member of the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship program in Davis, will be a guest speaker at the festival. Rai expresses how he feels students and audiences would benefit from the festival.

“This film festival illustrates how a country as small or economically not as important, such as Nepal, can give people living here in the States exposure to worlds they have not seen,” Rai said. “There are people, struggles and wars that are left unmentioned. Therefore, people can become more appreciative for opportunities they take advantage of here.”

Whether audiences come to watch the films to be purely entertained, or enlightened, the involved staff say there is definitely something to gain from the festival.

“As an individual, we can take action against something they think needs to be addressed, fixed or righted,” Stachowicz said. “There are creative approaches to conflicts and economic needs. I hope people will be inspired as well as question what they see. Just because we choose the films, doesn’t mean everything they see in the film is something they agree with. There are many different sides to each of the films. It’s a jumping off point to reach out to people”.

For more information about the festival and the featured films, visit unaff.org.

UYEN CAO can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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