John Carroll University’s Peace, Justice and Human Rights program presented the fourth annual Human Rights Film Festival on Saturday, Nov. 7.
The event featured three award-winning films, each a witness to human rights violations and a testimony to the unique stories of an individuals’ struggle for human dignity.
The first film presented was the 2009 documentary, “Concrete Steel & Paint,” which gave public insight into a group of men in a prison art class who had to collaborate with victims of crime to design a mural about healing. Through their interaction, the men’s views on punishment, remorse and forgiveness collide. Their struggle to find a creative common ground brings about questions regarding punishment, justice and reconciliation. The answers to these questions are ultimately found within the art these men produce.
Viewers were quick to see that finding a creative common ground among such diverse groups of people became a challenge as questions of punishment and justice were raised.
Second was the 2013 documentary “Sweet Dreams,” depicting a remarkable story about a group of Rwandan women who formed the country’s first all-female drumming group and opened the country’s first ice cream shop. Made up of women from both sides of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the drumming troupe offers a place of support, healing and reconciliation.
After teaming up with American entrepreneurs, Jennie Dundas and Alexis Miesen of Brooklyn’s Blue Marble Ice Cream, the women open Rwanda’s first ice cream shop and embark on a journey of independence, peace and possibility.
The last film, “Crying Earth Rise Up,” told an inspiring story of the environmental protection our country’s water, land and the people of the Great American Plains. The film vividly displayed the human cost that uranium mining has on our world. The documentary also follows concerned Great Plains residents as they seek answers to questions about the potential threat posed by local uranium mining operations to their region’s largest source of fresh drinking water.
Richard Clark, Director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program, showed these films throughout the day in the Administration Building for all students to attend and have the opportunity to watch these informative films.
When asked what effect he believed these films had on the John Carroll community, Clark said, “I realize that students learn in different ways in that some are more visual and then there are some that like to read, so I think this is just a different medium for reaching students.”
Clark added that each film, “creates awareness of the issues and if you’re aware of the injustices and human rights violations, then you’ll do something about it.”
John Carroll University’s Peace, Justice and Human Rights program created this event for students and faculty in hopes to inspire audiences and to take action for what is right in the world.