On our own soil: 7th annual Human Rights Film Festival hits home

Indigenous people in boats on a lake with a sign to protect the water.At the beginning of April 2017, ASU held its 7th annual Human Rights Film Festival in the College Avenue Commons Auditorium on its Tempe campus. The festival – sponsored in part by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability – was a free, three-day event open to the public. This year, the festival embraced a domestic theme, as every documentary it featured highlighted human rights abuses within the United States. These topics included immigration, racism, poverty, reproductive rights, and indigenous rights such as the conflict over the Dakota Access Pipeline. “Film is a powerful way to convey experience,” says Senior Sustainability Scholar LaDawn Haglund, who founded the festival and continues to serve as its director. “It transcends an intellectual understanding of an issue to reach people’s hearts. With human rights violations, this is so important because statistics and facts make us numb rather than outraged, which is how we must feel — at least momentarily — if we want to create a world where such violations are stopped.”