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UNC Asheville Human Rights Film Festival

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Renowned Chinese Artist and Activist Ai Weiwei

Film by Renowned Chinese Artist and Activist Ai Weiwei To Be Featured in UNC Asheville Human Rights Film Festival beginning Feb. 3.

UNC Asheville will kick off its 10th Human Rights Film Festival with a documentary by renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, and will screen films nightly at 7 p.m., Feb. 3-7, in the Highsmith Student Union Grotto. The films are free and open to everyone, and will be followed by discussions joining together faculty, student and community viewers.

“As we enter a new decade, the world is facing pressing issues that demand our attention and our empathy and film is the strongest way to bring those issues to light,” says Elina Morrison, president of UNC Asheville’s student chapter of Amnesty International, which is co-sponsoring the festival along with the university’s Human Rights Studies Program. “Film impacts us emotionally and challenges us to act in ways that text and lecture simply can’t.”

Monday, Feb. 3 – Human Flow – Ai Weiwei – perhaps the most famous living Chinese artist, whose outspokenness led to multiple arrests by Chinese authorities and worldwide pressure for his release – directed and co-produced this 2017 documentary film about the global refugee crisis. Weiwei, who was forced from his Beijing home during China’s Cultural Revolution, has strong empathy for refugees. His film takes viewers to more than 20 countries to bring to light both the scale and personal impact of the massive human migrations taking place today.

Tuesday, Feb. 4 – The True Cost – This documentary examines less attractive aspects of the fashion business, including the poverty wages, dangerous working conditions, restrictions on their rights, and beatings at the hands of employers that are suffered by clothing workers abroad. The effects of genetically modified cotton, river and soil pollution, and the health impacts of pesticide contamination also come under scrutiny. The documentary, directed by Andrew Morgan, also looks into the marketing of clothing to America’s teens, who often discard items after short use, leading to a dramatic increase in clothing consumption. Members of UNC Asheville’s Fair Trade Committee will lead the post-film discussion.

Wednesday, Feb. 5 – One Child Nation – Winner of the 2019 Sundance U.S. Grand Jury Prize Documentary Award, this film by Chinese-born directors Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang investigates the effects of China’s one-child policy, which lasted from 1979-2015 and featured forced abortions and sterilizations. Wang, who had moved from China and earned a degree at NYU majoring in filmmaking, later returned to her home village and interviewed family members and neighbors as part of this documentary.

Thursday, Feb. 6 – A Suitable Girl – Winner of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Albert Maysles New Documentary Award, this film, directed by Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra, follows three young women in India struggling to maintain their identities and follow their dreams amid intense pressure to get married. Documenting the arranged marriage and matchmaking process in verite over four years, the film examines the women’s complex relationship with marriage, family, and culture as traditional and contemporary values mix.

Friday, Feb. 7- Beasts of No Nation – The only non-documentary in this year’s Human Rights Film Festival, Beasts of No Nation is based on the novel by Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala, telling the story of a child soldier torn from his family to fight in a civil war. Distribution rights were purchased by Netflix, and the film had a limited run in theaters in addition to online distribution. Idris Elba won the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) award for best supporting performance, making him the first actor to win a SAG without being nominated for an Oscar. The film’s lead, Abraham Attah, won the Venice International Film Festival’s Marcello Mastroianni Award, and director Cary Fukunaga won the Cinema for Peace award.

For more information contact Morrison at emorris7@unca.edu.

Visitor Parking on the UNC Asheville Campus – Visitors may park in faculty/staff and non-resident lots from 5:00 p.m. until 7:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, and on weekends, holidays, and campus breaks. Visitors are not permitted to park in resident student lots at any time.

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