Human Rights Film Festival Award Winners Announced

Human Rights Film Festival Award Winners Announced

Nov 6, 2017 | NDHRFF

FARGO, N.D. (November 6, 2017) – The North Dakota Human Rights Film Festival Jury is proud to announce the award winners for the first annual Human Rights Film Festival. Four films are being recognized and honored for their creativity, talent, approach to content and overall excellence of their films. “We’re excited to recognize these filmmakers and their work,” said Sean Coffman, Executive Director of the Human Family and Chair of the 2017 North Dakota Human Rights Film and Arts Festival.

The award winners include:


Oscar Arias: Without a Shot Fired

Director / Writer: Dawn Engle
Origin: United States (Colorado)
Screening date: Wednesday, November 15

Oscar Arias: Without a Shot Fired is the story of a tiny country that made a decision to do something that no other country had ever done — it decided to abolish its army and declare peace to the world. And this is the story of a young boy who grew up in that country, and how he ended up challenging — and sometimes even convincing — the greatest powers in the world to follow Costa Rica’s example. “Oscar Arias: Without a Shot Fired” is a Don Quixote-like saga with great historical touchstones — Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, Cold War politics and Communism, Central American War and Peace. It follows a slight, academic, and most unlikely hero over the course of more than fifty years, as he travels the world in a quest to stop the spread of the weapons of war. In the end, it is a story about the triumph of reason, of the sparrow triumphing over the eagle, and how the impossible dream can sometimes come true.




Director / Writer / Producer: Faraz Arif Ansari
Origin: India (Mumbai)
Screening date: Wednesday, November 15

A first-of-its-kind silent LGBTQ film in India, Sisak makes waves before the visuals of this short hit the shore. Set in the fast-paced environs of the usually bustling Mumbai local train system, it details a romance that develops slowly and intoxicatingly, nestled in the silences and quiet comforts of the end-of-day train journeys. Our two characters, “A” and “Z”, are as poles apart as their locations in the alphabet. “A” finds his nose stuck in Haruki Murakami’s works, Z finds himself tired after long work days. “A” is kurtas and kolhapuri chappals, “Z” is leather shoes and neatly pressed formals. But where they meet is the world of dreams — unarticulated, yet whole in clarity.

“Silence is the most piercing sound,” said the film’s Director/Writer/Producer Faraz Arif Ansari. “Silence is something that so underutilized in our lives, in the films we watch and the films we make, silence barely exists. However, when Sisak was born, I knew it right from its inception that it has to be a silent film. I had so much to say that words were falling short. Why silent? Well, other than being a political statement about the state of the LGBTQI community in India, there exists a state of immense need to be heard by the community – we take out Pride marches, almost every LGBTQI film is about people’s struggles with their families, with themselves, about coming out, etc. As a filmmaker and a storyteller, I feel we use too many words to convey what we feel. People need to feel what you are feeling and when there are no words to support the visuals, by default, the audience wants to get into the minds of the character, we observe them more closely, we feel more closely and that indirectly, makes the loudest roar that the community needs.”



Remember Everything, to Not Forget Anyone

Directed by Paolo Caspani | Producer/Writer: Enrico Chiarugi
Origin: Italy (Milan)
Screening date: Thursday, November 16

A man is walking around Lampedusa, an Italian island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, reciting the names of the victims of October 3rd 2013, when more than 500 emigrants died while attempting to reach Europe. This man is Marco Pietrantuono. He is one of the very few established Italian hyperthymesiacs, people with an extraordinary autobiographical memory. If the victims’ names are declared by a person who will never forget their names, they will be remembered, thus symbolically alive, forever.

3,419 in 2014, 3,771 in 2015, 2,814 already in the first semester of 2016. The emigrants dying in the Mediterranean Sea are constantly increasing, but the flowing of the figures might make us forget that each time we are speaking of people and lives, and not just of numbers.  The tragedy occurred on October 3rd 2013 in front of the coasts of Lampedusa, an Italian island, caused the death of 500 people, and has become emblematic for the number of victims (“record of deaths” at that moment, unfortunately surpassed in the following years), but also because for the 366 bodies retrieved from the sea, most of them still unnamed. To understand this tragedy of our times we must start from the “nurturing” of an individual and collective memory. Each time we eliminated the figures and numbers to remove the problem, as if there were no more space in our mental hard disk. These figures are isolated from their context and exasperated in order to feed our deepest fears.



Directed/Produced by: Nicholas Markart and Tyler Knutt
Origin: United States (Florida)
Screening date: Friday, November 17

Native Americans from Standing Rock speak out on the pipeline, the repetition of history, and their roles as water-protectors in a struggle for modern sovereignty. “We are fascinated by the way that the media coverage on the Dakota Access Pipeline focuses strictly on the environmental risks associated with its construction, and little else,” said the Directors. “These environmental concerns are extremely important to this movement and are reflected in the film, but we felt the responsibility to uncover the social issues that are affecting the Lakota people right now, as opposed to exclusively discussing the problems that will inevitably come.”

* Margaret Landin, the narrator for the film and Bismarck resident, will be in attendance at the festival

The North Dakota Human Rights Film Festival Jury congratulates each of the filmmakers for their high achievement with their work.

 A final award, the festival’s “Best of Show…” will be selected by the audience attending the festival. Viewers will have the opportunity to cast their vote for the narrative, documentary or student film they feel best represents the spirit of filmmaking, human rights and social justice. The award winner will receive the festival’s first “Best of Show…” award, an original piece of artwork crafted by local metal worker Karman Rheault.

 22 films from 8 countries will screen at the historic downtown theater in Fargo, North Dakota Wednesday, November 15 to Friday, November 17. The full schedule can be viewed online. Doors open at 6:30, and screenings begin at 7 p.m. each evening.

 Issues addressed by other short narrative, short documentary and student films selected for the festival include the deconstruction of stereotypes for individuals with mental or physical disabilities, LGBTQ rights and discrimination, women’s rights and cultural discrimination, stories of refugee experiences and discrimination, and human and civil rights violations, discrimination and violence towards Native American culture. Films will also directly speak to the recent peaceful resistance by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In addition to high quality films produced by filmmakers in North Dakota and elsewhere in the United States, films from filmmakers in Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Iran, Italy, and the UAE will be screened.

The films screening at the festival include: Arrested (Again) (Documentary Short / U.S.); Limit (Narrative Short / Iran); Brooklyn Love Tales (Documentary Short / U.S.); The Invisible War on Blood (Student Film / U.S.); Shala (Narrative Short / Brazil); The Devil is in the Details (Narrative Short / France); Sisak (Narrative Short / India); Oscar Arias: Without a Shot Fired (Documentary Feature / Costa Rica); The Orange Story (Narrative Short / U.S.); The Forgotten (Narrative Short / UAE); A Share of a Share (Narrative Short / Iran); Unwelcome (Narrative Short / U.S.); Remember Everything, to Not Forget Anyone (Documentary Short / Italy); Here Are You (Student Film / U.S.); Warehoused: The Forgotten Refugees of Dabaab (Documentary Feature / U.S.); Missing Indigenous (Narrative Short / U.S); Peacekeeper (Student Film / U.S.); STOXHU – Water (Documentary Short / U.S.); Don’t Forget the Water (Documentary Short / U.S.); The Cleanup Story: That Didn’t Make the News (Documentary Short / U.S.); No Reservations (Narrative Short; Canada); Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock (Documentary Short / U.S.).

Panel discussions will take place each evening. On Wednesday, Representative Joshua Boschee will moderate a panel discussion with local governmental and non-profit organizations about how to access your human rights in North Dakota and Minnesota. On Thursday, Darci Asche of the New American Consortium for Wellness and Empowerment will moderate a panel discussion about the local refugee experience. The panel discussion will include Asher Emmanuel, co-director of the film Warehoused: The Forgotten Refugees of Dabaab. The festival will end on Friday evening with Floris White Bull, advisor and co-writer of Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock, and other water protectors reflecting on their experiences a year ago at Standing Rock, and sharing their thoughts on how communities can address oppression, injustice and climate change in North Dakota and beyond.

118 films from 29 different countries were submitted for consideration to the festival, totaling over 76 hours of content. Jurist from Bismarck, Grand Forks, Fargo and Moorhead reviewed each film, and selected the top films for screening. The Jury panels included human rights champions, filmmakers, professors and educators, and members of the general viewing audience.

The North Dakota Human Rights Film and Arts Festival will take place Nov. 13-18, 2017, in Fargo, North Dakota. The art exhibition will open on Monday, Nov. 13, at the Spirit Room in downtown Fargo. The exhibition will be available for viewing through Jan. 5, 2018. The film festival will screen at the Fargo Theater Nov. 15-17, 2017.

The mission of the North Dakota Human Rights Film and Arts Festival is to educate, engage and facilitate discussion around local and worldwide human rights topics through the work of filmmakers and artists. 2017 is the inaugural year for both the film and art festivals. The festival was founded and is managed by the non-profit The Human Family, an organization dedicated to promoting human rights and social justice through film and art. Support for the festival comes from: the Fargo Human Relations Commission; the Fargo Native American Commission; African Soul, American Heart; Park Co. Realtors; Bell Bank; Himalayan Yak; Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, Kensie Wallner Photography;; Moorhead Massage and Wellness; and the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition.

For more information, visit the North Dakota Human Rights Film and Arts Festival website,

Click here for a PDF version of this Press Release.


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The Human Family

The Human Family promotes human rights and social justice through film and art.


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