Screening the Media That Matters Film Festival DVD
By Shira Golding of MediaRights
Using Film to Inspire Debate and Action in Your Community
Fifteen short films and new media pieces on globalization, criminal justice, civil liberties and other topics make up the third annual Media That Matters Film Festival DVD. These short films present vibrant personal stories that have the potential to greatly impact diverse communities.
Libraries are centers of discussion and intellectual exploration; they are at the cutting edge of information technologies, providing access and instruction; they are meeting places for debate and change. A library is the perfect forum to bring important films to people in a meaningful way.
Documentaries tell stories and raise subjects that are too often ignored by primetime television. By screening the films provided to you by the Human Rights Video Project, you may be motivating individuals in your community to think about injustices occurring in the United States and abroad for the first time. This is why it is vital to hold a screening within the framework of a discussion. People need the opportunity to process and respond to what they have seen. Of equal importance, they need to be provided with the tools and resources to further educate themselves and to take action.
Documentaries on a range of social, political and environmental issues traditionally reach audiences through outreach campaigns centered around small, community-organized screenings and discussions. Filmmakers and distributors work with nonprofits, activists, corporations, legislatures, teachers and librarians to incorporate films into activist campaigns, boardrooms, city halls, classrooms and librarians. Together these efforts affect tangible change.
One of the films on the Media That Matters Film Festival DVD, No Escape, Prison Rape, tells the story of Texas teenager Rodney Hulin. Rodney was sent to an adult prison at the age of fourteen for lighting a dumpster on fire in his neighborhood. In prison he was repeatedly raped and abused, and he spoke out. Rodney filed numerous official complaints to the prison administrators asking for help and protection. Every one of his appeals was systematically denied until, feeling like there was no alternative, Rodney took his own life behind bars.
No Escape, Prison Rape is a startling wake-up call to anyone who doubts the severity of prison rape within the United States criminal justice system. But the film could not make a difference sitting on a shelf. It was incorporated into the lobbying campaigns of Human Rights Watch and the nonprofit Stop Prison Rape. It screened before Senate and helped pass The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, a call to examine and reform the American prison system. The film has also been screened in classrooms, incorporated into prison training programs, and, as part of the Media That Matters Film Festival DVD, it has been distributed to thousands of activists, teachers and librarians around the country.
Can a film really make a difference? Evaluating change is a longstanding challenge for people dedicated to using media to make an impact. While some films lead to a concrete change like the passage of legislation, others function on a much more individual level, causing someone to think differently, vote differently, discuss the film with friends and family, donate to a cause, or take action. You can search for additional organizations and activist groups by location and/or issue at MediaRights, www.mediarights.org/search/act_search.php.
Programming Ideas that Include Shorts from the DVD
The following are additional ideas for a screening or screening series based on distinct themes. Titles followed by an asterisk can be found on the Media That Matters Film Festival DVD.
Activism and Advocacy: Books Not Bars, Calling the Ghosts, Every Mother's Son, Going to School, Justice and the Generals, State of Denial, Diane Wilson: A Warrior's Tale*, Copwatch*
Criminal Justice: Books Not Bars, Every Mother's Son, No Escape, Prison Rape*, Copwatch*
Disability Rights: Going to School, As We Sleep*
Globalization: Behind the Labels, Life and Debt, Esmeraldas: Petroleum and Poverty*
Murder, Rape and Recover: Calling the Ghosts, Every Mother's Son, Justice and the Generals, As We Sleep*, No Escape, Prison Rape*, Silence Speaks*
Public Health: State of Denial, Esmeraldas: Petroleum and Poverty*, Luv Me Latex*, As We Sleep*
Tolerance and Reconciliation: Long Night's Journey into Day, Promises, Holla Back Dubai!*, Vision Test*, Is My Neighbor Latino?*, Face to Face: Stories from the Aftermath of Infamy*
War and Peace: Bombies, Calling the Ghosts, Long Night's Journey into Day, Well-Founded Fear, We Were Humans*
Women's Rights: Behind the Labels, Calling the Ghosts, Every Mother's Son, Diane Wilson: A Warrior's Tale*
Youth: Books Not Bars, Going to School, Promises, Rebel*, Holla Back Dubai!*, Storm*, No Escape, Prison Rape*