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Bellingham Human Rights Festival comes to Western

The Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival formed 16 years ago with the hope of bringing awareness to human rights issues in a local, national and global context.

This month, the tradition will continue.

Between Feb. 19 and 27, the festival will show 25 films in various locations across Bellingham with multiple stops on Western’s campus.

Each film is carefully selected by volunteer committee members. Ross Marquardt has been working with the festival for five years, and helped decide which movies to highlight in this year’s festival.

Volunteers preview every film before they hit the screen – a lengthy process that determines which stories will be shared, Marquardt said.

During this selection process, the committee looks for diversity, film quality, educational value of the human rights issues being explored as well as routes for action.

The film that excited Marquardt most was the shortest one of all, he said. The film, “Overpass Light Brigade,” tells a way anyone can get involved in an issue they are passionate about in a very creative way, he said. “Overpass Light Brigade” is a documentary about protesters holding a string of lights portraying activist messages over highway overpasses in Wisconsin.

Other films featured during the festival have garnered national recognition. This year, two featured films, “The Hunting Ground” and “3½ Minutes, 10 Bullets,”  were shortlisted for Academy Awards.

“The Hunting Ground” is a documentary revealing information about sexual assaults on college campuses, the cover-ups and victims. This film is being shown on Feb. 25 in Academic West 204, and will be co-sponsored by Western’s Women, Sexuality, and Gender Studies.

The WWU Office of Sustainability is co-sponsoring another film, “The True Cost,” which will be shown on Feb. 27 in the Fairhaven College Auditorium. “The True Cost” is a documentary that demonstrates the impact of fast fashion on production-line workers.

Carol Berry is the campus conservation and sustainable transportation manager for the Office of Sustainability. Berry said the film presents a comprehensive analysis of the complex issues in the world of fast fashion.

After the showing of “The True Cost,” there will be a panel discussion featuring members of the community, including Western student Delaney Corcoran, a lead Eco Rep, she said.

Subeqwa de los Angeles, a Western film production student and festival volunteer, became involved with the festival last fall after attending the Fairhaven College World Issues Forum where a professor announced members of the audience were looking for volunteers.

De los Angeles is looking forward to watching “The True Cost” for the second time. She initially watched movie on Netflix, but is excited to see it on a big-screen projector among an audience, she said.

“I feel like the part I’m most excited about – and I keep telling people – is that all the movies are free and that anyone can attend,” de los Angeles said.

The complete schedule for the festival can be found on the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival website.


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