Taking Human Rights to the Big Screen

The inaugural Human Rights Film Festival is a three-day screening event featuring independent films centered on human rights.

A new nonprofit and an established local icon have partnered for the inaugural North Dakota Human Rights Film Festival.

Established in March of this year, The Human Family strives to bring attention to the international issue of human rights.

“The mission of the organization is to promote human rights and social justice issues through film and art,” Human Family executive director Sean Coffman said in an interview with “High Plains Reader.” “Our goal is to educate, engage and facilitate discussion in our communities around local or worldwide human rights issues.”

In its first year of operation, The Human Family is pursuing an ambitious project: a three-day long film festival featuring 22 films from eight different countries.

The topics vary, from activism to LGBTQ issues, refugees to historical injustices, and each night features a wide array of films.

A different film will also be featured each night of the festival.

The festival opens Wednesday, Nov. 15 with the featured documentary, “Oscar Arias: Without a Shot” directed by Colorado filmmaker Dawn Engle.

The film tells the story of former Costa Rican president, Oscar Arias, whose radical idea set a precedent for the world: abolishing its army.

In August 1987, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras signed a peace treaty. For his groundbreaking work to bring peace to Central America, Arias won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. 

On Thursday, Asher Emmanuel and Vincent Vitorrio’s film, “Warehoused: The Forgotten Refugees of Dabaab” explores the experience of a refugee in Dabaab, Kenya.

Finally, Friday’s featured film hits close to home: “Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock” is a glimpse into the complexity of the fight for water rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

In addition to the films themselves, the three nights of the festival will also host an expert panel discussion based on the topics discussed in the feature film. These topics include the effects of human rights locally, the refugee experience and the aftermath of Standing Rock.

For a full festival schedule, including screening times and film summaries, and to purchase tickets, visit the event website.


WHEN: Nov. 15 – 17, times vary

WHERE: The Fargo Theatre

PRICE: Festival pass, $29

Single day pass, $10

MORE INFO: Event website or Facebook page

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