As part of an effort to expand its footprint as an international leader in the development of social activists, Morehouse College will host its first-ever Human Rights Film Festival Oct. 10-12 in Southwest Atlanta. The three-day festival is open to the public.
The film festival will offer a platform to independent filmmakers whose work promotes cultural understanding and exposes the injustices and inequalities that divide nations.
Hosted at the Shirley A. Massey Executive Conference Center at 830 Westview Drive SW, the inaugural film festival will feature screenings, panel discussions, networking opportunities, and artist workshops conducted by masters in screenwriting, editing, directing, and producing films.
Oscar-winner Spike Lee, a 1979 alumnus of Morehouse, has been selected to receive a lifetime achievement award for his body of work during the festival.
In honor of Lee’s success as a documentary filmmaker and human rights activist, the festival’s most prestigious award, the “Spike Lee Award for Social Impact in Filmmaking” will bear his name and be presented annually to artists who similarly use their craft to champion social justice issues.
Festival Director Kara Walker said the College is partnering with the Atlanta Metro Chamber and the Atlanta Film Society in its launch of the Morehouse Human Rights Film Festival. Walker said her team is hopeful the festival will attract Hollywood newcomers and veterans to the campus of Morehouse College.
“I believe that films give us an opportunity to examine human behavior through a lens that captures the essence of our humanity and brings awareness to important issues that should be widely exposed,” Walker said. “By highlighting global injustices and promoting an understanding and appreciation of diverse thoughts, beliefs, and lifestyles, human rights films start the difficult conversations that are necessary to rally people to effect positive change.”
The Morehouse Human Rights Film Festival will highlight documentaries and short films that provoke discussions about race, poverty, gender identity, education, politics, health care, law enforcement, and the judicial system.
Feature-length films, including a retrospective on the works of Oscar-winning Morehouse alumnus Spike Lee, will also be shown. A screening of the acclaimed film “Do the Right Thing” will be held at Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on opening night.
In addition, festival attendees will screen films vying for competitive awards presented by Morehouse College. Films chosen as finalists will be judged by a panel of educators, administrators, business leaders, and successful filmmakers. The films that are under consideration for awards include several international submissions.
“We have received submissions from the Netherlands, Ghana, Belgium, Australia, and Italy, as well as entries from across the United States,” Walker said. “Our judges have their work cut out for them. We will continue to share some of the contest submissions throughout the year in future film screenings.”
Students in Morehouse’s Cinema, Television, and Emerging Media Studies Program will also work closely with the film festival. Their talent will be showcased during a day for student films. Walker said the professional exposure will give them important insight into the industry.
According to the Motion Picture Association of America, the movie and television industry in Georgia was responsible for 92,100 jobs and some $4.6 billion in wages in the fiscal year 2018. The state experienced an overall economic impact of $9.5 billion during that time, according to the Office of the Governor.
Morehouse President David A. Thomas said the Human Rights Film Festival aligns with the College’s focus on bold leadership and supporting creative expression.
“Morehouse has a rich legacy of producing leaders who speak truth to power through their contributions in film and television,” Thomas said. “Those game-changers are respected worldwide for their craft and the impact of their work.
“The Human Rights Film Festival offers some of that Morehouse spotlight to new and established filmmakers who want to share their views on social issues through the art of film. Giving a platform to new voices is a social responsibility for Morehouse College. It allows us to expose our scholars and the greater Morehouse community to ideas that broaden their intellect and to art that speaks to their cultural experience.”