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Civic Impact

Human rights film fest at Duquesne likely to inspire more student volunteers

Not only are the films "eye openers" at the Duquesne University Human Rights Film Series, says Karl Skutski, but they regularly inspire students to come forward without being asked, just to see what they can do.
This year's installment, continuing with four films Feb. 1-22, includes an Oscar-winning documentary explaining the causes of the 2008 financial crisis that still affects us all today ("Inside Job"); a German feature film about an "honor killing" in Turkey ("When We Leave"); coverage of the fight for fresh water rights being too often won by corporations ("Blue Gold"); and a locally produced account of a Holocaust survivor returning to the site of his concentration camp ("Memory").
Each film is accompanied by a talk from someone involved with the film, a relevant educator or researcher, or other local person concerned with the cause. A showing in January of "Lost Angels," about the situation of the homeless in the U.S., brought fresh volunteers for speaker Jim Withers, founder of Operation Safety Net at UPMC Mercy, which helps Pittsburgh's homeless. Skutski, a Duquesne adjunct instructor in film, recalls a movie shown in a previous year about fair-trade coffee that he believes helped change Duquesne's coffee-buying practices, and another about the "lost boys" of Sudan that prompted a group of DU students to raise money to bring the wife of one former lost boy over from Africa.
Global Solutions Pittsburgh, along with the Pittsburgh Human Rights Network, support the festival. The groups are hoping to expand the reach of the series by taking it off campus eventually. Says Timothy Lessick, Global Solutions' manager of public programs, "It's a great way to get people interested in the subject matter."
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Writer: Marty Levine
Sources: Karl Skutski, Duquesne University Human Rights Film Series; Timothy Lessick, Global Solutions Pittsburgh
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