Welcome to Duquesne University's Sixth Annual Human Rights Film Series
Imagine, if you would, having acid thrown in your face by your husband or brother, simply because they did not like the meal you prepared for them. Or having your arm slashed off by a child soldier, because the boy was taught to view anyone outside his own ethnic tribe as subhuman. Or losing your family and your home to a man-made disaster, because a corporation made catastrophic engineering miscalculations.
Tragically, there is no need for you to imagine any of these things. Such atrocities occur in our world every day, as documented by the six films that comprise this year's Human Rights Film Series.
Nor do such acts of repression occur only in "less developed" nations. Several films in this year's series examine the darker side of American society as well, including the abuse and rape of women in the U.S. military, the objectification of women by Madison Avenue and the media, and the impact of mountain-top mining practices on the people and environment of Appalachia.
Collectively, the six films portray some of the more critical human rights abuses of today. But that is neither their sole purpose-nor ours.
They are also soaring tributes to the resilient power of the human spirit. For every victim of an acid attack, there is at least one physician prepared to heal her wounds, and thousands of other women are courageously willing to stand up and fight against such abuse. For every mountain leveled in Kentucky and West Virginia, there are righteously angered citizens, protesting, organizing and demanding that the mining companies and government agencies right egregious wrongs. For every man-made engineering catastrophe, there are men and women working in corporations, the government and universities dedicated to ensuring that the technologies we all depend upon are safe and environmentally benign.
Therefore, as a fitting capstone to the series, we are extremely pleased to be able to present a special program featuring our own Dr. Sam Hazo, McAnulty Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus, who will read a selection of his own poems following a showing of the brief documentary Poetry of Resilience. The concluding program will offer a moving testimony to the indefatigable force of the human spirit as affirmed by the voice of Dr. Hazo and told by the survivors and victims of some of the most horrific episodes of genocide and cataclysmic events in recent human history.
These films may sadden and anger you. But we hope, like the protagonists of these films, you will go beyond the sadness and anger and ask yourself what you can do, in your own life or career, to help overcome such injustices, and add your voice to the noble cause of resilience against repression.
Edith Krause, Ph. D.
Karl J. Skutski, M. A.
Mark Frisch, Ph. D.
Mary Ann Hess, M.A.
2013 Human Rights Film Series Committee