A Letter From Our Founding Members:
In September of 2008, two students at the University of Victoria, Emily Agopsowicz and Casey Van Wensem, had the idea to start a small, grassroots, campus-oriented documentary film contest, which aimed to bring attention to human rights issues within Vancouver Island’s local communities. As the presidents of UVic’s chapter of Journalists for Human Rights, the two friends began to brainstorm ideas to realise their project and soon enlisted the help of student filmmaker Thembani Mdluli to lay the groundwork for the festival.
Little did this team of three ambitious friends know that in a matter of weeks Human Rights DocFest would explode to become a national film festival with the support of the National Film Board of Canada’s online initiative CitizenShift. Now, Human Rights DocFest aims to become Canada’s newest, leading new-media platform for dialogue regarding human rights concerns both at home and around the world, by engaging Canadians and encouraging them to become conscious global citizens.
We believe that the best way to support human rights is to educate people about their rights, and to create awareness when those rights are being abused. From the LGBTQ rights movement in the United States, addressing the issues correlating mental health and homelessness in our own country; to ethnic cleansing in the Sudan and child prostitution in Thailand—we feel strongly that Canadians should be aware of what is happening in the world around them.
The documentary film medium is a highly effective tool to spread a message. It engages filmmakers with their community in the creative process and subsequently, engages the audience in a creative way with the finished product. Human Rights DocFest offers a unique opportunity for filmmakers to create a dialogue about a given human rights topic between each other, industry executives and the community. With this festival, we strive to engage, enlighten and inspire positive change both within Canada and abroad.
We hope that you care as much about human rights issues as we do. In this age of perpetual globalisation, we genuinely believe that we are all connected and what affects one of us, affects all of us. Beginning right here, at home, we are committed to combining documentary filmmaking and new media to affect positive world change; and with your help we can surely make this happen.
Emily Agopsowicz , Thembani Mdluli
Casey Van Wensem, Erik Lindholm
More info to come on this year’s production team.