ACT Film Fest to bring social justice, war narratives to FoCo


Collegian | Michael Marquardt

A sign outside The Lyric advertises its weekly open mic nights, June 14, 2021.

Kota Babcock, Arts and Culture Director

Starting Thursday, March 31 with an opening night reception, the ACT Human Rights Film Festival will bring music, art and war to the Fort Collins community through a variety of events. With film viewings, guided meditations and Q&A sessions, the event offers a way to interact with the global community through diverse media.

Unlike previous years, the ACT Human Rights Film Festival will be both in person and online, with in-person events occurring March 31 through April 3 primarily at The Lyric and a “Virtual Encore” happening April 4-10.


ACT Human Rights Film Festival Managing Director Beth Seymour said that when choosing the 19 films for this year’s event, they opted “for more stories that inspire us versus challenge us,” as many films will still include heavy subjects. Seymour noted a common topic in some of the films is the concept of transcending barriers.

Through films that inspire and transcend barriers, the festival hopes to create empathy for people living in difficult situations across the world. In addition to striving for empathy and awareness, the film festival uses themes of social justice and artistry to explore difficult topics. As the program features tough concepts and imagery, the event’s organizers decided to add additional programming.

“We’ve integrated some more self-care events,” Seymour said. “We have some guided meditations, some live music and some time for community conversations throughout the festival to give people time and space to reflect.”

Guided meditations are scheduled for April 1 at noon and April 3 at 9:30 a.m., with both events happening at The Lyric, where many of the films will be shown.

Films that show subjects as they transcend barriers include “9 Days in Raqqa,” in which an engineer works to rebuild her city while also dealing with misogyny, and “Young Plato,” which focuses on the empowerment of impoverished children through philosophy.

After a 5:30 p.m. March 31 reception at the Lory Student Center, the in-person events begin with a showing of “The Caviar Connection: How to Buy Democracy.” Like many films being shown next week, it focuses on corruption and addresses the audience through our common understandings of morality. This film focuses on Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, where corrupt leaders were able to stay in power through corporate connections and alliances with world leaders.

Two films will only be shown in person, according to the ACT Human Rights Film Festival website. “Sirens” will be presented only on April 1 at 7 p.m. and is presented by KCSU-FM. The film follows a guitarist in Beirut as she deals with a crumbling band and country. Also being exclusively shown in person, “Free Chol Soo Lee” will be presented on April 3 at 4 p.m. by Colorado State University’s department of ethnic studies. This film focuses on investigative journalism’s work in a fight to free a murder suspect.

Seymour was originally interviewed for KCSU Fort Collins.

For the full ACT Human Rights Film Festival schedule and details on all 19 films, visit the festival’s website.


Reach Kota Babcock at or on Twitter @kotababcock.