Tracker Pixel for Entry

​ND Human Rights Film Festival Director Sean Coffman interview

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | November 8th, 2017

An impressive collection of visual art and fiction and nonfiction movies can be seen by the public during the inaugural North Dakota Human Rights Film and Arts Festival. HPR film editor Greg Carlson talked to organizer Sean Coffman about the events.

HPR: For people who may not know you, can you describe your background and your role as executive director of the Human Family?

Sean Coffman: The Human Family is a new 501(c)(3) in North Dakota, founded in March of 2017. The mission of the organization is to promote human rights and social justice issues through film and art. Our goal is to educate, engage, and facilitate discussion in our communities around local or worldwide human rights issues.

My role as Executive Director is not unlike the role of Executive Producer or Producer on a film set: I identify the various projects we’ll create or support, establish those project’s budgets, find and establish funding, and assemble the creative team to help bring those projects to life.

HPR: This is the inaugural year of the Human Rights Film and Art Festival. How long has the planning taken?

Sean Coffman: We started planning the festival in November 2016, so a year ago. We made the announcement in December 2016, and started accepting submissions in February of 2017.

The genesis behind the festival was the media documentation taking place during the peaceful resistance at Standing Rock. There was such an influx of still photography, documentary video production, and art creation that we recognized the need to provide a forum for these filmmakers and artists to share these stories so they weren’t lost to time or other distractions.

In this part of the country, there isn’t a regularly held film or arts festival dedicated directly to human rights and social justice. The closest is in Boulder, Colorado or Chicago, Illinois.

HPR: The lineup of movies features stories that range from the regional to the international, past and present. How did you and your team go about finding and programming the films?

Sean Coffman: I think the need for a forum to share these stories was proven to be true, because the filmmakers found us. We established a submission portal for films on Film Freeway for filmmakers to share their work. Inside of a few days, submissions started to come in from around the world.

In the end, we had 118 submissions from 29 different countries. Over 76 hours of content was shared from narrative, documentary, experimental or student filmmakers working in human rights.

This year, the films selected for the festival include the deconstruction of stereotypes for individuals with mental or physical disabilities, LGBTQ rights and discrimination, women’s rights and cultural discrimination, stories of refugee experiences and discrimination, human and civil rights violations, and discrimination and violence towards Native American culture.

HPR: Which movie are you most looking forward to seeing with an audience?

Sean Coffman: That’s a tough one. My personal favorite is India’s first LGBT silent film and the jury’s choice for Best Narrative Short, “Sisak.” For me, the film embodies the definition of cinema. The writing and storytelling, the cinematography, the score, the acting, the directing, the human rights message; everything about this film is so incredibly well done.

In terms of seeing with an audience, I’d have to say “No Reservations.” Screening Friday evening, the film takes a satirical approach to the issue of corporate oil companies and oil transfer pipelines. The film swaps the narrative, and has an indigenous oil company putting an oil pipeline through a suburban white neighborhood. It’s poignant, relevant and intentionally humorous as the narrative works its way through the important topics specifically impacting North Dakota today.

That same evening is the discussion “Reflections of Standing Rock,” and filmmakers Myron Dewey, Floris White Bull, and Margaret Landin will be part of a panel moderated by NDSU professor Dr. Michael Yellow Bird. As the year anniversary of the the peaceful resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline takes place, this will be the first time filmmakers have been gathered in Fargo to share their experiences from the front lines of the resistance. I think it will be an incredibly powerful and important evening for everyone.

HPR: What is the human rights issue you think about the most?

Sean Coffman: Globally and locally, the issue I think about most is humanity’s inability to learn from its past. We are continually persecuting and subjugating individuals on the basis of their race, creed, culture, religion, sexual identity or political affiliation.

Even in the nearness of some of the most horrific experiences, we continue to make the same decisions, to demonize individuals for the same reasons. We’re talking about genocide. We’re talking about internment camps. We’re talking about breaking agreements with our indigenous brothers and sisters.

HPR: What inspires you?

Sean Coffman: I’m inspired daily by the human rights and social justice activist working to ensure that the protections afforded by the United Declaration of Human Rights are provided.

In North Dakota, I’m working daily with individuals who are giving everything they have -- time, resources -- to ensure that other people have what they need. In today’s current political climate, that’s a rare thing.

And an unintentional byproduct of the festival is the friendships I’m making with filmmakers from around the world. I’m talking with people from India, China or Iran on the phone, and we’re able to find common ground through art.

United Arab Emirates filmmaker Dia Zaiem, whose work “Forgotten” will screen on Wednesday evening, said to me, “The fact that this film has been accepted in the U.S. shows that politics can’t limit the art.”

IF YOU GO

North Dakota Human Rights Film and Arts Festival

November 15-17, 7pm each evening

Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway N, Fargo

Single day passes, $10; all-access passes available.

Complete lineup: human-family.org.

Recently in:

BISMARCK – Two bills are fighting for ethical supremacy in the North Dakota State Legislature. Senate Bill 2148, sponsored by Senator Tim Mathern, a Democrat from Fargo, received a ‘Do Pass’ from Special Ethics Committee on…

Culture

​‘Pull-Tab’ machines

by HPR Contributor

By Zach Nerpelzachnerpel@gmail.comThere is nothing more hopeless than a feeling unrequited. The obsession it brings, the doubt it stews, and the madness which erases your sense of self are crippling. You’ll give more than you are…

Thursday, February 21, 5:30-8:30 p.m.650 40th Ave S, West FargoThe area’s premier evening of Yoga, wine, cheese and community. Luna Fargo restaurant owner and wine/cheese expert, Nikki Berglund, will select 3 pairings to follow…

It will be Valentine’s Day by the time this issue hits the stands, but who knows you might even be picking it up after you’ve finished eating the last of the chocolates you bought for yourself for Valentine’s Day.We’re not…

Gadfly

Anti-Life America

by Ed Raymond

All The Evidence Points To An Anti-Life Political PartyAfter observing and experiencing the machinations and voting records of the Republican Party from Nixon to Reagan To Bush To Trump, one can arrive at only one conclusion: It is…

After a day of checking the weather updates and keeping an eye on any closing announcements from this week’s entrants, our judges ordered up a ride share service and headed out to the western side of town for two stops in West…

Over the past few years Luna has become my favorite restaurant in the FM area. The thoughtfulness of Ryan’s creations and the neighborhood environment of the locale as a whole creates a beautiful experience that can’t be found…

Music

​Ready or Knot

by HPR Contributor

By Gary Usseryusseryg@gmail.comWhen Sabrina gets a hold of you and asks you to interview a band as unique as Fargo locals The Knotties you just yell “yes!” Only a few days later I was meeting with Channing Minnema (lead vocals,…

Documentarian Penny Lane adds another entertaining movie to her filmography with an inside look at the recent rise of the Satanic Temple. As a movie experience, “Hail Satan?” often lives deliciously. The film might even turn…

By Jacinta Zensjacinta.zens@gmail.comThe Department of Visual Arts at Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls and the Kaddatz Galleries are excited to announce the First Annual Visiting Artists Workshop series.…

To many people unfamiliar with the wide range of the musical genre, the word ‘opera’ conjures up stereotypical images of people in period costumes and large women in Viking garb singing in foreign languages. The truth, however,…

Those who have been reading my articles for a while may remember when I interviewed Zachary Tooker about the Level Two Comedy Club at the Radisson in Fargo. While the club may have unfortunately closed, Tooker has not ceased…

The 1,290 square-foot garage that was once Main Avenue Auto has generated a lot of buzz for good reason. Harold’s on Main is Moorhead’s newest watering hole and the attention is all in the details. With its dark wood paneling,…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

By Cara Cody-Brauncara.braun@wyndmereschools.orgI am not much of a science fiction fan, but I’m a sucker for a story with a portal. Who hasn’t dreamed of entering a different world? Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole in…