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A chinese woman lying naked on a bed with signs protesting in Hooligan Sparrow Hooligan Sparrow
  • Straight Outta Sundance 2016


    Posted on: 29/04/2016

    Sundance Film Festival is a renowned platform for original, authentic storytelling and a highly esteemed showcase for some of the most pressing and relevant issues of our time – so of course HRAFF sent along Programming Manager Lauren Valmadre to check out the latest films dealing with social issues.

    “Audiences are more engaged with social issues than ever before and have more opportunities to have their thoughts and feelings voiced and heard by millions of people around the world. This is an exciting time to be a film festival focused on such content and if this year’s Sundance program and award winners are anything to go by, these kind of films will continue to develop and receive the attention that they deserve,” Valmadre said.

    As part of her trek to Utah, Valmadre brought a selection of films straight from Sundance 2016 to screen at the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival this year. Here are some of the highlights.

    Hooligan Sparrow

    “If you film us, we’ll break your camera.”

    Intimidated and under surveillance from the Chinese government, first-time filmmaker Nanfu Wang becomes a target alongside her protagonist and human rights activist Ye Haiyan, a.k.a. Hooligan Sparrow. We follow Sparrow and her fellow activists as they travel to seek justice for six elementary school girls who have been sexually abused by their principal. Raw, energetic and a true act of cinematic bravery, Wang manages to smuggle her footage out of China to the big screen.

    Book tickets to Hooligan Sparrow

    Maya Angelou and Still I Rise

    Dr. Maya Angelou’s legendary writings, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Phenomenal Woman and On the Pulse of Morning, are merely a few examples of how words can truly change the world. Although she is most well noted for her poetry, Maya Angelou and Still I Rise celebrates her multiple talents including singing, dancing, filmmaking, academia and civil rights activism, how she inspired generations, pushed boundaries and never ceased in her long fight for freedom for all. Powerful, proud and prolific, Angelou’s story is one of true courage and creativity of a woman who fought for her beliefs and lived life to the fullest.

    Book tickets to Maya Angelou and Still I Rise 

    The Bad Kids (Closing Night)

    Special Jury Prize winner, The Bad Kids, looks into the hallways of a Mojave Desert high school devoted to carrying at-risk students over the finish line to graduation. Dedicated principal Vonda Viland gives every ounce of her energy to ensuring these kids wake up on time, make it to class, and avoid the life of drugs and crime that might otherwise ensnare them. Lost In La Mancha directors Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe bring a clear-eyed focus and beautiful camerawork to this sensitive, challenging portrait.

    Book tickets to The Bad Kids

    The Human Rights Arts & Film Festival will be kicking of its national tour at ACMI 5 – 19 May. Book tickets at or via the iPhone app. Join the conversation @humanrightsfest #hraff16.

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