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Statewide Human Rights Film and Arts Festival to kick off Nov. 1 in Fargo

The festival will be held Nov. 1 to Dec. 11 throughout the state, but the main in-person screenings and presentations will be held Nov. 1 - 5 in Fargo.

ND HR film and art festival.jpg
The regional premiere of "The Wind and the Reckoning" will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, at the Fargo Theatre. The narrative feature reveals the real-life story of a Native Hawaiian ranching family that defies the newly established colonial government and faces down American mercenaries rather than have their freedoms callously ripped away.
Contributed / NDHRFF
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FARGO – Thirty-nine films from 10 countries will be screened this year as part of the sixth annual Human Rights Film and Arts Festival, which will kick off Tuesday, Nov. 1, here in Fargo.

While events will be held Nov. 1 to Dec. 11 throughout the state, the main in-person screenings and presentations will be held Nov. 1 - 5 in Fargo.

This year's festival will begin with an opening ceremony and awards presentation at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Radison Blu, 201 5th St. N.

"It's the first time we've actually had an opportunity to welcome everybody officially to the festival," said Sean Coffman, the founder and festival director.

Jon Harris, the artist known for his oil painting piece "Critical Race Theory ," and Frederick Edwards, director of Black cinema and programming for the festival, will lead a conversation about the intersections between social justice and art at the ceremony.

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Filmmaking workshops will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, through Friday, Nov. 4, at the Plains Art Museum, followed by workshops, a free community meal and panel discussion at 11:30 a.m. at the downtown Fargo Public Library. Film screenings and community discussions will continue into the afternoon and evenings at the Fargo Theatre.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, workshops will be held at the Elevate Meeting and Events Center in the Loretta Building, 210 Broadway.

While all events are free and open to the public, attendees are asked to register at the festival's event page .

Students from the Umoja Writing Workshops at Fargo Public Schools will open the evening performances Wednesday through Saturday at the Fargo Theatre. They will share a variety of written, spoken and musical performances at 6:30 p.m. each night.

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Students from the Umoja Writing Workshops at Fargo Public Schools will perform at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at the Fargo Theatre as part of the North Dakota Human Rights Film and Arts Festival. They will share a variety of written, spoken or musical performances.
Contributed / NDHRFF

Coffman said one thing he is really excited for is a performance by Island Breeze, Hawaii Island's most popular Polynesian production company, which will include traditional Hawaiian protocol, blessing and gift exchange with area Indigenous leaders.

"I don't know how often we get Hawaiian performers in North Dakota," Coffman said. "But they will be in Fargo in November and it's going to be pretty cool, I think, for audiences to experience."

Additionally, Coffman said he was excited for the narrative film "The Wind and the Reckoning."

"It is the first time a piece of Hawaiian history has been told in narrative film," Coffman said. "It really documents Native Hawaiians rise up against white colonist who have basically invaded their land and push native Hawaiians off of their lands."

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Island Breeze.jpg
The Hawaiian and Polynesian performing troupe Island Breeze will join the North Dakota Human Rights Film and Art Festival Wednesday, Nov. 1, for a blessing, traditional protocol and gift exchange with Indigenous leaders.
Contributed / NDHRFF

Coffman said the idea for the festival stemmed from the art being created because of the work of Standing Rock and resistance to the Dakota access pipeline. The Human Family began planning the event in 2016 and had their first festival in 2017.

"There was so much art coming out of the protest movement," Coffman said.

They wanted to have a place where they could capture and appreciate the artwork.

This year the Human Family wanted to provide a positive view and change around the world from the films rather than showing the trauma of the films.

"Approaching stories from a more optimistic viewpoint," Coffman said.

"As long as we can tell those stories and provide those perspective I think it allows communities in North Dakota to learn a little but about the world and themselves," he continued. "Hopefully open their hearts a little, but more to be accepting and accommodating to other cultures and diverse peoples of the world."

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