“Regardless of one’s political persuasion, there’s no reason not to enjoy a well-told story,” broadcaster, author and musician Lourd de Veyra told Daily Tribune, referring to two events organized to promote discussions on human rights in the country.
The first event, which opened on 19 September and runs till 27 September, is the annual Active Vista International Human Rights Festival, which celebrates rights, freedoms and dignity. It is a project of the artist collective Dakila through its human rights education center Active Vista.
Now on its eighth edition, this year’s Active Vista festival will be held online with the theme “Walang Pipikit 360” (No One Blinks an Eye).
The public is invited “to look into human rights in these historic times with new lenses and perspectives, to go beyond the frames, the last pages of the news, the ends of the films, the 280-character tweets, the meeting rooms and daily stories.”
The festival consists of film screenings of shorts and main features led by Lauren Greenfield’s “The Kingmaker,” James Jones and Olivier Sabil’s “On the President’s Orders,” Alexander A. Mora’s “The Nightcrawlers,” Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck’s “The Cleaners” and Lav Diaz’s “Ang Panahon ng Halimaw.”
There are also forums that will “present a new angle in the discourse of the human rights issues in the country today.”
De Veyra, one of Dakila’s co-founders, is impressed by the film lineup. “A lot of these titles, while heavy in political statements, are well-crafted films and documentaries, primary examples of the fine fusion of form and content, style and message,” he said.
Asked how the festival can interest partisan groups that have negative opinions on human rights, De Veyra said, “Ultimately they should understand that human rights has nothing to do with political cheerleading, as if responsible citizenship were like rooting for just two stupid basketball teams.”
Meanwhile, happening today, 20 September, 2 to 5 p.m. on Facebook Live is “Ganito Kami Noon, Ganito Pa Rin Ba Ngayon?” — a discussion of films amid a climate of human rights suppression featuring actor and now Lipa Rep. Vilma Santos, actors Piolo Pascual and Glaiza de Castro, film-TV director Joel Lamangan and writers Ricky Lee and Lualhati Bautisa as guest speakers.
The guest speakers will recount their experience in the creation and portrayal of film characters who struggled and fought against oppression.
Likewise featured are performances by Aktor members.
Hosting the program are De Veyra and Xiao Chua.
The discussion will be streamed live on the following Facebook pages: AktorPH, DAKILA, and Regional Filmmakers Network.
Actor Agot Isidro told Daily Tribune that “Ganito Kami…” is a collaboration between Dakila and Aktor, an organization of artists in the entertainment industry.
Aktor, said Isidro, “was literally borne out of the pandemic. Our group felt that we were not fully represented in discussions and decisions in protocols in the entertainment industry. We want to fill up the gaps concerning actors as an active part of the industry.”
Gaps in academic curriculum
De Veyra pointed out that Dakila’s secretary-general, Leni Velasco, “believes that the current context presents an opportunity for interventions in addressing gaps in the academic curriculum content of schools for human rights and civic participation.
“It also reminds us of the importance of alternative forms like film screenings and creative content such as online art exhibitions, performances, etc, and also the power of narratives in influencing the formation of human rights and democratic values among audiences, and the importance of infusing art and entertainment in strategies to transcend echo chambers.”
Asked how Aktor invited its guests, Isidro said: “We reached out to Piolo and Glaiza, who are Aktor members. We sent them a formal letter. They checked their schedules and cleared them for the event. Same with Ate Vi, through the kindness of Meryl Soriano. Ate Via asked a few questions and accommodated us.”
De Veyra said that this year’s Active Vista program “fills me with relief. I am reminded that, oftentimes, the best artistic minds will most often stand with the good, with truth and human dignity.”
Asked whether Filipinos are now more aware of human rights abuses, especially during the martial law years, Isidro said: “In my personal opinion, it is still not enough. We really need to bring the human rights issue on the surface and not sweep it under the rug. Everybody should be made aware of it, as we can be prone to abuses if we lack the understanding for it. I always say we should go back to educating, over and over again, lest we forget. We have to first acknowledge that it did happen, learn from it, in the hopes of not letting it happen again.”
In the Active Vista schedule, short films are free, some full-length films will be streamed on Facebook also for free, but audiences can watch all titles in the duration of the festival via the VOD festival platform watch.activevista.ph.
De Veyra added that Active Vista also offers discounted tickets: “Value deal, tipid pack (parang kape lang), sulit pack (parang gatas lang), and tambay pack to those without credit cards. Free tickets will also be distributed to 100 randomly selected attendees of the forums.”
To know more about the festival, where to buy tickets, and other inquiries, visit activevista.ph, email [email protected], check out its Facebook page at facebook.com/activevista, or contact (+63) 995-1033706.