ACT Human Rights Film Festival brings international filmmakers, stories to Fort Collins

Director Hazel Gurland-Pooler will be at ACT on Sunday, April 2 for the screening of her film, "Storming Caesars Palace," about activist Ruby Duncan. Duncan's daughter will also be in attendance.

From Wednesday, March 29 to Sunday, April 2, the eighth annual ACT Human Rights Film Festival brings award-winning documentaries and filmmakers from around the world to Fort Collins.

Unique opportunities to connect and engage

Conversations with filmmakers and activists, catered receptions and screenings of 19 films will all take place over five days at both the Lory Student Center and the Lyric (1209 N. College Ave., Fort Collins). Festivalgoers will have many exclusive opportunities to engage with the human rights issues explored in this year’s films.  

“More than showing great films, ACT strives to create meaningful conversations; this is why we invest in bringing filmmakers and participants to Fort Collins,” festival producer Greg Dickinson said. “Their willingness to engage our audiences deepens our understanding of the issues the films address and broadens our connections to the world.”  

A total of nine filmmakers and six film participants are traveling to be present at the festival in Fort Collins, and another five filmmakers will appear at the festival via virtual Q&A sessions. Audience members can ask questions and learn more about filmmaking and human rights issues throughout the festival in post-film conversations. Thanks to CSU’s Student Leadership Involvement and Community Engagement office (SLiCE), two post-film Cookies & Conversation sessions will allow festivalgoers, activists and filmmakers to connect with one another over cookies at facilitated discussions. Lastly, two Guest Mingle sessions between film screenings at the Lyric on Friday and Saturday provide more opportunities for community connection.

Award-winning festival guests from around the world in Fort Collins

From Peabody and Emmy winners to Oscar© nominees, ACT’s 2023 cohort of attending filmmakers have extensive filmographies.  

“Having the opportunity to hear from filmmakers and film participants about the labor and love that goes into every film is unforgettable,” said Beth Seymour, ACT’s managing director. “It is also a remarkably impactful experience to gather in a theater with these artists and communities while watching films that challenge us as humans.”  

Here are just a few of the truly impressive artists and film participants converging in Fort Collins at ACT’s 8th festival.

Originally from China, award-winning director and journalist Violet Du Feng will be at ACT in person for the 6 p.m., Thursday, March 30 screening of her latest documentary film, “Hidden Letters,” at the Lyric. Hidden Letters tells the story of two independent Chinese women trying to balance their modern lives while confronting the traditional identity that defines but also oppresses them. Feng has won Emmy and Peabody awards for her work. Hidden Letters is her 13th film.

Based in Belfast, Ireland, award-winning director Alison Millar and producer Jackie Doyle will be at ACT in person on Saturday, April 1 for the 7:30 p.m. screening of their documentary “Lyra” at the Lyric. Millar is a BAFTA, IFTA and Prix Italia winner, as well as having won both the UK and Northern Ireland Royal Television Society award. Lyra is an emotive, intimate film on the life and death of acclaimed young Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee, whose murder by the New IRA in April 2019 sent shockwaves across the world. Millar was a close friend of McKee’s. The film seeks answers to her senseless killing through McKee’s own work and words.

Director Hazel Gurland-Pooler will be at ACT on Sunday, April 2 for the screening of her film, “Storming Caesars Palace,” at 7 p.m. at the Lyric. Storming Caesars Palace is the festival’s final film, and a dessert reception will follow. Gurland-Pooler will be in attendance with Sondra Phillips-Gilbert, a film participant and the daughter of Ruby Duncan, the activist whose story Storming Caesars Palace tells. Gurland-Pooler is a Colombian-born, New York City-based filmmaker whose work has won Emmy, Peabody, duPontColumbia and NAACP Image awards. “When I began filming with Ruby Duncan 15 years ago, her story of courage and activism truly inspired me,” Gurland-Pooler said. Storming Caesars Palace chronicles Duncan’s fight against the welfare system and journey to becoming a White House advisor.

Renowned African American preservationist Peggy King Jorde will be at ACT for the screening of “A Story of Bones,” in which she appears, on Saturday, April 1 at 4 p.m. at the Lyric. A Story of Bones chronicles Jorde’s work alongside St. Helena’s Chief Environmental Officer Annina van Neel to reclaim and honor the remote island’s neglected history after the remains of thousands of enslaved people are uncovered there. “In the wake of the racialized murder of George Floyd and the history of violence against Black communities in America,” Jorde said, “the global community has responded with a bold willingness to demand justice, pull back the veil of white privilege, and confront racial disparities that oppress and diminish the dignity of black lives, past and present.” Jorde has over 30 years of experience as a cultural projects consultant, including serving under three New York City mayors and her work on the African Burial Ground National Monument.

How to attend

For a full list of the attending filmmakers and guests, along with the festival schedule and lineup, please visit the 2023 ACT Human Rights Film Festival hub at, where tickets and passes can also be purchased.

CSU employees can take advantage of the Commitment to Campus discount to receive 20% off a festival pass or 20% off any individual tickets. Log into the c2c site for the discount code. CSU students can redeem the SLiCE-sponsored discount code “SLiCE23” to receive two free tickets using their Rams email address. Student IDs will be checked at the festival.

ACT is produced by the Department of Communication Studies at Colorado State University with generous support from both off-campus and CSU partners. Learn more at