ACT Human Rights Film Festival celebrates the power of film to awaken, connect and transform

"Subject" explores the life-altering experience of sharing one’s life on screen through the participants of five acclaimed documentaries.

The eighth ACT Human Rights Film Festival returns to Fort Collins to celebrate the power of film to bring human rights stories to life.

From March 29 to April 2, ACT will present 19 award-winning documentaries from five continents on campus and at The Lyric. Filmmakers from around the world will join to share their insights and connect with audiences.

For the first time in several years, ACT will host more than a dozen filmmakers and film participants at the festival,” Festival Producer Greg Dickinson said. “Offering our audiences the chance to meet the people behind the films is a powerful way to add impact and insight to the stories the films tell. Welcoming these guests will enrich the festival, festival goers experience and Fort Collins.” 

The festival opens with a celebratory reception on Wednesday, March 29, starting at 5 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Theatre lobby. The reception will feature heavy appetizers and the eighth annual signature festival beer from Odell Brewing, ACT Screening Session Ale. This year’s opening night film Subject will begin at 6:15 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Theatre.

Hailed as must-see for anyone who enjoys documentaries or non-fiction media, Subject explores the life-altering experience of sharing one’s life on screen through the participants of five acclaimed documentaries. As tens of millions of people watch documentaries in an unprecedented “golden era,” Subject urges audiences to consider the ethics in storytelling and the impact on documentary participants the good, the bad and the complicated.

Following the film, audience members can glean deeper insights from Susanne Reisenbichler, documentary film participant (Subject and The Wolf Pack, 2015), and from the film’s Impact and Outreach Producer, Stephanie Sunata.  

CSU’s Student Leadership Involvement and Community Engagement office (SLiCE) is hosting a post-film facilitated discussion, including cookies, for those who wish to connect and talk more. In addition, SLiCE is sponsoring two free tickets for CSU students to attend ACT. Students must book with their Rams email and use the discount code SLiCE23. Limited free, student tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Free community screening for CSU’s Thematic Year of Health

The festival continues Thursday, March 30 with a free, campus and community screening of the award-winning film Into the Weeds: Dewayne “Lee” Johnson vs. Monsanto in the Lory Student Center Theatre at 2 p.m. Snacks and film are provided free for all, thanks to CSU’s Thematic Year, with an RSVP here 

The post-film Q&A will feature film participant and mass tort attorney, Aimee Wagstaff, who was lead trial counsel in the federal Round Up trial resulting in an $80 million verdict. 

On Thursday evening, ACT moves to The Lyric for the remaining 17 films shown throughout 12 film blocks. Of note, Hidden Letters’  will make its Colorado premiere and award-winning director Violet Du Feng will be joining the festival lineup of participating filmmakers. Friday’s impactful films and film guests include Executive Producer Eric Nichols, from the Oscar© Nominated short documentary Stranger at the Gate, which screens alongside The Art of Un-War. Director Maria Niro will join to discuss the artwork of anti-war artist Krzysztof Wodiczko revealed in The Art of Un-War. 

“Hidden Letters” will make its Colorado premiere at the ACT Human Rights Film Festival, along with an appearance by award-winning director Violet Du Feng.

“This year’s film slate is unique and impactful,” said Beth Seymour, the festival’s managing director. “We have filmmakers from around the world converging in Fort Collins to screen some of the most relevant, complicated and acclaimed films produced in the last year.” 

Friday’s lineup includes the Colorado premiere of Who She Is, directed by Jordan Dresser and Sophie Barksdale. Following the short film’s screening, the festival will host extended conversation around the murdered and missing Indigenous women epidemic in partnership with CSU’s Native American Cultural Center and Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. The directors along with a film participant will join the facilitated discussion.

The festival continues through the weekend with films on Russian civil society, the war in Ukraine, LGBTQ+ topics, and nation-building and democracy in South Sudan. Festival goers can enjoy guest mingles, facilitated conversations, plus several livestream Q&As, and memorable conversations with in-person filmmakers and film guests. The complete lineup, as well as festival passes and individual film tickets, can be found on ACT’s festival hub here.

Closing night uplifts an unforgettable civil rights icon

ACT concludes Sunday, April 2 with the Colorado premiere of Storming Caesar’s Palace starting at 7 p.m. at The Lyric. The film chronicles the life of Ruby Duncan, an activist who fights the welfare system and becomes a White House advisor. A real-life superhero, she takes on both the Nevada political establishment and organized crime in a valiant and resolute act of civil disobedience. The film’s director Hazel Gurland-Pooler and Ruby Duncan’s daughter, film participant Sondra Phillips-Gilbert are anticipated in-person guests. A dessert reception will follow the film at The Lyric featuring live music from CSU student musicians.  

“Hosting ACT live and in person is one of the best ways we know to build our community,” Dickinson said. “The films and the conversations folks have before and after the screenings enacts the connectedness so many of us desire.” 

The complete festival schedule is posted on the ACT box office website, as are film descriptions and trailers. Purchase festival tickets ($10+) in advance through the ACT website, Tickets may also be purchased day of show, pending availability.  

Passes offer the most flexibility, priority seating and special perks to best experience the festival. In addition to all regular screenings, passholders receive entrance to opening and closing night films and receptions, and a film ticket voucher to bring a friend to one film.  

ACT is produced by the Department of Communication Studies at Colorado State University with generous support from CSU partners, including the College of Liberal Arts; Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts program; CSU Thematic Year; Lilla B. Morgan Endowment; Office of Inclusive Excellence; Women and Philanthropy; Departments of Economics, Philosophy, Anthropology and Geography, Ethnic Studies, English, History, Political Science, Sociology; Languages, Literatures and Culture; School of Music Theater and Dance; Journalism and Media Communication; Libraries; Impact MBA; Art and Art History. CSU Spur is contributing partner. 

Off-campus partners include the City of Fort Collins Fort Fund; Colorado Creative Industries; The Lyric; Eye Center of Northern Colorado; Bohemian Foundation; the Colorado Office of Film, TV, and Media; Odell Brewing; KUNC 91.5 FM; The Armstrong Hotel. Individual sponsors include Wendy Poppen, Jo Anne Busch, and The Spokespeople Fund. Learn more 

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.