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Spotlight on human rights

The Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival runs from January 23 to April 18.

Still image from Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival film "Matar a Jesús".
Still image from Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival film, "Matar a Jesús".

Humanity’s global pursuit of human rights will take to a world-class stage for the third annual Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival, beginning January 23 at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. Through music, theatre, dance, multimedia, and film, the festival will explore poignant stories of refugees, Indigenous identity and health, protest, disability, equity, and more.

“The arts are a powerful voice in promoting awareness and action in human rights,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director of The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen's University. “We are privileged to partner with diverse artists and human rights activists who have dedicated their lives to create a fairer and inclusive future for humanity.”

The performance series will launch with a screening of Alanis Obomsawin’s Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger – one of four festival films curated by Queen’s Department of Film and Media professors Susan Lord and Dorit Naaman. The film documents the story of a young Indigenous boy who spent all five years of his life in hospital while the Manitoba and federal governments argued over who was responsible for paying for the boy’s care. More films will be screened in the following weeks, including Advocate, the story of Jewish-Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel; and Matar a Jesús, about the police’s handling of the murder of a young Colombian photographer’s father.

Among the festival’s live events will be a free performance installation entitled Firebirds in Motion, co-created by a Queen’s student and featuring collaborative contributions by Queen’s students and Kingston artists. The piece is set to explore the expansive theme of equity through dance, movement, and sound.

The festival’s live program will also feature the Art of Time Ensemble and Ralston String Quartet performing the history of protest music; dance performance The Mush Hole, a reflection on the Mohawk Institute residential school experience and; a multimedia exploration of the influence of refugee populations in their adopted countries. The Kingston Symphony will join Juno Award-winner Tom Wilson for Beautiful Scars, and the H’art Centre’s multimedia performance Small Things will look at parents’ experiences raising children with developmental disabilities.

“Nothing could be more important in this challenging political world climate, in which we are now immersed, than to inspire people to actively participate and create a political and legal environment that will protect world citizens from prejudice, hatred, and violence,” says Baldwin.

For more information on the Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival, visit the Isabel website.