Over 250 activists, scholars, funders, filmmakers and other media-artists came together for a screening on November 30, 2012 to launch Reels for Rights, a collaboration among human rights organizations, social justice community groups and media artists using the power of media to build and support a movement for human rights in the United States.

Reels for Rights’ first screening showed a diverse range of short films and trailers from the Sky is Pink (by award winning documentary filmmaker Josh Fox) to community media addressing issues such as needless deaths due to the closing of fire stations (Media Mobilizing Project), youth organizing against the school to prison pipeline (Dignity in Schools Campaign), and an inspirational video about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Campaign.  The screening also showed clips from Strength of the Storm a documentary emerging from the post-Irene organizing efforts of the Vermont Workers’ Center.   The video clips were accompanied by panel discussions among the filmmakers and community organizers on how the pieces shown influenced, shaped and fueled their social justice and human rights struggle.  The questions and suggestions from the audience afterwards evinced the passion and energy that the media arts bring to the surface in people everywhere: Why isn’t this on PBS? Why haven’t we seen this before?  How can we get these images out to the world?

These are some the questions that Reels for Rights seeks to both answer and change.  Towards that end, almost sixty organizers, activists, scholars and media artists met for two days after the screening to envision the growth of the Reels for Rights collaborative.  Through story-telling and sharing of experiences, the participants identified the need to deepen relationships between media artists and organizers, catalyze more powerful movement media that fuels grassroots efforts, and create a powerful distribution machine that not only increases public consciousness but also builds alliances for a human rights movement in the United States.

Out of the Reels for Rights summit emerged a commitment to:  establishing a decision-making structure accountable to participating organizers and media makers; a December 2013 Film Festival; a traveling film festival; and the creation of a distribution platform and strategy all designed to support a social movement for human rights here at home.


Photos from the events can be found here.