Human Rights Film Festival at UC Merced

Filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes, center, directs during a film shoot at Applegate Park last August in Merced.
Filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes, center, directs during a film shoot at Applegate Park last August in Merced.

UC Merced in February will hold a Human Rights Watch Film Festival, with a different film shown every Friday during the month.

Event organizers say the festival’s purpose is to “bring home the discussion about human rights, view film as an art form that can impact social justice, and serve as witnesses and actors in the global and local effort to end violence and inequality,” according to a press release.

In addition, the final week of the series will include an appearance by local filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes, best known for his film “Purgatorio.”

“Purgatorio“ is a feature film that takes a look at the U.S.-Mexico border and the political effects on migrant life and health. The film premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival last year and has won a Michael Moore Award.

Reyes is now working on his film “Under the Sun.” His new film will center on the life of a peach picker, who Reyes said reminded him of his own grandfather.

“I started thinking of all the men that come out here and leave their families behind and somehow end up falling into a limbo, a time lapse of some sort, and don’t accomplish what they wanted to,” Reyes recently told the Sun-Star.

A film will be shown 7 p.m. every Friday in February in Classroom Office Building (COB) 120 at UC Merced.

The films to be shown during the festival area:

▪ “Private Violence” (Feb. 6) – Directed by Cynthia Hill, “Private Violence” looks as domestic violence against women in the U.S., according to a press release.

▪ “Return to Homs” (Feb. 13) – Directed by Talal Derki, “Return to Homs” is a portrait of a group of young revolutionaries in the city of Homs in western Syria.

▪ The Homestretch” (Feb. 20) – Directed by Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly, “The Homestretch” looks at homeless teens battling difficult circumstances in Chicago.

▪ Purgatorio“ (Feb. 27) – Directed by Reyes, “Purgatorio” is a provocative meditation that captures the brutal beauty of the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a press release.

For questions or more information email Professor Nigel Hatton at

UC Merced Human Rights Watch Film Festival

What: Four films about human rights issues

When: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Friday in February (Feb. 6, 13, 20 & 27)

Where: Classroom Office Building (COB) 120, University of California, Merced, campus