Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

For the Media

American University Explores Key Human Rights Issues During Human Rights Month

American University, renowned for its commitment to social responsibility, diversity, and issues impacting all citizens of the world, will bring human rights to the forefront of the public eye during events and lively discussions it will host throughout October in observance of its Human Rights Month.

Events begin with a 7:30 p.m. Friday, October 2, screening of As We Forgive. Laura Waters Hinson, an AU alumna, created her powerful film about reconciliation in Rwanda between women whose families were slaughtered during the 1994 genocide and the men who committed the violence. The film was Hinson’s thesis project while a graduate film student at American University’s School of Communication and won the gold prize for best documentary at the 2008 Student Academy Awards.

The screening, sponsored by AU’s School of Communication, will be accompanied by a discussion with Hinson. She will explore her tough choices in telling a story both heartbreaking and uplifting, and share her production and funding strategies.   

AU will continue its focus on the importance of human rights with the 10th annual Human Rights Film Series. Films will be screened and discussed Thursdays from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in AU’s Abramson Family Recital Hall or Wechsler Theatre.  

In honor of the film series’s anniversary, its organizers are expanding its reach by encouraging local action. Washington, D.C., nonprofit organizations related to the issues explored by the films will be present at the events so that audience members may get involved.  

All events are free and open to the public. For more details, visit  The schedule is as follows:

Guest speakers: Burmese monks
October 8
Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center
Courageous young citizens of Burma live the essence of journalism as they insist on keeping up the flow of news from their closed country, risking torture and life in jail in the process. Armed with small handycams, these Burma video journalists (VJs) stop at nothing to report from the streets of Rangoon. Going beyond the occasional news clip from Burma, acclaimed filmmaker, Anders Østergaard, brings us close to the VJs who deliver the footage, offering a unique insight into high-risk journalism and dissidence in a police state while documenting of the dramatic days of September 2007, when the Buddhist monks started marching to peacefully protest the military regime.

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai
Guest speaker: film editor Mary Lampson.
October 15
Wechsler Theatre, third floor, Mary Graydon Center
Planting trees for fuel, shade, and food is not something that anyone would imagine as the first step toward winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet with that simple act Wangari Maathai, a woman born in Kenya and educated in the United States, began down the path that won her recognition for helping reclaim her country’s land from 100 years of deforestation, providing new sources of food and income to rural communities, giving impoverished and powerless women a vital political role in their country, and ultimately helping bring down Kenya's twenty-four-year dictatorship.  

New Muslim Cool
Guest speaker: filmmaker Jennifer Maytorena Taylor
October 22
Wechsler Theatre, third floor, Mary Graydon Center
Former drug dealer Puerto Rican American rapper Hamza Pérez starts down a new path as a young Muslim. He starts a new religious community and takes his message of faith to young people through his music. An FBI raid on his mosque brings him face-to-face with the reality of the post-September 11, 2001, world, prompting him to take a journey to find a deeper understanding of his faith and discover new connections with people from Christian and Jewish communities.

The Reckoning
Guest speakers: filmmakers Paco De Onis and Pamela Yates
October 29
Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center
Late in the 20th century, more than 120 countries united to form the International Criminal Court (ICC)—the first permanent court created to prosecute perpetrators, no matter how powerful, of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. As the ICC’s prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo is charged with issuing arrest warrants for perpetrators around the world. He and his team issue warrants for Lord’s Resistance Army leaders in Uganda, put Congolese warlords on trial, shake up the Colombian justice system, and charge Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir with genocide in Darfur, challenging the UN Security Council to arrest him. But building cases against genocidal criminals presents huge challenges as Ocampo has a mandate but no police force. At every turn, he must pressure the international community to muster political will for the cause. As this tiny court in The Hague struggles to change the world and forge a new paradigm for justice, innocent people suffer and wait.

American University’s Human Rights Film Festival is organized by the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at AU’s Washington College of Law and the Center for Social Media at AU’s School of Communication.

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.