2nd Huntsville Human Rights Film Festival at UAH focuses on community health Sept. 14-16

graphic illustration of the words

The second annual Huntsville Human Rights Film Festival spotlights “Community Health is a Human Right” Sept. 14-16 at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of the University of Alabama System. Documentaries, short subjects, featured speakers and panel discussions will explore mental health, policing, the environment and food insecurity. The event is open to the public free of charge.

“We tend to think of the concept (of human rights) in a global view,” says Dr. Noelle Hunter, a festival organizer and clinical assistant professor in the UAH Department of Philosophy and Political Science, “but every person in our community is deserving of dignity, respect and access to resources that help improve our quality of life.”

Hunter points out that a community’s health problems might not be obvious, even to the people suffering from them. Understanding the challenges is the first step to addressing them.

“Those who are in a position to help advocate may not be aware of the scope and sources of these disparities,” she says. “The Huntsville Human Rights Film Festival aims to show these opportunities and disparities on the big screen and to reinforce the ideas through conversations with local and area community members.”

The festival schedule weaves local perspectives with national issues:

Thursday, Sept. 14

  • “Angel of Alabama,” a 2022 documentary about Alabama native Brenda Hampton, a seasoned investigator who uncovered decades of pollution in her Lawrence County hometown, will be screened virtually. The UAH Salmon Library will provide a publicly accessible link on that day.

Friday, Sept. 15

  • “Chosen for Change: An evening with Michael Brown Sr.” will be presented along with the 2021 documentary “Ferguson Rises” at Lakeside United Methodist Church, 3738 Meridian St., Huntsville. Brown’s son, Michael Brown Jr., was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014, sparking months of protests. A reception will begin at 6 p.m. with moderated discussion at 7 and the film following. Local advocate and journalist David Person will moderate the conversation about the intersections of faith, justice and policing.
  • A mental health first aid training session will be offered for festival committee members and community leaders by WellStone, North Alabama’s largest and most comprehensive behavioral health care provider.

Saturday, Sept. 16, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Morton Hall, UAH campus

  • “Requiring Justice: Faith and the Coverage Gap” will anchor a conversation with Alabama faith leaders about how expanding Medicaid could benefit more than 220,000 Alabamians caught in the coverage gap.
  • “Veterans, Mental Health and Policing: An intersectional conversation with the family of Crystal Ragland” will include the film “Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops.” Ragland, a U.S. Army veteran, was shot and killed by police while she was experiencing a mental health crisis in 2019. The Ragland family and panelists will discuss her life, mental health needs for veterans and humane policing for people in crisis.
  • Alabama Rivers Alliance and Southern Exposure Films will present short films, documentaries and dialogue about the state’s waterways.
  • “Hungry to Learn: The Highest Cost of College Might Be Your Health” reveals that some college students are so strapped to pay tuition that they don’t have enough money to eat or find a place to live. A lack of food is a symptom of a bigger problem unfolding on American campuses.

Saturday’s schedule also includes a Community Resource Fair for local service agencies. The deadline for groups to register to participate in the resource fair is Sept. 8.

The Huntsville Human Rights Film Festival is sponsored by the UAH Humanities Center; UAH Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; City of Huntsville Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and United Women of Color. Support also comes from the City of Huntsville Human Rights Commission. Partners include the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, North Alabama School of Organizers, Southern Fried Film Festival, Southern Exposure Films, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, David Person Media LLC and UAH Salmon Library.

For more information, contact Hunter at noelle.hunter@uah.edu or 256-824-2397.