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Roosevelt Institute to host justice film festival

Published: March 21, 2013, 12:14 pm ET
Collegian Reporter

The Roosevelt Institute is hosting its second annual social justice film festival at the Greek Theatre, and this year’s topics include sexual assault in the military, public hospital emergency rooms, cyber hacking activism and the war on drugs.

The event, dubbed Documentaries in the Greek, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday with a screening of “The Invisible War,” a film that shares the stories of rape victims in the military. “The Waiting Room,” “We Are Legion” and “Breaking the Taboo” will be shown in the consecutive weeks, each followed by a discussion panel in the North Court Reception Room.

The festival will create a dialogue around issues that affect the community, as well as issues that transcend the university community, said senior Sandra Zuniga Guzman, co-founder of the Roosevelt Institute chapter at the University of Richmond.

“The primary aspect behind the festival is to present key issues that are shaping America and challenging America in a way that is new and interesting,” Zuniga Guzman said.

The Roosevelt Institute is a national campus network, with a student-run chapter established at Richmond during the fall 2011 semester. The organization can be described as a “student-level think tank,” focused on engaging students in issues of social justice, public policy and advocacy, junior Colleen Connolly said.

The aim of the festival is not to recruit new members for the organization, but rather to ignite cross-campus discussion about the issues presented in the films, said Connolly, who served as main organizer for the series.

Members of the organization collectively voted on several documentaries to be shown at the festival, with the only requirement that the films have been released no later than 2012, Zuniga Guzman said.

With help the help of Paul Porterfield, head of the Media Resource Center, the Roosevelt Institute was able to secure the public performance rights for the films — an arduous process that involved contacting distributors and corresponding with independent production companies.

Running the festival would have averaged a cost of about $8,000 to $10,000, but the Roosevelt Institute was able to extensively subsidize with the support of community partnerships, donations and in-kind contributions, Zuniga Guzman said.

Last year, the documentaries were about gay marriage, coal mining, education and the legal justice system, Connolly said. About 75 people attended the screenings, and about 45 people stayed for the post-viewing panel discussions, she said.

This year, organizers for the event are also hoping to bring in more people from VCU and from the city of Richmond.

“Why stop the dialogue here when we can reach out to create a stronger conversation?” Zuniga Guzman said. “Bring blankets, bring friends. Just come out and enjoy the experience.”

Contact reporter Mara Lugo at mara.lugorudner@richmond.edu

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