DHRC co-sponsors semester-long U-M School of Public Health and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy Human Rights Film Series, “The Disappeared”
In the winter 2021 semester, the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy organized a Human Rights Film Series entitled, “The Disappeared.” The series addressed enforced disappearances through six film screenings examining cases in Argentina, Guatemala, Spain, Syria, Sri Lanka, and the United States. Each film screening was followed by a panel discussion moderated by a U-M faculty member. The series was co-sponsored by the Donia Human Rights Center, School of Public Health, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Department of Epidemiology, and the International Policy Student Association.
The idea for this film series originated with Professor Siobán Harlow of the U-M School of Public Health. After Harlow and her students viewed the Spanish film The Silence of Others (2018), they wanted to respond to the detention of United States citizens in unmarked vans by unidentified agents in summer 2020 during the protests over police treatment of Black Americans. The human rights film series and panel discussions aimed to build a broader understanding of the history and phenomenon of enforced disappearances and the political contexts in which they may occur, as well as the process of moving from witness, to activism, to definition and redress within international law. “The film series prompted an important campus dialogue about the historic and ongoing perpetration of this complex crime by nation states globally, the significant burden of trauma born by families of the disappeared, and the critical role the academy has to play in generating evidence, ensuring accountability and promoting redress for these crimes,” said Professor Harlow.
The organizing program committee consisted of:
- Siobán Harlow, Professor, School of Public Health
- Susan Waltz, Professor, Ford School of Public Policy
- Leigh Pearce, Professor, School of Public Health
- Alaina White, MPH Candidate, School of Public Health
- Ramya Naraharisetti, PhD Candidate, School of Public Health
- Meredith McGehee, Administrative Assistant Senior, School of Public Health
- Robin Wylie, Administrative Intermediate, School of Public Health
- with input from Maggie Barnard and Nathaniel Ojo, School of Public Policy
Over the course of the film series, 200+ individuals attended at least one film event, demonstrating the successful reach and engagement of this programming effort. An Environmental Health Science doctoral student noted to the organizers, “Thank you for your work on the Human Rights Film Series earlier in the year. My entire family and I would join and have in-depth discussions afterwards."
The Donia Human Rights Center is thrilled to have supported this human rights film series addressing the critical issue of enforced disappearances around the world.
The films screened and the respective panelists in the series were as follows:
- Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (Argentina), directed by Susana Blaustein Muñoz and Lourdes Portillo, 1985. Discussant: Susan Waltz, Professor, Ford School of Public Policy; Moderator: Siobán Harlow, Professor, School of Public Health
- Finding Oscar (Guatemala), directed by Ryan Suffern, 2017. Discussant: Fredy Peccerelli, Director, Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation; Discussant: Maggie Barnard, MPP Candidate, Ford School of Public Policy; Moderator: Hardy Vieux, Professor, Ford School of Public Policy
- Ayouni (Syria), directed by Yasmin Fedda, 2020; Discussant: Mohammad Al-Abdallah, Syria Justice and Accountability Centre; Moderator: Melanie Tannielian, Professor, LSA History Department
- The Silence of Others (Spain), directed by Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar, 2018; Discussant: Almudena Carracedo, Filmmaker, Director of The Silence of Others; Moderator: Juli Highfill, Professor, Department of Spanish and Romance Languages
- White Van Stories with clip of Enforced Disappearances in Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka), directed by Leena Manimekalai, 2015; Discussant: Jim McDonald, Sri Lanka Country Specialist, Amnesty International USA; Discussant: Nirmala Rajasingam, Sri Lankan Author and Activist; Moderator: Sioban Harlow, School of Public Health
- Deadly Secrets: Lost Children of Dozier (Florida, USA), directed by Heidi Burke, 2016; Discussant: Susan Waltz, Professor, Ford School of Public Policy; Discussant: Sioban Harlow, School of Public Health; Moderator: Leigh Pearce, Professor, School of Public Health