The 18th annual Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival (SUHRFF) is online from Sept. 24-26 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The film festival is part of Syracuse Symposium 2020-21: FUTURES and is presented by the Syracuse University Humanities Center in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Newhouse School of Public Communications. Accessed through the film festival website. Each film will be available to stream to the campus community for 24 hours (12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. ET) with a live Zoom Q&A with the filmmaker as listed. An email address is required for login access because of film distribution agreements.

“Like all film festivals around the world, we have had to rethink how to run SUHRFF in the midst of the pandemic,” says Tula Goenka, professor of television, radio and film and founder and co-director of the festival. “With the terrific support from the information technology services of the Newhouse School and the University, as well as the generous flexibility of filmmakers and their distributors, we are delighted to be able to program three incredible films in this year’s virtual festival, while also maintaining the post-screening discussion, which is always such an enriching and informative component of our annual event.”

SUHRFF 2020 opens on Thursday, Sept. 24, with “Coded Bias” directed by Shalini Kantayya. Premiering to great acclaim earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, the film explores the deeply troubling implications of our increasing reliance on artificial intelligence. As MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that most facial-recognition software does not accurately identify darker-skinned faces and the faces of women, she begins investigating the widespread bias in algorithms. There will be a Zoom Q&A with Kantayya and Safiya Umoja Noble, associate professor of information studies, University of California, Los Angeles, (one of the media scholars featured in the film) at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, Sept. 24.

“We’re thrilled to bring this extremely timely and thought-provoking film to open our festival,” says Roger Hallas, associate professor of English and co-director of the festival. “The film highlights the key role of women, especially women of color, at the cutting edge of digital scholarship and activism around these critical issues, which are not only shaping our future society, but also impacting us already right now.”

The festival continues on Friday, Sept 25, with a screening of “Landfall,” Cecilia Aldarondo’s truly cinematic revelation of the dual crises that have recently beset Puerto Rico: Hurricane Maria and the debt crisis. Weaving across the island, Aldarondo witnesses vastly differing visions of Puerto Rico’s future as it struggles to rebuild and remake. There will be a Zoom Q&A with Aldarondo at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 26.

The festival concludes on Saturday with “Yeh Freedom Life,” Priya Sen’s exquisitely observed portrait of work class queer lives in Delhi. “Tula and I both saw the film at the 2019 Flaherty Seminar and we were immediately taken by the tremendous sensitivity and insight that Sen’s camera achieves in documenting the everyday world and future aspirations of Sachi and Parveen, the film’s protagonists,” says Hallas. There will be a Zoom Q&A with Sen at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Festival co-sponsors include the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics; School of Education; School of Information Studies; Department of African American Studies; Department of English; Department of History; Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics; Department of Religion; Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition; Latino-Latin American Studies Program; Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration; Hendricks Chapel; Lender Center for Social Justice; and South Asia Center. Festival supporters include the Department of Art and Music Histories, Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies, Department of Political Science, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Renée Crown University Honors Program, and Students Advocating Safe Sex and Empowerment.

All films are either closed-captioned or subtitled in English. Audio description in English is also available for each film. Q&As on Zoom will provide live captioning through Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). If you require other accommodations, please contact Kristen Northrop ( or 315.443.7358) by Sept. 10.

Full information can be found on the festival website.

An SU News story originally published on Friday, September 4, 2020, by News Staff.