Ursinus to Host International Documentary Film Festival

Six films address issues of environmental disaster, animal rights, immigration and more.

Six foreign language documentary films addressing global issues like environmental disaster and immigration are being featured during the annual Ursinus College International Film Festival.

The series, which is free and open to the public, begins Thursday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. in Olin Auditorium with two Oscar-nominated Arabic short films: Watani: My Homeland and White Helmets. The films bring audiences closer to the stories at the heart of the tragedy in Syria.

Watani: My Homeland depicts the struggles of a Syrian war widow and her children as they make a new home in a village in Germany. White Helmets is about the activities of the Syrian Civil Defense, an unarmed and neutral volunteer group that comes to the aid of victims of the Syrian civil war.

“As our society struggles to understand persistent social problems in an era of radical change, documentaries have the power to take us outside ourselves, to amplify the voices of those not often heard, and to spur change,” says Louise Woodstock, an associate professor and chair of Media and Communication Studies at Ursinus.

The other films are: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (China, 2012) on Sept. 28, a portrait of the renowned artist Ai Weiwei, whose politically themed work often brings him into conflict with the Chinese government; Bonobos (France, 2011) on Oct. 12; Minamata: The Victims and Their World (Japan, 1971) on Oct. 26; Oma and Bella (Germany, 2012) on Nov. 9; and finally, Which Way Home? (Mexico/United States, 2009), on Nov. 30, Rebecca Camissa’s film about unaccompanied child migrants who ride a freight train through Mexico in a courageous and resourceful attempt to enter the U.S.

All films begin at 7 p.m. in Olin Auditorium on the Ursinus College campus and have English subtitles. The festival, founded by Ursinus Professor Emerita Collette Trout, has been welcoming Collegeville residents and language students to the college for decades.

After each screening, Ursinus faculty members from the departments of modern languages, film studies, and other academic departments across the college will lead a discussion in which all attendees are welcome to participate and enjoy refreshments. —By Ed Moorhouse