NEWS   ·  December 4, 2019

2020 San Diego Human Rights Watch Film Festival Marks 10th Anniversary of MOPA Partnership

  • Decade-long bond stands on belief that personal commitment can make a difference — get tickets to the 2020 screenings now 
  • Thousands have watched more than 50 Human Rights Watch screenings at the Museum of Photographic Arts
Festival attendee participating in post-screening forum and Q&As. Audiences can engage in discussion with filmmakers, subjects or local organizers who are working toward the cause in San Diego.


For the past 10 years, the Museum of Photographic Arts has been a place of convention for social justice organizers in San Diego. At MOPA, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival empowers San Diego audiences with a tidbit of knowledge: Personal commitment can make a difference. With that intention, attendees bear witness human rights violations at screenings in direct storytelling, which are complemented with a local or broader narrative at post-screening forums and Q&As.


The list of investigators, journalists and advocates who have walked into the MOPA’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theater is heavy with change-maker accolades. Audiences can engage in discussion with filmmakers, subjects or local organizers who are working toward the cause in San Diego.

“There’s always an education component to it,” Kevin Linde, MOPA’s adult and digital engagement manager, recently told Uptown News in a story about MOPA’s film festival partnerships. “We like to think that seeing a film at MOPA, you get much more than just the experience of watching the film. You get a much broader picture.”

Back in 2010, San Diego welcomed the Human Rights Watch Film Festival at MOPA. That year, some screenings included Mountains & Clouds — which dealt with a push for immigration reform, with implications for the immigration battle brewing for the Obama administration and Congress — and Iran: Voices of the Unheard, which followed three characters to voice untold stories of Iranian secularists.

Thousands have watched more than 50 Human Rights Watch Film Festival screenings at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

“Over the years we’ve seen how the power of the documentary films helps drive important conversations,” said Deborah Klochko, MOPA’s executive director and chief curator. “It allows the public to pay close attention to issues that would otherwise be scrolled away. It’s the arduous investigative work of these filmmakers, human-rights advocates and journalists that inspire us to take action.”

[Human Rights Watch Film Festival Deputy Director Jen Nedbalsky-Neal and The New Black director Yoruba Richen at the 2014 screening of The New Black. The film explored how the African-American community grappled with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in light of the marriage equality movement and the fight over civil rights.


This year, financial support for the San Diego series is provided by the City of San Diego, Larry Friedman and Future Holidays. At the 2020 San Diego Human Rights Watch Film Festival screenings will include:

  • Gay Chorus Deep South (2019) by David Charles Rodrigues – watch trailer
    Thursday, January 30 at 7 p.m.
    In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in the southern US and the divisive 2016 elections, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Choir embarks on a daring tour of the American Deep South. Over 300 singers travelled from Mississippi to Tennessee through the Carolinas and over the bridge in Selma, Alabama to perform in hopes of uniting people in a divisive period. 
  • Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World (2019) by Hans Pool  – watch trailer
    Friday, January 31 at 7 p.m.
    Meet Bellingcat. A team of volunteer truth-seekers that puts newspapers, networks and governments to the test, shedding light on the fight for journalistic integrity in the era of fake news and alternative facts. From identifying the location of an Islamic State murder through analysis of a YouTube video, to tracking the story behind the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the UK – Bellingcat hunts down answers using social media, reconstruction techniques and audio analysis. 
  • Slay the Dragon (2019) by Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance – watch trailer
    Saturday, February 1 at 12 p.m.
    Be inspired to get into the streets this election season as you follow an all-volunteer led organization go door to door to curb gerrymandering: The act of drawing district lines to lock in partisan advantage. Slay the Dragon chronicles the civic grit turning the tide in the battle for US democracy. 
  • Love Child (2019) by Eva Mulvad – watch trailer
    Saturday, February 1 at 3 p.m.
    Outlawed by their love, Leila, Sahand and their son flee Iran, where the couple committed the crime of having a secret affair while being married to other people. Intimately filmed over five years, we follow their quest battling Iranian law and seeking asylum abroad— as Trump’s travel ban on Iran and other Muslim countries goes into effect.
  • True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality (2019) by George Kunhardt, Peter W. Kunhardt and Teddy Kunhardt – watch trailer
    Saturday, February 1 at  7 p.m.
    As the United States continues to grapple with its long history of racial injustice, it stands out as the nation with the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Follow Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative struggle to create greater fairness in the system, where racial injustice emerged, evolved and continues to threaten the country, challenging viewers to confront it.

This year’s screenings run from Thursday, January 30 through Saturday, February 1. Secure your spot now.

To learn more about sponsorship or underwriting opportunities for MOPA programs, please contact a member of the Development Team at or 619-238-7559 x300.

Human Rights Watch thanks the David D. Dodge Foundation for its support.


Logo for the City of San Diego


Press Inquiries

Press Coordinator


Related Posts

Masks not required for fully vaccinated guests