Gianluca Costantini

Gianluca Costantini draws for HRW Film Festival in San Diego 2022

● Museum of Photographic Arts invites audiences across the United States to celebrate filmmakers and their dedication to human rights issues

● Live Q&A panels with filmmakers to address topics including reproductive rights and immigration reform issues

The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) is hosting its 12th annual virtual Human Rights Watch Film Festival from February 2 to 8. The Human Rights Watch Film Festival will feature critically acclaimed films on topics including reproductive rights, the lives of foster youth, indigenous rights, poverty, inequality and immigration reform issues. Following the virtual showing of the films, the festival will feature discussions with the award-winning filmmakers, film participants and human rights advocates to highlight key social issues impacting the global community today.

The virtual Human Rights Watch Film Festival hosted by MOPA serves as a vehicle to empower, educate and mobilize an audience throughout the country. This direct storytelling that brings to life current human rights situations across the United States will challenge the audience to empathize and promote justice for everyone. Audiences who feel personally connected to these films will be provided with resources and information so that they can take action around issues presented in each film.

The films in the Human Rights Watch Film Festival San Diego lineup are available to audience members across the United States from February 2 and February 8 until 11:59 p.m. PST. Film enthusiasts are invited to purchase tickets to the online cinematic experience. Tickets are limited and may sell out, so audience members are encouraged to book in advance. Q&A discussions will include captions for the hard of hearing.

“The next generation of human rights advocates are leading the charge,” said Jennifer Nedbalsky, deputy director at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

“This year’s edition of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival shines a spotlight on committed young leaders from Los Angeles to Texas to Karachi who are coming together to protect their reproductive rights, their communities and their future.”

“This year’s lineup of films will spark conversations on issues that are happening in our own communities, including access to health care, the importance of supporting foster youth as they work towards their goals, the need for immigration reform and the power of indigenous voices.”

“No matter how difficult the past few years have been, our communities continue to come together to advocate for what we believe in,” said Deborah Klochko, executive director and chief curator of MOPA. “For its 12th year, MOPA is bringing the Human Rights Watch Film Festival to mobilize and educate our communities to take action on important social issues affecting our society today. Through direct storytelling people from all around the world will celebrate these courageous filmmakers and their dedication to human rights issues across the globe. We hope this festival will bring our communities together and inspire people to promote justice in their respective communities.”

The following are the films being shown and the panelists for the films’ virtual post-screening Q&A:

Thursday, February 3 at 5 p.m. PST (Opening night)

● On the Divide (2021) by Maya Cueva and Leah Galant – watch trailer – With their bodies and personal health on the front lines of the national reproductive rights battle, a small town on the U.S.- Mexico border has become home to the last abortion clinic in the Rio Grande Valley. We follow three Latinx community members who are facing death threats and societal pressures as they navigate the ways in which public policies can have personal implications for themselves, their families and the future of their community.

● Ticket holders can view a post-film pre-recorded Q&A featuring the director, Maya Cueva; film participants; and Amanda Klasing, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch .

Friday, February 4 at 5 p.m. PST

● Possible Selves (2021) by Shaun Kadlec – watch trailer – The experiences and voices of foster youth are often missing from the national conversation – as gaining the ability to speak out in the press requires youth to get permission from a judge. The World Premiere of “Possible Selves” breaks new ground as the first documentary to shine a light on the lived experiences of foster youth, rather than the system itself, and brings viewers into the lives of California teens striving to attain a goal that only 3 percent of adults who grow up in foster care reach: graduating from college.

● Ticket holders can view a post-film pre-recorded Q&A featuring the director and producer, Shaun Kadlec, a film subject, Alex Ballantyne; and Zama Neff, children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch.

Saturday, February 5 at 5 p.m. PST

● Fruits of Labor (2021) by Emily Cohen Iba ez – watch trailer – Ashley, a Mexican-American teenager living in California, dreams of graduating from high school and going to college. But when US Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids threaten her family, Ashley is forced to become the breadwinner, working days in the strawberry fields and nights at a food processing company. A lyrical meditation on adolescence, nature and ancestral forces, the film asks, what it means to come into one’s power as a working young woman of color in the wealthiest nation in the world.

● Ticket holders can view a post-film pre-recorded Q&A featuring the director, producer and cinematographer ,Emily Cohen Iba ez and the film subject and co-writer Ashley S. Pavon; Clara Long, associate US director at Human Rights Watch; and Vicki Guabeca, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, a national coalition convened by Alliance San Diego.

Ticket holders can watch any time

● The Stained Dawn (2021) by Anam Abbas – watch trailer – Karachi’s feminists organize a woman’s march, coming up against Pakistan’s radical religious right as “my body, my choice” becomes a controversial slogan that holds the country’s imagination in its grip. The filmmaker, Anam Abbas, follows the march’s organizers as they negotiate a deeply surveilled, paranoia-inducing, and often physically violent space in the hopes of spurring a revolution. A philosophical work, This Stained Dawn is not just about the Aurat March, but about the act of political organizing itself.

● Ticket holders can view a post-film pre-recorded Q&A featuring the director, producer and cinematographer, Anam Abbas; Laila Raiza, the film subject and activist; and Saroop Ijaz, senior Asia Division counsel at Human Rights Watch.

● Daughter of a Lost Bird (2020) by Brooke Swaney – watch trailer – This film follows Kendra, an adult Native adoptee, as she reconnects with her birth family, discovers her Lummi heritage, and confronts issues of her own identity. Her singular story echoes many affected by the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Indian Adoption Project.

● Ticket holders can view a post-film pre-recorded Q&A featuring the filmmaker, Brooke Pepion Swaney (Blackfee/Salish); the film participant Kendra Mylenchuk Potter (Lummi); and Terry Cross (Seneca), National Indian Child Welfare Association sounder & senior Advisor;, and moderated by Matika Wilbur (Swinomish & Tulalip) and Adrienne Keene (Cherokee), hosts of the podcast “All My Relations.”

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Wednesday, February 2 — Tuesday, February 8, 2022
Streaming available in the US

Festival Details & Costs

  • General public: $9
  • Film festival pass: $35
  • HRW/ MOPA Members: Individual tickets $6  + Festival pass $20 (use discount code provided in your email newsletter. To sign up, visit 
  • High School students + teachers can view the films free: email for free ticket codes for your class. 

We do not want the cost of entry to these films to be a barrier for participation in these events. If the price of buying a ticket to this film would prevent you from participating, please email the following address ( + we will send you a free ticket code. We have set aside a set # of tickets per film on a first come first-served basis. Once the free tickets are no longer available, the code will no longer work. For anyone that purchases a ticket, we appreciate your support. Your ticket purchase enables us to make tickets free for those who might otherwise be unable to watch. This also allows the festival to support the filmmakers for sharing their work in our festival and for the festival to cover the cost of hosting the films online

About MOPA:

Located in beautiful Balboa Park, the Museum of Photographic Arts is a vibrant center for visual learning. Since its founding in 1983, the museum’s endeavors to consistently address cultural, historical and social issues through its exhibitions and educational programs. MOPA is one of three independent photography museums in the United States and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. As a 501(c)(3) organization, MOPA is generously supported by members, individuals, corporations, foundations and government agencies.

The mission of the Museum of Photographic Arts is to inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection, and preservation of photography, film and video.

About Human Rights Watch Film Festival:

For more than 40 years, Human Rights Watch has defended people at risk of abuse by investigating abuses scrupulously, exposing the facts widely, and relentlessly pressing those in power for change that respects rights. Our researchers examine situations in about 100 countries around the world functioning as investigators,and advocates. Recently marking our 30th Anniversary and currently screening films in over 20 cities around the world, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival (HRWFF) bears witness to human rights violations in direct storytelling and expos  form, and creates a forum for courageous individuals on both sides of the lens to empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference. In 30 years, we have showcased over 720 films at our global festivals

United States / HRWFFSD



saving your data…