Adventure Point: Human Rights Watch Film Festival

New York is an arts city. No one can argue that art permeates this urban jungle from graffiti tagging on the side of brick buildings to the Met on Fifth Avenue to even TriBeCa’s status as NY’s center of film. Although I didn’t see the TriBeCa Film Festival, I did take advantage of artsy New York by catching a film at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival at the Lincoln Center.

Going to the Lincoln Center for the first time, I soaked up the artsy feel of NY’s Upper West Side, a mecca for artists, filmmakers and writers. Reaching my destination, I caught a glimpse of the New York Film Society and the American Ballet Theatre and of course, like any newcomer, I got lost trying to find my way into the Walter Reade Theater. But once I found my way up to the simply mod cinema, I was ready to play the part of a New York Art Snob with my organic Twizzlers and black-rimmed glasses in tow. All I needed to do then was sit in the middle of the theater with crossed legs, my hand curled under my chin with an inquiring yet critical look on my face thinking “I don’t believe the director adequately explored his subject.” Yes, I was a New York Art Snob…. at least for two hours that is.

I saw a Swiss film entitled Vol Spécial. Vol Spécial is an intimate look at a Swiss Deportation Center in Geneva from the viewpoints of both the detainees and guards. Although the film interested me from a work perspective (I intern for the Migration Program at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations), it also touched me personally. Although everyone has their own opinions about migration and the policies around the topic, the film helped me see the issue at a personal level, taking me into the minds of the detainees and the reasoning of law enforcement. The ending was left vague as to what the answer is to solve the migration problem in Europe, but the film took people to where they had never been before: the detention center, their protocols, the detainees and the guards. Not to mention the film was in French, which especially interested me as I am a French minor and conservational in the language. I was able to have that extra connection with the film as I tried my best not to look at the English subtitles. But must I say, seeing a French film where I could understand what they were saying, how New York Art Snob of me! Because of course any New York Art Snob knows at least French or Italian…at least.  Am I annoying you yet?

All in all, my viewing of Vol Spécial was an interesting and emotional adventure into not only the global immigration issue but also into the life of New York’s artsy crowd who spend their Tuesday afternoons at the Lincoln Center watching foreign films. Although I enjoyed my two-hour venture (and the organic Twizzlers), I am not sure this Chicago gal is the next New York film critic. Let’s just say my black-rimmed glasses aren’t big enough for that one!

– Harriet White


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