Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival to be held virtually Sept. 23 – 25

The 19th annual Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival, slated for Set. 23 – 25, will be held virtually this year. The event is sponsored by the Syracuse University Humanities Center and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and is part of the 2021-22 Syracuse Symposium: Conventions.

Members of the campus community with an email address will be able to stream each film for 48 hours, and will also have access to live Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. A complete schedule is available at

Newhouse School professor Tula Goenka and College of Arts and Sciences professor Roger Hallas are co-directors.

“We were forced to quickly learn how to host a first-rate virtual festival in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions, and we were relieved that our campus community responded well,” says Goenka, founding director. “Earlier this summer, we began planning for an in-person event but due to continuing uncertainties of the Delta variant, we decided to be cautious and host it online once again. We are really looking forward to our 20th film festival being an in-person celebration next year!”

“Conventions” is a significant theme in this year’s festival program. The opening film, “No Ordinary Man,” is a highly inventive and illuminating portrait of jazz musician Billy Tipton, which radically challenges the genre conventions of the documentary biopic and interrogates the representation of transgender histories. A virtual Q&A with filmmakers Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt will be held Sept. 23, at 8 p.m. ET on Zoom.

“We’re delighted to bring this innovative and thought-provoking film to open our festival,” says Hallas. “While transgender lives and histories are gaining greater public recognition, Chin-Yee and Joynt have used performance as enthralling and playful means to interrogate the very stakes of cultural representation.”

The festival continues with “Belly of the Beast,” an empowering portrait of the women who are fighting the U.S. industrial prison complex’s systematic and secretive practices of violence and reproductive injustice against Black and Brown female prisoners. A Q&A with filmmaker Erika Cohn will be held Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. ET on Zoom.

Ajitpal Singh’s award-winning dramatic feature, “Fire in the Mountains,” closes the festival. A devoted mother toils to save money to build a road in a Himalayan village in order to take her disabled son for physiotherapy, but her husband believes that the traditional conventions of shamanic ritual will save them all. A Q&A with Singh will be Sept. 25, at 8 p.m. ET on Zoom.

Festival co-sponsors include the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications; David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics; School of Education; Department of English; Department of History; Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics; Department of Political Science; Department of Religion; Department of Women’s and Gender Studies; Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric and Composition; Latino-Latin American Studies Program; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Studies Program; Renée Crown University Honors Program; Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC); Hendricks Chapel; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Resource Center; Lender Center for Social Justice; South Asia Center; Department of African American Studies; Department of Art & Music Histories; South Asian Student Association (SASA); and Students Advocating Safe Sex and Empowerment (SASSE)

All films are either closed-captioned or subtitled in English. Audio description in English is also available for each film. Virtual question-and-answer sessions will include Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). If you require additional accommodations, contact Robyn Kobasa at or 315-443-1909 by Sept. 20.

For more information and a full schedule, visit Follow on Twitter at #SUHRFF.