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Opening Night: Art as Activism – The Observer

October 3, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

A special evening of films about courageous expression through artistic storytelling.

Whether revisiting China’s Great Leap Forward and the impact on human rights, or women in cinema and expressions of gender, or world events through artistic imagery, this collection of films showcase art as a medium of critical commentary and activism, inspiring hearts and minds in spite of social pressures, political censorship, and public narratives which diffuse meaningful dialogue.

Join us for a post-film discussion moderated with community experts and film makers.

The Observer

After repeated threats from authorities to not show Spark, an incendiary historical documentary that revealed human rights violations during the Great Leap Forward. News of the festival’s cancellation reverberated around the world. Who was the artist whose work had pushed the government past the edge of tolerance?

Away from the limelight, dissident artist Hu Jie has managed to make more than 30 documentaries. Films like Though I Am Gone and Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul are vital to understanding Chinese history and society and preserving the memory of its past. Widely recognized as the first artist to dare talk about the Great Famine, the labor camps, and the Cultural Revolution in an unfiltered way, Hu is considered China’s first historical documentary-maker, even though he’s blacklisted.

Featuring lush photography and revealing interviews, filmmaker and critic Rita Andreetti’s sensitive portrait, The Observer, explores Hu Jie’s commitment, tenacity, and courage, and the toll his work has taken on his personal life. Through the creation not only of films but also of woodcuts and paintings, he continues to fight for the truth. But will museums, galleries, and theaters have the courage to show the work that he makes?

(Rita Andreetti, 78 min, 2019)

General Admission: $15 | Senior/Student/Low-Income: $10 | BUY TICKETS

Screens with:

Take Action

Take Action is an in-depth look at the ever-changing world of women in media. The film highlights Esther Pearl— founder of Camp Reel Stories—the women she has inspired, and the generation to come.

(Kayla Ginyard, Bri Moreno, Mitzy Vasquez, Iona Tamayo, 7 min, USA)


Living in the Story

Photographer Patrick Nagatani is an artist deeply concerned with world events, using constructed imagery and storytelling to raise awareness. The film explores three photographic series dealing with immigration/internment and nuclear issues. These issues are particularly relevant today, in light of escalating racial tensions, threats of nuclear war, toxic pollution and the growing refugee population worldwide. Scott Nagatani’s hauntingly beautiful music score provides the film’s soundtrack.

(Lynn Estomin, 15 min, USA)


October 3, 2019
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:


University Heights Center
5031 University Way
Seattle, WA 98105 United States
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