SMU Media and Human Rights Symposium

March 31, 2010  

by Nadia Dabbakeh
ndabbake@smu.edu

Southern Methodist University and the Division of Cinema-Television at the Meadows School of the Arts is kicking off its “Media and Human Rights in America” symposium with Tribute: “A Conversation with Rob Epstein.”

The two time Academy Award winner, who is best known for the Oscar winning Best Documentary Features The Times of Harvey Milk and Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt will screen clips from his life’s work on Tuesday, April 6th at the Angelika Film Center.

We’ll even get a sneak peak at Epstein’s current 2010 Sundance Film Festival hit, HOWL, a documentary following the publication of Alan Ginsberg’s landmark poem of the same name.

Epstein told the Daily Mustang that the project actually came through the Allen Ginsberg estate. “About seven or eight years ago, his estate approached us to do something special for the 50th anniversary of the poem Howl,” he said. “I knew Ginsberg would make an incredible subject for a film and so would his film.”

Originally ruled too obscene, Howl is considered one of the most popular and groundbreaking poems of the 50’s Beat Generation. Epstein’s animation interspersed documentary, starring James Franco, flows the obscenity trial it spurred and the course of events that put freedom of speech on the stand.

“I was excited to do a feature film where I could be experimental, that includes everything from animation to simulated documentary, and to work with very beautiful actors.”

Epstein’s films are known for touching on human rights, from gay rights in The Times of Harvey Milk, to most recently, freedom of speech in Howl, so as for whether filmmakers should take responsibility for the messages in their films, he said, “I absolutely believe that fillmakers should be held accountable! For better or for worse, we should always stand by our work and be held accountable for the message in our films.” He added with a laugh, “I’m sure I will be soon.”

The next evening, the symposium will be held at the Meadows Museum with keynote speaker Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Human Rights Education Program, and will include four panels discussing how the media impacts human rights in America. The themed sessions featured will concern justice in journalism; new media and human rights; media and the death penalty; and media, race, ethics and justices.

WHEN:
Tribute! A Conversation with Rob Epstein on Tuesday, April 6th, starting at 7:00 pm.
Symposium on Wednesday, April 7th, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

WHERE:
April 6th at the Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, Texas 75206
April 7th at the Meadows Museum, 5900 Bishop Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75275

Visit: www.smu.edu/meadows

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