Inaugural Human Rights Arts Festival launches in Canada

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts has announced the line up for the inaugural Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival taking place next month – and the selection of productions on the programme offer a valuable insight into urgent and pressing issues in contemporary society, such as LGBT marriage in Mexico, family, exile and Indigenous musical heritage.

‘The arts are a powerful voice in promoting awareness and action in human rights,’ said Tricia Baldwin, director of the Isabel. ‘We are privileged to partner with diverse artists and human rights activists who have dedicated their lives to create a fairer and inclusive future for humanity. Nothing could be more important in this challenging political world climate, in which we are now immersed, than to inspire people to actively participate and create a political and legal environment that will protect diverse world citizens from prejudice, hatred and violence.’

HRAF will be headlined by soprano Measha Brueggergosman, who will explore her African heritage by performing an intensely powerful and spiritual collection Freedom Songs that emerged from Africa: the narrative passes via the slave trade to America, then to Canada via the United Empire Loyalist migration and the Underground Railroad.

Partners for the festival include Access Art Queen’s, Queen’s University Equity Office, B’nai Brith Canada, Queen’s Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, Dan School of Drama and Music and the Department of Film and Media, Dr. Dylan Robinson, Regina Rosen, Toronto International Film Festival, Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, CBC Radio 2. The festival launches on 14 March and tickets are available to buy online.

 Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival programme 2017

Raoul Wallenberg: The Angel of Budapest
14 March, 7.30pm
A film screening and discussion panel with Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, and renowned human rights lawyer David Matas.

Songs of Sovereignty
28 March, 7.30pm
The concert, featuring Marion Newman, Jeremy Dutcher and Cheryl L’Hirondelle, is hosted by Queen’s Canada Research Chair of Indigenous Art, Dylan Robinson. At this event Indigenous artists will reclaim their musical heritage and showcase the vibrancy of Indigenous music today.

Measha Brueggergosman: Songs of Freedom
29 March, 7.30pm
Juno Award-winning singer Measha Brueggergosman (pictured above) reconnects with her African heritage in this moving concert of African-American spirituals.

Human Rights Watch Film Festival — Toronto International Film Festival
Syrian Love Story – directed by Sean McAllister
3 April, 7.30pm
A love story between a Palestinian freedom fighter and a Syrian revolutionary who met as political prisoners. An international production with contributions from the UK, France, Lebanon and Syria exploring issues around family, the refugee experience and activism.

Tickling Giants – directed by Sara Tacksler
14 April, 7.30pm
Baseem Youssef, Egypt’s ‘Jon Stewart’, fights for free speech with wit and insight, but it’s no laughing matter.

No Dress Code Required – directed by Cristina Herrera Bórquez
7 April, 7.30pm
Exploring LGBT marriage equality, Victor and Fernando are stylists in Mexicali, Mexico who are the go-to professionals for the city’s socialites. To their customers they are a lovely couple – until they decide to legally marry. Losing the support of customers and friends whilst confronting a backlash of criticism, their struggle wakes up members of Mexicali’s society to fight homophobia and inequality.

Access Art Queen’s
Art & Media Lab exhibit at the Isabel
5 – 13 April
Art works explore disability as social identity curated in collaboration with the Queen’s University Equity Office.

Charlotte: A Tri-Coloured Play with Music
1 June 7.30pm
Premiere of concert version by Alon Nashman and Aleš Březina of of Charlotte Salomon’s graphic novel. Directed and designed by Pamela Howard, the production features the art and words of artist Salomon whose life was cut short in Auschwitz.