Mike Leigh to headline the 17th Oxford Human Rights Festival

Monday, 04 March 2019

Oxford Human Rights Festival 2019

The Oxford Human Rights Festival will return to Oxford Brookes University this month (March 2019), with multi award-winning filmmaker Mike Leigh headlining a diverse programme of events.

Organised by students at Oxford Brookes, the festival has become a significant part of Oxford’s cultural calendar and is now in its 17th year. Free and open to all, it offers an accessible way to engage with human rights issues. This year’s festival runs throughout March and the theme is activism.

In these ever-increasingly chaotic times, human rights abuses are frighteningly rife world-wide. The Oxford Human Rights Festival at Oxford Brookes University will doubtless be confronting many aspects of this catastrophe, and it is a privilege to be asked to headline it.

Mike Leigh

The festival is delighted to be welcoming Mike Leigh on Tuesday 12 March at 6.30pm for a screening of his film Peterloo. As well as introducing his film, the screening will be followed by a Q&A session with Mike Leigh which will give the audience a unique insight from a filmmaker who has achieved national treasure status.

Speaking ahead of his appearance, Mike Leigh commented: “In these ever-increasingly chaotic times, human rights abuses are frighteningly rife world-wide. The Oxford Human Rights Festival at Oxford Brookes University will doubtless be confronting many aspects of this catastrophe, and it is a privilege to be asked to headline it.”

The BAFTA-winning writer and director is a visionary of stage and screen and will be taking part in a workshop with Oxford Brookes film students on the same day as the screening. His work includes many beloved dramas, such as Abigail’s Party, Secrets & Lies and Vera Drake. Peterloo is his latest film, based on the 1819 Peterloo Massacre that was sparked in response to a peaceful protest, and received rave reviews upon release last year.

Professor Anne-Marie Kilday, Pro Vice Chancellor Staff and Student Experience, said: “We are very proud of our students who have brought some really inspirational people such as Mike Leigh to Oxford Brookes to engage with students, staff and members of our wider community.

“This year’s Oxford Human Rights Festival is more connected than ever, with links to LGBTQ+ History Month and Oxford International Women's Festival to name just a couple. Our guests and events will showcase a whole spectrum of what activism can mean, showing all the creative ways it’s possible to make a difference in this increasingly complicated world.”

Highlights from this year’s festival taking place on the University’s Headington Campus include:

Peterloo screening with an introduction and post-screening Q&A session delivered by Mike Leigh
Tuesday 12 March at 6.30pm

● Two Glass Tank art exhibitions
Monday 4 March to Friday 22 March

LGBTQ+ Activism - a collection of objects showcasing the myriad forms of LGBTQ+ activism. It includes diverse contributions, such as the Football vs Homophobia campaign, the Drag Syndrome portraits of drag performers with Down’s Syndrome, and oral histories provided by Queer Britain’s Joe Galliano, as well as images from Pride marches in Istanbul, Beirut and here in Oxford. It also features artefacts and scrapbooks belonging to Oxford Brookes alumus and Student Pride founder Tom Guy - who recently received a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister.

Modern Slavery - a stunning photo exhibition by Oxford Brookes alumnus Rory Carnegie that documents modern slavery in Britain.

● Peace One Day: how film making can change the world
Wednesday 13 March at 2pm

Peace One Day is an international non-profit organisation that boasts Jude Law as an ambassador and has been supported by politicians and actors round the world. Founder Jeremy Gilley will deliver this workshop on the organisation’s mission and activities.

● Scilla Elworthy: The Business Plan for Peace
Wednesday 13 March at 6pm

Dr Scilla Elworthy is a three time Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her work to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics. In this special talk, she will tell us about her business plan for peace and how we can use our own personal skills to do something about the challenges now facing the world. Scilla was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize in 2003 and was adviser to Peter Gabriel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Sir Richard Branson in setting up ‘The Elders’.

● Fair Fashion
Friday 15 March at 7.30pm

Oxford Brookes students will work with alumnus and CEO of Visible Clothing, Andy Showell-Rogers, and others, to present a fashion show of 100% ethical and fair trade designs. Proof that ethics are in vogue.

● Poetry slam
Tuesday 19 March at 7pm

Spoken word performance exploring the themes of this year’s Oxford Human Rights Festival of Activism and LGBTQ+ History Month which has a theme of History: peace, reconciliation and activism. Featuring local poets Dan Holloway and Ceri Lloyd, alongside Oxford Brookes students and staff.

The festival was originally created by students from Oxford Brookes’ Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP). These days, CENDEP students work with students across the University to produce the festival and ensure it offers a varied programme that has something for everyone and looks at human rights from diverse perspectives.

Oxford Human Rights Festival student committee member Casey Alves, currently a final year law student, said: “I had no doubt that the Oxford Human Rights Festival was something I wanted to be a part of. It’s so important for students to be active and involved in their community, but also aware of what is going on around them in the world.

“As well as helping with my masters in International Human Rights Law next academic year, it has been interesting to learn about activism across the world and how it is portrayed. It was important for us to show the real depth to activism, and give a voice to those that can’t have one.”

More information can be found online and those interested can keep up with further news via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.