At the beginning of this year, I was wandering around the Fresher’s tent when I chanced upon Amnesty International UCD’s stall. I knew the society existed in UCD, I just didn’t know what sort of stuff they got up to. I decided the best way to find out would be to sign up! Within a week, they had their first general meeting, to brainstorm activities for the coming year. The activity I was most interested in joining was the film club. We met up early on in the semester to plan our first screening.

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It was a slow start, as we were still finding our feet, and we only had one screening in Semester 1. Our pilot event was a screening of ‘I am Dublin’ in the UCD cinema. Directed by David Aronowitsch, the film is a mixture of fact and fiction. It follows the life of Ahmed, a refugee seeking asylum in Europe. Screened during the height of the refugee crisis, and a week after Amnesty UCD’s Refugee week on campus (which featured events such as debates and discussions surrounding the topic of refugees) – it was perfect timing, and we had a good turn-out, filling a lot of the spacious cinema seating.

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We came back strong in Semester 2, with a whole host of screenings lined up. We kick-started the semester had a screening of ‘I am Slave’, a film about a Sudanese girl, trafficked from her home to work as a domestic servant in Sudan initially, then on to London where she continued her servitude. Directed by Gabriel Range, this film is based on a true story. This time we choose to book a room in the Newman building, whose huge screens gave us a great viewing.

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Leaving no time to waste, the next week we had a collaboration with UCD LGBTQ+ and International Students Society, with a screening of the film ‘ The Abominable Crime’. This documentary followed two Jamaicans – a gay and a bisexual – who had to flee their homes due to homophobic violence and threats. Directed by Micah Fink, this film gives accounts of the severe discrimination they faced in Jamaica for their sexual orientation, and their lives after leaving. We had a whole host of speakers and refreshments after the film, mostly LGBTQ+ students from different countries speaking about homophobia in their respective homes, stimulating a lengthy discussion amongst those who had attended.

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After the break, we were back once again with Women’s Month – a series of 3 screenings devoted entirely to women’s issues, and conveniently announced on International Women’s Day. First up was ‘Vessel’, directed by Diana Whitten. This documentary follows the service providing abortions at sea for women living in countries where there is no legal alternative. We followed the screening with a discussion, including speakers from the Abortion Rights Campaign. There was a great turn-out, and the screening also conveniently coincided with protests to Repeal the 8th outside the Dail.

 

Our second screening in this series was that of ‘The Free Voice of Egypt’, following the life of Nawal El Saawadi, an Egyptian feminist active against Female Genital Mutilation after having undergone this horrific procedure herself as a minor.

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Our final screening of the year, concluding the Women’s Month series, was ‘It Happened Here’. This film documents the experiences of 5 rape victims, speaking out against sexual assault on college campuses in America. After the screening we had speakers from the White Ribbon Campaign and UCD’s Sexual Consent Campaign. It was fantastic to see so many people show up to our screenings throughout the year, and such interest was generated that I’m sure the film club will continue in future years! For those interested in seeing next years screenings, you can sign up to Amnesty in the Fresher’s tent in Week 2, or else like the Amnesty film club facebook page!

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