Battling Inequality through Film: The “Faces” Film Festival Returns for Its 12th Year

BPM (BEATS PER MINUTE), Directed by Robin Campillo

For the last twelve years, the Carnegie Mellon International “Faces” Film Festival has screened contemporary world cinema with a mission to promote “cultural exchange and expression” and “[illuminate] the local and global ethnic communities.” The festival allows acts as a connection point between the often-insular university and the city of Pittsburgh. For 2018, the festival’s theme of Faces of (In)Equality brings engaging, social justice-minded cinema from Egypt, France, Romania, and Poland, as well as a diverse selection of U.S.-produced films.

From France, Robin Campillo’s Grand Prix-winning BPM (Beats Per Minute) dives into the 1990s HIV/AIDS activism of the Paris chapter of the ACT UP organization, relaying both political and personal stories of the group and its members.

From Egypt, Mohamed Diab’s Clash (Eshtebak) uses a sole set–the inside of a police truck in the midst of raging protests following the ousting of Egyptian president Morsi in 2013–to navigate the differing political and religious beliefs of its captives–Muslim Brotherhood members, pro-army supporters, and those who identify as neither.

Directed by Mohamed Diab

Director Laura Poitras, who is known for Citizenfour, which was filmed while Edward Snowden was exposing the NSA’s massive global spying program to journalist Glenn Greenwald, brings the Pittsburgh premiere of another controversial subject: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. More than just a character study, Risk, which was filmed over six years, documents Poitras’ change in opinion on Assange as he went from the embodiment of a transparent future of news coverage to alleged sexual abuser to megalomaniac. It’s telling that Assange attempted to censor parts of this film.

Other films include the joint Tunisian/French production Beauty and the Dogs, artist Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow, and opening night event Life and Nothing More, among others.

The festival also includes a Short Film Competition, uniting local and international filmmakers, including high school filmmakers. Through a partnership with Point Park University, high schoolers can compete for three generous scholarships from the Cinema Arts Department at Point Park University.

The “Faces” Film Festival runs March 22 through April 8 with most screenings occurring at CMU’s McConomy Auditorium. For screening times and locations, see the Carnegie Mellon International “Faces” Film Festival schedule here.