Each year the Oak Institute hosts a series of events highlighting human rights in relation to the particular theme of the fellowship.  The 2017 theme is film and human rights.  The fall events include a human rights film series, Resistance and Repression. Each screening will include a discussion with the director or producer.

2017-18 Oak Events

Dissent as a Way of Life: Freedom, Jail, Love 

2017 Oak Fellow Jinyan Zeng
September 13th | 7 p.m. | Ostrove, Diamond Building

Dr. Zeng, a Chinese human rights activist, digital storyteller, and scholar, completed her first film while under house arrest in Beijing.  She will talk about the power of love and creativity in the struggle for liberation. Please join us in welcoming the 2017 Oak Human Rights Fellow for a reception at 6 p.m. in the Diamond Atrium, followed by her first public talk at Colby.

Zeng has spent more than a decade and a half fighting for people with HIV-AIDS, women facing discrimination, factory workers suffering exploitation, a natural environment threatened by pollution, and political dissidents experiencing repression.

In 2006 Zeng made her first documentary, Prisoners in Freedom City, about living under house arrest in Beijing.  Her most recent film, We the Workers, had its world premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in January 2017.  During the production of that film, the Chinese party-state detained several of the featured labor activists, placed a few of them under house arrest, and forced still others to make “confessions” on state television.  Zeng is cofounder of the Chinese Independent Documentary Lab in Hong Kong and the leading curator of an independent film series.

In 2017, Zeng earned a Ph.D. from the University of Hong Kong, where she studied film, gender, and cyber-activism.  Her dissertation focused on the work of Ai Xiaoming, a feminist professor of literature and a documentary filmmaker in China.


Whose Streets?

Film screening and discussion with director Sabaah Folayan
September 19th | 7 p.m. | Ostrove, Diamond Building

Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy. Empowered parents, artists, and teachers from around the country come together as freedom fighters. As the national guard descends on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, these young community members become the torchbearers of a new resistance. Filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis know this story because they have lived the story. Whose Streets? is a powerful battle cry from a generation fighting, not for their civil rights, but for the right to live. We will be joined by director Sabaah Folayan for a discussion and question and answer session after the screening.  Cosponsored by Colby Cinema Studies, Pugh Community Board, African American Studies, The Center for Arts and Humanities, and The Goldfarb Center.


In Search of Our Mothers’ Arrows

Sabaah Folayan
September 20th | 12:15 p.m. | Pugh Center

Join director of Whose Streets, Sabaah Folayan for a multi-media presentation and workshop exploring femininity during conflict, romance, and its relationship to popular literature.  Lunch will be provided.  Cosponsored by The Center for Arts and Humanities, African American Studies, and the Pugh Community Board.

Sabaah Folayan (Writer/Director, Producer) is an activist and storyteller born and raised in South Central LA. As an advocate at Rikers Island, Folayan interviewed incarcerated people about their experiences with trauma. She later helped organize The Millions March, one of the largest marches for racial justice in New York history, in response to the non-indictment of the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death. Folayan entered the world of storytelling through theater, attending the Lee Strasberg Institute of Theatre and Film as a teenager, and performing as a member of the Black Theater Ensemble while a pre-med student at Columbia University. In September 2014, she went to Ferguson with cinematographer Lucas Alvarado-Farrar to learn the truth behind the dramatic scenes playing out on the news. Hearing the stories from the community inspired her to embark on her directorial debut Whose Streets? landing her a coveted spot on Filmmaker Magazine’s annual “25 New Faces of Independent Film” along with Co-Director Damon Davis. Folayan recently directed an episode of Glamour Magazine + The Girl Project’s Get Schooled web series presented by Maybelline. She is a 2015 Firelight Media Producers Lab Fellow, 2016 Chicken & Egg Accelerator Lab Fellow, and 2016 Sundance Institute Documentary Edit and Story Lab Fellow.


GS 111 Open Class Human Rights in Global Perspective: Discussion with Film Maker Wang Wo 

Wang Wo
September 27th | 7 p.m. | Diamond 141

Director WANG Wo, born in 1967, is a designer and visual artist. He began to make independent films and videos in 2001. He was the 2012 Artist in Residency and International Fellow at Jacob Burns Film Center and Media Arts Lab (New York) and the (2014) Visiting Artist in Performing and Media Arts Department of Cornell University.  This session will be a discussion with the director of two films, A Filmless Festival and Zhe Teng: According to China.


The Maribor Uprisings 

Maple Razsa and Milton Guillen ’15
October 6th | 7:30 p.m. | Ostrove

Reception | 6:30 p.m. | Diamond Atrium

In the once prosperous industrial city of Maribor, Slovenia, anger over political corruption became unruly revolt.  In The Maribor Uprisings– part film, part conversation, and part interactive experiment-you are invited to participate in the protests.  Dramatic frontline footage from a video activist collective places you in Maribor as crowds surround and ransack City Hall under a hailstorm of tear gas canisters.  As a viewer, you must decide collectively with your fellow audience members which cameras you will follow and therefore how the screening will unfold.  Like those who joined the actual uprisings, you will be faced with the choice of joining non-violent protests or following rowdy crowds towards City Hall and greater conflict.  These dilemmas parallel those faced by protesters everywhere as they grapple with what it means to resist.  What sparks outrage?  How are participants swept up in- and changed by- confrontations with police?  Could something like this happen in your city?  What would you do?

Maple Rasza (writer, director, producer) earned his PhD in anthropology and filmmaking at Harvard University, and has since, been teaching in the Global Studies program at Colby College.  Maple is committed to using text, images, and sound to embody the experience and political imagination of contemporary activist movements. His previous films, co-directed with Pacho Velez, include Bastards of Utopia and Occupation: A Film about the Harvard Living Wage Sit-In and have shown in festivals around the world.

Milton Guillen ’15 (director, editor, director of photography) focuses in exploring the borders between fiction and documentaries to explore the cinematic intersections of ethnographic research and sensorial experiences. Milton earned his BA from Colby College in Anthropology and studied film production at the Film and Television Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague.  He’s directed several short documentaries in Brazil, Nicaragua, and Kenya and is committed to engage in multiple platforms that strive for social justice.


We the Workers

2017 Oak Fellow Jinyan Zeng
October 8th | 1:30 p.m. | Ostrove, Diamond Building

Shot over a six-year period (2009-2015) in the industrial heartland of south China, a major hub in the global supply chain, WE THE WORKERS follows labor activists as they find common ground with workers, helping them negotiate with local officials and factory owners over wages and working conditions. Threats, attacks, detention and boredom become part of their daily lives as they struggle to strengthen worker solidarity in the face of threats and pressures from the police and their employers. In the process, we see in their words and actions the emergence of a nascent working class consciousness and labor movement in China.


War’s End? Guerrilla Demobilization in Colombia

Nancy Sanchez, 2007 Oak Human Rights Fellow
October 9th | 4 p.m. | Diamond 122

The hemisphere’s longest running guerrilla war formally ended when the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia agreed to lay down there arms in November 2016. Southern Colombia was one of the regions hardest hit by the war; now, residents ask, what kind of world will peace bring? Establishing a Truth Commission, ensuring complete hand-over of weapons, and reintegrating FARC combatants into civilian life are only some of the challenges.

Nancy Sánchez is an award-winning Colombian human rights defender. She was the Colby Oak Human Rights Fellow in 2007, and is currently working with the Women’s Alliance of Putumayo: Weavers of Life. Sponsored by the Anthropology Department, Latin American Studies Department, Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs, and the Oak Institute for Human Rights.


GS 111 Open Class Human Rights in Global Perspective: Discussion with Tang Danhong 

Tang Danhong
October 18th | 7 p.m. | Diamond 141

Guest speaker TANG Danhong is a feminist poet, avant-garde filmmaker, and ally of the Tibetan people. She has written extensively about Tibetan history and culture, especially the conflict between Tibet and China. She boldly confronts her own relationship to the Tibetan people as a Han Chinese woman. Tang was born in 1965 in Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan. Her parents’ abuse when she was a child is a major theme of her controversial 2000 documentary, “Nightingale, Not the Only Voice”, which is the opening film of Guggenheim Museum’s Turn It On: China on film 2000-2017 project. Tang started traveling to Tibet and befriended Tibetan writer and activist Tsering Woeser. Tang’s first documentary, At Tsurphu Monastery, came out in 1998. She has made several films about Tibet, including Nima Incarnate, At Samsara’s Door, and Zhaxika. More recently, Tang traveled to India with exiled writer Sangjey Kep to collect oral histories from elderly Tibetan exiles who had fled Tibet as the People’s Liberation Army entered and tightened control of the region in the 1950s. Kep and Tang published 11 interviews in the book “Troubled Times: Voices of Tibetan Refugees,” released in 2014 in Taiwan by Snowland Publishing House.