The Asia Pacific Peace Studies Institute (APPSI) at Holy Names University hosted the 16th annual Oakland International Film Festival (OIFF) from April 3 through April 5. The festival included screenings of compelling films, live music, and discussions with filmmakers and participants.
The festival screened films from more than 30 countries and presented them at five partner venues across Oakland area, including the Valley Center for Performing Arts at HNU. Associate Professor of History and Peace Studies Chiho Sawada, PhD, programs films to screen at HNU that align with the mission of the University and promote social justice and cultural diversity.
Sawada explains “Film is not just entertainment, it’s one of the tools that can change minds. These films show students that there are tools for change and smart activism. Sometimes it can be hard to maintain optimism, but these films show real people building communities. We can learn from them and gain strength from them.”
The opening night of the festival was presented by the OIFF and APPSI in partnership with the Professor Yuan-li Wu Economics Speaker Series and the Wu Chen Lew Zurinaga Fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The opening night included a screening of the documentary Shot in the Dark and a conversation with the film director Dustin Nakao Haider and Tunisia M. Owens, a policy director at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland. Learn more about opening night
The second day of the festival was April 4, 2018, a date that marked 50 years since the tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In honor of his memory, the festival presented four compelling films and associated panel discussions that responded, each in a distinct way, to the challenge posed in Dr. King’s last book: “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” Learn more about day 2
Wade Gardner, director of Marvin Book Was Murdered expressed thanks after the HNU event, “I loved the outpouring of feeling from those who attended. To be joined by so many black, female, first-generation students added to my experience...I’m humbled beyond words by the integrity of your efforts in education surrounding social justice”
The third day continued the festival's exploration of the theme “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” by focusing on films that tell overlooked stories of resistance and resilience—in particular, against race-based structural violence and human trafficking. Day three films and panel discussions showcased the power of film to generate broad public discussion and trigger action and public-policy change. Resources were provided to students and public participants on how to get involved in Oakland and Bay Area communities. Learn more about day 3