Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

22nd Annual

Doctober 2022 Update:
It is time for the Pickford Film Center’s annual month of documentary films-- Doctober. The Bellingham
Human Rights Film festival is sponsoring four thought provoking films in the Doctober lineup. They are:

The Holly (10/26 at 7:30 and 11/01 at 2:45)
Terrance Roberts is a former gang leader who appears to have escaped his past. He is ten years
from his days in prison, after which he returned to his historic Denver community to become an
activist whose work won him awards and made him the face of a high-profile redevelopment of
one of the Denver’s civil rights landmarks, Holly Square. But, as the redevelopment is coming to
fruition, Roberts shocks the city by shooting a young gang member—at his own peace rally.
Journalist Julian Rubinstein, who grew up in Denver, begins looking into the case and finds
himself caught up in a world of informants, gang members, activists and developers uneasily
coexisting in a rapidly gentrifying community. Many of them are also covertly working together
on a federally funded law enforcement operation. As the city’s gang violence spikes and Roberts
heads to trial facing life in prison, dangerous truths about the neighborhood’s cycle of violence
and what happened on the day of the peace rally are revealed.

How (Not) to Build a School in Haiti (10/01 at 2:45 and 10/06 at 5:00)
Development, history, and colonialism collide when a seemingly simple aid project spirals out of
control in Haiti. Headstrong American Tim Myers clashes with Haitian leader Anselme
Saimplice, forcing a reckoning on privilege and power.

Refuge (10/30 at 1:00 and 11/03 at 2:45)

Chris Buckley is a father, veteran, and a former leader of the KKK living in rural Georgia.
Following concern from his wife, Buckley receives help from an extremist group interventionist.
Despite his renunciation of the KKK, Buckley retains a deep prejudice against Muslims,
stemming largely from the 9/11 attacks and his experiences in the military in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Chris' long-held beliefs are challenged when Dr. Heval Kelli, a cardiologist and
Kurdish refugee living in the resettlement community of Clarkston, Georgia, reaches out to him.
Dr. Kelli believes that he must do what he can to quell the rising, hateful rhetoric of white
nationalism that threatens his diverse community of refugees who have fled persecution and
violence for a better life in America. He takes it upon himself to try to understand Chris and
others like him. An unlikely relationship develops. Will Chris overcome his hate? Will Dr. Kelli
find what he is seeking? What’s possible when we are willing to face hate with humanity?

We Are Not Ghouls (10/29 at 1:25 and 11/01 at 5:15)

US Air Force JAG Attorney Yvonne Bradley volunteered to defend Binyam Mohamed who was
facing a death penalty case at Guantanamo Bay in 2005. Believing the detainees at Guantanamo
were ‘the worst of the worst’ in the war on terror, Yvonne’s world was turned upside down as
she arrived in Cuba and began to untangle an unimaginable case. Spending the next 4 years
battling to uncover the truth, Yvonne’s is a captivating story of taking responsibility in the face
of corruption at the highest levels of power, and the dangers of choosing to stand up for what you
believe in. What’s the difference between a terrorist sympathizer and a hero?


Through an annual film festival BHRFF supports independent filmmakers, fosters dialogue and promotes action. For over twenty years, volunteer committee members have selected scores of insightful and moving films they hope will encourage the community to explore and engage with critical issues. Films are followed by facilitated discussion, some led by the filmmakers themselves.


In the past, we have acquired most of our festival films for continuous availability in the community. They are now in the Bellingham Public Library (BPL), Wilson Library at Western Washington University (WWU), or Whatcom Community College Library (WCC), accessible with a Bellingham Public Library card. Click on the "Film Archive" tab above to find a full list of films and which library they are in, as well as organizations you can contact to take action on the issues presented in the films. 


The Bellingham Public Library has finally accepted our 2020 festival film donations. Check our “FILM ARCHIVE” tab for the films we have been able to place there, and which you can now check out for viewing.

Mayor's Arts Award
BHRFF was one of 2015's recipients of the annual Mayor's Arts Awards.  The award recognizes "the film festival and the outlet it provides to filmmakers in addressing challenging issues".

BHRFF Recognition
Our festival has been listed in an article on the Audience Awards website as one of nine "Film Festivals That Are Making A Difference" in the U.S. 

We were honored by the community as shown in the 2019 October issue of “Bellingham Alive!” Magazine’s annual “Best of the Northwest” readers’ poll. We received third place for “Best Festival”.