UCLA Summit Brings Law and Film Leaders Together to Build Connections Between Human Rights and Hollywood

20180312 Mira SorvinoThe "Lights. Camera. Reaction" summit takes place March 16 at the Hammer Museum. Academy-Award-winner Mira Sorvino will receive inaugural UCLA Law Promise Institute Award for Contribution to Human Rights Through the Arts.

UCLA School of Law is bringing together leading figures from Hollywood with powerhouse lawyers and human rights activists at the Hammer Museum on March 16 for a groundbreaking summit on the ways film can advance social justice.

Lights. Camera. Reaction: The Art of Impact in Entertainment will illuminate issues of legality and ethics, creative integrity, production, distribution, and publicity as they relate to bringing human rights stories to the big screen.

At an evening reception, Academy Award-winning actor and activist Mira Sorvino will receive the inaugural UCLA Law Promise Institute Award for Contribution to Human Rights Through the Arts.

Summit panelists include:

  • Academy Award-winning producer and director Edward Zwick ("Shakespeare in Love," "Blood Diamond,")
  • Academy Award-nominated documentary film producer Amy Ziering ("The Invisible War," "The Hunting Ground")
  • Academy Award-nominated producer Reginald Hudlin ("Django Unchained")
  • Sundance Film Festival award-winning director Catherine Hardwicke ("Thirteen")
  • Leading First Amendment and media law attorney Kelli Sager of Davis Wright Tremaine
  • Dale Cohen, director of the Documentary Film Clinic at UCLA School of Law and special counsel for the PBS series "Frontline"
  • Veteran media and entertainment lawyer Daniel M. Mayeda, formerly of Leopold, Petrich and Smith and now associate director of the UCLA Law Documentary Film Clinic
  • Gabriel Brakin, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Business Affairs, of Participant Media

Sponsors of the event include the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law, the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment at UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television, and the nonprofit arts foundation Creative Armenia.

"The arts can educate, heal, change policy and change lives," said Dr. Eric Esrailian, who will serve as a panelist and has produced two films illuminating the Armenian Genocide of 1915-21, the feature film "The Promise" and the documentary "Intent to Destroy."

"Collaborations among human rights experts and filmmakers—including the organizers, sponsors and participants at this event—are critical for bringing attention to crises that are affecting lives around the globe and helping to find solutions that will prevent further violence and displacement," added Esrailian, who is also on the faculty of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The Promise Institute Award for Contribution to Human Rights Through the Arts recognizes individuals and organizations who have used their talents to focus the public's attention on injustices and human rights violations. The award was created in 2018 by the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law.

UCLA Law is committed to working closely with the film industry to advance human rights and increase the impact of advocacy. In addition to launching the Promise Institute and organizing the Lights. Camera. Reaction summit, the school created a Documentary Film Clinic in 2017 to provide independent fimmakers with legal services – including intellectual property guidance, use of public records laws to access information, and formation of location and other agreements. Law students under the supervision of expert faculty already are supporting dozens of independent documentary projects.  

Sorvino has appeared in dozens of feature films and television shows, including the movies "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion," Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam," the groundbreaking mini-series "Human Trafficking"—for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe—and the upcoming "Look Away." In 1996, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Mighty Aphrodite." She will next be seen in "Modern Family" and "Condor." She is currently producing a feature comedy centering on marriage equality.

A graduate of Harvard University magna cum laude, Sorvino has shown a life-long commitment to social change. She is one of the driving forces behind the recent Time's Up movement, has served as the spokesperson for Amnesty International's Stop Violence Against Women campaign, and has been Goodwill Ambassador to fight human trafficking for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime since 2009. On behalf of the UN's Blue Heart campaign, she addressed a Vatican conference on human trafficking and has testified before Congress and others on issues including modern slavery and the crisis in Darfur. She was the on-the-ground anchor of CNN Freedom Project's "Every Day in Cambodia" documentary on child sex-trafficking. She is currently producing a feature comedy centering on marriage equality.

"I'm deeply honored to receive the inaugural Promise Award," said Sorvino, who in addition to her career as an actor and producer has worked to combat human trafficking, slavery and sexual harassment and abuse. "Film is a powerful tool to bring about social change, and we in the industry have the privilege of using our platform for social justice, and to use our art to tell stories of injustice, war, and genocide to encourage the spread of human rights around the globe."

Jennifer L. Mnookin, dean of the UCLA School of Law, said, "Mira Sorvino is widely recognized as a champion of social justice and human rights, and we are thrilled that she is the first recipient of UCLA Law's Promise Award. The Promise Institute on Human Rights has its origins in the courageous social impact film 'The Promise,' and here at UCLA we are using the combined power of legal advocacy and film to shine a light on human rights crises, educate future leaders and make a positive impact in troubled parts of the world."

For more information about the event, email news@law.ucla.edu or call 310.206.2611.

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