Creative Armenia Unites Filmmakers and Legal Experts for Human Rights Summit

Panel participant during the "Lights, Camera, Reaction" summit
Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino receives the Promise Institute Award for Contribution to Human Rights through the Arts.

Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino receives the Promise Institute Award for Contribution to Human Rights through the Arts.

Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino receives the Promise Institute Award for Contribution to Human Rights through the Arts.

LOS ANGELES—Prominent filmmakers and producers joined some of the top legal minds in America on March 16 to form Lights. Camera. Reaction—a groundbreaking UCLA summit on confronting human rights issues through entertainment. The daylong event at the Hammer Museum concluded with the presentation of the first annual Promise Institute Award for Contribution to Human Rights through the Arts to Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino.

“None of us knew this would spark this crazy movement,” Sorvino said, in a personal and revealing acceptance speech during which, in the presence of her father, Paul Sorvino, she reflected in depth on her experiences with Harvey Weinstein and others that culminated in the #TimesUp and #MeToo movement. “Something happened in our hearts where we said, ‘We have to tell the truth.'”

Panel participant during the "Lights, Camera, Reaction" summit

Panel participant during the “Lights, Camera, Reaction” summit

The panels featured acclaimed social impact filmmakers Ed Zwick (Blood Diamond), Terry George (Hotel Rwanda, The Promise), Reginald Hudlin (Marshall), Amy Ziering (The Hunting Ground), Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Twilight), Evgeny Afineefsky (Cries from Syria, Winter on Fire), alongside producers Dr. Eric Esrailian (The Promise) and Michael Medavoy (Zodiac), actress Angela Sarafyan (Westworld, 1915), social impact producer Bonnia Abaunza, and entertainment legal experts Gabriel Brakin (Participant Media), Daniel M. Mayeda, and Kelli Sager.

Angela Sarafyan discusses her roles in “The Promise” and “1915,” which detailed the Armenian Genocide. (Photo by Todd Cheney/UCLA)

Angela Sarafyan discusses her roles in “The Promise” and “1915,” which detailed the Armenian Genocide. (Photo by Todd Cheney/UCLA)

“Good intentions are easy,” said Alec Mouhibian, VP of Productions at Creative Armenia, who moderated the panel titled Art and War: Creating Human Rights Films. “Transmuting them into truthful, riveting, unpredictable stories about important subjects – not so easy. Our talented panelists offered us a golden look into how they’ve managed to craft and create effective entertainment amid monumental challenges.”

The event was hosted by Creative Armenia, the Promise Institute for Human Rights at the UCLA School of Law, and the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Each of the three panels focused on different categories of challenge and opportunity in social impact filmmaking – legal and ethical, production and business, and finally, the creative process itself. Discussion was frank, trenchant, and often intense as it touched upon events current and historical.

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