Last night I attended the Manhattan International Film Festival, which is hosted by the World Youth Alliance. The United Nations is the usual venue for the final screenings, but not this year. Below is a letter from the WYA director, Anne Halpine, explaining the last minute switch. Regardless of the controversy, it was a splendid evening of good conversation in good company followed by films that are aimed at promoting the dignity of the human person. Oh, and not to mention Alexis Kende (pictured above) and the WYA Chamber Orchestra delivered live music. I don’t think the United Nations knew what they were missing.
Dear WYA friends,
As you know, our mission at WYA is to promote the dignity of every human person. We do this through education programs, international advocacy, and cultural initiatives including the annual Manhattan International Film Festival, which took place last week. This year’s festival has provided us an additional opportunity to stand for our ideals, including important freedoms of expression.
9 young directors qualified as finalists in our 2015 competition, and were invited to screen their short films in New York. Recognized for their creativity and depth in portraying the dignity of the person, the triumph of the human spirit, and the power of solidarity, these directors represented a variety of countries including the Philippines, Taiwan, the United States, Chile, and Finland. 4 of the finalists were selected as MIFF Winners, and were scheduled to screen their short films at the United Nations on Wednesday, March 25th.
However, late last week, we learned that due to political reasons, the UN would no longer host the screening when informed them that our lineup might include works by young Taiwanese Directors. We were also informed, by the UN itself, that not only were we not allowed to show films by Taiwanese Directors, we were not allowed to have our guests from Taiwan inside the UN.
The United Nations is an international arena, founded to promote international cooperation and peace. Its objectives include fostering social development, maintaining international peace and security, and promoting the rights of all people. In bowing to pressure from China, it has violated its own mandate, and has attempted to ignore the existence and reality of an entire nation state and people. History shows us how meaningful, and how dangerous, such actions are.
As a result, we chose not to showcase the winners of our film festival at the United Nations. Appropriately, and generously, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office will be hosting our final screening event.
For those of you in Manhattan, we invite you to join us tomorrow night for this important occasion; Wednesday, March 25th, 6pm at 1 East 42nd Street. The evening will include a screening of the 4 winning films in this year’s competition.
The meaning and importance of our film festival has been heightened this year. We are reminded that art is not simply a mirror; it is also a hammer that threatens to challenge and provoke change in the world. We are proud to stand with our artists, friends, and ideals.
Anna Halpine, WYA Founder