November 1, 2017
NYU Washington, DC presented a screening and discussion of #FiveFilms4Freedom. #FiveFilms4Freedom is the world’s first and largest digital LGBT film festival. Following its success at BFI Flare, the British Council and British Film Institute were pleased to bring the online films to the big screen. For one year only, all five films were UK productions to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Britain - a landmark moment for human rights.
The five short films selected for #FiveFilms4Freedom 2017 included both drama and documentaries and tell stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experiences. They ranged from the tentative steps of first love, through an intimate portrait of an extraordinary family, to an exuberant picture of underground cultural expression.
Meet the Panel
Maurice Eckstein; Communities and Volunteer Relations Senior Manager, Human Rights Campaign (Moderator)
As a Senior Manager of Communities and Volunteer Relations at the Human Rights Campaign, Maurice Eckstein serves as a chief liaison and training staff for the organization’s intricate nationwide network of high performing volunteers, donors and board members. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Maurice is committed to facilitation and development of leaders in social justice who are called to use their passions to help to solve the world’s greatest needs. Maurice is a founding co-chair of his undergrad’s (Pacific Lutheran University) Diversity Alumni Network group. Maurice is an avid traveller and fan of sun, sea and sand!
Leigh Gibson; USA Director, British Council (Keynote)
Leigh Gibson is Director USA having previously worked as Director Festivals and Seasons with a recent stint as Director, Partnerships & Business Development at the British Council. Recent postings include: Executive Director, UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014; Director, UK NOW Festival, China, 2010-2012; Director for Content and Programme, Shanghai 2010 World Expo.
Since joining the British Council in Hong Kong in 1981, Leigh has held numerous positions. From 1993 to 1999 she was Director of Operations in Hong Kong, responsible for re-structuring operations after the Handover in 1997 and subsequently served in the Policy Directorate for East Asia and the Americas in London. She also led the global Arts team as Director of Arts from 2004 to 2007.
Leigh read Modern History at the University of Oxford and did post-graduate work at the LSE. She also taught a course in The Government and Politics of the Soviet Union at the University of Hong Kong during her time there in the 1980’s.
Amazin LeThi; Founder, Amazin LeThi Foundation
Amazin LêThi was born in Saigon, Vietnam and left in an orphanage by her mother. As a transracial adoptee and feeling uniquely different, she was routinely bullied and teased throughout her childhood and as a teenager. She found respite through sports and the arts.
As a young adult, Amazin was homeless for a period of time, moving in and out of different shelters. While at her lowest point and contemplating suicide, Amazin revisited her passion and love for sports and the arts, which she used and credits to this day as the driving force for helping her gain confidence and achieving her many goals and accomplishments.
In 2008, Amazin was recognized by the Vietnamese American National Gala Awards for her remarkable contribution in the entertainment and fitness industry. In 2012, the Harvey Milk Foundation referred Amazin LeThi as a guest HIV/AIDS speaker at the NPS Italia Onlus HIV/AIDS national summit in Milan. Amazin was the first international HIV/AIDS advocate to speak at the summit. During the event Amazin received national press coverage in Italy and became the first Asian HIV/AIDS advocate to grace the cover of Italy’s national HIV publication. Read More: Real Life
Today, Amazin LêThi has forged an eclectic career spanning over 20 years in the health and entertainment industry. She is a former natural competitive bodybuilder and has established herself as a celebrity health and fitness expert, where she has trained Olympic athletes, special forces, and well-known celebrities. She is also a TV/Film actress and the first internationally published Vietnamese health and fitness author. Buy on Amazon
Amazin believes in giving back and is passionate about transforming the negative social stigma and discrimination that is associated with HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ communities. Amazin LêThi Foundation created this vision specifically to make a difference and change millions of lives.
Amazin became the global ambassador for Vietnam Relief Services in 2012 and the first Asian female Athlete Ally ambassador in 2014.
Jonny Ruff; Director, Heavy Weight
Jonny Ruff is currently a Digital Content Producer at Working Title Films. His short films have achieved award nominations and screenings across the UK, including London Short Film Festival and British Film Institute. Ruff has three short films, the most recent being Heavy Weight (2017) which is being screened at FiveFilms4Freedom.
Lynn Sicade; Senior Adviser for Multilateral and Global Affairs and Acting Office Director of the Office of Multilateral Affairs; Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labour
Lynn Sicade is the Senior Adviser for Multilateral and Global Affairs and Acting Office Director of the Office of Multilateral Affairs in the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labour (DRL). She has served as a delegation member to multiple UN human rights venues. She has authored several UN resolutions, including the resolution that created the special rapporteur on freedom of assembly and association. Lynn serves on the board of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. She holds a Juris Doctor from UCLA and a Bachelor of Arts in history from Biola University. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her wife, Amber Newsum and two cats.
Rosie Westhoff; Director, Crush
Writer Rosie Westhoff directed her first short film Crush, in 2016, which premiered at BFI Flare in March and has had official selection into Edinburgh International Film Festival, TIFF Kids International Film Festival, Encounters Film Festival and more. Rosie is currently in post-production of her second short film while developing a 4x30 minute coming of age drama series and her first Feature Film.
Film screening: #fiveFilms4Freedom 2017 short films
Panel Discussion: Supporting young people to make sense of gender expression and sexual orientation
Watch the Trailers
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