One of the United Nations' secret weapons in dealing with global economic and humanitarian issues is the UN Association Traveling Film Festival. The documentaries chosen for the showcase highlight hot-button social issues, from Uighur orphans, part of an ethnic group in China fighting to maintain its cultural traditions, to endangered tigers surviving in the no-man's zone between North and South Korea. Considered too political for general release, these movies are unquestionably provocative. The festival's opening night features Tim Sternberg's uplifting Indian short Salim Baba, about an itinerant projectionist who hand-cranks his "found" movie clips for the destitute of Calcutta, and Pieter van Huystee's co-production Faces, which documents an illegal photo exhibit of Palestinian and Israeli settlers in the divided city of Hebron. In a recent interview with The Stanford Daily, festival creator and Executive Director Jasmina Bojic reported that she hopes to engage audiences in issues of international concern. The festival, she says, "gives us a mosaic of what's happening in the world and inspires us to search for more." 8 p.m. today. Through November 8. Rice University Media Center, 6100 Main. For a full schedule, call 713-348-4882 or visit www.ricecinema.rice.edu. $8 to $60.
Fri., Nov. 6, 6 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 7, 1 p.m., 2009