Activist Jason Bosch founded Argusfest in Denver in 2001. Since then, ArgusFest has held over a thousand awareness raising events on human rights, social justice, media, environmental, and other issues of conscience. The ArgusFest Film Series holds weekly documentary screenings around Denver.
Each screening is followed by an audience discussion where diverse points of views are welcome. The ArgusFest Lecture Series periodically hosts talks by internationally renowned authors and activists. Past speakers have included Dr. Gino Strada, Dahr Jamail, Cheri Honkala, Norman Finkelstein, Robert Jensen, and Kevin Bales among others.
Argus, the giant, hundred-eyed guardian of Greek mythology, could only close a few eyes at a time, and his name’s become synonymous with the idea of vigilant watchfulness. For Jason Bosch, founder and sole moving force behind ArgusFest, the local human-rights awareness organization, that’s a metaphor to live by.
“I wanted to be the eyes that could help others know what’s going on in the world,” Bosch says. Almost a decade ago, after the onetime film student attended the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in New York, he decided to organize a similarly themed fest right here in his own back yard, with no money in his pocket and no sure way of getting any. But the lack of funds didn’t matter. Driven by a compassionate nature, an intellectual curiosity about the workings of the world, and the realization that a lot of great human-rights-oriented films never hit even one screen in Colorado, Bosch started out small in 2001, renting a theater and showing a modest series of eight or nine documentaries.
Since then, Bosch has sponsored more than 700 events of all sizes — mostly film screenings, but also lectures (a who’s who of grassroots politicos, activists and journalists), concerts and exhibits — that share one blazing, binding theme: human rights. Through all this, he’s relied on just donations and modest admission fees to keep ArgusFest rolling. And remarkably, it does continue to roll.
At Bosch’s weekly screenings at places like the Mercury Cafe and Hooked on Colfax, the audience sometimes numbers three and sometimes thirty. “There are some films I really want to show, though I know no one will come out for them,” he admits. “But I still show them, because I think they’re important films and people need to see them.” The problems these films address can’t be resolved without some modicum of knowledge, he points out: “I don’t know the solution to human-rights issues, but I do believe that part of that solution is to have a more informed public.” And if knowledge converts even one person to work for a cause, that’s a net gain. “Imagine if all people who worked for human rights for the past year decided to do something else instead,” he notes. “It would be markedly worse. And then again, what if that number doubled? It would be better!”
So Bosch will continue to screen films about modern slavery, genocide, backhanded politics, environmental misdeeds and labor disputes — as long as he has his helpful sense of humor, a projector (one was stolen recently, then returned) and a place to show the movie.
“My dream is to find a warehouse and turn it into a community micro-cinema,” he admits, though he’s never come close to finding the funding for such a venture. One reason, he says, is apathy; Denver is a sports town, after all. But another is the lack of a safe place to turn for financial support: “Most nonprofits maintain the status quo,” he points out. “If they get funding, they must cater to the wants of the funders.” And that’s clearly not his style.
“I just want to make a difference,” Bosch says resolutely. “And when I leave this world, I want to have made an impact on it in a positive way.” We’ve no doubt that this MasterMind will have done that — and more. — Susan Froyd.
Official video for the song “Officer of Peace” from Wandering Monks’ album Jubilee. Filmed and edited by Jason Bosch: