For you activists and humanitarians who value quality storytelling in addition to reliable, unbiased, and important news, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival is just around the corner. Started by Human Rights Watch, a leading organization dedicated to defending human rights on the global scale, and co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center, the 25th annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York City features an impressive lineup of films that explore in depth a wide variety of human rights issues.
In keeping with its core values, Human Rights Watch thoroughly fact checks films, but it does not discriminate any particular perspective on a given issue. Five themes define this year’s program: Armed Conflict and the Arab Spring; Human Rights Defenders, Icons and Villains; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Rights; Migrants’ Rights; and Women’s Rights and Children’s Rights. Though a mere 22 films make up the entire program (20 documentaries and two fiction films), most of them are from female filmmakers, and a select few of have already screened and won awards at other high profile festivals like Sundance.
The festival will begin with the Benefit Night film screening of E-TEAM, the Sundance award-winner (Cinematography Award, Documentary) that documents four journalists investigating “war crimes on the front lines of Syria and Libya.” Afterwards Private Violence, another Sundance veteran, will screen as the Opening Night film. The documentary investigates domestic violence against women – an often too neglected but serious issue – through the lives and experiences of two unique survivors. Lastly Scheherazade’s Diary will close the festival on June 22. This “tragicomic” documentary about female inmates at the Baabda Prison Lebanon features a “theater/ therapeutic project” put on by director Zeina Daccache that reveals “tales of domestic violence, traumatic childhoods, failed marriages, and forlorn romances.”
The festival is also showing “The Unraveling: Journey Through the Central African Republic Crisis,” a special photography exhibit from Marcus Bleasdale about the “massive human rights crisis” happening in the small African country.
Awareness, debate, and reflection are at the heart of this unique festival. See below for the full lineup of films.
Benefit Night Film
Opening Night Film
Private Violence (Cynthia Hill)
Closing Night Film
Scheherazade’s Diary (Zeina Daccache)
Armed Conflict and the Arab Spring
Abounaddara Collective Shorts from Syria (various)
First to Fall (Rachel Beth Anderson and Tim Grucza)
The Mulberry House (Sara Ishaq)
Return to Homs (Talal Derki) (Nestor Almendros Award for Courage in Filmmaking, Sundance World Documentary Grand Prize)
Human Rights Defenders, Icons and Villains
Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus (Madeleine Sackler)
The Green Prince (Nadav Schirman) (Sundance Audience Award)
Nelson Mandela: The Myth and Me (Khalo Matabane) (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam top prize)
Watchers of the Sky (Edet Belzberg) (Sundance Editing Award, Special Jury Prize)
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Rights
Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story (Sandrine Orabona, Mark Herzog)
Out in the Night (blair dorosh-walther)
To Be Takei (Jennifer Kroot)
Evaporating Borders (Iva Radivojevic)
The Beekeeper (Mano Khalil)
Women’s Rights and Children’s Rights
For Those Who Can Tell No Tales (Jasmila Zbanić)
The Homestretch (Anne de Mare, Kirsten Kelly)
A Quiet Inquisition (Alessandra Zeka, Holen Sabrina Kahn)
Sepideh – Reaching For the Stars (Berit Madsen)
Siddharth (Richie Mehta)
The Supreme Price (Joanna Lipper)