Industries & Festivals — February 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Human Rights Watch Film Festival kicks off in London

The 16th edition of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival will be presented in London from 21-30 March, 2012, Human Rights Watch said.

The international feature programme includes 15 documentaries and 4 dramas, from Afghanistan, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, the Canary Islands, Ethiopia, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon, the Maldives, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the USA.

Many of the films will be followed by Q&A sessions with filmmakers, and some by panel discussions with experts and film subjects.

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival programme this year is organized around four themes: development, environment and the global economy; migrants’ rights and racism; personal testimony and witnessing; and women’s rights.

“Since last year’s festival, the popular protests worldwide – from the Arab Spring to the Occupy movements – have struck at a fundamental issue of our time: increasing economic inequality and its consequences,” said John Biaggi, Human Rights Watch Film Festival director. “Our 2012 programme focuses on key elements of the current situation at both a micro and macro level”.

The festival launches on Wednesday, 21 March at the Curzon Mayfair with a fundraising benefit and reception for Human Rights Watch, featuring Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s “5 Broken Cameras” which documents one Palestinian village’s struggle against violence and oppression.

On Thursday 22 March, the Curzon Soho will host the opening night film and reception, with Jon Shenk’s The Island President, a timely documentary which follows former President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives (who on Tuesday 7 February 2012 was forced to resign the presidency) as he fights to convince the world’s policymakers to do something concrete about climate change.

The Maldives is in danger of disappearing below rising sea levels, making the people the world’s first entire nation threatened with becoming environmental refugees.

The closing night film and reception will be on Friday 30 March at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton. It will feature Nadine Labaki’s drama “Where Do We Go Now?”, the story of a group of women determined to protect their isolated, mine-encircled community.

With the women united by a common cause, their unwavering friendship transcends the religious fault lines that criss-cross their society. The women hatch inventive, and often comical plans to distract the village’s men and achieve the women’s goal.

In two festival titles, both set in Latin America, the corporate commoditisation of two basic elements of life – seeds and water – impact on the survival of individuals.

Three festival titles highlight the issues and abuses faced by migrants and asylum seekers in Europe. Five films in this year’s festival reveal the permanent and pervasive impact human rights abuses have wrought on the lives of individuals. Six festival films tell women’s stories from around the world.

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