Human Rights Watch Film Festival Hits NYC!

by amanda

Are you a human rights activist? While reading the paper, does your stomach churn in utter disgust at all the articles about the blatant disregard for human life? Do you live for truthful depictions of human struggles as captured in a two hour long motion picture? If the answer to all these questions is an impassioned YES, than it sounds like the 2014 Human Rights Watch Film Festival is for you!

Beginning on June 12th and lasting until June 22nd, the 2014 Human Rights Watch Film Festival will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary! This program of 22 powerful films will “bring human rights struggles to life through storytelling, and remind us that film can be a powerful source of change and inspiration.” The festival, co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center, will encompass 20 documentaries and 2 fiction films (16 features by women!) organized around five spicy themes: Armed Conflict and the Arab Spring; Human Rights Defenders, Icons and Villains; LGBT Rights; Migrants’ Rights; and Women’s and Children’s Rights.

On June 12th the program will launch with a fundraising Benefit Night featuring Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman’s Sundance award-winning flick: E-Team, which follows activists from Human Rights Watch’s Emergencies Team as they investigate and document war crimes on the front lines of Syria and Libya.  Then on June 13thdirector Cynthia Hill and executive producer Gloria Steinem will launch their screening of Private Violence, telling the stories of Deanna Walters (“ a woman who seeks justice after being kidnapped and brutalized by her estranged husband”) and Kit Gruelle (“a domestic violence survivor who now helps women find justice for themselves.”)

If you’re not sufficiently traumatized, puffy-eyed, and incensed after these two screenings, there are tons of other “can’t miss” films, oozing with twice as much drama and spectacle as anything you’ll ever find in the box office. Some of the ones I’m most excited about include Sandrine Orabone and Mark Herzog’s Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story about a former navy seal who begins his life as a transgender woman, and Siddharth by the Indo-Canadian filmmaker Richie Mehta. The latter follows a father who journeys across India in search of the young son he sent away to work in a factory, who may have been taken by child traffickers.

The festival director of Human Rights Watch, John Biaggi, gushes about the program: 

“Twenty-five years is quite a milestone and we would like to acknowledge the enthusiastic support of our audience, which has allowed the festival to grow into what it is today. This anniversary is also an opportunity to reflect on the fact that human rights concerns have only increased. One look at the breadth of this year’s program confirms that the festival is even more crucial today.”

So if you’re a film junkie — or just someone who would like to learn about and experience the world around them in an exclusive and raw spectacle — don’t miss the 2014 Human Rights Watch Film Festival! For more info go to

 Images via Human Rights Watch

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