The Human Rights Watch Film Festival will take place June 16-30 at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center in New York. This year the festival features 19 films from 12 countries, and nine female directors. As we all know, the film industry (like many others) is overwhelmingly male-dominated, so this gender equality is highly commendable.
Though perhaps we should expect no less from Human Rights Watch, which is a truly wonderful organization devoted to bringing justice worldwide. Through their film festival they are able to create a wider forum to discuss human rights issues, and as their website explains, “empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference.”
The powerful and important films directed by women at this year’s festival will be:
The Whistleblower, directed by first time filmmaker Larysa Kondracki, is based on a true story about a newly appointed peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia, played by Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz. Her idealism is harshly confronted by the corrupt political reality, and she courageously outs the U.N. for covering up a sex-scandal.
Pamela Yates directed the political thriller/memoir Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, with co-directors Peter Kinoy and Oaco de Onis. This film actually shows how their film When the Mountains Tremble, also showing at the festival, was used as forensic evidence in a genocide case against a Guatemalan military dictator.
Better This World, directed by Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega, tells the story of two idealistic Texan teenagers who become activists in the anti-war movement, and “cross a line that radically changes their lives” at the 2008 Republican Convention.
Follow three women in Afghanistan’s Badum Bagh prison through their trials in Love Crimes of Kabul, directed by Tanaz Eshaghian. The women were jailed for “moral crimes” like running away from home to escape abuse and allegations of adultery.
The Price of Sex, directed by Mimi Chakarova, documents the sex trafficking of Eastern European women. The story is told by the women themselves “who refused to be silenced by shame, fear, and violence.”
This is my Land…Hebron, directed by Giulia Amati and Stephen Natanson, features interviews with activists, Israelis, and Palestinians living in Hebron, about the desolate and war-torn city.
In Sing Your Song Susanne Rostock follows the life of singer, actor, and activist Harry Belafonte. Famous for his work with the Civil Rights Movement, he also took action against gang violence, youth incarceration, and apartheid in South Africa.
Zeina Daccache led 45 prisoners of Lebanon’s largest prison in a transformative and healing project to create their own version of Reginald Rose’s 12 Angry Men and documented it to create her own film, 12 Angry Lebanese: The Documentary.
Find more information on the New York HRW Film Festival and full descriptions of all 18 films, on the official website.
[Image of The Whistleblower from IMDB]