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The 2014 Human Rights Watch Festival, co-presented by FSLC and IFC Center, June 12-22

We shall continue to report on this important festival, which also travels throughout the United States


SEPIDEH. Priority Still. Credit Paul Wilson



Co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center
June 12-22, 2014

Festival Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Program of
22 Powerful Films That Capture the Stories Behind the Headlines

Dangerous acts - Dogwoof Documentary (4)

The 25th edition of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival will run from June 12 to 22, 2014 with a program of 22 films that bring human rights struggles to life through storytelling, and remind us that film can be a powerful source of change and inspiration. The festival is co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center.



Twenty documentaries and two fiction films will be featured, including 19 New York premieres and an unprecedented 16 features by women. The Human Rights Watch Film Festival is especially proud to be celebrating its 25th anniversary. What began as a series of films shown on a modest-sized television in a small New York City theater is now experienced on the big screen by over 100,000 passionate audience members in more than 20 cities worldwide.




“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,” said John Biaggi, festival director at Human Rights Watch. “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.”

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This year’s program is organized around five themes: 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.

The festival will launch on June 12 with a fundraising Benefit Night for Human Rights Watch featuring Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman’s Sundance award-winner E-TEAM, which follows four intrepid activists from Human Rights Watch’s Emergencies Team as they investigate and document war crimes on the front lines of Syria and Libya.

The director Cynthia Hill and executive producer Gloria Steinem will be present on June 13 for the Opening Night screening of the HBO documentary Private Violence. Exploring the fact that the most dangerous place for a woman is her home, the film tells 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.

The Closing Night screening on June 22 will be Scheherazade’s Diary, a tragicomic documentary that follows women inmates through a 10-month drama therapy/theater project set up by director Zeina Daccache at the Baabda Prison in Lebanon. Through “Scheherazade in Baabda,” these “murderers of husbands, adulterers and drug felons” reveal their stories—tales of domestic violence, traumatic childhoods, failed marriages, and forlorn romances.

Scheherazade’s Diary

This engaging tragicomic documentary follows women inmates through a 10-month drama therapy/theater project set up in 2012 by director Zeina Daccache at the Baabda Prison in Lebanon. Through their unprecedented theater initiative, entitled Scheherazade in Baabda, these “murderers of husbands, adulterers and drug felons” reveal their stories—tales of domestic violence, traumatic childhoods, failed marriages, forlorn romances, and deprivation of motherhood. The women of Baabda Prison share their personal stories, and in doing so, hold up a mirror to Lebanese society and all societies that repress women.

Women in Lebanon face discrimination in law and practice. Discriminatory provisions in personal status laws, determined by an individual’s religious affiliation, significantly harm and disadvantage women—including unequal access to divorce and, in the event of divorce, child custody. There is no civil law on a minimum age of marriage, which is instead determined by an individual’s religious sect. All sects provide for a marriage age for girls below 18. Human Rights Watch has documented the harmful effects of early and forced marriages of girls in countries such as Yemen, South Sudan, and Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch has also documented torture and ill-treatment of drug users and sex workers by the Lebanese internal security forces as well as sexual violence or coercion by the police.

Armed Conflict and the Arab Spring

A number of timely films in this year’s program unfold against the backdrop of pro-democracy movements across the Arab world. Abounaddara Collective Shorts from Syria are films created by Abounaddara, a collective of self-taught Syrian filmmakers whose short documentaries exploring the reality of life in their war-torn country have been posted online every week since the 2011 uprising began.

In Rachel Beth Anderson and Tim Grucza’s First to Fall, two students in Canada abandon their peaceful lives to return to their home country of Libya to join the fight to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. Scottish-Yemeni director Sara Ishaq’s The Mulberry House follows a journey by the filmmaker back to her father’s home in Yemen after a decade-long absence.

The Sundance World Documentary Grand Prize-winner Return to Homs takes viewers to the front lines of the Syrian conflict as two young men who are determined to defend their city abandon peaceful resistance and take up arms. The festival is pleased to present the film’s director, Talal Derki, and producer, Orwa Nyrabia, both Syrians, with its 2014 Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking.

Human Rights Defenders, Icons and Villains

In addition to the Benefit Night film E-TEAM, four documentaries explore the lives of compelling figures on both sides of the human rights spectrum. Consisting of smuggled footage and uncensored interviews, Madeleine Sackler’s HBO documentary Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus follows the courageous actors of the Belarus Free Theatre, an acclaimed troupe that defies Europe’s last remaining dictatorship.

Dangerous acts - Dogwoof Documentary (7)


Dangerous acts - Dogwoof Documentary (6)

Nadav Schirman’s Sundance Audience Award-winner The Green Prince is a real-life thriller about the complex relationship between a Palestinian informant and his Israeli Shin Bet handler. A top prize-winner at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Nelson Mandela: The Myth and Me, by the South African filmmaker Khalo Matabane, uses conversations with politicians, activists, intellectuals, and artists to question the meaning of freedom and reconciliation, and challenges Mandela’s legacy in today’s world.

Edet Belzberg’s Sundance double award-winner Watchers of the Sky, inspired by Samantha Power’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book “A Problem From Hell,” interweaves the stories of four extraordinary humanitarians whose lives and work embody the vision of Rafael Lemkin, the Polish lawyer who created international law on stopping genocide and holding leaders accountable.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Rights

Three documentaries highlight LGBT issues in the United States. Sandrine Orabona and Mark Herzog’s Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story focuses on former Navy SEAL Chris Beck who, after decades of fighting for American ideals, discovers a new appreciation of liberty and happiness as he embarks on his most challenging mission: transitioning to Kristin and beginning life as a transgender woman.

Out in the Night is blair dorosh-walther’s story of four African-American friends, who, out for a night in Greenwich Village in 2006, became known in the media as a “Gang of Killer Lesbians” when they defended themselves from the sexual threats of an older man.


In Jennifer Kroot’s To Be Takei, Star Trek’s inter-galactic helmsman George Takei explores his private and public personas—from being William Shatner’s nemesis to becoming a gay activist—as he prepares his dream project: a musical based on his childhood inside a Japanese-American internment camp.

Migrants’ Rights

A visual essay in five parts, Iva Radivojevic’s Evaporating Borders examines how tolerance, identity and nationalism collide over migration issues on the island of Cyprus, one of the easiest entry points to Europe. Mano Khalil’s The Beekeeper relates the touching story of Ibrahim Gezer, a displaced Kurdish beekeeper from southeast Turkey, and his integration into Switzerland.

Women’s Rights and Children’s Rights

Eight films—including festival opener Private Violence and closing night’s Scheherazade’s Diary—look at the rights of women and children across the globe. Jasmila Žbanić’s drama For Those Who Can Tell No Tales tells the story of an Australian tourist whose summer holiday in Bosnia-Herzegovina leads her to discover the silent legacy of wartime atrocities in a seemingly idyllic town on the border of Bosnia and Serbia. Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly’s The Homestretch follows three homeless but ambitious teens in Chicago as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future.

Centered in a public hospital in Nicaragua, Alessandra Zeka and Holen Sabrina Kahn’s A Quiet Inquisition looks at Dr. Carla Cerrato, an Ob/Gyn who struggles with her conscience as she is forced to navigate between a new law that bans all abortions and her training in medical protocols that enable her to save lives. Berit Madsen’s Sepideh – Reaching For the Stars introduces viewers to a young Iranian woman who follows her passion for astronomy and dares to dream of a future as an astronaut.



The Indo-Canadian filmmaker Richie Mehta’s stirring drama Siddharth is the tale of a father’s journey across India in search of the young son he sent away to work in a factory but fears has been taken by child traffickers.



Joanna Lipper’s The Supreme Price charts the perilous evolution of the pro-democracy movement in Nigeria, focusing on Hafsat Abiola, an activist who returns to her embattled home to fight for democracy and women’s rights.

In conjunction with this year’s film program, the festival will present the exhibit The Unraveling:
Journey Through the Central African Republic Crisis, a photographic investigation by Marcus Bleasdale that exposes a massive human rights crisis unfolding in a country that few people even knew existed.

After the Seleka


It will be featured in the Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater for the duration of the festival.

Complete Program and Schedule Information:

Film Festival, June 12–22, 2014

(World premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Alessandra Zeka and Holen Sabrina Kahn
Year: 2014 / 65m
June 20 / 15

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Various filmmakers
Year: 2013 / 90m
June 19

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Madeleine Sackler
Year: 2013 / 76m
June 18

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman, directors; Marilyn Ness, producer
Year: 2013 / 89m
June 12

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Iva Radivojevic
Year: 2014 / 73m
June 15 / 17

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Rachel Beth Anderson and Tim Grucza
Year: 2013 / 80m
June 17 / 18

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Jasmila Zbanic
Year: 2013 / 72m
June 17 / 16

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Sandrine Orabona and Mark Herzog
Year: 2014 / 90m
June 14 / 16

(US premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Khalo Matabane
Year: 2013 / 84m
June 13 / 14

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): blair dorosh-walther
Year: 2014 / 74m
June 18 / 20

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Cynthia Hill
Year: 2013 / 81m
June 13

Filmmaker(s): Talal Derki
Year: 2013 / 87m
June 13 / 14

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Zeina Daccache
Year: 2013 / 80m
June 22

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Berit Madsen
Year: 2013 / 88m
June 15 / 21

Filmmaker(s): Richie Mehta
Year: 2013 / 96m
June 21

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Mano Khalil
Year: 2013 / 107m
June 16 / 17

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Nadav Schirman
Year: 2014 / 101m
June 16 / 14

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly
Year: 2014 / 89m
June 21 / 20

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Sara Ishaq
Year: 2013 / 64m
June 19

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Joanna Lipper
Year: 2013 / 75m
June 19

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Jennifer Kroot
Year: 2014 / 90m
June 15

(New York premiere)
Filmmaker(s): Edet Belzberg
Year: 2014 / 114m
June 18 / 19
The Benefit Screening will be shown at The Times Center, 242 W. 41st St. All other films will be screened at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th St. (between Amsterdam and Broadway) and at the IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. (at West 3rd St.)TICKET INFORMATION: Tickets are available online at for the screenings at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and for the IFC Center, as well as directly from each of the organization’s box offices. Film Society of Lincoln Center: $13.00 General Public, $9.00 Seniors & Students, $8.00 FSLC Members. IFC Center: $14.00 General Public, $10.00 Seniors & Children, $9.00 IFC Center Members. A discount package is also available for screenings at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. For more information, call the Film Society at 212-875-5600 or IFC Center at 212-924-7771 or visit Ticket On Sale Dates: Tuesday, May 20 – Pre-sale to Members; Tuesday, May 27 – General Public. For discounted tickets and festival updates, sign up for the mailing list at Follow the festival on Twitter @hrwfilmfestival.Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. We work tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and fight to bring greater justice and security to people around the world. Through the Human Rights Watch Film Festival we bear witness to human rights violations and create a forum for courageous individuals on both sides of the lens to empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference. The film festival brings to life human rights abuses through storytelling in a way that challenges each individual to empathize and demand justice for all people. To learn more about our work or to make a donation, visit http://www.hrw.orgFilm Society Of Lincoln Center
Founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international cinema, the Film Society of Lincoln Center works to recognize established and emerging filmmakers, support important new work, and to enhance the awareness, accessibility, and understanding of the moving image. The Film Society produces the renowned New York Film Festival, a curated selection of the year’s most significant new film work, and presents or collaborates on other annual New York City festivals including Dance on Camera, Film Comment Selects, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, LatinBeat, New Directors/New Films, NewFest, New York African Film Festival, New York Asian Film Festival, New York Jewish Film Festival, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema and Rendez-Vous with French Cinema. In addition to publishing the award-winning Film Comment magazine, The Film Society recognizes an artist’s unique achievement in film with the prestigious Chaplin Award. The Film Society’s state-of-the-art Walter Reade Theater and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, located at Lincoln Center, provide a home for year-round programs and the New York City film community.IFC Center
IFC Center is a state-of-the-art cinema in the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village. Opened in June 2005 following an extensive renovation of the historic Waverly Theater, the theater expanded in 2009 and now boasts five screens. IFC Center presents the very best in new foreign-language, American independent and documentary features to audiences and is also known for its innovative repertory series and festivals, showing short films before its regular features in the ongoing “Short Attention Span Cinema” program, and special events such as the guest-programmed “Movie Nights” and frequent in-person appearances by filmmakers. In 2010, IFC Center launched the acclaimed DOC NYC festival, a high-profile showcase that celebrates nonfiction filmmaking. For additional theater information, current and upcoming program details and more, visit

May 29, 2014 - Posted by | ART, CULTURE, FILM, LIFESTYLES, opportunity, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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