Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

Shake the Dust

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Presented by Blue Note Jazz Festival, Jill Newman Productions & Bond/360

From executive producer and rapper Nasir “Nas” Jones and journalist-turned-filmmaker Adam Sjöberg, SHAKE THE DUST chronicles the influence of breakdancing, exploring how it strikes a resonant chord in the slums, favelas and ghettos of the world and far beyond. Showcasing some of the most jaw-dropping breakdancing moves ever committed to film, Shake the Dust is an inspiring tribute to the uplifting power of music and movement.

The Yes Men Are Revolting

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Q&A with filmmakers!

For the last 20 years, notorious activists the Yes Men have staged outrageous and hilarious hoaxes to draw international attention to corporate crimes against humanity and the environment. Armed with nothing but quick wits and thrift-store suits, these iconoclastic revolutionaries lie their way into business events and government functions to expose the dangers of letting greed run our world. In their third cinematic outing (after The Yes Men and The Yes Men Fix The World), they are now well into their 40s, and their mid-life crises are threatening to drive them out of activism forever—even as they prepare to take on the biggest challenge they’ve ever faced: climate change. Opens theatrically at IFC Center following the festival screening.

Whether it is an oil company that relies on abusive private security forces, a technology company that censors or spies on users at the behest of a repressive power, or a corrupt government that siphons off the nation’s wealth, businesses and other economic activities can have negative impacts on people’s rights. Human Rights Watch investigates these and other situations to expose the problems, hold institutions accountable, and develop standards to prevent these activities. This work has included research and advocacy on human rights problems caused by corruption in resource-rich countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Nigeria, and Burma.

The Trials of Spring: A Multimedia Initiative

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Panel discussion

Women were on the front lines of the uprisings that swept the Arab world in 2011. Young and old, rich and poor, veiled and unveiled, they took to the streets beside men, their signs held high or hands cupped around their mouths to amplify their voices. But as the jubilation of revolution gave way to the convoluted process of governing—and often the chaos and blood of war—women disappeared from the mainstream story. Behind the scenes, however, they continue to play vital roles—keeping schools open and mouths fed, tending to the sick and injured, keeping the world informed through blogs and social media, lobbying for human rights, running for office, building alliances, even drafting constitutions for fledgling democracies. The Trials of Spring is a multimedia initiative that aims to elevate the stories of these women. The project includes six short films profiling women from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria, a feature documentary focused on Egypt (screening as a World premiere in this year’s festival), and an extensive outreach campaign that will bring these stories to stakeholders, educators, and grassroots organizations around the world. This program will feature a selection of the short films and a discussion with the multi-disciplinary team. How did they devise and develop an approach and strategy to create such an initiative, and how did they use this framework to build strategic collaborations with partners such as The New York Times?

Participants include:

Lauren Feeney, Digital Director

Gini Reticker, Executive Producer

Beth Levison, Producer

Dalia Ali, Director, “Life’s Sentence”

Ann Derry, Editorial Director of Video Partnerships, The New York Times

Brian Storm, Digital Strategist/MediaStorm

The Trials of Spring

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Q&A with filmmaker! World premiere

Three courageous women in post-2011 Egypt fight for the original goals of the Arab Spring – “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice” for all. The battles they wage each day reflect the country and its women at an uncertain crossroads. A formerly veiled widow provides guidance for revolutionaries 40 years her junior. A young women’s rights activist demands an end to sexual harassment. A human rights defender from a rural military family is arrested and tortured in 2011, setting off a personal quest for justice that mirrors the trajectory of Egypt’s uprisings. Directed by Academy Award-nominated Gini Reticker (Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Asylum, and A Decade Under the Influence), THE TRIALS OF SPRING reveals the vital and under-reported role of women in the region.

Unchecked abuses of power, breaches of justice, and biased government court proceedings have continued to plague Egypt since Mubarak’s fall in 2011. Hend Nafea’s personal journey is a powerful example of the types of abuses extensively documented by Human Rights Watch.

This Is My Land

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Q&A with filmmaker!

If change happens one person at a time, by opening minds and replacing hatred with understanding, what will the future hold for the next generation of Israeli and Palestinian children? Attending school each day, reciting their national anthem, and memorizing the history that lead their people to the reality they currently face – the possibility for peace in the future begins in the classroom today. THIS IS MY LAND follows several Israeli and Palestinian teachers as they help their students understand the complicated, segregated, and often violent world around them, filtered through the state-approved curriculum. Tending to the needs of each student, and sifting through decades of personal pain, loss, and struggle, the decisions of the teachers and school administrators leave a lasting and profound impact on these impressionable young minds and the generations to come. Will society continue to embrace hatred, pain, and division, or somehow find a way to impart the tools for reconciliation, tolerance, and acceptance? THIS IS MY LAND poses powerful questions about the subjectivity of history and how society can lay the groundwork for a peaceful future.

Human Rights Watch has worked for years to support safe access to education for Israeli and Palestinian students. During the 2014 Gaza hostilities, Human Rights Watch documented the military use of schools by Palestinian armed groups as well as by Israeli forces, and unlawful Israeli attacks on three UN schools there.


Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Q&A with filmmakers!

(T)ERROR is the story of Saeed “Shariff” Torres, a 62-year-old former Black Panther-turned-counterterrorism informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The film is the first documentary to place filmmakers on the ground during an active FBI counterterrorism sting operation. (T)ERROR interweaves Shariff’s fascinating journey with a penetrating look at the government’s broader counterterrorism campaign, bringing viewers face-to-face with issues of domestic surveillance, racial profiling, entrapment, freedom of speech, and freedom of religious expression. Taut, stark and controversial, (T)ERROR illuminates the fragile relationships between individuals and the surveillance state in modern America and asks, “Who is watching the watchers?” Special Jury Award for Break Out First Feature, US Documentary, Sundance Film Festival 2015

Each year, dozens of people in the US are charged with, and convicted of, terrorism-related offenses. Many of these cases involve informants. A closer look reveals that informants often target particularly vulnerable individuals, based on religious or ethnic background rather than any real suspicion of criminal activity. Moreover, many of the plots could never have come to fruition without the direct involvement of the FBI. Once arrested, defendants often face unfair trials and unnecessarily harsh sentences. This approach has been both abusive and counterproductive, alienating the very communities the US claims it relies upon for information on genuine terrorist threats. Human Rights Watch has documented abuse in federal terrorism cases, from the commencement of an investigation through to the conditions of confinement that defendants face after conviction. Using this reporting, it works to improve US policies and practices to ensure better compliance with US obligations under international human rights law.

A Right to the Image

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Panel discussion

In our hyper-mediatized world, victims of wars and mass violations of human rights are often depicted in terms of bodies rather than individuals. Representations of human suffering and injustice are not only aesthetic choices; they are also political and ethical choices. In an era where images can be captured in one place and consumed instantly around the world, certain paradoxes and dilemmas are relevant to all legal systems. Thus comes the proposed concept of “a right to the image”—complex, multilayered, and not associated with any single right but a group of rights. By examining different bodies of work from the worlds of film and photography, we explore the notion of a right to the image that protects the dignity of subjects, as well as the integrity of the journalists, filmmakers, photographers, and researchers who work in these situations.

Participants include:

Charif Kiwan, Co-founder of and spokesperson for the Abounaddara Collective

Susan Meiselas, photographer and President & Acting Executive Director, Magnum Foundation

Pamela Yates, filmmaker and Co-founder & Creative Director, Skylight Pictures

No Land’s Song

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Q&A with filmmaker and film subject! US premiere

“The female voice is fading away.” – Sara Najafi, Iranian composer

The Islamic revolution of 1979 banned female singers from appearing in public in Iran. They are no longer allowed to perform solo, unless to an exclusively female audience. Recordings of former female icons can only be bought on the black market. But Sara Najafi is determined to refresh the cultural memory by roaming Tehran in the footsteps of famous singers of the 1920s and 1960s. She is about to revive the female voices in the present as she courageously plans an evening of Iranian and French female soloists to rebuild shattered cultural bridges—a concert that is not allowed to take place. For two-and-a-half years, director Ayat Najafi follows the preparations between Tehran and Paris that are always touch and go. What’s still possible? What goes too far? Sara’s regular meetings with the Ministry of Culture shed light on the system’s logic and arbitrariness, though officials there can only be heard and not seen. Can intercultural solidarity and the revolutionary power of music triumph? A political thriller and a musical journey, No Land’s Song never loses sight of its real center – the female voice.

Human Rights Watch has looked extensively at freedom of expression issues in Iran, including regulations imposed on artists that restrict their work and subject them to harassment, detention, prosecution, and imprisonment on “national security” related charges. Issues surrounding censorship in the arts and issues connected to women’s rights have long been a focus of Human Rights Watch’s work in Iran.

The Look of Silence

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

THE LOOK OF SILENCE is Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to the Oscar®-nominated The Act of Killing. Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered and the identities of his killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his older brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions. This unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of 50 years of silence.

In October 1965, the Indonesian government gave free rein to a mix of Indonesian soldiers and local militias to kill anyone they considered to be a “communist.” Over the next few months, at least 500,000 people were killed. In October 2012, then-Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto responded to findings of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) that the events of 1965-66 constituted a “gross human rights violation” by insisting that those killings were justified. Public discussion about the killings, a taboo topic in Indonesia for decades, has increased in recent years, a process substantially aided by the release of the documentary films The Act of Killing and THE LOOK OF SILENCE.

Life Is Sacred

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Q&A with filmmaker! New York premiere

Violence is part of everyday life in Colombia, where the military, guerrillas, paramilitaries, and drug cartels have been fighting for decades, and hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. But the unorthodox presidential candidate Antanas Mockus and his enthusiastic young activist supporters attempt to reverse the vicious cycle with an imaginative and positive election campaign. As mayor of Bogotá, dressed in a Superman costume and with an indomitable trust in the good of his fellow citizens, he took on towering crime rates and people’s bad traffic habits. But his idealism is both his strength and his weakness in an aggressive political system in which he struggles to restore people’s faith in being able to make a difference. Can good ideas and an idealistic drive alone change a political culture where violence is rampant? This is the portrait of an inspiring man and a powerful youth movement, whose stories are relevant far beyond Colombia’s borders.

Colombia has been embroiled in an internal armed conflict for the past five decades. Civilians continue to suffer serious abuses by guerrillas, as well as by paramilitary successor groups that emerged after an official paramilitary demobilization process a decade ago. Violence associated with Colombia’s conflict has forcibly displaced more than 5.7 million Colombians, and upward of 200,000 continue to flee their homes each year, generating the world’s second largest population of internally displaced persons. The Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas have been engaged in peace talks in Cuba since 2012 and at time of writing had reached an agreement on three of the six items on the negotiating agenda.

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