Human Rights Film Festival 2017: Feminist Programming

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humanrightswatchfflogo1The 28th Human Rights Watch Film Festival (June 9-18, 2017) presents 21 topical and provocative feature documentaries and panel discussions that showcase courageous resilience in challenging times. In an era of global advances by far-right forces into the political mainstream, assaults on the free press, and the rise of “citizen journalism,” festival organizers hope that the films in this year’s program can serve as inspiration and motivation for the audience, from seasoned activists to those searching for a role in local and global movements.

Ten of the 21 programmed documentary feature films are directed by women.

Pamela Yate’s stirring trilogy, The Resistance Saga, is featured as a special event. The three films chronicle the Mayan people’s ongoing human rights struggle in Guatemala, beginning with When the Mountains Tremble (1984), continuing with Granito: How to Nail a Dictator (2011), which leads to the New York premier of 500 Years: Life in Resistance. The trilogy, which exemplifies an outstanding documentarian’s dedication to human rights issues and effecting change, will be presented in a day-long gathering which will include the screening of all three films followed by a discussion on long-term movement building with the Mayan women protagonists, and a reception and concert by a Mayan singer, Sara Curruchich.

Other female directed documentary features include:

The Grown-Ups (2016), directed by Maite Alberdi, paints a warm portrait of a group of middle-aged adults with Down syndrome who have attended the same school for 40 years, and now long for a more independent future.

Complicit 2017), directed by Heather White and Lynn Zhang, is a stunning expose about factory workers who are harmed by exposure to chemicals in their work for the Chinese electronics giant Foxconn, which is the manufacturer for such brands as Apple and Samsung.

The Apology (2016), directed by Tiffany Hsiung, profiles three elderly “comfort women”— from Korea, China and the Philippines — who continue to demand accountability for their sexual exploitation by the Japanese army during World War II.

Home Truth (2017), directed by April Hayes and Katia Maguire, shows how the grave mishandling of domestic violence cases activates a grief-stricken mother to take up the fight for legal change,

Lost in Lebanon (2016), directed by British sisters Sophia and Georgia Scott, takes a close look at the reaction of a country of four million inhabitants to the arrival of a million refugees.

Muhi – Generally Temporary (2017), directed by Rina Castelnuovo-Hollander and Tamir Elterman, follows a Palestinian toddler suffering from a life-threatening illness and his doting grandfather, who have been stuck in limbo in an Israeli hospital for years.

No Dress Code Required (2016), directed by Cristina Herrera Bórquez, follows a same-sex couple, Víctor and Fernando, as they fight for the right to be married in their hometown of Mexicali, Mexico.

For more information about these films and general programming, visit Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

Also of interest: Feminist Programming at Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2016

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