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Human Rights Watch Film Fest 2011

The Film Society of Lincoln Center brings back the Human Rights Watch Film Festival forhrw-LaToma2 its 22nd annual edition from June 16 - 30, 2011 at the Walter Reade Theater, at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Human Rights Watch -- one of the world’s leading independent human rights organizations -- is worth supporting as it is an opportunity to see thought-provoking, well-done social action films that are not always available elsewhere.

One of the most striking themes in this year’s selection is the power of media in all its forms to influence the craft of filmmaking and to impact human rights. Many titles are making their exclusive New York or US debuts.

The Festival launches on June 16 with a fundraising Benefit Night for Human Rights Watch. The featured screening is the Bosnia-set political thriller based on a true story, The Whistleblower, directed by Larysa Kondracki and starring Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, David Strathairn.

Kathryn Bolkovac is an American police officer who takes a job working as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnhrw-Whistleia. Her expectations of helping to rebuild a devastated country are dashed when she uncovers a dangerous reality of corruption, cover-up and intrigue amid a world of private contractors and multinational diplomatic doubletalk.

Discussion follows the film with Kathryn Bolkovac and Madeliene Rees, and filmmaker Larysa Kondraki. Moderated by Liesl Gerntholtz, Director, Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch.

The Opening Night presentation is Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, the latest documentary from Pamela Yates. (Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival 2011)

In an incredible twist of fate, in 1982 Yates was allowed to shoot the only known footage of the army in Guatemala as it carried out the genocide, which later became part of her 1983 documentary When the Mountains Tremble (being shown at the Festival as well.)

Twenty-five years later, this footage becomes evidence in an international war crimes case against the very army commander who permitted Yates to film. Through the work of American filmmakers, forensics experts in Guatemala, and lawyers in Spain, the quest for accountability in Guatemala continues -- with each individual contributing his or her own "granito", or tiny grain of sand.
 
The Festival Centerpiece is Sing Your Song, director Susanne Rostock‛s inspiring portrait of Harry Belafonte. "Rostock reveals Belafonte to be a tenacious activist, who worked intimately with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., mobilized celebrities for social justice, participated in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and took action to counter gang violence, prisons, and youth incarceration." The legendary entertainer and activist will be present to discuss the film.hrw-Tim

Another special program is the film No Boundaries: Tim Hetherington, a tribute to the visionary work of the late photographer, filmmaker and journalist. The film is accompanied by a screening of Hetherington‛s own film, Diary, a highly personal and experimental film in which Tim turns the camera inward after more than a decade reporting.

A panel of friends and collaborators will discuss his work and legacy: Carroll Bogert (Human Rights Watch), James Brabazon (Liberia: An Uncivil War), Michael Kamber (Photojournalist, The New York Times) and Jamie Wellford (International Photo Editor, Newsweek)

Nestor Almendros Award – The Festival is delighted to present Mimi Chakarova, filmmaker of The Price of Sex, with the Human Rights Watch 2011 Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking.

"The Price of Sex is a feature-length documentary about young Eastern European women who have been drawn into a world of sex trafficking and abuse. It is a story told by the young women who refused to be silenced by shame, fear, and violence.

Emmy-nominated photojournalist Mimi Chakarova, who grew up in Bulgaria, takes [viewers] on a personal journey exposing the shadowy world of sex trafficking from Eastern Europe to the Middle East and Western Europe. Filming undercover and gaining extraordinary access, Chakarova illuminates how even though some women escape to tell their stories, sex trafficking thrives."

The screening is followed by a panel discussion with Mimi Chakarova, Danielle Malangone, Deputy Project Director, Midtown Community Court – New York, Robert Rosenthal, Executive Director, Center for Investigative Reporting. Moderated by Aislihrw-Lifeng Reidy, Senior Legal Advisor, Human Rights Watch

The Closing Night screening is Life, Above All, directed by Oliver Schmitz, a moving coming-of-age drama set in a South African township ravaged by HIV/AIDS.
A young girl struggles to maintain the facade of a normal life amidst utter instability. When her mother’s illness becomes apparent, the community turns against her family. Her mother chooses to leave home on the advice of a well-meaning but overbearing neighbor, who has her own secrets.

Other screenings include:

Familia
dir. Mikael Wiström, Alberto Herskovits (Sweden)
This documentary sensitively observes one matriarch's decision to go to work as a hotel maid in Spain and the impact that choice has on her extended family in Peru. An emotional look at the family’s separation due to economic circumstances, providing a unique insight into the experience of thousands of families who do the same each year.

Impunityhrw-Familia
dir. Juan José Lozano, Hollman Morris (Colombia/France/Switzerland)
In 2005, Colombia started gathering evidence about the horrific violence carried out by illegal paramilitias. A highly controversial Justice and Peace process allowed paramilitary leaders to hand in their weapons and give themselves up voluntarily in exchange for reduced sentences. Impunity documents the hearings in which paramilitaries describe atrocities they have committed in detail as the families of their victims listen and watch on projected screens. Yet due to serious irregularities in the process, many families fear that they will never know the truth surrounding the deaths of their loved ones, and that the perpetrators will escape punishment.

La Toma / The Siege
dir. Angus Gibson, Miguel Salazar (Colombia/South Africa)
"This challenging film recounts the action-packed day of the Siege of the Palace of Justice in Colombia." The families of the disappeared demand answers, no matter how devastating the truth may be. Colonel Plazas Vega, a leader of the operation, is indicted for their disappearance. In the course of his highly charged trial, the lawyers, prosecutors and the judge all face death threats and fear for their lives.

Lost Angels
dir. Thomas Napper
Meet the residents of LA’s Skid Row as they prove to the world that you don’t need a roof over your head to build a community. Los Angeles, California has been designated the homeless capital of America, with an estimated 48,000 individuals living on the streets. Lost Angels brings us into part of the city that many chose to ignore: downtown’s Skid Row.

Love Crimes of Kabul
dir. Tanaz Eshaghian (Afghanistan/US)
Jailed for running away from home to escape abuse, for allegations of adultery, and other "moral crimes," the women of Afghanistan’s Badum Bagh prison band together to fight for their freedom. 

The Team
dir. Patrick Reed (Canada)
A group of Kenyans produce a TV soap opera hoping to bridge deep ethnic divisions in a country struggling to recover from violence after the 2007 elections.

This Is My Land… Hebron
dir. Giulia Amati, Stephen Natanson (Israel/Italy)
This film lifts the lid on Hebron as it is today: a city fraught with violence and hate. Hebron is the largest city in the occupied West Bank, home to 160,000 Palestinians. It is also home to one of the first Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the only one right in the heart of a Palestinian city.

You Don’t Like the Truth – 4 Days Inside Guantanamo
dir. Luc Côté, Patricio Henríquez (Canada)
A "shocking documentary [from] security camera footage of an encounter in Guantanamo Bay between a team of Canadian intelligence agents and Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, then a 16-year-old detainee. Based on seven hours of video footage recently declassified by the Canadian courts, this documentary delves into the unfolding high-stakes game of cat and mouse between captor and captive over a four-day period.

For more information, go to www.filmlinc.com/films/series and select Human Rights Watch Film Festival.  See also hrw.org

Human Rights Watch Film Festival
June 16 - June 30

Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center
165 W. 65th St. (at Amsterdam Ave.)
New York City
(212) 875-5601

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