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Human Rights Watch Film Festival announces line-up

Human Rights Watch Film Festival 
London, 21-30 March 
ff.hrw.org
 
19 Films Address Economic Inequality and Consequences Worldwide
(London, 10 February 2012) – The 16th edition of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival will be presented in London from 21-30 March, 2012, Human Rights Watch said today.
The international feature programme includes 15 documentaries and 4 dramas, from Afghanistan, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, the Canary Islands, Ethiopia, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon, the Maldives, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the USA. Many of the films will be followed by Q&A sessions with filmmakers, and some by panel discussions with experts and film subjects.
The Human Rights Watch Film Festival programme this year is organised around four themes: development, environment and the global economy; migrants’ rights and racism; personal testimony and witnessing; and women’s rights. 
 “Since last year’s festival,  the  popular protests worldwide – from the Arab Spring to the Occupy movements  – have struck at a fundamental issue of our time: increasing economic inequality and its consequences,” said John Biaggi, Human Rights Watch Film Festival director, “Our 2012 programme focuses on key elements of the current situation at both a micro and macro level”.
The festival will launch on Wednesday, 21 March at the Curzon Mayfair with a fundraising benefit and reception for Human Rights Watch, featuring Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s  5 Broken Cameras which documents one Palestinian village’s struggle against violence and oppression. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion including  Burnat, Davidi and Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at  Human Rights Watch. It will be moderated by David Mepham, the Human Rights Watch UK director.
On Thursday 22 March, the Curzon Soho will host the opening night film and reception, with Jon Shenk’s The Island President, a timely documentary which follows former President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives (who on Tuesday 7 February 2012 was forced to resign the presidency) as he fights to convince the world’s policymakers to do something concrete about climate change. The Maldives is in danger of disappearing below rising sea levels, making the people the world’s first entire nation threatened with becoming environmental refugees. The screening will be followed by a discussion with  Shenk; Mark Lynas, climate advisor to President Nasheed, and Ahmed Shafeeq Moosa, envoy for science and technology in the presidents office. The discussion will be moderated by Damian Carrington, Head of Environment, The Guardian.
The closing night film and reception will be on Friday 30 March at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton. It will feature Nadine Labaki’s drama Where Do We Go Now?,  the story  of a group of women determined to protect their isolated, mine-encircled community. With the women united by a common cause, their unwavering friendship transcends the religious fault lines that criss-cross their society. The women hatch inventive, and often comical plans to distract the village’s men and achieve the women’s goal. The film will be followed by a discussion with Nadine Labaki, director.
 Development, Environment, and the Global Economy
In two festival titles, both set in Latin America, the corporate commoditisation of two basic elements of life – seeds and water – impact on the survival of individuals. 
Bettina Borgfeld and David Bernet’s documentary Raising Resistance follows the life-and-death struggle of farmers in Paraguay confronted with the ever-expanding production of genetically modified soy, which requires herbicides and decimates nearby crops. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Betina Borgfeld, director.
Icíar Bollaín’s drama Even The Rain, starring Gael Garcia Bernal as Sebastián and written by Paul Laverty, is based on events of the “Bolivian water war” of April 2000. The film parallels protests against the privatisation of the water supply with the making of a film about Christopher Columbus, raising the question: how much has changed in 500 years? The film will be followed by a Q&A Paul  Laverty, screenwriter.
Migrants’ Rights and Racism
Three festival titles highlight the issues and abuses faced by migrants and asylum seekers in Europe.
In the documentary Special Flight, the director, Fermand Melgar, gained  extensive access to his subjects,  rejected asylum seekers and illegal migrants in Switzerland’s Frambois detention centre. There are three possible outcomes for every resident: to leave free, with asylum granted; to leave the country by choice on a regular flight; or to leave in custody on a so-called ‘special flight’. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Fermand Melgar, director.
Maggie Peren’s drama Colour of the Ocean tells the story of a father and son, African refugees whose paths collide with those of an altruistic tourist and a Canary Island police officer. Questions of responsibility repeatedly arise and haunt all concerned as they grapple with the knowledge they cannot know for certain if their actions will make matters better or worse.
Julia Ivanova’s documentary Family Portait in Black and White tells the story of Olga Nenya, who is single-handedly raising 23 foster children in rural Ukraine. Sixteen are the biracial offspring of visiting African students and Ukrainian women, who often see no choice but to abandon their babies. Olga reveals herself to be loving and protective but also narrow-minded and controlling. A product of communist ideology, she favours collective duty over individual freedom, and this paradox gives the children the sense of belonging they ache for, as well as cause for rebellion and distrust. The film will be followed by a Q&A with director Julia Ivanova.
Personal Testimony and Witnessing:
Five films in this year’s festival reveal the permanent and pervasive impact human rights abuses have wrought on the lives of individuals.
Through personal testimony, Carlo Augusto Bachschmidt’s Black Block documents the police violence and arbitrary detention experienced by seven activists who demonstrated at the 2001 Genoa G8 summit. Each person describes brutal treatment by the Italian police that night, and in the days that followed. Despite their trauma, the survivors grow more determined to pursue their activism in a number of new ways. The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director and with Daniel McQuillan and Mina Zapatero, film subjects.
Annie Goldson’s documentary Brother Number One tells New Zealander Rob Hamill’s deeply personal story about the deaths in 1978 of his brother Kerry Hamill, and his two friends − John Dewhirst of England, and Stuart Glass of Canada, at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. As Rob retraces his brother’s final days, he takes the stand as a witness at the Cambodia War Crimes Tribunal. He  faces the former prison warden known as Comrade Duch, the man who gave the final orders for Kerry and thousands of others to be tortured and killed, and meets survivors who tell the story of the notorious S-21 prison. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Annie Goldson, director, and Rob Hamill, film subject.
Werner Herzog’s  exploration of life on death row, Into The Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life, documents the devastating effects of capital punishment on all involved. Herzog follows the story of Michael Perry, who was executed eight days after filming began,  and Jason Burkett, who were found guilty of three capital murders in Texas, and unravels the crime and trial from separate viewpoints, including the victim’s families and prison staff. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Werner Herzog, director.
Lieven Corthouts’ documentary “Little Heaven,” set in Ethiopia, allows the viewer to  experience life through 13-year-old Lydia’s expressive face and  her daily routines at the Little Heaven orphanage for children living with HIV. Despite being abandoned by their families or left alone when their parents died, the children and their caretakers form a new family. Their HIV status is always in the background, but small victories show  a life  full of hope, not despair. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Lieven Corthouts, director.
Lise Birk Pedersen’s documentary Putin’s Kiss is a  coming-of-age tale focusing on 19-year-old Masha and her journey through the Kremlin-created Nashi youth movement. Masha wholeheartedly supports Putin’s policies of seeking to rid Russia of what Nashi believes are Russia’s “enemies”  -- the political opposition, investigative journalists, and human rights defenders. But as a journalist herself she starts socialising with colleagues in this very circle, and  begins to question Nashi and its leaders. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Lise Birk Pedersen, director.
Women’s Rights
Six festival films tell women’s stories from around the world.
The Emmy-nominated photojournalist Mimi Chakarova filmed undercover and gained extraordinary access in her intimate documentary The Price of Sex, about young Eastern European women  drawn into a world of sex trafficking and abuse. Chakarova’s film is told by the young women who managed to escape and refused to be silenced by shame, fear, and violence. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Mimi Chakarova, director. The screening on Saturday 24 March will be followed by a panel discussion with Mimi Chakarova and Abigail Stepnitz, national coordinator of the Poppy Project, which provides support to women who have been trafficked. It will be moderated by Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch.
Mimi Chakarova was the winner of the 2011 Nestor Almendros Award, announced at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York in  June 2011,  for The Price of Sex.
In Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Daniel Junge’s Oscar-nominated documentary Saving Face Dr Mohammad Jawad, a plastic surgeon from Pakistan now practising in London, travels to Pakistan to treat women who have suffered acid attacks. Among them is Zakia, who goes to court to prosecute her husband for her attack. She becomes the first case tried under a new law in Pakistan that punishes the  attackers with life imprisonment. The film will be followed by a discussion with Obaid Chinoy, Daniel Junge and Dr Mohammed Jawad, moderated by  Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch and introduced by Katie Piper, founder of the Katie Piper Foundation.
Fuelled by often chilling interviews with activists, patients, and writers, Léa Pool’s critical, investigative documentary, Pink Ribbons, Inc. focuses on the increased involvement of corporations in fundraising campaigns and the impact it has had on the breast cancer ‘culture’, and media messages about women with breast cancer. The film indicates the undue emphasis on awareness and the search for a cure has skewed the types of research being done, and many campaigns to raise money have done more for the companies than for the cause. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Léa Pool, director.
Susan Youssef’s drama Habibi tells the story of young lovers Qays (Kais Nashef) and Layla (Maisa Abd Elhadi) who are university students in the West Bank. Both are forced home to Khan Yunis before they have completed their studies and in this more religious and traditional environment their love story can continue only if they marry. Yet Qays is too poor to convince Layla’s father that he can provide for his beloved daughter. In an act of rebellion Qays paints verses from the classical poem Majnun Layla all over Khan Yunis, which angers Layla’s father and the local self-appointed moral police. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Susan Youssef, director, and,Man Kit Lam, film editor, on Sunday, 25 March.
With plenty of pop music and ‘girl power’, David Fine’s documentary Salaam Dunk delivers a tale of hope and inspiration, courtesy of one winning group of Iraqi women basketball players at the American University in Sulaimani, Iraq. Education is the difference between the past and the future for these women – who include Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and Christians – and basketball becomes a key part of that education. Through interviews and personal video diaries, viewers learn about the women, their families, and their experiences since the US invasion in 2003.
In Tanaz Eshaghian’s documentary Love Crimes of Kabul, viewers meet three young Afghani female prisoners as they go on trial for “moral crimes,” which include running away from home to escape abuse and  allegations of adultery. In refusing to fit into society’s norms by their defiant actions,these women come to be seen as threats to the very fabric of society, and their acts of self-determination as illegal. 
For downloadable images and press kits please see press page at: http://ff.hrw.org/press
FOR FURTHER DETAILS about interviews, DVD screeners and press ticket requests please contact: 
Sarah Harvey Publicity - 020 7232 2812
Sarah Harvey at sarah@sarahharvey.info 
or Liz Parkson at liz@sarahharvey.info
 
 NOTES TO EDITORS: 
 
Human Right Watch Film Festival Full Listings
 
Benefit Film and Reception
5 BROKEN CAMERAS
(Dir Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, The Netherlands/France/Israel/Palestine, 2011, 90min) Doc
Wednesday 21 March 18.45 | Curzon Mayfair | Panel Discussion and Reception
 
An intensely powerful personal film, 5 Broken Cameras documents one Palestinian village's struggle against violence and oppression. Emad was born in Bil’in and has five broken cameras that capture episodes in the West Bank village’s resistance to Israel’s separation barrier. The wall, which Israel says is needed to stop suicide bombers, consumes much of Bil’in’s arable land and allows nearby Jewish settlements to extend onto villagers’ fields. Emad’s rhythmic and reflective narration sets the film’s pace, even when marching in a demonstration or in a protest, ammunition and tear gas hissing above. Emad’s instinct is to film the events that he sees, believing that doing so will have some meaning. A cycle of resistance and retaliation develops between the village and the settlements and each of Emad’s cameras meets a different fate. 
 
Courtesy of CAT&Docs and Sheffield Doc/Fest 
(World Cinema Documentary Directing Award, Sundance Film Festival 2012, Audience Award and Special Jury Award International Documentary Festival Amsterdam 2011)
For Benefit tickets, donations or more information, please contact the London Development and Outreach team on 020 7713 2773 or londonoutreach@hrw.org. Tickets start at £75.
 
Opening Night Film & Reception
THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (UK Premiere) 
(Dir Jon Shenk, US, 2011, 100min) Doc
In English and Dhivehi with English subtitles
Thursday 22 March 18.30 | Curzon Soho | Panel Discussion and Reception
 
Jon Shenk’s The Island President tells the story of former President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, who must grapple with the daunting prospect of his country fighting for physical survival and his citizens becoming ‘environmental refugees.’ After bringing democracy to the Indian Ocean nation following 30 years of despotic rule, Nasheed now faces an even greater challenge: rising sea levels that threaten to submerge the Maldives’ nearly 2000 islands. The Island President captures Nasheed’s first year in office, culminating in his trip to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit, where the film provides a rare glimpse of the political horse-trading that goes on at such a top-level global assembly. Nasheed leverages the Maldives’ underdog position as a tiny country, harnessing the media’s power and overcoming deadlocks by appealing to other developing nations for unity. 
 
Courtesy of Dogwoof 
UK theatrical release 6 April 2012
(People’s Choice Documentary Award Toronto International Film Festival 2011)
 
FAMILY PORTRAIT IN BLACK AND WHITE
(Dir Julia Ivanova, Canada, 2011, 99min) Doc
In Italian, Russian and Ukrainian with English subtitles
Friday 23 March 18.30 | Ritzy | Q&A
Saturday 24 March 14.00 | ICA | Q&A
 
In a Ukrainian village, the formidable Olga Nenya single-handedly raises 23 foster children. Sixteen are the biracial offspring of visiting African students and Ukrainian women, who often see no choice but to abandon their babies. And that’s where Olga comes in. Family Portrait in Black and White is an inspired and challenging tale about the meaning of family that charts the rhythms of Olga’s hectic household, where the children find safety in a society that constantly reminds them they are outsiders. As diverse dramas unfold—a teenager struggling to transcend his plight through education, a boy struggling to reunite with his Ugandan father, and a child longing to live with his Italian foster family—Olga reveals herself to be loving and protective but also narrow-minded and controlling. A product of communist ideology, she favours collective duty over individual freedom. It is this paradox in Olga’s personality that gives the children the sense of belonging they ache for, as well as cause for rebellion and distrust.
 
(Official Selection Sundance Film Festival 2011)
 
LOVE CRIMES OF KABUL (UK Premiere)
(Dir Tanaz Eshaghian, Afghanistan/US, 2011, 71min) Doc
In Dari and Pashto with English subtitles
Friday 23 March 18.30 | ICA 
Saturday 24 March 16.30 | Ritzy 
 
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.  Love Crimes of Kabul follows three young prisoners as they go to trial, revealing the pressures and paradoxes women in Afghanistan face today, and the dangerous consequences of refusing to fit into society’s norms. Their defiant actions come to be seen as threats to the very fabric of society, and their acts of self-determination as illegal. Will life outside prison enable these women to experience the freedom they desire? Filmmaker Tanaz Eshaghian brings us into the lives of these “outsiders,” and we watch as teenage romantics learn to become steely-eyed negotiators in an effort to secure their future, brokering their freedom with courage, charm, and skill. 
 
 
THE PRICE OF SEX (UK Premiere)
(Dir Mimi Chakarova, US/Bulgaria/Moldova/Greece/Turkey/United Arab Emirates, 2011, 73min) Doc
In English, Bulgarian, Romanian, Russian and Turkish with English subtitles
Friday 23 March 18.40 | Curzon Soho | Q&A
Saturday 24 March 16.45 | ICA | Panel Discussion
Sunday 25 March 19.00 | Ritzy | Q&A
 
Intimate and revealing, 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 us 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. 
 
(2011 Human Rights Watch Film Festival Nestor Almendros Award Winner)
 
COLOUR OF THE OCEAN (UK Premiere)
(Dir Maggie Peren, Spain, 2011, 95min) Drama
In French, German and Spanish with English subtitles
Friday 23 March 21.15 | Curzon Soho
Saturday 24 March 19.00 | Ritzy
 
Colour of the Ocean tells the story of two refugees whose paths collide with those of an altruistic tourist and a Canary Island police officer—changing the course of all their lives. After years working as a border patrolman, José (Alex González) is cynical about his work. His scepticism is tested when he encounters Nathalie (Sabine Timoteo), a German tourist assisting a boatload of refugees she discovers landing on the Canary shores. One of those refugees, a Congolese man named Zola (Hubert Koundé), is placed in an internment camp. Nathalie tries to help him, despite her husband’s objections. But Zola and his son Mamadou quickly find themselves in yet another precarious situation, where they are dependent on nefarious smugglers. Questions of responsibility repeatedly arise and haunt all concerned as they grapple with the knowledge they cannot know for certain if their actions will make matters better or worse. 
 
(Official Selection Toronto International Film Festival 2011)
 
EVEN THE RAIN
(Dir Icíar Bollaín, Spain, 2010, 104min) Drama
In Spanish with English subtitles
Friday 23 March 21.15 | Ritzy | Q&A
Monday 26 March 21.00 | Curzon Soho | Q&A
 
Based on events of the Bolivian Water War of April 2000, Even the Rain recounts a story that parallels the history of Christopher Columbus, with sticks and stones confronting the weaponry of a modern army. Only this time the fight is not over gold, but the simplest of elements—water. Obsessive idealist Sebastián (Gael Garcia Bernal) has sworn to direct a film about Christopher Columbus, showing what Columbus set in motion when he arrived in Latin America: the obsession with gold, the taking of slaves, and the terrible violence visited on Indians who fought back. As the shoot progresses in and around the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia, the government decides to privatise the city’s water supply and sell it to an Anglo-American multinational corporation. Civil unrest simmers and tensions between the community and the authorities escalate. As violence increases, so do the stakes for the community and the film crew. Events challenge both Sebastián’s idealism and the relationship between his team and the local community, leaving him questioning how much has really changed since Columbus’s time. 
 
Courtesy of Dogwoof 
UK theatrical release 18 May 2012.
 
SALAAM DUNK (UK Premiere)
(Dir David Fine, Iraq/US, 2011, 82min) Doc
In Arabic and Kurdish with English subtitles
Saturday 24 March 16.00 | Curzon Soho
Sunday 25 March 17.30 | ICA 
 
With plenty of pop music and ‘girl power,’ Salaam Dunk delivers a tale of hope and inspiration, courtesy of one winning group of Iraqi women basketball players at the American University in Sulaimani, Iraq. The women come from all over the country to attend this prestigious university, but many cannot tell family back home that they go to an ‘American’ college. The team itself is a ‘mini Iraq’—comprised of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and Christians. Through interviews and personal video diaries, we learn about the women, their families and their experiences since the US invasion in 2003. Their narratives provide a rare look at recent events in Iraq with stories of loss and choices that have to be made. Education is the difference between the past and the future for these women and basketball becomes a key part of that education. Their team is like a family and the game is like life. And as their coach Ryan says: sports teaches fight and resilience, but who knows fight and resilience better than these women? 
 
(Official Selection International Documentary Festival Amsterdam 2011)
 
BLACK BLOCK (UK Premiere)
(Dir Carlo Augusto Bachschmidt, Italy, 2011, 76min) Doc
In English and German, Italian and Spanish with English subtitles
Saturday 24 March 18.40 | Curzon Soho | Q&A
Sunday 25 March 16.30 | Ritzy | Q&A
 
Through gripping testimony of those who experienced the raid on the Diaz school at the 2001 Genoa G8 Summit, Black Block provides a case study of police violence and arbitrary detention that could happen anywhere. Activists Lena, Niels, Chabi, Mina, Dan, Michael, and Muli, recount in painful detail how they went from demonstrating against the G8 summit in the streets to what they thought was a safe shelter for the night—the Diaz school on the outskirts of the northern Italian city of Genoa. Instead, Italian police entered the school and brutally beat the activists, leaving their targets with no legal recourse and themselves without apparent need to be accountable for their actions. Each person describes what they experienced that night and in the days that followed. Despite their trauma, the survivors grow more determined to pursue their activism in a number of new ways.
 
(Official Selection International Documentary Festival Amsterdam 2011)
 
BROTHER NUMBER ONE (UK Premiere)
(Dir Annie Goldson, New Zealand, 2011, 99min) Doc
In English and Khmer with English subtitles
Sunday 25 March 16.00 | Curzon Soho | Q&A
Monday 26 March 18.30 | Ritzy | Q&A
 
Through New Zealander Rob Hamill’s story of his brother’s death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, Brother Number One explores how the regime and its followers killed nearly 2 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979. In 1978, Kerry Hamill and two friends disappeared without a trace while sailing from Australia to Southeast Asia. Rob discovers that a Khmer Rouge cell attacked the boat. One sailor, Canadian Stuart Glass, was shot immediately, but Kerry and Englishman John Dewhirst were taken to the notorious S-21 Prison in Phnom Penh, held for several months, tortured, and killed. Thirty years later, Kerry's youngest brother Rob has a rare chance to take the stand as a witness at the Cambodia War Crimes Tribunal and face Comrade Duch, the man who gave the final orders for Kerry and thousands of others to be tortured and killed. As Rob retraces his brother’s final days, he meets survivors who tell the story of the S-21 prison and of what countless families across Cambodia experienced at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. In this spirit, Brother Number One grapples with the trauma that grips all Cambodia: the struggle to forgive in the face of immeasurable anger. 
 
(Official Selection International Documentary Festival Amsterdam 2011)
HABIBI (UK Premiere)
(Dir Susan Youssef, Palestine, 2011, 78min) Drama
In Arabic with English subtitles
Sunday 25 March 18.40 | Curzon Soho | Q&A
Monday 26 March 21.00 | Ritzy  
 
Young lovers Qays (Kais Nashef) and Layla (Maisa Abd Elhadi) are university students in the West Bank who hail from Khan Yunis in Gaza. He is pursuing a degree in literature and she in engineering, but they are forced to return home before com¬pleting their courses. In the more religious and traditional environment of Khan Yunis, their love story can continue only by marrying. Yet Qays, who is a construction worker living in a refugee camp, is too poor to con¬vince Layla’s father that he can provide for his beloved daughter. As the couple struggles to be together, Qays paints verses from the classical poem Majnun Layla all over Khan Yunis, a rebellious act that angers Layla’s father and the local self-appointed moral police. Lyrical and passionate, Habibi depicts a reality where personal happiness must be weighed against society’s opinions, and a choice sometimes made between one’s people and one’s heart.
 
(Official Selection Toronto International Film Festival 2011)
 
PUTIN’S KISS (UK Premiere)
(Dir Lise Birk Pedersen, Denmark, 2011, 85min) Doc
In Russian with English subtitles
Sunday 25 March 20.00 | ICA | Q&A (tbc)
Monday 26 March 18.40 | Curzon Soho | Q&A (tbc)
 
Meet Masha, a 19-year-old who grew up in the Putin era, on her journey through the Kremlin-created Nashi youth movement.  This coming-of-age tale focuses on Masha’s personal political struggle and paints a grim picture of the Russian political climate. Many see Putin as the one leading Russia back to being a global superpower. Masha grows up with this belief, wholeheartedly supporting Putin’s policies and seeking to rid Russia of what Nashi believes are Russia’s “enemies”—the political opposition, investigative journalists, and human rights defenders. But when Masha, a journalist, starts socialising with colleagues in the circle of her friend, investigative journalist OIeg Kashin, she also begins to question Nashi and its leaders. Soon Masha finds herself closer with this circle of friends than her Nashi comrades. And ultimately, she faces a choice between the two groups. A shocking event pushes Masha to take a decision in the end, highlighting the costs of her internal struggle as well as the ever-increasing political stakes in Russia today. 
 
Courtesy of Dogwoof 
(Official Selection Sundance Film Festival 2012 and International Documentary Festival Amsterdam 2011)
 
PINK RIBBONS INC. (UK Premiere)
(Dir Léa Pool, Canada, 2011, 97min) Doc
In English
Tuesday 27 March 18.30 | Ritzy | Q&A (tbc)
Thursday 29 March 18.40 | Curzon Soho | Q&A (tbc)
 
Léa Pool’s critical, investigative documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. begins on a sunny day in San Francisco as thousands of people prepare for a gruelling two-day walk to raise money for a cure for breast cancer. As the film explores the history of breast cancer, corporate fundraising, and the presen¬tation of breast cancer campaigns in the media, each return to the run makes the effort seem more problematic. Pink Ribbons, Inc. focuses on the increased involvement of corporations in fundraising campaigns—which goes as far as outright ownership in some cases—and the impact it has had on breast cancer ‘culture’ and media messages about women with breast cancer. The undue emphasis on awareness and the search for a cure has skewed the types of research being done, and many campaigns to raise money have done more for the companies than for the cause. Many corporations involved in breast cancer campaigns also market products containing carcinogens. Fuelled by informative and often chilling interviews with activists, patients, and writers, Pink Ribbons, Inc. is an incendiary exposé of one of the most well-known examples of ‘cause marketing.’
 
Official Selection Toronto International Film Festival 2011
 
RAISING RESISTANCE (UK Premiere)
(Dir Bettina Borgfeld and David Bernet, Germany/Switzerland, 2011, 85min) Doc
In English and Spanish with English subtitles
Tuesday 27 March 18.40 | Curzon Soho | Q&A
Wednesday 28 March 20.40 | Ritzy | Q&A 
 
Beautifully shot and interweaving interviews with scenes from soy fields in Paraguay, Raising Resistance explores Latin American farmers’ struggle against the expanding production of genetically modified soy in South America. Biotechnology, mechanisation, and herbicides have radically changed the lives of small farmers in Latin America. For farmers in Paraguay this means displacement from their land, loss of basic food supplies, and a veritable fight for survival. Geronimo Arevelos and a group of small farmers stand defiantly in a corporate-owned soy field adjacent to his own, blocking a tractor from spraying herbicides that will decimate his crops and expose nearby families to toxic chemicals. As corporate farms seize farmland and rapidly expand production of genetically modified soy, Geronimo and the campesinos find themselves in a life and death struggle. Raising Resistance illustrates the mechanisms of a global economy that relies on ‘monocrop’ agriculture and corporate ownership of land. In telling the story of Paraguay, Raising Resistance poses the larger question of whether the global community wants to go on living with a system that allows one crop to prosper at the expense of all others.
 
(Official Selection International Documentary Festival Amsterdam 2011)
 
SPECIAL FLIGHT 
(Dir Fernand Melgar, Switzerland, 2011, 100min) Doc
In French with English subtitles
Tuesday 27 March 21.00 | Ritzy | Q&A
Wednesday 28 March 18.15 | ICA | Q&A
 
Fernand Melgar’s intimate and emotionally charged portrait of the rejected asylum seekers and illegal migrants in Switzerland’s Frambois detention centre reveals a world that few know from the inside. With amazing access to his subjects, Melgar introduces us to a community of men who share friendships, fears, and a similar fate. There are three possibilities for every resident: to leave free with asylum granted, to leave the country by choice on a regular flight, or to leave in custody on a so-called ‘special flight’ back to their country of origin. As planes come and go in the background, the staff—who are caretakers, counsellors, and friends to the men there—¬have heart-felt dialogues about the well-being of residents. In the end though, the staff reflect society’s attitudes towards migrants, and are also recipients of the residents’ resentment—making them simultaneously friend and foe. And that fact is most evident when staff must prepare one of the men to leave on a special flight.  
 
(Official Selection Locarno Film Festival 2011)
 
LITTLE HEAVEN (UK Premiere)
(Dir Lieven Corthouts, Belgium, 2011, 70min) Doc
In Amharic with English subtitles
Wednesday 28 March 18.30 | Ritzy | Q&A
Thursday 29 March 18.30 | ICA | Q&A
 
“HIV is like somebody living in my body without paying rent. I don’t know him and I don’t like him.”
—Lydia, 13, Little Heaven Orphanage, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
 
Lydia is at a turning point in her life. We experience life through Lydia’s expressive face, her daily routines at the Little Heaven orphanage for children living with HIV, her conversations with other children there, her doctors’ appointments, and her exercise, study, prayer, and reflective diary entries. Despite being abandoned by their families or left alone when their parents died, the children form a new family, together with their caretakers. Their HIV status is always in the background, but small victories show us a life that is full of hope¬, not despair. 
 
(Official Selection International Documentary Festival Amsterdam 2011)
 
SAVING FACE (UK Premiere)
(Dir Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Daniel Junge, Pakistan/UK, 2011, 52min) Doc
In English and Urdu with English subtitles
Wednesday 28 March 18.40 | Curzon Soho | Introduction & Q&A
Thursday 29 March 21.15 | Ritzy | Introduction & Q&A
 
In Pakistan, a woman’s face is deemed to be her greatest asset. Someone seeking to punish a woman need only destroy her face to do her permanent harm—both physically and socially. Saving Face exposes how acid attacks affect women in Pakistan, including Zakia, whose husband attacked her outside a courthouse when she filed for divorce, and Rukhsana, whose spouse attacked her in the marital home where she still lives because she cannot afford to care for her children alone. The film focuses on one courageous man trying to help this community, Dr. Mohammad Jawad. A plastic surgeon originally from Pakistan and now practicing in London, he explains: “It makes me very angry. I don’t want to hear these stories anymore.” Zakia not only benefits from Dr. Jawad’s treatment, she also goes to court to prosecute her husband for her attack. She becomes the first case tried under a new law in Pakistan that punishes perpetrators of acid attacks with life imprisonment. Saving Face highlights the medical and legal responses to this horrific problem, and the generous spirit of Dr. Jawad, who offers a glimmer of hope for women who are otherwise ‘dead’ to society. 
 
(2012 Academy Award Nominee for Documentary – Short Subject)
 
INTO THE ABYSS: A TALE OF DEATH, A TALE OF LIFE 
(Dir Werner Herzog, Germany/UK/US, 2011, 106min) Doc
In English
Wednesday 28 March 21.00 | Curzon Soho | Q&A
Thursday 29 March 18.30 | Ritzy | Q&A
 
Werner Herzog's latest stunning documentary focuses on the bleak yet fascinating subject of capital punishment, following the moving story of Michael Perry and Jason Burkett, two young men found guilty of three capital murders in Texas. Perry was executed eight days after filming commenced, while Burkett was sentenced to life in prison. Unravelling the crime and trial from separate viewpoints, including the victim's families and prison staff, Herzog's masterful exploration of life on Death Row shows the devastating effects of capital punishment on all involved. Winner of the Grierson Award for Best Documentary at this year's London Film Festival, Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life ranks among the director's finest works to date.
 
Courtesy of Revolver Entertainment
UK theatrical release 30 March 2012
(Winner Grierson Award for Best Documentary at London Film Festival, Official Selection Toronto International Film Festival 2011)
 
Closing Night Film & Reception
WHERE DO WE GO NOW?
(Dir Nadine Labaki, Lebanon, 2011, 100min) Drama
In Arabic and Russian with English subtitles
Friday 30 March 18.30 | Ritzy | Q&A and Reception
 
On the edge of a cratered road, a cortège-like procession of women solemnly makes its way towards the village cemetery. Takla, Amale, Yvonne, Afaf and Saydeh stoically brave the oppressive midday heat, clutching photographic effigies of their beloved menfolk, lost to a futile, protracted and distant war. Some of the women are veiled, others bear wooden crosses, but all are clad in black and united by a sense of shared grief. As they arrive at the cemetery gates, the procession divides into two congregations; one Muslim, the other Christian. Set against the backdrop of a war-torn country, Where Do We Go Now? tells the heart-warming tale of a group of women’s determination to protect their isolated, mine-encircled, community from the pervasive and divisive outside forces that threaten to destroy it from within. United by a common cause, the women’s unwavering friendship transcends, against all the odds, the religious fault lines which crisscross their society and they hatch some extraordinarily inventive, and often comical, plans in order to distract the village’s menfolk and defuse any sign of inter-religious tension. A series of chaotic incidents tests the women’s ingenuity as they manage to successfully stave off the fall-out from the distant war. But when events take a tragic turn, just how far will the women go in order to prevent bloodshed and turmoil? 
 
Courtesy of Revolver Entertainment
UK theatrical release Summer 2012 
(People’s Choice Award Toronto International Film Festival 2011)
 
Box Office information:
CURZON MAYFAIR
38 Curzon Street
London W1J 7TY
box office: 0871 703 3989
 
CURZON SOHO
99 Shaftesbury Avenue
London W1D 5DY
box office: 0871 7033 988
ICA
The Mall
London SW1Y 5AH
box office: 0207 930 3647 
RITZY CINEMA 
Brixton Oval, Coldharbour Lane
Brixton, London SW2 1 JG
box office: 0871 704 2065
Human Rights Watch Film Festival
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 our 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.
 
 
 

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