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The Human Rights Watch Film Festival preview

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival, London, announced today that four titles confirmed for the 2011 festival in March have been selected for the Sundance Film Festival, January 20-30.

Ali Samadi Ahadi’s The Green Wave will screen “in competition,” Lynn Hershman Leeson’s !Women, Art, Revolution and Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies are in the official selection, while Pamela Yates’ Granito will have its World Premiere at Sundance.

“The Green Wave, !Women, Art, Revolution and ‘Granito all show the power of the media in all its forms to impact on human rights and to influence filmmaking itself,” said John Biaggi, Human Rights Watch Film Festival director. “We are delighted to bring them, along with Incendies to London audiences direct from Sundance.”

The London edition of Human Rights Watch Film Festival will take place from 23 March to 1 April at cinemas across London, and will screen 21 feature-length documentaries and dramas plus the shorts programme, Youth Producing Change.

THE GREEN WAVE (UK premiere) (doc) attended by filmmaker
Ali Samadi Ahadi/Germany/Iran - 2010—80m.

Ali Samadi Ahadi uses new media, interweaving animated blogs, tweets and video footage from mobile phones to recount events following Iran’s 2009 elections. From the widespread hope of political change in Iran leading up to elections, to the brutal suppression of the mass protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election, “The Green Wave” documents the dramatic events of this severe domestic crisis for Iran’s Islamic Republic. In May 2009, the youthful green-clad crowds were still enraged and the atmosphere was explosive. Yet, Election Day in June was a major disappointment. The film describes in intense detail how the authorities violently crushed the protests after the election and the arrests and interrogations that followed. “The Green Wave” is a portrait of modern political rebellion, an exposé of government-sanctioned violence, and a vision of hope that continued resistance may galvanize a new Iran.

“! WOMEN, ART, REVOLUTION (doc) attended by filmmaker,”
Lynn Hershman Leeson, - US—2010—83m
Forty years in the making, !WAR is the artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman’s tribute to the feminist art movement, delving deeply into a rich cultural history that raises vital questions about gender politics, equality and freedom of expression. Today’s art world embraces female visionaries, but just a generation ago it was rare to find the work of female artists in major museums and galleries. Herschman’s story beings in the sixties, when she started to film interviews with artists, scholars and curators who were breaking barriers. She incorporates her personal historical perspective, and acknowledges the difficult choices she made over what to leave out from her thousand hours of accumulated footage. With her film, the revolution can now be seen.

GRANITO (doc) (UK premiere), attended by filmmaker.
Pamela Yates, the filmmaker, will attend. US—2011—100m
Part political thriller, part memoir, Granito is a tale of genocide and justice that spans four decades and two films previously made by the director Pamela Yates: The Reckoning, shown at the 2009 film festival, and When the Mountains Tremble which will also be shown in March. Granito is a story of destinies joined together by Guatemala’s past and of how the 1982 documentary, When the Mountains Tremble, emerges as an active player in the present as forensic evidence in a genocide case against a military dictator. Yates was allowed to shoot the only known footage of the army as it carried out the genocide. Twenty-five years later, this footage became evidence in an international war-crimes case against the army commander who permitted her to film. Linked by the events of 1982, each of the film’s characters is integral to the country’s reconstruction of a collective memory, the search for truth and the pursuit of justice. 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 their “granito”, their tiny grain of sand.

INCENDIES (drama).
Denis Villeneuve—Canada/France. 2010—130m—drama
In Arabic and French with English subtitles
Adapted from the play by Wajdi Mouawad, Incendies brings to life an epic tale of Lebanon’s history through the unravelling of one woman’s mysterious past. At the reading of the will of their mother, Nawal (Lubna Azabal), twin siblings Simon and Jeanne learn for the first time that they have a brother and that their father, whom they thought was dead, is in fact alive. Their mother's last wishes send the twins to Lebanon in search of their tangled roots. Shifting back and forth in time, Incendies follows two parallel journeys—the twins’ journey to find their brother and father and Nawal’s journey to find her son. Through the juxtaposition of these two quests, Villeneuve crafts a story of deep-rooted hatred, never-ending wars and enduring love.

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