The Human Rights Watch Film Festival kicks off on June 13th with a great line up of women directed and centric films. Held in New York, the festival will be showing 18 documentaries and two fictional features including the opening film Anita, directed by Freida Mock, which is about Anita Hill.
The festival runs through June 23rd. For more information and the complete lineup, visit the festival’s official website.
Below are the women directed and centric features screening at the festival. All descriptions are courtesy of the film festival site.
99%–The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film – Filmmaker(s): Audrey Ewell, Aaron Aites, Lucian Read, Nina Krstic
In September 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement propelled issues of economic inequality into the spotlight. 99% – The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative
Film goes behind the scenes of the movement, revealing what happened and why. Personal stories imbue analysis of big picture issues with the real-world
struggles of those compelled to take action, speak up, march, and risk arrest and brutality by police forces around the country. Supporters, participants,
and critics shed light on why and how this movement took off with such explosive force, and ask what the next phase of the movement might encompass. An
unprecedented collaboration of almost 100 filmmakers across the country, the production process of this feature film offers a diverse way of bringing
meaning and context to the movement that swept up America, and much of the world, with its story.
Anita – Filmmaker(s): Freida Mock
On October 11, 1991, a poised young law professor sent shock waves through the nation as she sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee intrepidly testifying to the lewd behavior of a Supreme Court nominee. Twenty years later, Academy Award winner Freida Mock brings us ANITA, which crystallizes the sexist power dynamics in the room that day and unravels the impact of that lightning-rod moment on Anita Hill’s life and the broader discussion of gender inequality in America. Contemporary interviews with Hill and her allies, and unsettling archival footage, reveal the way her attempt to report confidentially on Clarence Thomas’s conduct quickly became a perverse and vicious public attack on her character and credibility. Hill’s hearing became a charade of justice. Yet her audacity to speak out detonated a national debate about sexual harassment that revolutionized gender politics.
Born This Way – Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullmann
There are more arrests for homosexuality in Cameroon than in any other country in the world. With intimate access to the lives of four young gay
Cameroonians, Born This Way steps outside the genre of activist filmmaking and offers a vivid and poetic portrait of day-to-day life in modern Africa. This
is a story of what is possible in the global fight for equality.
Camera/Woman – Filmmaker(s): Karima Zoubir
With enthusiastic musicians and ornate wedding parties setting the stage, we meet Khadija, a Moroccan divorcee who works as a camerawoman at weddings in
Casablanca. Her mother and brother strongly disagree with her choice of occupation, complaining that Khadija is out until all hours and a source of gossip
for the neighbours. Already ashamed that Khadija is divorced, they simply want her to remarry. But Khadija is the breadwinner in the family and she won’t
bow to their demands. The fairy tale world of the wedding parties plays in sharp contrast to the difficulties of marriage and the reality of divorce.
Together with her best friend Bouchra, also a divorcee, Khadija talks candidly about the issues they face and the competing forces at play in the lives of
women in Morocco and beyond. Official Selection Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival 2012
deepsouth – Filmmaker(s): Lisa Biagiotti, Duy Linh Tu and Joe Lindquist
deepsouth explores the rural American South and the people who inhabit its most distant corners. Beneath layers of history, poverty, and now soaring HIV
infections, four Americans redefine traditional Southern values to create their own solutions to survive. Josh, a college student, seeks the support of an
underground gay family miles from his suffocating Mississippi Delta hometown. With no funds and few resources, Monica and Tammy tirelessly try to unite
reluctant participants at their annual HIV retreat in rural Louisiana. Kathie, an Alabama activist, spends 120 days every year on the road fighting a
bureaucracy that continues to ignore the South. Each of these stories shares a particular perspective on life with HIV in a region of the United States
often ignored by politicians and the public – a point of view that turns out to be both educational and inspirational.
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer – Filmmaker(s): Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin
In the winter of 2011, after a controversial election, Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin as president of Russia. The vote followed months of mass
protests that challenged Putin’s rule. Around the same time, a group of young, radical-feminist punk rockers known as Pussy Riot took a stand against the
direction Putin was taking Russia. Wearing colored balaclavas, tights, and summer dresses, they entered Moscow’s most venerated cathedral and air-guitared
their way through 40 seconds of “Mother Mary, Banish Putin!” British filmmaker Mike Lerner and Russian Maxim Pozdorovkin collaborate to chronicle the way
one small act of protest captured global attention. Putting a personal face on rebellion, they follow three women prepared to defend their actions no
matter what it may cost them.
Rafea: Solar Mama – Filmmaker(s): Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief
Rafea is a Bedouin woman who lives with her daughters in one of Jordan’s poorest desert villages on the Iraqi border. When she is selected for an intriguing programme called the Barefoot College in India, Rafea doesn’t need to think twice, and travels to join 30 illiterate women from different countries to train to become solar engineers over the course of six months. Rafea immediately understands that she has a unique opportunity to give her children a better future and to provide the whole village with solar power. A tumultuous struggle with her husband threatens to put an end to her dreams, yet Rafea remains determined. Will she be able to empower the other women in the village to join her in the struggle to rewire the traditions of the Bedouin community that stand in their way? Official Selection International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 2012
Salma – Filmmaker(s): Kim Longinotto
Like many other women in rural South Asia, Salma, a young Muslim girl in India, was forced into seclusion once she reached puberty. She was forbidden by
her family to study and pushed into marriage. Words were Salma’s salvation. Once married, Salma began covertly composing poems on scraps of paper and,
through an intricate smuggling system, was able to sneak them out of the house, and into the hands of a publisher. Salma won numerous accolades and was
written about in the media. Against the odds, Salma became a famous poet: the first step to discovering her own freedom and challenging the traditions and
code of conduct in her village. Her extraordinary story is one of courage and resilience. Salma has hopes for a different life for the next generation of
girls, but as she sees, familial ties run deep and change is slow. Official Selection Sundance Film Festival 2013
Tall as the Baobab Tree – Filmmaker(s): Jeremy Teicher
Tall as the Baobab Tree poignantly depicts a family struggling to find its footing on the edge of the modern world fraught with tensions between tradition
and modernity. Coumba and her little sister Debo are the first to leave their family’s remote African village, where meals are prepared over open fires and
water is drawn from wells, to attend school in the bustling city. But when an accident suddenly threatens their family’s survival, their father decides to
sell 11-year-old Debo into an arranged marriage. Torn between loyalty to her elders and her dreams for the future, Coumba hatches a secret plan to rescue
her younger sister from a future she did not choose.
The New Black – Filmmaker(s): Yoruba Richen
The New Black tells the story of how the African American community is grappling with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in light of the
marriage equality movement and the fight over civil rights. We meet activists, families, and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize same-sex
marriage in Maryland, a state with a 30 percent African-American population. Through this story, the film examines homophobia in the black community’s
institutional pillar—the black church—and reveals the Christian right wing’s strategy of exploiting this phenomenon in order to pursue an anti-gay
political agenda. The New Black takes viewers into the pews and onto the streets as it tells the story of the historic fight to win marriage equality in
Maryland and charts the evolution of this divisive issue within the black community.