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Human Rights Fest Sets '08 Slate, Launches Youth Program

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 6, 2008 at 9:24AM

Co-presented by Human Rights Watch and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the 19th annual Human Rights Watch International Film Festival will run from June 13 to 26, featuring 19 feature-length films and 13 shorts from 20 countries, including 31 New York premieres. The festival will open with Peter Raymont's "A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman," with the film's subject and renowned author of "Death and the Maiden" present to introduce the documentary. The two closing night films are "Letter to Anna," which tells the story of the life and tragic death of crusading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and "USA vs. Al-Arian," which implicates the U.S. government in a portrait of Palestinian-American activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian.
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Co-presented by Human Rights Watch and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the 19th annual Human Rights Watch International Film Festival will run from June 13 to 26, featuring 19 feature-length films and 13 shorts from 20 countries, including 31 New York premieres. The festival will open with Peter Raymont's "A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman," with the film's subject and renowned author of "Death and the Maiden" present to introduce the documentary. The two closing night films are "Letter to Anna," which tells the story of the life and tragic death of crusading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and "USA vs. Al-Arian," which implicates the U.S. government in a portrait of Palestinian-American activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian.

The festival proudly announced the fact that 20 of its 32 films are directed by women, including four documentaries, Ellen Kuras's "The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)," co-directed by Thavisouk Phrasavath, Senain Kheshgi and Geeta V. Patel's "Project Kashmir," in which the directors, two American friends from opposite sides of the divide, investigate the warin Kashmir, Edet Belberg's "The Recruiter," which looks at army recruitment in the U.S., and "The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo," filmmaker Lisa F. Jackson's documentation of the tragic plight of women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are raped in the name of war.

A scene from Senain Kheshgi and Geeta V. Patel's "Project Kashmir." Image courtesy of HRWIFF.


Another highlight is the festival's inaugural edition of Youth Producing Change, co-presented by Adobe Youth Voices, a special program of nine short films directed and produced by youth from across the globe. Selected from over 250 submissions from across the globe, the program will feature nine short films made by young filmmakers from Canada, England, Senegal, South Africa, and the United States. The first-time filmmakers tackle such subjects as child labor, women's rights, indigenous rights and persecution faced by immigrant communities in the aftermath of 9/11. Many of the filmmakers will be coming to New York to present their work.

Youth Producing Change will screen on June 20 and June 21 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater. The series will then make stops in Boston, London and San Francisco in early 2009. The program will also be included in the 2008 HRWIFF Traveling Film Festival and its High School Program. It will be screened in public schools, universities, and community art centers across North America and beyond.

"The Human Rights Watch International Film Festival provides the ideal stage for youth to express themselves, their opinions and aspirations, and to inspire a dialogue for change in their communities," said John Biaggi, acting director of Human Rights Watch Film Festival in a statement. "Young people are on the front lines of many of the world's most urgent human rights crises, but it's all too rare that we have the chance to hear their perspective. The nine short films in Youth Producing Change offer us a chance to see what our world looks like through the eyes of young people coming of age at a time when technology is making the world feel more interconnected and yet our society has become increasingly polarized. Their films share a common sense of hope that their generation can turn society around and live more peacefully."

Single screening tickets for the 2008 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival are $11 for adults, $7 for Film Society members and students with a valid photo ID, and $8 for seniors. They are available at both the Walter Reade Theater box office and online at www.filmlinc.com.

Program of Films

Opening Night Friday, Jun. 13

A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman Peter Raymont, Canada, 2006; 92m. In English and Spanish.

To See If I'm Smiling New York Premiere Tamar Yarom, Israel, 2007; 59m. In Hebrew. SCREENING WITH Deadly Playground US Premiere Katia Saleh, UK/Lebanon, 2007; 23m. In Arabic and English.


Festival Centerpiece Friday, Jun. 20

The Sari Soldiers US Premiere Julie Bridgham, US/Nepal, 2008; 90m. In Nepali.


Closing Night Thursday, Jun. 26

Letter To Anna New York Premiere Eric Bergkraut, Switzerland, 2008; 84m. In Russian and English.

USA vs. Al-Arian New York Premiere Line Halvorsen, Norway, 2007; 98m. In English and Arabic.


Spotlight on Ariel Dorfman

Prisoners In Time US Premiere Stephen Walker, Director; Ariel Dorfman & Rodrigo Dorfman, Screenplay, UK, 1995; 66m. SCREENING WITH Dead Line US Premiere Alex Marengo, Director; Ariel Dorfman & Rodrigo Dorfman, Screenplay, UK, 1998; 30m.


Other Screenings

American Outrage New York Premiere Beth Gage and George Gage, US, 2007; 56m SCREENING WITH Rightful Place New York Premiere Hakima Abbas and Yobo Rutin, Kenya/US, 2007; 16m.

Behave US Premiere Maria Ramos, Brazil, 2006; 80m. In Portuguese.

The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) New York Premiere Ellen Kuras, Director; Thavisouk Phrasavath, Co-Director, US/Laos, 2008; 100m. In English and Lao.

Calle Santa Fe Carmen Castillo, Chile/France/Belgium, 2007; 163m. In Spanish.

China's Stolen Children US Premiere Jezza Neumann, UK, 2007; 87m

Critical Condition New York Premiere Roger Weisberg, US, 2008; 83m

The Dictator Hunter US Premiere Klaartje Quirijns, The Netherlands, 2007; 75m. In English, French and Arabic.

The Greatest Silence: Rape In The Congo Lisa Jackson, US, 2007; 76m. In English, French, Swahili, Lingala and Mashi.

Project Kashmir World Premiere Senain Kheshgi and Geeta V. Patel, US, 2008; 89m. In English, Urdu, Kashmiri, and Hindi.

The Recruiter New York Premiere Edet Belzberg, US, 2008; 86m

This Way Up New York Premiere Georgi Lazarevski, France, 2007; 60m. In Arabic. SCREENING WITH Open Heart New York Premiere Claire Fowler, UK/Palestine, 2006; 22m. In Arabic and English.

Traces Of The Trade New York Premiere Katrina Browne, US, 2008; 86m

Under The Bombs New York Premiere Philippe Aractingi, France/Lebanon/UK/Belgium, 2007; 98m. In Arabic.

Youth Producing Change World Premiere Founding Presenter: Adobe Youth Voices Run time: 78m

A program of 9 short films directed and produced by youth from across the globe. Armed with digital cameras, computers and their own boundless creativity, these young people bravely expose human rights issues faced by themselves and their communities. It's time that we listen to what they have to say.

The Countdown Rene Dongo, Fast Forward Program at The Institute of Contemporary Art, US, 2007; 6m

Women Empowerment Athenkosi Mbemba and Mthobeli Lithiko in collaboration with Sonwadile Daza, Ongezwa Dingana and Siphokazi Makaleni of Bridges to Understanding, South Africa, 2007; 5m

I Want My Parents Back Aaron Dominguez, Argenis Herrera, Garrett Hayes, Khirye Rice, Melly Jenny, Nathan Villalobos, Omar Flores and Cody Marshall of Media Arts Center San Diego, US/Mexico, 2007; 11m. In English and Spanish.

Islands Of The People Amber Good, Raven Hausman-Hayward, Justin Klevgaard and Jesse Williams of Atira Women's Resource Society, in partnership with the Old Massett Youth Program, Haida Gwaii, Canada, 2007; 6m. In English and Haida.

The True Cost Of Coal Brittany Hunsaker, Autumn Nikki King and Willa Johnson of Appalachian Media Institute, Appalshop, Inc., US, 2007; 14m.

The Hidden Cost Of Cashmere Zane Scheuerlein, Member of Open Youth Networks, US, 2007; 3m

A Maid Is Not A Slave (Mbindaan Du Jaam) Mariama Marena, Seynabou Ciss, Dioundiouba Diagne, Marietou Ndoye Seck, Salimata Sow, Aissatou Gueye Seye, Aminata Deme, Dieynaba Kone of Mariama Ba Girls Boarding School Senegal, 2007; 5m. In French.

Slave Label Philosophy students from Queen Elizabeth School in partnership with Whitewood & Fleming, UK, 2007; 18m

Playing With The Other Tigers Zachary Lennon-Simon of Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, US, 2007; 10m

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