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Human Rights Fest Announces 21st Slate

Human Rights Fest Announces 21st Slate

The 2010 Human Rights Watch Film Festival – a co-presentation of Human Rights Watch and The Film Society of Lincoln Center – has announced the lineup for their 21st edition. The fest runs June 10-24, 2010 at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater, and will feature 30 films from 25 countries, 28 of which will be New York premieres. The festival is described as “the foremost showcase for films with a distinctive human rights theme,” creating “a forum for courageous individuals on both sides of the lens to empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference.”

“The Human Rights Watch Film Festival reflects the condition of the world we live in, including the top news events around the world,” said John Biaggi, the festival director, in a statement. “No one is immune to the rippling effects when human rights are violated, whether here in our country or far away. It affects us all.”

This year the festival’s Benefit Night on June 10 will focus on East Timor with the outstanding drama “The Balibo Conspiracy,” which was banned in Indonesia. Filmmaker Robert Connolly, along with special guests, will attend the discussion and reception following the film’s screening. The following day the festival will officially launch on June 11th with its Opening Night presentation of Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s acclaimed “12th & Delaware,” portrayal of the abortion divide.

The festival will also present Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck’s “Moloch Tropical” as this year’s Festival Centerpiece. Peck will introduce and discuss this evocative drama, set in his home country.

On Closing Night, the spotlight will be on Mexico with “Presumed Guilty,” a documentary that takes viewers on a three-year journey into the dysfunctional heart of the Mexican justice system.

The festival in general will be organized around three themes: Accountability and Justice; Development and Migration; and Societies in Conflict: Afghanistan and Iran.

Films tied to the first theme include “Enemies of the People,” a study of the Khmer Rouge massacres in Cambodia, which explores an individual survivor’s quest for justice and truth; “Out in the Silence,” which delves into aspects of this theme by following three Americans caught up in a same-sex marriage controversy as they confront three of society’s most formidable forces–the church, the school system, and prevailing social norms; A trio of films that focus on large formal structures – rom the U.S. prison system in “In the Land of the Free…,” to the Mexican police system in “Backyard,” to the complexities of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in “War Don Don.”

Films that are part of the “Development and Migration” theme include “Nero’s Guests,” examines economic development and disparity in India by looking at the recent epidemic of farmer suicides; “Pushing the Elephant,” which tells the story of a Congolese family resettled in the U.S. and their experience of being reunited with a missing daughter; “The Unreturned,” which portrays the struggles of five displaced Iraqis from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds; Goran Paskaljevic’s “Honeymoons,” a drama highlighting economic migration within Europe; Filmmaking team Michael Camerini and Shari Robertson’s “Last Best Chance” and “Mountains and Clouds,” both part of their documentary series “How Democracy Works Now: Twelve Stories,” a project nine years in the making.

The final theme features a look at “Societies in Conflict: Afghanistan and Iran.” The festival’s focus on Afghanistan consists of films highlighting various aspects of U.S. military involvement in that country, including “Camp Victory, Afghanistan,” which examines the reality of building a functioning Afghan military; Sundance Grand Prize-winning documentary “Restrepo,” which takes viewers into the deployment of a U.S. marine platoon in a remote and deadly Afghan valley; and “Iran: Voices of the Unheard,” which illuminates the largely untold story of Iranian secularists.

“There may be no better time to champion the mission of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival than right now,” said Mara Manus, Executive Director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, in a statement. “With distribution and exhibition platforms for independent films diminishing around us, and competition for the limited available space increasing, being able to host this festival year after year, shining a spotlight on important films, filmmakers and causes, is a highlight within our annual programming calendar.”

For a full lineup and screening schedule, check out the festival’s website.

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