One of the most striking themes among the films in this year’s festival is the power of media in all its forms to influence the craft of filmmaking and to impact human rights.

The opening night film in the program illustrates how an individual filmmaker’s long term relationship with a topic and an archive of footage can shape not only the course of a human rights investigation but the interpretation of history. Pamela Yates’s Granito focuses on the evidentiary importance of her 30-year-old film outtakes in building a case of genocide against Guatemala’s former president.

Patrick Reed’s The Team shows another media force—television—in action as we witness the creation of a Kenyan soap opera designed to address the nation’s ethnic tensions through its weekly broadcasts. Ali Samadi Ahadi’s The Green Wave highlights the use of new media, using images from mobile phones and animated versions of web postings to recount events following Iran’s 2009 elections.

The reframing of government-produced media adds a final twist to the theme of the power of media. Luc Côté and Patricio Henríquez’s You Don’t Like The Truth – 4 Days Inside Guantanamo expertly employs seven hours of declassified security camera footage from the Canadian government showing the interrogation of 16-year-old Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen and Guantanamo detainee, while Hollman Morris and Juan José Lozano’s Impunity skillfully incorporates the Colombian government’s use of video conferencing as a tool in the demilitarization hearings there.

By incorporating all these forms of media, human rights filmmakers are increasing their impact, advancing the art of filmmaking, and bringing human rights stories to a broader audience.

– John Biaggi, Festival Director

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Image from The Team