One of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights, Human Rights Watch works tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep rooted change and fights to bring greater justice and security to people around the world. The annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival bears witness to human rights violations and creates 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 festival brings to life human rights abuses through storytelling in a way that challenges each individual to empathize and demand justice for all people.
This year’s festival is organized around four themes: Health, Development, and the Environment (Bidder 70, Bitter Seeds, Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare); Migrants’ Rights (Color of the Ocean, Special Flight); Personal Testimony and Witnessing (Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Brother Number One, Little Heaven, Reportero, Silenced Voices, Words of Witness); Reporting in Crises (Reportero, Silenced Voices, Words of Witness); and Women’s Rights (Habibi, The Invisible War, Salaam Dunk).
Please note: The festival launches on June 14 with a fundraising Benefit Night for Human Rights Watch, featuring Kim Nguyen’s War Witch, an emotionally powerful drama about a 14-year-old girl abducted by a rebel army in sub-Saharan Africa. Tickets and more information can be found on the Human Rights Watch website. The main program will begin on June 15 with the Opening Night presentation of Alison Klayman’s festival favorite Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, an up-close look at renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei and his ongoing battle with the Chinese government.
Opening Night Film & Reception!
Filmmaker Alison Klayman in person!
An unprecedented look at Ai Weiwei and those close to him, capturing the controversial artist’s forthrightness and unequivocal stance against China’s various forms of oppression. New York Premiere! New York premiere followed by Opening Night reception.
Closing Night Film & Reception!
Filmmakers Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall and subject Longjones Wambere in person!
Impassioned activist David Kato and his dedicated followers battle an oppressive government, a vicious media and a powerful church in the fight for gay rights in Uganda.
Filmmakers Beth and George Gage in person at all three screenings!
The story of Tim DeChristopher, who derailed the Bush Administration’s federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Oil and Gas lease auction, effectively safeguarding thousands of acres of Utah land and putting himself at risk for a prison sentence.
Filmmaker Micha X. Peled in person at June 21 screening!
An aspiring young journalist examines the causes of an epidemic of farmer suicides in India—including that of her own father—stemming from the introduction of genetically modified seeds to the Indian market.
Filmmakers Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke in person at all three screenings!
How can the United States save its badly broken healthcare system? With consummate skill, filmmakers Heineman and Froemke use dramatic personal stories and the efforts of medical, industrial and government leaders to answer the question.
A cynical Canary Islands border patrolman and an altruistic German tourist cross paths with two Congolese refugees, changing the course of all their lives, in this exciting and unexpectedly moving thriller.
Filmmaker Ferdinand Melgar in person at June 16 & 17 screenings!
An intimate and emotionally charged portrait of the rejected asylum seekers and illegal migrants in Switzerland’s Frambois detention centre, awaiting their return to their countries of origin.
Filmmaker Annie Goldson and film subject Rob Hamill in person at all three showings!
Through New Zealander Rob Hamill’s story of his brother’s death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, Brother Number One explores how the regime and its followers killed nearly 2 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.
Filmmaker Lieven Corthouts in person at all three screenings!
HIV is an everyday reality for the children at the Little Heaven orphanage in Addis Abada, Ethiopia, including 13-year-old Lydia, through whose eyes this surprisingly hopeful documentary unfolds.
Filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz in person at all screenings! Film subject Sergio Haro in person at June 22 and June 23 screenings!
Sergio Haro and his colleagues at the Tijuana-based newsweekly Zeta stubbornly ply their trade in what has become one of the most deadly places in the world to be a journalist. New York Premiere!
Filmmaker Beate Arnestad and film subject Sonali Samarasinghe in person at all three screenings!
The story of the civil war in Sri Lanka based on the stories of journalists living in exile, who risk their lives over and over to highlight the human rights violations taking place in their homeland.
Filmmaker Mai Iskander in person at all three screenings!
Defying cultural norms and family expectations, 22-year-old journalist Heba Afify takes to the streets of Egypt to report on a country in turmoil. Her coming of age, political awakening and subsequent disillusionment mirror that of an entire nation.
Filmmaker Susan Youssef in person at all three screenings!
Two students from Gaza struggle to maintain their relationship in the face of class differences and parental disapproval in this lyrical and passionate romantic drama.
Filmmaker David Fine in person at June 16 & 17 screenings!
With plenty of pop music and “girl power,” Salaam Dunk delivers a tale of hope and inspiration, courtesy of a winning group of Iraqi women basketball players at the American University in Sulaimani, Iraq.
Filmmaker Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering in person at June 18 & 20 screenings! Subjects Ariana Klay and Ben Klay in person June 20!
Directed by Kirby Dick (Twist of Faith, Outrage) and produced by Amy Ziering, The Invisible War undertakes a groundbreaking investigation into the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. Dick and Ziering are also the recipients of the festival’s Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking.
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