The 27th edition of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival includes inspiring, topical, and provocative feature documentaries and dramas, as well as special interactive programs that grapple with the challenges of defending human rights around the world today.

The standout theme in this year’s lineup is presented through outstanding documentaries from around the globe that explore a variety of women’s-rights issues: our Opening Night film, Hooligan Sparrow, in which intrepid young Chinese filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows the trail of bold activist Ye Haiyan as she becomes a fugitive of the state; Jackson, a riveting look at the dire state of abortion access in Mississippi; Starless Dreams, an intimate portrait of 18-year-old girls in a Tehran rehabilitation prison; Tempestad, award-winning filmmaker Tatiana Huezo’s latest work that beautifully renders the difficult life paths of two women amid the chaos and impunity in today’s Mexico; and The Uncondemned, a gripping portrayal of a group of young lawyers and activists who fought in a seminal 1997 trial in Rwanda to have rape recognized as a war crime.

An additional theme in this year’s program incorporates films that revolve around the fight for LGBT rights. Growing Up Coy, is a sensitive portrayal of the struggles of a Colorado family who take on a highly publicized legal battle to fight for their 6-year-old transgender daughter’s rights, while Inside the Chinese Closet pulls the curtain back on the difficulties young gay men and women in China face within their society and traditional families.

As always, the majority of the filmmakers will join us to present their work and participate in discussions following screenings. In certain cases, directors will be joined by Human Rights Watch researchers or special guests who have worked on the issues addressed in the film, giving audiences an opportunity to engage deeper with the movies’ topics. This year we have expanded a new element of the festival by introducing three programs that combine visual media with in-depth discussions about current issues in the fields of audience engagement and human rights.

We are excited to bring these films and special programs to you, and hope that you will join us in celebrating 27 years of human rights in film.

Additional screenings take place at the IFC Center.